Eh, I needed a title. And I'm sad about the Dodgers. Very, very sad.
Well, this week has been VERY exciting for Tim Kring and the show that apparently sprang, full-formed, from his gigantic brain, Heroes. Beyond ripping off every iconic superhero story because he isn't a fan of the genre, he has gone further and has invaded Salman Rushdie's space. Yes, gentle readers, there are frightening similarities between Heroes and Rushdie's "Midnight's Children." This book is about 1,001 children born on the stroke of midnight on Independence Day, all of whom are born with some kind of mutation, powers of flight, transmutation, prophecy and wizardry. One of the characters can travel through time, and another can enter reflective surfaces. There's an Indian doctor in the book with the same name as the Indian guy on the show. Tim Kring, of course, laughed it off and said that he hasn't read the book because he doesn't have time to read. Gosh, really? You seem to have time to give one interview after another about your genius!
I haven't read "Midnight's Children" but having read "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" I can certainly see style similarities. Or at least attempts at style similarities. Kring is trying to get as global and important and poetic as Rushdie, and kids, that ain't happening. There are always similarities in TeeVee. It's the nature of the medium. The structure of a TeeVee show, the familiarity that shows need to have on a certain level, mean that there will be similarities with other things. There are always people saying, "Hey, they stole my Buffy idea!"
They did not steal your Buffy idea.
A staff of writers working on a show five days a week is, more than likely, going to come up with your exact same idea. Now, if you'd pitched three ideas to David Greenwalt and then they ended up on the show later, well.... you may have a case. But when you're working in TeeVee and this happens a lot, you have to just let it go. They probably didn't steal your idea. We had actually come up with a thing for a pilot that we thought was SO cool. That night, after working it into the script, they did virtually the SAME thing on Lost. THAT, gentle readers, is a coincidence.
We used to get this on Millennium, where an episode would air and then some guy would complain that he was JUST posting about that idea last week. Well, since these episodes are produced months before they air, that's highly unlikely, Angry Guy.
Back to Heroes. It wouldn't be unusual for any show to mimick or imitate or pay homage to X-Men. I mean, it's a perfect paradigm for a TeeVee show and it's a broad enough idea that if you're clever about it, you can use it as a springboard for your own unique TeeVee show. When we wrote our Heroes pilot, our characters developed powers but they didn't mutate. Of course, we weren't interested in developing a meta-story with HUGE AND IMPORTANT THEMES. We just wanted to write a cool script and develop a fun, Buffy-esque series. Silly us. If only we'd aimed for the stars, then maybe WE would be Tim Kring! I don't, by the way, think Kring read our Heroes pilot and thought he'd do a show like that. It was inevitable that someone was going to do that show and we were story editors; we didn't have the weight of having created a show behind our project. We've been ahead of the curve before -- we ripped off "Holy Blood Holy Grail" WAY before Dan Brown did -- so we're just resigned to this stuff at this point.
The problem with the Rushdie similarities is that they're plural. If all Kring had done is take the basic idea -- simultaneous mutations -- that would be a coincidence. The powers, on their own, are fairly universal. Suresh, the Indian, is a pretty common Indian name. But all of these things taken together? That's suspect. And apparently, Rushdie ain't too happy. Look, this guy pogo'ed with Van Morrison in Bono's living room. Don't piss him off. He's too cool for that.
That's the Heroes rant for the, erm, day.
Lost and The Nine premiered last night; no idea how they did because the numbers aren't out yet. I thought Lost was actually better than it's been, even though (and this is thematic!) they used Downtown ironically. We did it first!! Some junk actually happened, and we saw a flashback that illuminated the crazy obsessiveness that is Jack. Nice stuff.
