First, some housekeeping. My plan, such as it is, is to try to post a blog every other week. It's going to work better than trying, and failing, to do it every week. Last night was Volume 4, ep 15. Next blog would after ep 17. You get it.
I recently ran into some people who told me how much they enjoy the blog. That's great. Sometimes I'm not sure if anyone out there is reading it. If you are and if you have a comment or question, please post it. I will try to answer your questions and address your comments.
Before I get to the episodes, let's talk about the Super Bowl for a moment.
C'mon, admit it. That Super Bowl "Feelin' Alright" spot was fun. If you'll admit it was fun, I will admit that I thought it might be the end of my career. I was not alone. Masi, Zach, Grunny and I all had nightmares that our lip synching video of Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright" would be met with gales of laughter (the wrong kind), mixed with sneers of derision. Heroes + Music Video = Pole Vaulting the Shark.
The idea was sketchy to begin with. Sylar slices open Hiro's head while holding Parkman and HRG at bay. That was it. We had an entire song to fill with that one flimsy idea. Now, no one was under the illusion that they would use the whole song on us, but still. Somehow, Grunny and I found ourselves behind this huge air-conditioning unit. Not sure how that happened.
We knew we were going to need props. Grunny asked if they had a microphone. When they told us they had the vintage NBC mike, he was all over it. I choreographed our look to each other and head snap back to the action. If we were going to look like fools, at least we would be synchronized fools. Toward the end of the song we just improvised. Here, Grunny never needs help. He started Jerry Lee Lewising the air-conditioner and I did my best to do... something, until... we were out. Thank God.
Zach had no idea that only the four of us would be doing the musical part. He wasn't pleased when he found out. Masi, I think, just knew he could be funny with any silly concept, and he was right. His takes to camera were priceless. Grunny can get away with anything. He's so likable and so silly that you don't hold anything against him. I, on the other hand, have a dry wit. This is useless in a music video.
Adrian had tried his best to warn me. You've spent three years developing this character, he told me. You want to throw it all away in a music video? Well, no, I didn't. These are tough decisions to make. You are left entirely to the mercy of the folks who shoot and edit these things and we had no idea how it would look. Our fears were assuaged, however, when they showed us the playback right there on the spot. It had a great look and made us chuckle. We were OK after that. Zach came out looking like a million bucks, as usual. And though he's never said anything I'd like to think that Adrian secretly wishes he were in it. I doubt it.
Episode 314: "A Clear and Present Danger." Written by Tim Kring, directed by Greg Yaitanes.
If you want to actually learn something about film making, read Greg Beeman's blog, Beaming Beeman at 9th Wonders. He writes so clearly and eloquently about the challenges and opportunities of directing a show like Heroes. If you have ever heard the term "crossing the line," for example, and wondered what it meant, he explains it to you.
If you wish to learn nothing about film making, dear reader, continue on with me. Sendhil and I just did commentary for episode 17. Such inane drivel you have never heard in your life. In this episode Parkman, Suresh and Peter Petrelli take HRG hostage. There are all kinds of fascinating things going on, some on-camera, some behind the camera, in the editing room, by our director and camera crew. And what do Sendhil and I have to offer? Piercing insight, such as, "Grunny and I almost passed out after that take." Or, "that's me hitting the mirror, not my stuntman." You will learn that the motel at which we shot we referred to as "Herpes Gardens." These are deep thoughts, people. Be prepared.
Anyway, ep. 14 is a really good one, in my opinion. From a writing standpoint it has suspense, action and character. The director, Greg Yaitanes, is truly talented. He has such a cinematic eye. The opening sequence where Ali Larter gets abducted, for example, is beautifully shot and edited. Greg almost always has a macro and a micro take on any scene. When he's wide he's not just giving you geography but a real sense of scale; this one lone woman facing who knows how many armed men? Her entrapment is made palpable by a wide-angle lens shooting from high above the room.
He also goes in super close for the moment when Ali discovers her window is ajar. It's classic thriller movie making, but on a television schedule to get all those shots, and then to use them all, not because you have them but because they really tell the story, is remarkable. A director friend of mine marveled at how many different shots were used in that one sequence and to what good effect.
There. That's about as much film sophistication as I can muster without a nap.
For my own part, I enjoyed my Marathon Man scene, where I seemingly rescue Suresh only to return him to his tormentors. For those of you who have seen Marathon Man, you will recall the moment when William Devane returns Dustin Hoffman to the clutches of the evil Laurence Olivier. If you haven't seen this movie, see it. Great movie, great performances. It was written by my all-time favorite screenwriter, William Goldman. How's this for an eclectic resume? Goldman wrote the screenplays to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President's Men, and The Princess Bride, to name a few. It's an astonishing range of material.
We shot that scene in downtown LA, on a wickedly hot day several months ago. Lots of military guys melting in black swat gear. Sendhil and I drove around in circles in that parking garage with two cameramen smashed in so they could film us both at the same time. It was a clown car. Personally, I thought Sendhil cried like a baby when I tasered him, bro. All that screaming and flopping about. Milo took it like a man and just passed out.
There, that's better. Now I'm back in my sweet spot. All that film appreciation nonsense just made me sleepy. And peckish. I could eat.
Episode 15: "Blood and Trust." Written by Mark Verheiden, directed by Allan Arkush. Mark comes to us from Battlestar Galactica. Fabulous writer; lovely, calm demeanor.
Allan, who directed "Company Man," I have raved about before. This time I will simply say, he is inexhaustible. He tells a great story of a recent reunion where his classmates show him pictures of their grandchildren and retirement homes in Boca Raton. And Allan can only reply, "Really? I have a 6 o'clock call Monday morning."
As I said, Allan tells that story great.
My memories of this episode were long nights in Sable Canyon, which is an excellent destination if you're a coyote. Actually, it's beautiful out there in the hills north of LA. There are many expensive homes nearby. But I believe the crew shot there for eight nights, which is hard when you finish work on a Saturday morning at 7 am and begin work Monday at 6 am.
Program note: Do not despair that HRG has gone forever to the dark side. As usual, he plays both sides, and not just to save Claire this time. He tries to bring a more discriminating hand to a government program that is tending toward totalitarianism. And he just might end up in cahoots with some of our other heroes. Or not. I wore black military fatigues, though still sporting my suit pants. Could that be a hint at dual loyalty? Hmm. Might be. Or not.
As the volume goes on, I have great stuff to do. I'm enjoying this volume immensely. For those who are not enjoying it, may I offer a small piece of advice? Walk away and shut up. Oh, but make sure you leave your Nielsen box on and tuned to NBC. I think that's a fair trade-off.
Until next time.
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