In October of 2008 NBC finally panicked. They had ignored Season 2 numbers and were still confident that Tim Kring could bring HEROES back to watercooler discussions everywhere. However now it was different. Word had come down from up high to Angela Bromstad that something had to be done with HEROES both creatively and with the budget. Kring having heard of the problem himself immediately went to action and fired his two most troublesome writers: Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander in November.
It was also around this time that word was out that PUSHING DAISIES was soon to be pronounced dead. People at both Universal and NBC went about trying to acquire him. He had written the most popular first season episode of the series and they wanted him back. When talking with Fuller, the idea that Season 4 would be a mid-season show was told to him. Angela Bromstad even mentioned it herself. HEROES was going to come back in the Spring giving them plenty of time to fix the problems. Fuller signed on to a 2 year deal at Universal (also the same time frame that JJ Abrams told him it would be before they would start a STAR TREK show) and was brought in to have a key role in the writing and direction of the program. His Season 3 work is again considered the best work of that season (although that doesn’t take much).
In April word started to leak internally that HEROES would be back in the Fall rather than the Spring. This is something that apparently Kring was fighting for. He believed (poorly) that a wait until Spring was just a sign that the show was a dead show walking. During this time frame Greg Beeman showed his disaproval of certain things with Kring. Shortly after Beeman was fired.
This left the creative direction of the show to Kring and Fuller. There was more fighting about certain absurd storyline ideas. Fuller then quit.
That’s where we are now. Now lets take a look at the four people who have been dismissed:
Jesse Alexander: Alexander is of course a longtime friend and business partner with JJ Abrams. He had a big part to play in ALIAS and helped define LOST.
Jeph Loeb: Jeph Loeb has an interesting background. He started out as a Movie writer. The movies TEEN WOLF and COMMANDO were his first sells in Hollywood. He would co-write the sequel to TEEN WOLF with Tim Kring. He ended up having a solid career as a writer for films. This career would lead to him being hired to bring THE FLASH to the big screen. While it was a film adaptation that never saw the light of day, it did introduce him to DC Comics. The people at DC offered him a job writing comics.
As a comic writer, Loeb is a 2 time Eisner Winner (think Oscar but for comics) both for comics that dealt with BATMAN. In fact his story arc BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN is one of the most famous story arcs of the last 30 years right behind THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, YEAR ONE and THE KILLING JOKE probably in popularity.
Loeb would then transition back to Hollywood writing TV episodes for SMALLVILLE. In fact he wrote one of the most popular episodes ever, that introduced Red Kryptonite to the series. He would even win a Jules Verne Award for the show. He only left due to his son’s bone cancer (Sam Loeb would die at the age of 17 in 2005). If not for his son’s cancer, Loeb would likely have never been around for HEROES and still be part of the SMALLVILLE team.
Now that you have an understanding of just who Alexander and Loeb were, lets look at why Kring fired them. He claims that they refused to write character driven pieces like what made Season 1 so popular. What? Really? Because God knows that is their inherant weaknesses. Alexander has never once written a character driven piece. ALIAS? That was total crap. Crazy stories, crazy characters and none of it believable. The characters were one dimensional and nonsensical. Loeb’s work in comics has been noted for its lack of character pieces. His works are total drivel. With characters doing things that goes against generally 40+ years of history. His characters act so out of character you wonder if he even knows what comic book he’s writing for at the time.
Wait. I just made all that stuff up. Alexander and Loeb are known for their character driven work. So what gives? We’ll get to that in a moment.
Lets look at Greg Beeman. He too was fired. So far no one to my knowledge has quoted Kring for why. Beeman has been around more canceled TV programs than I care to count. I remember him specifically for BRISCOE COUNTY JUNIOR (check out the future number 1 on my greatest TV shows of all time article… jk). However Beeman has always understood basic writing. Characters drive the story. Stories don’t force the characters to act out of character.
Now lastly, Bryan Fuller. Fuller is known for creating extremely complex and deep characters usually in outragious, unbelievable, fantastical or absurd circumstances. So writing complex characters who happen to have Super Powers seems to be right up his alley.
They’re all gone. We know Kring says Alexander and Loeb are gone because they refused to write character driven pieces. We know Beeman is gone after things heated up when the schedule was pushed forward 4 months. We know Fuller quit because of creative differences (ok I know it, and many of you may still be in denial or believing the company line he gave). We also know that when Fuller was hired it was under the impression they would be given time to iron out the problems. Then that was gone and it was rushed ahead for a September launch for season 4.
I’m just going to say what I believe here: Tim Kring thinks he knows what character driven is. People around him disagree. They all have reputations for character driven pieces, and some even have the awards to prove it. Kring on the other hand has only been tied to such masterpieces of character driven subjects as KNIGHT RIDER, TEEN WOLF TOO, and CROSSING JORDAN. Lets look at CROSSING JORDAN. That show is infamous by its fans for the characters doing things entirely out of character to push a story forward. Wait? Isn’t that the problem with HEROES?
It definitely isn’t too many people, too many plot lines. That’s a load of nonsense. It’s poorly written plot lines and characters acting out of character that is destroying the show. Poor use of “time travel,” and other things. I mean giving a character with one power a brand new super power of painting the future? Really? He paints in the same style as Tim Sale! Wait, Tim Sale painted all of Season 1′ Isaac’s art work. *Editor’s Note, Tim Sale who does the artwork in HEROES is also a long time collaborator of Jeph Loeb’s including BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN*
The Sylar character is a prime example of one of the worst written characters in the history of television. He’s bad. He’s good. He’s bad. He’s just confused. He’s just an addict. Wait, no he is bad. Wait, he still has a good side. Nope, he’s bad. Nothing about Sylar makes sense. Sylar season 3 is incomparable to Sylar season 2 or 1. Heck Sylar 2nd half of season 3 isn’t comparable to the first half of the season. He’s a poorly written train wreck that only remains on the show due to the actor’s popularity.
Just pick a character and you can watch as they do things that are entirely out of character but it moves a story forward. Now who is to blame? Is it really Alexander and Loeb? If so, why would Beeman have been fired and Fuller leave?
NBC let Kring act before them. They then let Kring keep his job. If fans are looking for anyone to blame… blame NBC. They could have fired Kring and saved the show last November.