Category Archives: tv

The Racialicious Roundtable For Heroes 3.9

Hosted by Arturo R. García

The word has come down from Tim Kring’s ivory tower: It’s our fault Heroes has been stinking up the joint this season.

More specifically, those of us who own and actually use our DVRs. The show’s creator bemoaned the state of serialized storytelling at a screenwriters’ gathering earlier this month, because the new technology, by his reasoning, makes us dumber. Here’s a portion of his remarks:

“The engine that drove [serialized TV] was you had to be in front of the TV [when it aired]. Now you can watch it when you want, where you want, how you want to watch it, and almost all of those ways are superior to watching it on air. So [watching it] on air is related to the saps and the dips**s who can’t figure out how to watch it in a superior way.”

Yours truly is too poor and stupid to afford DVR, so I don’t understand all that fancy talk like “dips**t.” Does his excuse hold water? That’s just one of the subjects we tackle in this week’s installment of the Roundtable. Let’s get to it!

Re: Usutu. I was about to say, let’s quit while we’re ahead (nyuk nyuk) when I read an interview with writers/producers Joe Pokaski and Aron Coliete mentioning him while discussing “The Charlie Argument.” I’ll post their words here:

“This is always a tough [argument] for us, whether or not to kill a character. It all generally reverts back into what we call ‘The Charlie Argument.’ While we often hear from fans, executives, or even actors how we shouldn’t have killed her off, most of us believe that the reason she was such a successful character is because she didn’t overstay her welcome. We miss her because she left us wanting more. The German and Stephen Canfield certainly fall into that category – as for Usutu, we haven’t seen the last of him.”

So, how do you feel about seeing Usutu playing the Ghost of, what, Plot Devices Future?

Clara: If Usutu is just a plot device, than I will be very angry. As far as I can tell, that’s what he is– he’s only there to assist the other characters in all matters plot-fully convenient. He doesn’t even have to be alive! All he has to do is hop around in their dreams! I know we talk a lot about how the writers are very willing to write in ways to bring characters (mostly the white male ones) back to life, and I’m anticipating some people pointing to Usutu as one example of a nonwhite character being brought back. I disagree with that, because Usutu wasn’t brought back to life as his own character. He’s just there to help out the characters. He still doesn’t seem to have a history or motivations of his own. Tsk tsk, Heroes writers.

I’m sick of this Usutu As A Guardian Angel business. Now, if Usutu willingly steered a character towards a bad path, if he intentionally gave them the wrong advice, that would be interesting!

Mahsino: I gotta go with Clara on this – it would be awesome if Usutu were steering characters to his whim postmortem seeing as he was basically the Guardian Angel/Haitian 2.0 when he was alive. Then again, it would be annoying if he could only get a personality after death. I dunno, I just hate ghost like characters in shows (I’m looking’ at you too, Grey’s Anatomy).

Continue reading

White Guy’s Burden: The Racialicious Review of 24: Redemption

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

… No, really, people watch this show every week? No wonder the Bush presidency lasted two terms.

24: Redemption is both set-up and appetizer for the show’s incomprehensible fanbase, setting the table three years after the surely cataclysmic sixth season, which left Super Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) on the lam and out of a job, what with his beloved Counter Terrorism Unit being disbanded.

As we begin this two-hour slice of Jack’s traumatic life, the former Republican role model is moonlighting in the fictional African country of Singala, helping out an old special ops buddy (Robert Carlyle) building a school/living shelter somewhere near the country’s border. Where these kids’ parents are, why this school is not co-ed, or staffed by anybody who’s not white, is never explained. The only other person at the camp is a slimy, United Nations worker. Of course the UN guy is French, and verbally fahrts in Jack’s general direction.

But never mind the kids or their harsh socio-political realities, Jack is emotional, man!

He’s depressed about how Season 6 went down, and beset upon by an Annoying Liberal U.S. Bureaucrat (Gil Bellows) serving a subpoena for Jack to testify to Congress regarding “human rights violations.” If we’re talking about the rest of this series, can we move to upgrade the charges to Crimes Against Humanity?

(By the way, we know Bellows is playing a Liberal because he wears dorky glasses and complains about the heat. An Annoying Republican Bureaucrat would have hiked his way across the jungle, carrying the subpoena like Christopher Walken did the watch in Pulp Fiction.) Continue reading

It’s Time To Play The Feud!: The Racialicious Review of Heroes 3.9

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Well, it took ’em long enough.

