Thursday, November 09, 2006

Witz Reluctantly And Indecisively Pickz: Heroes -- An In Depth Review

No, it's not an X-Men rip-off. No, it's not about firefighters. And yes, that is the chick from Varsity Blues. NBC's attempt at an episodic series seems to have worked, as now millions of people are tuning in for the self-proclaimed television phenomenon "Heroes." The question is: should you be watching it?

Great question, casual television viewer! As an intelligent human being with massive TiVo capabilities, you want to know if this "Heroes" show is worth filling your digital and actual memory with.

"Heroes" is a show about ordinary people who are discovering that they have superpower potential. A disastrous future is looming, and fate appears to have aligned these characters to save the world. Now I know what you're thinking—you're thinking, "Yeah, save the cheerleader, save the world, what the hell's that all about," and you're absolutely right—the tagline has to go. It's stupid. It begs mockery. It's downright lame. But once you know the meaning behind it, you might just find yourself a bit more interested.

The "cheerleader" of reference is Claire, a high school cheerleader who has just discovered that due to accelerated cell regeneration, she can't quite seem to die. She's certainly tried; jumping off buildings, getting into car accidents, running into burning buildings-- but even when it means waking up in the middle of her own autopsy—she heals up. Oh, and also, she's hot. That's also kind of her schtick.

Herded by destiny to Claire's side are many more characters, each with their own new-found, or as of yet, undiscovered powers. There's Nathan Petrelli, a politician in the middle of a campaign who also has the ability to fly. His younger brother, Peter can fly too, but he hasn't mastered it yet, nor is he capable of escaping the fact that he looks a lot like Jason Schwartzman.

Niki Sanders has an alternate personality that she sees in the mirror. Yes, exactly like the Goosebumps book. When Niki is in danger, the personality takes over and tends to stick mostly to killing people or beating the hell out of anyone in the vicinity. I'm not entirely sure that this is considered a "superpower" and not "psychotic schizophrenia," but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Neither personality seems to have an affinity for whipped cream bikinis, but consider my fingers crossed. Recently, we've been introduced to her ex-husband who has the ability to move through solid matter (like Ghost Dad!!), and their son, Micah, whose superpowers have yet to be revealed. Micah has an aura about him that makes us think he's a very important child—the key to salvation—the Barack Obama of the "Heroes" universe, if you will.

Matt Parkman is a cop who can read minds, even if he doesn't want to—it's like "What Women Want" only apparently most women want to cheat on him or mock his physique.

Next up is Isaac Mendez, who looks like a rock star and therefore does a lot of heroin even though he's only a painter—but to be fair, he can paint the future, so he's got that going for him.

Seemingly everyone's favorite hero, however, is Asian comic book geek, Hiro Nakamura. He can stop time—not like your boss in a particularly horrendous business meeting, or like your teacher in advanced trigonometry—no, no, much better. Hiro can stop time like Zack Morris—call a "timeout" and then improve the world by saving people from explosions or cheating at roulette. I can't wait until he starts winking at the camera.

The foil to these superheroes is the mysterious "Syler" who appears to have superpowers himself, but also tends to use those powers to do things like cut out the brains of the victims he recently mutilated— a slightly different "super" direction. Oh yeah, and he's Claire's step-dad, so that family's a FOX reality show waiting to happen. "Who's Claire again?" You're asking. C'mon. Stay with me here. "Save the cheerleader, save the world," remember? Unfortunately, you might be lost, and the large cast is one of the main problems with "Heroes."

With so many characters and such an intricate story, very little actually seems to occur each episode. You can only move so many characters forward in an hour, and so each plotline feels like it moves an inch each week. While the characters are slowly approaching each other, you can't help but wish destiny had a little more of a grasp on weekly episodic structure.

Despite this shortcoming, the show exudes a Paul Allen-like sense of purpose, and while the overall pace may lag, each episode is packed with interesting stories, some actual conflict, and more flying/mind-reading/cell regenerating/alternate personality rampaging/time-stopping/future painting than any other show on television; and in the end, isn't that really all we can ask for?

