Soap Opera Weekly: 10/6/09

The unquestioned hero of HEROES right now is consulting producer Bryan Fuller, who wrote this week’s episode, “Acceptance.” Fuller’s superpower appears to be the ability to grasp these characters and express what makes them great. He has a particular faculty for Noah/H.R.G. and Claire. Fuller wrote the legendary “Company Man” episode back in season one, which crystallized the previously mysterious H.R.G. and arguably made HEROES the breakout hit it (briefly) became. Fuller also deftly emphasizes the camaraderie of Hiro and Ando, making the pair believable buddies. In fact, I think Fuller has a firmer grip on these characters than even creator Tim Kring. (Fuller has imagination to spare: He also created WONDERFALLS and was an executive producer on PUSHING DAISIES.) I never like Tracy except in the stories Fuller has written (see “Cold Snap”). And he also delivered us from the ill-advised Sylar-in-Nathan-form plotline. Does this mean fans will not get to see Adrian Pasdar die in a season finale for once?

This week, I was initially on the fence as to whether I would even watch HEROES. The episode took a little time to build steam, so I was seriously considering abandoning it in favor of the Packers/Vikings football game. But then, something clicked — right around the time Noah and Claire were sharing bowls of cereal and discussing the possible application of bag-and-tag skills to selling lumber. That did it; I was roped back in. H.R.G. may be an ultracompetent field agent, but he’s an all-too-human fish-out-of-water (er…so to speak) on the home front. I don’t want to minimize the contributions of Jack Coleman here; when Noah told Peter that he just didn’t have it in him to get tangled up in another adventure, I really believed him. Coleman meshes especially well with Hayden Panettiere, and H.R.G.’s scenes with his “Claire Bear” always feel like the most realistic relationship on the show (followed by Hiro/Ando). But Fuller is not merely the master of human scenes; he also excels at thinking through the implications of superpowers. Just because Hiro can travel back in time does not mean he can save a man from himself, as Hiro’s funny/sad encounters with the hapless, hopeless Tadashi proved. I hope HEROES does not let Fuller escape.

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V Redux: It Came From Madison Avenue

The new version of V is designed to be a reboot, but tacking on the conventions of our current TV landscape calls attention to the familiarity of the concept. Of course a little of this is part-and-parcel of being a remake, and thus unavoidable, however, everything that is being ladled on top is also all too familiar. V feels like we’ve seen it all before because we have seen it all before. Literally.


Morena Baccarin

This time around, the idea is, when 21st-century aliens invade, they will not come as warriors, but rather as marketing agents. They will invade via advertising, with pamphlets, white teeth, long legs and tight butts. And a subtle message of inclusiveness and the common good. Heck, the Visitors were even offering “universal health care” — red meat for TV talking head Chad Decker (Scott Wolf), if only he hadn’t compromised his morals in exchange for ratings. Blast!


It was clever to cast Morena Baccarin (ex-Inara, FIREFLY/Serenity) as Anna, the beautiful public face of the Visitors; Baccarin also played Adria, the beautiful public face of the invading Ori cult on STARGATE SG-1. And, well, the Visitors are practically setting themselves up as a cult, to the point of recruiting confused young people. Getting Laura Vandervoort, whose big break came playing the alien Supergirl…er, Kara on SMALLVILLE, for Lisa was another sly casting move, as was bringing aboard Joel Gretsch (as Father Jack), who knows a thing or two about alien abduction after starring on THE 4400. Oh, Alan Tudyk used to play Wash alongside Baccarin on FIREFLY. Gee, one begins to understand why everything feels familiar, even without seeing ALIEN NATION before or District 9 this summer.

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