Hayden Panettiere And Masi Oka: ‘Heroes’ Is A “Roller Coaster”

by | September 14, 2009 at 12:04 PM | Heroes

Hayden Panettiere and Masi Oka. (Getty Images)

Hayden Panettiere and Masi Oka. (Getty Images)

Maybe that “supersizing” idea NBC had a while back wasn’t such a brilliant idea, after all.

Hopping on the phone with TV writers and bloggers Friday afternoon for an hourlong chat about the upcoming fourth season of “Heroes” – yep, even conference calls to promote the show drag on too long! — ensemble players Hayden Panettiere and Masi Oka were diplomatic about what has frequently been a chaotic production, with Oka conceding that seasons two and three had been, at times, a “roller-coaster”… and that the pressure is on in season four to reclaim the magic of the first campaign.

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“Without a doubt, season one was lighting in a bottle, and in seasons two and three it was hard to meet the expectations,” he said. “In season four, we understand that we have our backs against the wall. That’s why we’re swinging for the fences creatively.”

What such creative liberty means for a show that, on many occasions, could have used a little reining in, remains to be seen.

A breakout hit in its first season, “Heroes” suffered by all accounts in subsequent campaigns, with both critics and fans eviscerating the Tim Kring-produced hourlong fantasy drama and network NBC for slack writing and incoherent storylines.

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In June, the situation surrounding the “Heroes” writers room seemingly became dire when Bryan Fuller, the producer who had returned to the series, ostensibly to save it, left again… abrupt-style.

This season, with NBC downsizing episode orders to 19 – after summoning up 25 for the third campaign – the show will have an opportunity to right the ship, Oka said.

“Twenty-five episodes stretches out a storyline that should have been compressed in 20 or 21 shows,” he explained. “It dilutes it. “Having 19 allows you to be creatively tight.”

Panettiere concurred: “I feel like the last (three) years have been run-on seasons,” she said. “It does get drawn out sometimes.”

Meanwhile, with “Heroes” writers routinely killing characters, albeit temporarily, and transporting them to outlandish places (like the fuuuuture),” Panettiere added that it’s been difficult at times to get a bead on her character, former high-school cheerleader in serious need of saving, Claire.

“It does get a little tough,” she said. “You have the writers taking you in any direction they want. And on this show, they can take you in so many different directions.”