Heroes airs Monday nights at 9pm on NBC.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Witz DOESN'T Pick: The "Experts" Picks

When you're in the picking business, which myself and a large group of historical black people are, you take picking seriously. For this reason, I've had it with alleged "experts" making picks every week in sports, particularly football. First of all, I myself am not claiming to be an "expert." I'm simply claiming to have the ability to take life experiences and vaguely, haphazardly spit out some form of opinion on them for you to consume like a a baby bird eating the salvation of my gullet. You're feeling kinda gross right now, aren't you? But maybe a little turned on? Such is Witz Pickz. BACK TO THE "EXPERTS."

There are two ways I know these people aren't experts. The first way is that they do not spell "experts" with a "z". Everyone knows that if you pick things consistently and are even an amateur in the field, you spell experts with a z. Bagelz With A Z is an expert on bagels and that is why their bagels taste so good and are spelled with a Z. N.W.A stood for "Niggaz With Attitude" and they were expertz at hip hop. This is all very simple and common knowledge. The experts on tv, do not spell their experts with a z.

More importantly, alleged NFL experts aren't very good at picking. Just because eight guys with that "something's not quite right" look to their faces (physical manifestation of mental deficiency) used to play football does not mean they have any idea what's going to happen. In the Chicago Bears v. Arizona Cardinals game a few weeks back, one announcer said, "Why even play the game, this is DEFINITE! IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ARIZONA TO WIN." Well, first of all, play the game because that's why you have a job and why we're all watching your television network you stupid sonofabitch-- but also, it's a game...and while the odds might be against a team, is the announcer's job to outright eliminate the possibility of a surprise victory-- especially when the ONE THING we consistently tell kids about sports is that perseverance and hardwork can pay off and that on any given day, any one team has the chance to beat any other team? That's like...the POINT OF SPORTS. So shut up announcer guy. Now, in an unfortunate twist, Arizona blew a 21-0 lead at halftime and let the Bears win. BUT at halftime, shit sure looked a lot different to Mr. WiseAss Pick Em Expert.

This is just one example of many. In baseball, Joe Buck, Joe Morgan, Steve Lyons, Tim McCarver, and the rest of the Fox/ESPN announcers have truly destroyed baseball viewing with their inane "insight" and downright painful commentary. If a man throws a hanging curve that is hit for a home run, I know he "didn't mean to throw that pitch there." Experts picked Detroit over the Cardinals-- ACTUALLY-- Experts picked THE YANKEES to win the world series from the minute they stepped out of Spring Training. But then something funny happened-- they played 162 games and then went to the playoffs and had to play MORE games. They played the games because that's what you do-- that's what sports are-- the games-- not the hours and hours of pre-scripted experts banter over who is definitely going to win. If everyone just shut up a little, gave us information instead of useless opinion, we'd all be a lot better off when it came to our sports, film, music, and television choices.

So eff it: Here are Witz Pickz for Week 9 in the NFL. I'm not an expert-- in fact, I'm less than not an expert. I'm a guy who watches football kinda and would drop everything for a game of pickup on a saturday afternoon. So here are my pickz. Let's see how I stack up.

Witz Pickz NFL Week 9:

ATLANTA (-5.5) over Detroit
CHICAGO (-13.5) over Miami
GREEN BAY (+3)over Buffalo
BALTIMORE (-3) over Cincinnati
WASHINGTON (+3) over Dallas
NEW ORLEANS (-1) over Tampa Bay
ST. LOUIS (-3)over Kansas City
NY GIANTS (-13)over Houston
JACKSONVILLE (-9.5)over Tennessee
SAN FRAN (+5) over Minnesota
SAN DIEGO (-12.5) over Cleveland
DENVER (+2.5)over Pittsburgh
NEW ENGLAND (-3)over Indianapolis
SEATTLE (-7.5)over Oakland

I Sure Hope This Doesn't Backfire,