You can always tell the storyarcs on Heroes are heading toward a resolution when the good guys figure out they should give this whole “teamwork” thing a try. And as everybody is keeping an eye on the coming eclipse, those fightin’ McMahons Petrellis are at the heart of the conflict. Here’s how the sides have been drawn:

Team Daddy Issues:
Tracy Strauss

Team Mommy Dearests:

Unaccounted for? Some heavy hitters: Hiro & Ando; Noah Bennet; Meredith; The Haitian and the seemingly more stable Suresh, though the latter is now working with/for Arthur at Pinehearst, where he and we learn that the Meta-Formula Nakamura-Sama was hiding actually had three components – and Claire thinks she’s the missing “catalyst” — a heck of a leap in logic, but we’ll just go with it for now.

Hiro and Ando were knocked out of the game by Arthur himself, as Papa Petrelli’s ambush in Africa left Hiro thinking and behaving like a 10-year-old boy, and barely able to teleport himself and Ando to safety. As a result, Ando must now go from sidekick to mentor and babysitter. As Young Hiro begins to learn his way around his powers, he picks up a copy of everybody’s favorite first-season plot-device, the supposedly concluded 9th Wonders! Once again, this week’s issue just happens to follow the Dynamic Duo’s journey. But with Isaac dead, who could be writing it? Never mind that, it’s also showing the eclipse! Continue reading

The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 3.8

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

“Villains” was possibly the flattest episode yet for Heroes this season – and the 4% ratings drop from the prior episode only underscores the series’ continued collapse. But, that doesn’t mean we’ve run out of things to say!

Let’s start by discussing Usutu. If he is, in fact, dead, and this isn’t a cliffhanger, as was suggested in last week’s recap thread, what more can you say about about the way he was handled? Also, if this is just a cliffhanger, is it me or does the natural sense of trepidation as a viewer get trumped by the way the series has taken to handling its’ POC characters?

Erica: Even if this is a cliffhanger, that would mean it’s part of Hiro’s dreamwalk. If so, at some point in the future he and Ando and Usutu will be hanging out “somewhere in Africa” until Arthur shows up, and Usutu will die then. (But of course I’ve been fooled when I tried to apply logic to the show before.)

I’m not bothered by the manner of his death, but there’s a caveat with that. Violence happens to everybody in the show, and gruesome murder has been the fate of all ethnicities. (Indeed, the ONLY person who died of natural causes was Shaft Charles Devaux.) It isn’t so much a terrible death for Usutu that is problematic — I am angry about the continual decrease of plots as well as creative development for non-white characters. Even Hiro and Mohinder are far dumber this season, ignoring all their lessons learned. Heroes is a violent show, and all characters are impacted by that; however, the characters of color (COC?) aren’t getting a fair share of happy moments or personal growth. Usutu’s death is problematic because he is simply being written out and we know he won’t be back.

Mahsino: I can’t say I’m surprised that Usutu was killed- although I would like to have known where exactly he died, but I have to say I’m a little disturbed at the fact that the Petrelli men’s favorite form of homicide for most characters of color seem to be some sort of gruesome decapitation (Isaac and Maya’s brother had their heads sliced open, as Usutu was decapitated). Although, I have to agree with Erica that Heroes has a tradition of killing off their COC in the most gruesome way possible.

Hexy: Ah, Usutu. Finally named, post-mortem, but all that proved to me is that Hiro is slightly less of an asshole than the rest of the characters (and writers). His death was shocking in its gore, but not surprising in the least. Sad as it sounds, I’ve gotten to the point where I expected POC to die quickly and horrible, without even a moving death scene. The only way for Usutu to surprise me would have been for him to last the rest of the season and achieve something by and for himself. See how ludicrous that sounds?

Best case scenario suggests he’s killed “in dream” and we’ll get to see him again, however briefly, before he dies “for reals.”

So, this week we were supposed to learn about all the Villains — yet we didn’t hear jack squat about Knox. Weird, no?

Mahsino: No. not weird, expected. At this point I’m waiting to see how they marginalize and eventually kill off all of the characters of color, I’m guessing we’re supposed to forget all about Knox. This way, when (or if) we see him again, we aren’t supposed to have any emotional reaction to the fact that he’s killed. For the most part, all the characters of color in Heroes are one-dimensional: they’re usually either completely good or completely evil. yes, D.L., Isaac, and Simone had some slight shades of gray to them, but there was nowhere near the complexities that they’ve given to Flint- a character we’ve only seen for two episodes. And if you follow the pattern of the show, this makes perfect sense- why bother giving a character any depth when they’re just going to get killed or written off at a later date anyway. Continue reading

The Apprentice Meets Scarface: The Racialicious Review of 50 Cent: The Money And The Power

by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

So who’s 50 Cent gonna start with beef next?