Ken had a comment about cop shows missing out on the absurd. And that story about the empty car? WAY cool. I'm surprised CSI hasn't done that yet. Here's one of the problems -- networks won't let you do stuff. We were on this crap show last year, Killer Instinct, and when we started, it had a shot to go into that territory. But the network kept pulling back on the stories and we ended up with a flat, uninvolving show. There are so many cooks on TeeVee shows now that uniqueness gets beaten out of shows. And CSI and Law & Order haven't helped things. I suppose those shows do what they do well, but I don't like what they do. They are 100% procedurals. The structure is always the same --offbeat teaser, wisecrack, interview victims/suspects, find strange forensic crap, coroner scene, this guy did it; no he didn't, circle back to person you already talked to. Blech.
What I want is a cop show, a crime show, a detective show. Shows being driven only by plot are boring. And it looks like networks are starting to wake up to that. The problem is, the pendulum isn't going to swing far enough for next season. I think there's going to be a weird hybrid of shows on next year -- not quite procedurals, not quite genre, not quite serials. Everybody's trying to straddle a line here. They want to please everybody and they end up pleasing nobody.
Unfortunately, the audience will be the recipients of this.
Lastly, onto what I fear will become a regular blog topic: bashing Ken Tucker. You know Ken; he's the TeeVee reviewer for Entertainment Weekly. Ken hasn't annoyed me in years but he decided to start doing that again, in last week's issue. My initial beef with Ken was that he didn't catch on to shows quick enough. If you're a TeeVee reviewer, you should be, I dunno, watching TeeVee, not hopping on the bandwagon for Buffy or X-Files months after those shows premiered. Ken's biggest problem is that he doesn't understand his job. The review isn't about Ken and how marvelously he can turn a phrase (he can't), or how biting and incisive he is (he isn't); a review should be about the show, not the reviewer. But Ken always makes the review about him. And he doesn't really seem to even LIKE TeeVee -- he tolerates it, and clearly wants more from his crummy life than just talking about shows written by other people. There have been Entertainment Weekly reporters who've gone on to become TeeVee writers -- chief among them is Frank Spotnitz. Everytime I read one of Ken's articles, I get the very strong feeling that he thinks it's his time -- Why hasn't an executive producer hired my fabulous ass yet???
Well, Ken, because you're a tool. Your agenda is extremely clear.
Once, Ken gave an X-Files episode an "F." When queried about why the hell he did, Ken said, "Well, I had to give ONE episode an F." Oooh, that's some good reviewing there, Ken! The guy's always been phony and pretentious but he took it to new heights last week when he reviewed the new season of Battlestar Galactica. First of all, I think Galactica's the best show on TeeVee and the prejudices about the genre are unfairly holding the show back from the mainstream acclaim it deserves. Like comic books, science fiction -- true science fiction -- has always gotten a bum rap. It's considered pulp fiction, gutter fiction, stories for children. With a show like Galactica, someone who truly loves TeeVee and has a forum with which to say so has a golden opportunity to unequivocally bless the show. Ken took HIS opportunity to elevate himself above the genre, to make fun of it and say that in SPITE of the goofy spaceshippery of it all, Galactica pretty much almost works.
He claims to have no use for Star Trek, and if he DOES have to involve himself in science fiction, he "ponders" it in "print form." He then goes on to namecheck Thomas Disch and diss Harlan Ellison. I don't know why he cheered Disch and dissed Harlan. I'm sure Harlan doesn't care. It's just weird, like the dude needed the names of two science fiction writers before his deadline. I don't get the sense that he's ever read EITHER. And really, if you want to delineate your SF tastes, cheer whomever you want and diss crap, y'know? He gives Galactica every backhanded compliment in the book. But really what he's doing is, he's showing that his TeeVee watching is all about how it makes him look to other people. He's goddam enbarrassed that he likes Galactica because it's such a low-brow genre.
Science fiction is not a low-brow genre, and if "professionals" can't make that distinction, how is the public going to? There won't BE any genre on TeeVee if this attitude continues. So once again, Ken Tucker has made himself look like a pretentious bore AND he's hurt the genre.
Bravo, you imbecile. You've paved the way for more hacks like Tim Kring to elevate the genre.
np - The Veils, "Nux Vomica"