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LOST/Heroes: A Commentary

By STEPHEN LACKEY     February 12, 2007

Every week it’s inevitable that someone will tell me, well I liked LOST, but it’s no Heroes.  I like both shows, and I’ve been as vocal as anyone about how the first 3rd of season 3 was such a failure.  What I’m tired of, and what spurred this article, is the comparison.  I’ve been known to do it myself, but usually when I compare it’s based on a specific point, not just in general.  There are obvious similarities, large cast, science fiction/fantasy situations, and of course the serialized nature, but is it fair to compare a series that as of this writing has only been on for 13 episodes to one that has been running for 55?  LOST has definitely faltered but has Heroes been on long enough to prove itself against LOST?  The ultimate answer to me is no. 

Heroes has grown into a phenomenal series but it’s not innovating, or breaking new ground as a series like LOST did.  Heroes is in fact riding on the coat tails of the success of 24 and LOST and the Spider-Man and X-Men films.  Without those series and films, you’d have no Heroes.  Hopefully Heroes will learn from the mistakes that LOST has made this season, but only time will tell.  We should really revisit this discussion once Heroes has been on for 50 or 60 episodes and then we’ll know if it was able to maintain its current level of quality.  If we’re going to be forced to constantly compare the series, then let’s really do it, because as great as Heroes is and as bad as the first 6 episodes of LOST was this season I believe that Heroes still has a lot to learn from LOST. 

I’m a big fan of Heroes but from early on I complained (with much negative feedback) about how the first few episodes drug and until recently I complained about some of the characters getting no interesting development.  I never cared for the Nikki/Jessica storyline until the last few episodes.  The thing that LOST was able to do so well in the first several episodes was to develop a large cast of characters and get us caring about them, either via flashback or through events on the island.  Right away we were intrigued by the Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley, Charlie, Sayid, Boone, Shannon, Locke, Michael, Claire, Jin and Sun. By episode 13 through the brilliantly written back-stories, these characters motivations are clear, almost on an intimate level.

Even with all of that we still get plenty of mysterious characters including Ethan and Rousseau.  Here we are at episode 13 of Heroes and Hiro’s story is already starting to turn to filler and characters like Simone, Matt, and Isaac have no real attachment to the series and very little character development.  As much as I love Heroes they still have a great deal of work to do as far as character development, balancing, and drama.  Has there been a scene as moving and dramatic in all of Heroes as the final moments of the recent “Not in Portland” episode of LOST?  The answer is easy, no.  That kind of drama, when done well, helps to invest the audience in the characters.  Like I said, they need to learn from the mistakes of this season of LOST, which almost died under the weight of the Others. 

Of the two series Heroes has the most potential for longevity if they can keep from dragging the plot down with too much filler.  After the destruction of New York has been stopped the heroes could potentially begin another all new adventure.  LOST is similar to Prison Break in that you can’t keep these people on the island forever because the audience will get tired of the filler.  Prison Break managed to build a story outside of the prison but many critics have stated that they think the series has lost some of its energy since the actual escape.  So Heroes does have that going for it, the creators have plenty of time, and plenty of new stories to fix whatever issues that need to be fixed.  Lost has a finite amount of time to get it right, and apparently the creators have decided that time will be a total of 100 episodes. 