Maybe Donald Trump, if you believe the hype behind Fiddy’s new “Apprentice”-style show, 50 Cent: The Money And The Power.

The show’s blog crows that “unlike The Donald, Fiddy’s new show will NOT be putting the ‘Bored’ in ‘Boardroom.’” What it may lack in feigned decorum, The Money And The Power more than makes up for in people uttering variations of the phrase, “I’d do anything for $100,000.”

In the premiere, Fiddy and minion crony hanger-on Dwight Schrute substitute labelmate Tony Yayo appear a little more hands-on than Trump, and more menacing than Diddy, sprinkling their monologues with criminal references. Yayo is identified as the show’s “Underboss,” and the premise is simple: “I’m not looking for an assistant,” Fiddy explains to the 14 contestants. What he is looking for, he says, is someone who can take his 100 grand and “make something out of nothing.” Naturally, their first mission is to get shot, then produce a critically-panned autobiographical movie.

Just kidding. Instead, after choosing the terminally smiley Joanne and the braided Ryan as “Bosses” for the first week, the two seven-member teams make their way from Roosevelt Island to “Camp Curtis,” the show’s compound in Brooklyn, bound together chain-gang style. And just like that, all these people formerly willing to “do anything” start complaining.

It doesn’t take long for tensions to rise. Not only do two members of Ryan’s team nearly come to blows during the mission (they manage to win regardless, earning themselves dinner with Fiddy), but two members of Joanne’s team get into it. And this is where we meet Precious.

Not to doubt the integrity of anyone who describes herself as a “master manipulator,” but the beauty school dropout landed herself on the brink of elimination by telling an Asian teammate to “go do [her] nails.” In the real world, businessman Curtis Jackson might have dismissed someone making these remarks on the spot. But, on reality television, host 50 Cent, shrewdly determining that racist remarks equal “good television,” keeps Precious (who he describes as “a poor man’s Lil’ Kim”) on the show, not before getting literally inches from her face and delivering an Alpha Dog staredown that would’ve made Tony Montana proud. Instead, for being a “wack” leader, Joanne is dispatched with a heartfelt “Get the f-ck outta here.” One can only expect ensuing episodes to showcase just as much workplace sensitivity.

For being what it is, The Money isn’t not entertaining, in the usual brain-on-neutral way these shows have become. It’s all there: the artificially-built tension; the utterly unsympathetic contestants; the Mr. Miyagi-esque team missions. And it’s funny watching Fiddy and Yayo give their Sun Tzu-meets-F-U pep talks to this latest bunch of schmucks. But it’s not edgy, it’s not “street,” it’s not new in the least, unless you’re just now old enough to watch television without parental supervision, or an unabashed Fiddy fanboy or fangirl. The premiere was titled “Choose Your Crew Wisely,” but really, the lesson was Know Your Demographic. And Fiddy shows business sense there, indeed.

Hiro Takes A Trip: The Racialicious Review of Heroes 3.8

by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

This week’s episode, “Villains,” was chock-full of … well, it was supposed to be meaningful information. Through the portal of Hiro’s “spirit walk” through Flashback Town, we learned that:

Mister Petrelli is and has been the Big Bad: Not only was Arthur in league with Linderman as part of the original group of Heroes, but apparently Linderman was little more than a crony for Mr. P. It was Arthur who masterminded the attempt on Nathan’s second wife’s life in Season 1; it was Arthur who pushed for the destruction of New York City that same year; and it was Arthur who apparently created the take-no-prisoners persona we’ve seen in Angela, as he mentally subjugated her until she was freed by Linderman.

Elle and Sylar weren’t always crazy: Despite being established as batsh-t crazy over the course of the series, this episode we were taught that really, both were well-meaning kids before each was undone, Gabriel by “The Hunger,” and a misguided crush on her, and Elle by the realization that Primatech was bad people. Continue reading

The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 3.7

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

The ratings are down between 20 and 50 percent depending on who you ask. Entertainment Weekly has declared it “a series in crisis.” Even mild-mannered Yahoo has declared it has “jumped the shark,” forcing the typically fawning comic-book press to come to its defense. Clearly, Heroes has reached a turning point – or maybe the end of its’ rope? As the series moves into a new, decidedly soap-influenced direction, our roundtable convenes to focus on some troubling statements attributed to series creator Tim Kring over the past week.

