SciFi Friday: Why Heroes Is A Better Monday Night Serial Than 24

There had been rumors that J.J. Abrams was going to produce but not direct Star Trek XI, but The Hollywood Reporter tha an official announcement was finally made. Abrams will be directing, with a Christmas Day 2008 release date. Matt Damon is still rumored to be the top choice to play James Kirk. IGN has further information:

It has been widely reported that the next Star Trek film would be a Starfleet Academy story recounting how a young James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock first met as cadets. But, according to IGN’s insiders, that is not quite the case.

IGN was informed that Trek XIto be directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci — will be more of a “first adventure” for Kirk and Spock rather than their first meeting. It is possible that they met while at the Academy — didn’t it seem like Jim Kirk served with every young officer’s father at the academy? — but the movie will explore their first mission together.

SciFi Wire interviewed Tim Kring and obtained information regarding plans for the second season of Heroes:

Tim Kring, creator of NBC’s hit series Heroes, told SCI FI Wire that the upcoming second season will constitute a new volume in the multi-volume series, with new characters and an entirely new storyline. “If you remember, the opening of the pilot pronounced the episode as the beginning of Volume One,” Kring said in an interview. “Volume One comes to a conclusion at the end of episode 23, and Volume Two starts with the opening of season two. And Volume Two is a different story.”

Kring added: “We could have new people and new storylines and new ideas and new threats and new bad guys and new heroes. So I would prepare the audience for that idea, that it’s not just a continuing serialized storyline about only these people. It’s a little more the 24 model than the Lost model.”

The first season of Heroes is exploring what happens when a disparate group of ordinary people discover they have extraordinary abilities and attempt to save New York from disaster.

Heroes needs to evolve, and if we are positing an idea that this is happening all over the world to many, many people, then we get to see some of those people and see how their story fits in.”

Kring also confirmed that some of the current heroes just might not survive this season, but added: “Many of your favorites will live to fight again.”

Heroes is coming off what many regard as its best episode of the season this week, also showing why it has become better than the other Monday night serial, 24. While both try to get the audience to come back with a cliff hanger, 24‘s cliff hangers just don’t leave you sometimes wondering just what is going on. You know that Jack will always find a solution for the latest problem and slowly get at the ultimate perpetrators. On Heroes, even when predictable, they manage to throw in twists. I fully expected HRG’s motivation to be partially to protect his adopted daughter, but the story remained compelling as this was verified and we were left with new questions as old ones were answered.

While 24 will periodically show that people have a different agenda than initially suspected, it often seems either too predictable or is forced. On the one hand, there was little doubt that Jack Bower’s father wasn’t going to turn out to be behind many of the conspiracies. On the other hand, for the writers to decide after many stories were already done that Nina Myers or Charles Logan would really be evil was contrived and didn’t fit in well with previous stories. On Heroes, The revelations about Claude and Nakamura, while surprising, fit in well with what we know so far and clearly were planned from the start. While we learned more about the relationship between Claire and HRG, we were left to wonder about whether Hiro is really Nakamura’s son, and whether Nakamura realizes Hiro has powers.

The flash back episodes have been among the best on Heroes, but 24 has become stuck in a format which prevents such stories, as well as preventing any drawn out plot development. It was a good gimmick for the first couple of times, but now it is too restrictive, leading to similar stories every season. Knowing commercial television, it is safe to predict they will stick with the same formula until it stops making money. Having 24 as the name would also make it harder for them to change the format, but perhaps they could do a different type of story over 24 days or weeks.

There is one other reason why Heroes has become better than 24. They might threaten to blow up New York City, and have a character who brutally kills others and removes their brains, but at least they don’t feature torture week after week.

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