Thursday, February 15, 2007

Heroes: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Matt Parkman?

Without killing him, I mean. Because as boring and irrelevant and frustratingly clueless as I find Matt, I would still be upset if he died, just because of the residual goodwill I have for Greg Grunberg. Honestly, the guy could strangle a kitten on live TV and I'd be all, "Well, I don't support kitten-strangling, but he's in a band with Hugh Laurie! How cool is that?" Plus, he's doing the best he can with uninspiring material, and if it weren't for his own likeability, Matt would have none. So how can we reform Matt so that he's not a complete waste of our and Greg's time? Here's my plan:

1. Use His Power Wisely: Most of the time when Matt listens in on someone's thoughts, he hears them a) call him a loser or b) wish he would shut the hell up already. This week was the first time since we met him, way back when he found that little girl, that he actually used his power productively. He discovered the ambush and anticipated Jessica's moves, and if she weren't, you know, Jessica, he might have neutralized her. It was exciting, and it's the sort of thing he should be doing more often. And there are other constructive uses for his power. He could use it to ingratiate himself with people, so that they wouldn't hate on him so much. He's already done it once with his wife, so why not take it further? Matt could easily gain someone's trust by telling them exactly what they wanted to hear. I'm sure that could be useful on a case, although right now I can only think of how he could use it to get into someone's house and nick their jewelry. (What? He stole a whole bag of diamonds this week. It's a slippery slope.)

2. Pair Him Up With Other Heroes: Matt's previous meetings with other heroes have been nothing more than incidental: traffic stops, brief questioning, feedback. The only hero he spent more than five minutes talking to was Nuclear Ted, and he was the one who backed up Matt's story and convinced him to look into the Bennet/Haitian thing. Poor Matt could seriously use another boost of confidence like that. Not to mention that meeting – and joining forces with – another hero would make him a part of the larger storylines, and would help with the recent problem he's been having, in that all of his scenes are tremendous wastes of time. (Happily, the description for next week's episode claims that he will join up with Nuclear Ted and a new hero. Sounds worthwhile!) And by the way, whatever happened to his beef with Bennet? You know, how he was all, "I'm going to find out what you're up to"? He seems to've forgotten all about that, huh?

3. Let Him Be Happy: Matt is the writers' punching bag. You watch and you say, "There's no way they can make his life suck more," and the writers are all, "Sounds like a challenge to us!" And then they throw more crap at him. Matt has failed the detective exam three times, got suspended and probably will never be a cop again, is considered a kookoo crazypants by both the LAPD and the FBI, has dyslexia, was abducted by the Haitian and Mr. Bennet, lost the only guy who could corroborate his story, almost accidentally held up a convenience store, discovered his wife was cheating with his ex-partner, was defenestrated, and managed to get his first bodyguarding client killed. Okay, writers, I believe you can make his life worse. Can you please stop now?

Probably the only time we ever saw Matt happy was when his wife told him she was pregnant. And do you know what we learned from that scene? Matt is adorable when he's happy. True story. I'm glad that Greg Grunberg gets to play a role other than the wisecracking friend for once, but the fact remains that he's a funny guy, and it sucks that he isn't allowed to show it. Especially because the show can get so bogged down in mythology and angst. That's why Hiro and Ando are so refreshing – they're allowed to be their excitable and sarcastic selves and to have fun in their story. Matt never has fun. Ever. Couldn't we use another bright spot in all the brooding? And since drama clearly hasn't inspired the writers to write anything good for Matt, why not try a bit of comedy?

So that's my three-step plan to rehabilitate Matt. Habilitate, actually, because he was never that great to begin with. It may seem to be an impossible task, and that it's too late to change him, but isn't Heroes all about doing the impossible? And haven't the Heroes writers themselves already done the impossible, in sucking all the awesome out of Greg Grunberg? If they could accomplish that, there's nothing they can't do.


Travis said...

Matt is one of my favorite Heroes. I would say he is third after Hiro, and yes, Peter. I would love to see Peter and Matt get together with Hiro and then rock the supernatural world.

When Matt was found teetering on the ledge, I said outloud, "If they kill him off, I am done with this show."

Matt will do the right thing with the diamonds. It was a weak moment, but trust me he is a good man.