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Shoot the cheerleader, save my Monday nights
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Dr. Royce Clemens   |  
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Hayden Panettiere-Heroes Cheerleader Points a GunSo I’m giving up on Heroes. It was fun to start with, but it was a good 24-episode idea that has gone on way too long. Veronica Mars couldn’t save it, low ratings and a writer’s strike pre-empted the doom of the spin-off series Heroes: Origins before it could begin production, and even creator Tim Kring publicly apologized for his wrongdoings.

Kring and the rest of the off-camera talent stand accused of the following crimes against the audience:

– Jumping the shark by giving Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) amnesia. It may just be a soap opera with powers, but can they at least try to pretend it isn’t?

– Speaking of hackneyed soap opera devices, didn’t that Divining Rod Moppet just wake up from a coma last week?

– Blowing an obscene amount of money on costumes, sets, and special effects by dropping Hiro (Masi Oka) into feudal Japan, for no other reason than to introduce a character who may or may not be a bad guy.

– Continuing to give Nikki/Jessica (Ali Larter) premium screen time in spite of critical and viewer indifference.

-Making Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) go from a wide-eyed scientist on the constant verge of discovery, to just a giant weenis. I may not be a professional writer, but I do know that “dickening” isn’t character development.

– Introducing new characters with lame-ass powers like Midas Guy, Black-Eye-Goop Woman, and The Girl Who Can Do What She Sees On TV. You ripped off X-Men all through last season, and you’re getting creative NOW?

– Saddling Claire (Hayden Panettiere) with The Flying Emo-tastic Douchebag as a love interest. “I don’t think romance is a natural fit for us,” said Kring in his public mea culpa. It can be, like Buffy did, but set your characters up right.

– Setting up “The Hero Gene” as a virus, which really demystifies the whole thing. And you know it’s getting near Christmas when visions of FUCKING MIDICHLORIANS are dancing in my head.

Now in spite of all this, I’ve sat through each episode of this new season patiently, indulging them in the same way one would a child who didn’t necessarily fail his classes, but does need to go to summer school to bring the average up a bit.

This was before last night’s (11/12) episode. Now there is one adjective I could apply to an episode of Heroes that I could apply to no other.

“Bad.”

They’ve been great, they’ve been good, they’ve been mediocre, but they’ve never been bad until tonight.

Tonight’s installment (entitled “FOUR MONTHS AGO”) was a little bit of flashback filler bringing us the details of what went on in between last season’s finale and this season’s premiere. It’s telling that Kring’s name is on the writer credit for this episode, as we are stuck with the most relentlessly boring characters of the series right now (Maya, Alejandro, Peter, Nikki/Jessica) with no Parkman or Ando relief.

Two events were telling of the decline of this series that crystallizes the small viewer exodus: Firstly, Kring and his staff are apparently so bereft of ideas that they have introduced YET A THIRD personality into the Nikki/Jessica equation.

Remember when you moved to L.A and told everyone to call you ‘Gina?’” this new personality asks.

Oh, Christ. Valuable screen time and money is being to devoted to Nikki’s IMAGINARY FRIENDS now? At least evil, kick-ass Jessica was Nikki’s sister. No doubt that, with the writer’s strike in effect and the general haphazard writing of the series as of late, that this personality is just for this episode, and is there for no other reason than to set up the contrived way in which Nikki’s husband DL died.

The other problem is a mite more an observation, but nonetheless deserves examination. Now I’m not gonna be an asshole straight guy and say that no, THERE IS NO AUDIENCE for Milo Ventimiglia being shirtless in practically every episode, and that every time he pops up sans shirt is a dagger in the heart of dudes everywhere. Women buy the crap that Heroes sells during the commercials too, and they deserve just as much of a cheap thrill as the guys get when they see Hayden Panettiere in her cheerleader outfit.

But can we at LEAST come up with better reasons for Milo to show up shirtless? First he was just shirtless on that dock, then they had to delouse him for the virus in the future, and now Kirsten Bell sets his shirt on fire. At least Claire is a cheerleader and that’s how cheerleaders dress. This just feels focus grouped. It’s like the Alec Baldwin character from 30 Rock stopped by Tim Kring’s office and said “Shirtless Milo is testing very well in key female demos. Try to incorporate that in every episode from now on.” I’m not against shirtless dudes on TV, but don’t be so damned lazy about it.

And no, I’m not using a double standard, I complain just as loudly when the genders are reversed, so shut the fuck up before you even start.

During this episode I wanted so very desperately to turn off the TV and read my book. And I’m that key 18-49 male demo. Guys, THIS IS NOT A GOOD SIGN!

Thanks to the strike, there are now three episodes left of the season, and I am now a tiny addition to the fifteen percent dropoff. Kring has given us his assurances that season three will be the everloving berries and I’ve half a mind to even believe him. Hell, Lost picked up in the closing stretches if ITS third season.

Ah, but there’s a catch. Even during the worst of Lost, I still cared. I don’t care about Heroes anymore. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t feel like giving Heroes three episodes’ or a third season’s worth of the benefit of the doubt anymore. I’m done. I didn’t expect “awesome,” I just expected good. And Heroes couldn’t even do that one right.

The cheerleader can save herself, for all I give a shit…

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