Monday, October 4, 2010

No Ordinary Family: Missed Opportunity

When Julie Benz's character, Overworked Workingmom, runs fast out of her office building, the flags on the tops of the fifty-foot tall poles wave in the wind her passing creates.  This woman's powers are shown pretty clearly to be a danger to everyone around her.  But when she moves fast enough through her office that no one "sees" her (despite the huge amount of wind she creates that scatters papers in every cubicle), nothing really breaks, no one is injured.

When Michael Chiklis' character, Mr. Momdad, first jumps off a building (he can't fly) and lands twenty stories below, he breaks an ten-foot diameter circle of pavement into rubble.  But once he starts carelessly bounding (with non-fatal aim, I might add) around the city, he just kind of skids to a halt, causing no property damage.  When he, with his 5.5 ton lift (press) super-strength, throws a man into wrought-iron bars, the man is not killed.

When the daughter reads minds, she does not have a breakdown from hearing the honest thoughts of those around her.  When the son finally gets his super power, and it's... math... he's not disappointed.

Look, TV makers:  If we wanted to read about or see characters with super powers that make no sense, we'd read comic books.  In fact, we do.  We could also watch The Incredibles again.  It's better and more fun.  Instead, you have a chance to make super powers genuinely interesting by creating a drama where they really are as much of a curse as they are a blessing.  You could make a show where it takes more than twenty minutes of training with one's DA/comic-fan friend to master one's powers.

Instead, we get the exact same jokes we've seen a million times: 
  • Wow!  I'm strong!  Whoops!  I broke something of no importance as a gag!  What a country!
  • Wow!  I'm strong!  Whoops!  I hugged you just a little too hard, but caused no permanent damage!  What a country!
  • Wow!  I'm fast!  No one can see me moving at 300 mph!  Because things moving that fast turn INVISIBLE.
  • Hey!  I'm a teenage girl, and I can read minds!  But I don't want to at first.
Other reviewers (mostly paid reviewers) will take the time to point out the show's dramatic failings; they're obvious to anyone who enjoys quality television.  I just wanted to point out the missed opportunity of this show, one that Heroes also forgot to exploit:  powers like this would have their decidedly sucky parts, too, and it wouldn't be the super-villains hunting your family (although that would suck, too).

Trust, for example, is really an act of faith.  No one can ultimately know what someone else is thinking.  Well, our teenaged heroine can, and guess what?  That would mess with your head.  Can you imagine the temptation of being able to fact-check your friends at ANY time?  Imagine going to a Presidential speech where all you had to do was look at the President's eyes and find out what he's really thinking.  Imagine finding out what your parents really think of you, deep down.  Is that something you want to know?  Imagine if someone heard the wrong thought of yours at the wrong time.  What would they think of you?  Now, barring some enlightening experience in the future, imagine trying to have faith when there's no need for it:  you can have the answers you want at anytime, except from those who know about your power, because they will never look you in the eye again.  Trust is no longer a word in your vocabulary.  Your life as you knew it is gone forever.

That would be interesting.  Instead, we've got a guy with 1938 Superman's powers hurling himself through satellite-surveilled, heavily-populated urban airspace.  And NO ONE sees him.

How can I accept this show as something to be taken even a little bit seriously?  Sigh.  Maybe next time.

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