The Cheese Fry was a big fan of NBC's "Heroes" when it debuted last season. What initially seemed to be some half-baked X-Men rip-off turned out to be engaging and smartly produced. It was deservedly a breakout hit. While ABC's similarly mythic show "Lost" was getting bogged down in tedious subplots and red-herring tangents that took the narrative one step forward and two steps back, "Heroes" moved at a relatively breakneck pace, packing in more twists and cliffhangers and revelations in a single episode than "Lost" mustered in a whole season.
Which is why the second season of "Heroes" was such a huge letdown. It was a mess and you know it. Even creator Tim Kring knows it.
Here's the reasons.
* Rehashed elements. Season one involved one character getting a horrifying glimpse at a future apocalypse (the "exploding man") that destroyed New York City. Season two went to the same exact well, only this time the future apocalypse was a man-made plague so it's, you know, completely different.
* Not playing fair. As abbreviated and anticlimactic as the season one finale may have been, there was real power in the shocking twist that seemingly killed both Nathan and Peter Petrelli. Network TV shows don't do that sort of thing, which is why it was so unexpected and... real. But here in season two, Nathan and Peter are back in action. And the show did very little to explain how exactly Peter survived being the cause of an explosion that lit up the Manhattan night sky. Then again, even if the show did work harder to explain it, we wouldn't be buying it. Shades of Bobby Ewing in the shower: Nathan and Peter survived for the simple reason that they're popular characters. Further points must be deducted by introducing the idea that Claire's blood can regenerate anyone, even someone shot in the face. Now apparently no one can die, which further undermines any genuine worry we may feel for these characters' safety.
* Too much Hiro. His cutesy broken-English and sad-sack romanticism gets real old real quick. Season two inexplicably spent weeks and weeks on Hiro's boring visit to feudal Japan. Moments after the Cheese Fry saw Hiro meet his beloved hero Kensei and realize Kensai was a loser drunk, this entire subplot was immediately apparent: Hiro must show the hero how to be a hero. Which is exactly how it all played out. Very very slowly. No curveball, no twists. Audiences don't like to connect the dots that quickly. It's boring.
* Horrible new characters. By the Cheese Fry's count, season two was 2-6 in the new character department. The troubled immortality of Kensei/Adam Monroe was certainly interesting, but the show waited until the last couple of weeks to really explore him (and how seeing hundreds of years of human cruelty had warped him) in any detail and so everything felt rushed and clumsy. Maybe it's just the plucky charm of Kristen Bell, but there was also something likewise intriguing about her character, the petulant and lonely Elle. The other four new characters, however, ranged from the dull (muscle mimic Monica - cool power poorly utilized) to the derivative (evil nerd Bob) to the infuriatingly pointless (twins Maya and Alejandro). Maya may be the most annoyingly gullible, dim-witted, and whiny character ever put in a prime-time TV show without being intended to come across as annoyingly gullible, dim-witted, and whiny. The Cheese Fry hates her.
* Narrative confusion. Can someone explain to us what the hell exactly was going on with the virus and the cure and all that? A bunch of mumbo jumbo.
* Narrative volume. There's epic and then there's bloated. This season tried to cram in too many characters, too many subplots, too much intrigue. Try watching an episode of "Heroes" with someone unfamiliar with the show and see how convoluted and ridiculous it all sounds as you try to explain the characters and their backstories.
* Mohinder. We'd like to apologize to Maya. Mohinder Suresh is the most annoyingly gullible, dim-witted, and whiny character ever put in a prime-time TV show. We can only hope that his character will die a most painful death as quickly as possible. Perhaps we can throw him to the Sarlaac.
* Using amnesia as a plot device. This is never a good thing. Ever.