LOST has a lot to make up for with the sub par first 3rd of this season and Heroes has a lot to prove, so that’s one thing they do have in common, they both damn well better be good from here on out.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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Captmathman 2/12/2007 8:47:36 AM
I heartily agree with you on LOST. I'm a fan of both shows, and I think weak LOST episodes outshine most everything else on TV. I think Heroes shouldn't be open-ended. The great thing about the show is our empathy with the characters as they come to learn to use their abilities. At some point, they've got to become comfortable in their own skin. When that point is reached, the story should end. That said, should Batman end? Oh great, now I'm arguing with myself. Help!
mbeckham1 2/12/2007 11:06:18 AM
I absolutely agree. Heroes is getting the same level of buzz in its first season that Lost got in its first. For the same two reasons: It's new and it's good. The comparison problem started when just as this new series comes in strong, Lost (likely due to some bad advice from the network) came in a little weak. Weak at least the standards Lost set for themselves. I don't anyone talking about a sub-par episode of American Idle, what the hells par for a reality show anyway. Anyway, old guy muffs a curve, new kid comes in swingin. But hey, some of best series ever to hit the airwaves, Buffy, Angel, Farscape, etc. have had less than great seasons, only to comeback strong later. (Firefly obvisouly wasn't on long enough to have a season by seasson comparison.) Lost still has a great story to finish and one of the best casts on televison. And while it was designed with an en in mind. And it aint there yet. And we're still in the middle act. I'm hear to tell you writers hate middle acts. That's why novel series come in threes not fours. A writer who did a four series, said it was a nightmare writing two middles The last act is the show stopper and I have not lost faith that it will be agreat one. Heroes on the other hand has a season arc not a series. They don't have to tread water as long and can move a few beatas faster on their revealations. Of course, because of the forward motion, because the actions of the character are being determined by the major events of that week. We don't feel that we know them as well as the characters on Lost. This again is both good and bad. Early into Lost we found that we very deeply cared about these people and what was hppenimng to them. We care about the Heroes, but there isn't quite the same feeling of closeness. On the other hand we almost feel that we know the Losties too well, and the continuing flashbacks are hitting a wall of diminishing returns. Leading the producers to bring in the desposable cast of last season(the Tailies). And now, to hopefully more lasting benefit, the Others. Again, what must be remembered is that this series was never meant to be open ended. So these matters are only problems in the middle chapters, with great payoff for those weather through. In Heroes' case, we'er only beginning to know these characters, and that can be either a great opportunity or its downfall. If these characters are not further developed the series will not be remebered as well as Lost in the long run. And if they are, that gives us all the more reason to stay glued to the screen next season. The other problem for Heroes is structural. Just as the flashback doesn't really work for every single Lost episode, giving everyone and every storyline screen time every week doesn't really make sense for Heroes except in probably on the contractual level. For instance, if the writer only have something for Hiro to do later in the story, do we really need to see Hiro hiding under a car for an episode, or see matt fixing a sink? If this we're comicbook or a novel, the answer would be no. But this isn't a novel or a comicbook. This is a television series with actors and actors have contracts. So we're stuck getting scenes with characters even when they are not advancing the story. Then we say, why are they even here, then next week they do something great, and we'll saying what has Peter done for us lately. But if structure remains, that only be a minor quibble. Me I'm looking forward to all the big questions being answered on Lost, in the kiond of dramatic fashion that will forever be rembered. And I'm profoundly glad that my grave fear that they would not have a chance to finish the story as they intented has not been realised.
tandaemonium 2/12/2007 3:16:51 PM
LOST has fallen out of grace for me, but I can understand the point of view of the author except for the part about the end of "Not In Portland" being dramatic. That scene reeked of typical Evangline overacting to me and over-the-top ridiculousness with how every other character in all those scenes stopped in their tracks to stare in awe at either Kate or Jack. I don't like this Heroes versus. LOST rivalry either and totally agree about it not being fair comparing a young show to a 2 year veteran. I'm so jaded by television series that as much as I love Heroes right now, I'm of the mind to not get my hopes up because I don't want to get burned again like I was with LOST. LOST was awesome in it's debut season. So yeah, Heroes...I won't be surprised if by next season or the one after you suddenly start shaking a bunny or have random Clockwork Orange rooms of Drum N Bass. [robintunneyinempirerecords]Shock me! Shock me! Shock me![/robintunneyinempirerecords]
creamygnome 2/12/2007 4:21:21 PM
I would love Heroes if they totally dropped Nikki/Jessica. I never liked the original Hulk that much, I don't need this girl version. I don't care about her story at all. Beyond that, Heroes rules. Lost feels too slow lately. But I've missed the new episodes.
spacekicker 2/12/2007 6:50:47 PM
I agree. republish this article in season three of Heroes and see what we think. Right now Heroes is great, but it's where they take us that really shows the guts of the show. Alias was great....right until the post 2 and 1/2 year mark and the subsequent episodes after that almost destroyed what had gone before. I'm hoping studios will get it into their head that longevity doesn't always equal good, nor more prosperous. Good will and brand recognition (in a good light) will outshine syndication monies in the end (IMHO)
dragon261 2/12/2007 11:24:28 PM
Apples and Oranges one show going up the other going down. ABC didn't do Lost any favors with the new time slot. If ABC was sincere about keeping the show they would move it to a less competitive time slot.
ponyboy76 2/13/2007 5:44:26 AM
These shows are just totally different and in 2 totally different places in their lives. Only time will tell if Heroes even has the same longevity than Lost, which is only itself is in its 3rd season. I love Heroes, being a big comic book fan and I love Lost for the crazy show that it is. I don`t need nor want to compare them. That`s for the idiotic t.v. press to do. I`ll continue to watch them until their runs are over or the show really does something that turns me away from them, which I severely doubt will happen anytime soon. Its been years since there have been such good genre shows on t.v. and after them I doubt it will happen again for awhile. so I say just Enjoy the ride.
jetpackjesus 2/13/2007 4:07:24 PM
I just wish all the great TV wasn't confined to Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. Lost upset me for 6 episodes, but I think they actually advanced things with the return episode so I'm re-hooked on it. Heroes and 24 on at the same time just isn't cool. Let's spread those out through the week and it will be like there's no wait at all for good television.
Tonebone 2/14/2007 1:20:12 AM
Well, I guess its good I don't watch Lost and I don't need to worry about the comparisons. Nothing against the show. Just never got into it. But maybe I will once its over and all seasons are eventually out on DVD
CalamityJohnson 2/14/2007 2:09:13 PM
It's amazing to me that people would compare the two and secondly come to the conclusion that Heroes is better. Amazing is a bad word for my astonishment... absurd is better. A look at the last episode of Heroes and the last of Lost illustrates my view. Take Hiro's predicament and the whole "steal the bag from the hotel room" scenario. This is an ideal example of terrible acting, directing, and script writing. In real life, or even in a realistic depiction of fantasy a character would sneak in, find the bag, and bolt. Instead, Hiro takes the time to open the door, admit his friend, have 2, not 1, but 2 arguments, then get locked out of the room while his friend is predictably trapped underneath the bed. Nevermind the absurdity that this random showgirl would even employ 2 nerdy puny "can barely speak english" guys to get her bag... This show has some strong points: Claire and Peter namely, but in all it's a show w/few intelligent or emotional strengths. It panders to the weak-minded, exhausted individuals that want nothing more than to zone in front of the boob tube and eat potato chips. Sorry, I like provacative thought, something that challenges my intellect, makes me wonder, "I wonder what this is all about" or "wow, i want to know more about him/her" (Juliette-she's hot by the way). I'm emotionally invested in many of the characters in Lost, and some I want dead real bad (Michael, most of the Others). I could care less about anybody (maybe except for Claire) in Heroes. One or 7 could die in the next episode and I wouldn't be too put out by it. "One flies, one dies...?" Who the hell cares...?
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