Not even saving the cheerleader is going to help “Heroes” this time.
Billed as the creatively troubled NBC show’s savior last December upon his return to the writers room, Bryan Fuller has quit the series to work on other NBC projects, insiders confirmed.
This is only the latest setback for a series that careened off the creative tracks at the end of season one and, despite numerous attempts, has never been able to get back onto them.
Tying together the lives of a globally dispersed group of young adults with unique superhuman talents, “Heroes” became a modest hit for NBC when it launched in the fall of 2006, ranking 21st among all TV shows in total viewership for its first season and garnering comparisons to another successful fantasy/sci-fi series, “Lost.”
Execution-wise, however, those two shows couldn’t be more different. “Lost’s” creators knew where their series was headed from their very first pitch meeting with ABC, when they brought in an almanac for the show that defined a master story arc and an end date.
And certainly, ABC would have loved to have “supersized” season orders beyond the standard 22, but the producers stood their creative ground, generating season orders (this past campaign only contained 16 episodes) that they believed were qualitatively sustainable.
Juxtaposed against that is “Heroes,” which was created by Tim Kring, a guy who made his name on the procedural drama “Crossing Jordan” – not the kind of background you’d expect for someone making a serialized sci-fi show.
Kring was armed with a strong vision, as well as standout talents like Fuller, who penned several of season one’s most popular episodes, including “Collision” and “Company Man,” before heading over to ABC to create and run “Pushing Daisies.”
However, there was a distinct making-this-up-as-we-go-along feel to the show, with Kring even admitting after season one that he junked several burgeoning romantic relationships on the narrative fly because they just didn’t produce any sparks.
Things might have turned out OK had NBC not tried to spread Kring too thin for season two by ordering a spin-off series, “Origins,” that pushed the episode count beyond an astronomically high 30.
“Origins” never ended up happening because of the writers strike, and what was produced of season two wound up as a narrative mess, with too many characters and convoluted plot lines.
For his part, Kring declared season three would be marked by greater creative focus, and fan optimism was certainly sparked by the return of Fuller to the show. However, those hopes were soon dashed when season three presented even more characters and confusion.
As to where “Heroes” goes from here is anyone’s guess. For now, the show remains on NBC’s fall schedule.