In that EW cover story, Kring said the show is “at its heart, a family drama that deals with two main families in particular, the Bennet family and the Petrelli family.” What does Kring’s banking on these two clans say to you about his investment – and ours – in characters like Hiro, Suresh, Parkman, et al?

Hexy: Well, it says he doesn’t give a crap about them. But you know who I’m MORE pissed on behalf of? The Hawkins/Sanders. There we had another family being set up with its own internal dynamic and personal struggles, and this season we find out that (like the Petrellis) it has unexpected extra branches. Hell, it’s even got blondes, which seems to be a pre-requisite for getting any of the writers of this show to pay attention to your gene pool, and I distinctly remember a shocking promise of storylines to come when Linderman revealed that he’d somehow orchestrated the existence of that family unit.

But no. The mixed-race family containing the only sex working character we’ve yet seen doesn’t get to be part of the “family drama” side of Heroes, unless you count watching Micah pout at his newfound Aunt for thirty seconds before she runs off to spend time with the families that REALLY matter.

Mahsino: In the EW article, I will admit I learned something new: the new “P.C.” euphemism for Magical Negro is now “Noble Black Man”. I’d say that Kring’s analysis of the main characters in the show is very indicative of the sense of what I like to call the white default. Usually in the media, (this even includes books with the exception of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys) the main characters tend to be white. Every other character is defined by their ethnicity and is usually in the background. What partially drew me to Heroes was that, in the beginning, there was no visible white default- sure there was Peter, but he was getting equal airtime as Hiro. The fact that Mohinder was a constant presence in the show impressed me. But now, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that this show is going the way of Grey’s Anatomy — another show that began with a great sense of diversity that faded its characters of color into the background.

Erica: The term “family drama” typically means “family friendly,” and Heroes is really anything but family-friendly. It’s violent, dark, and scary. If it simply means, “drama about families”, then that’s just horribly boring. I thought we were watching to see people with mutant powers, not people who hug and cry and throw their brothers out of windows. (And from Racialicious commenters’ reaction to the latest recap, it’s clear that very few people liked
that quote!) Anyway.

I’m disappointed to see Kring’s lack of interest in his extended cast, and my hope for a resurgence of diversity (and interesting new stories) is swiftly dying. The quote confirms that other characters are just a support system for the Bennet and Petrelli families. No wonder many of them seem to be given far less time than their potentially interesting stories deserve. Given the breadth of characters we saw in Season One (remember those days, when the show didn’t suck much?) and the potential for variety, I don’t understand WHY. There’s not much suspense in showing Mama and Papa Petrelli fight for the love (or hatred) of their sons. Concentrating on their dysfunction is simply going to continue pissing off the fanbase, particularly people who are only casually interested — people who make up the bulk of the ratings.

(Am I the only one who’s surprised that the deep, life-changing secrets that Angela and Arthur like to throw at the boys are actually all true? Any self-respecting family drama would realize that either one would lie about anything to get the Petrelli Boys on his or her side.)

Clara: I started thinking of the two families as the Shiney Blondes and the Sparkly Dark-Brunettes this episode, because there really seems to be a hair-color coding system going on with the Bennets and Petrellis. (Yes, Noah does not have blonde hair, I know. But his hair color is pretty light compared to the Petrelli shade of brown.)

I am bothered by Kring’s statement because he ignores all the other family dramas present in Heroes, especially since there are so many to choose from. What about Hiro and his dad, Kaito? Kaito was one of the Company founders. He’s also supposed to be dead. Why can’t he come back to life all evil and stuff too, like Arthur Petrelli? And what about Mohinder and his daddy issues? Can’t Chandra Suresh have another secret and come back to life as well? How about, Chandra was actually the original author of the power-giving formula and somehow gave himself the ability to fake his death and bounce back two seasons later?

Basically, it’s like Kring is saying only the good looking white families matter in this show. And considering the fame Heroes has gotten for its multicultural cast, that’s pretty terrible. I’m betting the writers finally got overwhelmed by all the characters and decided to concentrate only the Blonde Bennets and the Brunette Petrellis. “Too many personalities. Just focus on the pretty ones!” It’s a shame that the other families don’t get this type of treatment. Continue reading