HEROES: From the Outside Looking In. By Eric S.

Eric S is one of the new writers on the site.  He’s a big fan of TV and has done some crazy things that I frown upon heavily like sending nuts to poor hapless assistants at CBS and making their week horrible as they try and figure out what to do with the nuts.  As long as he didn’t send them blood the next season for MOONLIGHT… anyway he has an interesting take on HEROES, because he has never watched it.  He has the POV of someone on the outside looking in.  This is an important POV, one that NBC should be paying a lot of attention to.  So I’m posting this article with a forward to explain why you’re seeing it.  Anyway enjoy:

Heroes: From the Outside Looking In.  By Eric S.

“Heroes” epitomizes everything that is wrong with NBC.  A strong statement, an awful lot is wrong with NBC, but this show is symbolic of it all.  To be fair, I have not seen a single episode of “Heroes,” so my criticism isn’t of the show itself, but rather is how I view the situation from the outside looking in.  The show did not make it onto
my personal DVR for its freshman season, too much else to watch, too little time.  The way I looked at it, if it did well, maybe I would pick up the DVDs and catch up before season two.  I meant well, but I was busy that summer bombarding CBS with nuts (yeah, I am one of them.)  There would still be time to catch up later, especially if the writer’s strike occurred and I needed filler programming.  I still neglected to catch up on the show because from what I heard from friends who were watching the show was that they were losing interest through season two, a discouraging thing for a potential viewer to hear. Besides that, I still had “Jericho” and now “Moonlight” to worry about!  The biggest “Heroes” faced when it came to attracting me, quite frankly, was its network.

I used to watch NBC a lot, and just like everyone else. I also watched them squander the success of “Friends,” “Will & Grace,” “Frasier,” “ER,” etc. as they padded their schedule with forgettable filler in the years prior.  So when those shows began to exit the schedule and the network began to collapse under the weight of all of the holes they were left with, I turned to the channel and didn’t come back.  My confidence in NBC deteriorated rapidly, I watched very little of it, and therefore I saw almost no previews for their new shows.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I would read about them in TV Guide, I’d see a commercial or two, and I picked up on a few shows, “Studio 60” comes to mind.

However, when it came to filling out my own schedule, I simply stuck to the networks whose programming I had more confidence in.  Clearly, “Heroes” had enough viewer confidence to be a breakout hit in the fall of 2006.  By the time I was ready to get around to catching up on it, however, the deterioration had begun.  I read negative comments here and there, as I said before I spoke to people who weren’t enjoying it as much, so I opted to watch something else.  When I read about backstage turmoil, knowing that is never a good sign for a show, I lost even more confidence in it.  Plus, it’s a genre show, one I’m going to need to watch from the beginning to want to see it, and why invest time in catching up on a show that appears to be a downward spiral.  Hmm, a genre show that is quickly collapsing in the ratings, backstage turmoil, and it airs on NBC, a network which even the president has said that being #1 is no longer a viable goal.  Not exactly confidence-instilling, and certainly not attracting me as a viewer.

I was impressed to see that NBC was taking steps to try to stop the bleeding, when I read that Bryan Fuller was returning following “Pushing Daisies,” I thought perhaps the show would manage to not so much turn the ship around, but rather stop the bleeding.  Maybe, at best, they could hold on to a decent cult audience which, for NBC, isn’t something that can necessarily balk at at this point.  But ratings remained in literal free fall for the rest of this season the point that I am convinced the show is doomed.

For the fans, I hope I’m wrong and that the show can turn around creativity wise.  But from the outside looking in, I just don’t see anything worth a summer catch-up marathon to prepare myself for the upcoming season four.  The news that Bryan Fuller quit and that the backstage turmoil continues puts the nail in that coffin as far as I’m concerned.  If I’m wrong and I read impressively good reviews for the upcoming season, and if ratings up-tick and the show is given a new lease on life, then perhaps next summer I’ll finally buy those DVDs.

It’s too bad, I personally love a show that is driven by strong characters.  If you have a weak plot, then you have weak characters, and not even a good actor can redeem that.  It’s going to take more than the same turmoil that brought “Heroes” down in the first place to fix it.  Similarly, it’s going to take more than the same powers that be that brought NBC down like the titanic to make any traction with the network as a whole.  But “Heroes” remains on a deathward spiral, and it seems pretty symbolic for what is happening to its network as a whole.  At least that’s my view from the outside looking in.  Who knows, maybe this time next year I’ll be watching “Heroes” instead of wondering what happened to it.


15 responses to “HEROES: From the Outside Looking In. By Eric S.

  1. You still can see the first season. It was one of the best things on tv.

  2. Nice article, and I’ll pretty much agree with everything.
    Being outside the US, I didn’t watch too much TV shows untill the past year. And untill late this year, I never read anything ratings-wise or even shows reviews. I like to make my own opinion about what I watch, but nowadays, the buzz around shows defintely puts some of them on my radar, and I perfectly understand why what you read/hear about Heroes keeps you away from it.

    Basicly, I first heard of Heroes from my brother, and I thought “okay, a show about superpowered people, that’s stupid. I’ll just pass”. Then it ended on my TV (Saturdays in summer in France with horrible dub but I didn’t mind back then), and I thought I’ll give it a chance at the few times I could catch it : I liked it, but didn’t love it yet.
    Last year, I decided to catch S2 because I was interested on where they would be heading. I simply loved it, and it made Heroes my favourite show. Maybe I’m weird, but that’s my opinion. Unfortunetalely, by then the writers strike ended the season, and this is what prompted me to buy those DVDs, and rewatch both entires season, and realize how great S1 was. I still love S2, but I now agree it was inferior to S1.
    And unfortunately, I’ve been disapointed by both volumes of last season, especially how they ended (3 of the 4 last ep of V3, the 3 last of V4). I’m usually easy to satisfy, but that season didn’t do it. I even waited the end of the season to make up my mind about it, because I thought that even the things I disliked created potential for what came next. Now I think that those things were just pointless.

    Now that I read things about what happens behing the scene, I agree that Heroes IS symptomatic of NBC. NBC’s decisions when it come to Heroes were basicly wrong, and they are also part of it’s downward spiral, even if I think most of people are right for blaming Kring.
    The next season can be as good as S1, but the real question is if it will. If it doesn’t improve by a lot, any progress will probably go unnoticed by most because clearly, the show is clearly way harder to fix now than it was last year. Hopefully, by this time next year you’ll buy those DVDs. I bought the 2 first seasons, might buy next years depending on what happens, but I really don’t know if I’ll buy this season’s, and that comes from a devoted fan.

  3. Another strike against Heroes upcoming chances is the change in time slot to 8pm Mondays. Dancing with the Stars, House, and HIMYM are all shows that a casual viewer can pick up without needing the backstory and they’re established ratings champs on a very crowded night/time. I fear for Heroes fans come this fall…they have a real uphill battle and a lot of the troops have been grumbling their displeasure, which does not bode well for the fight ahead.

    I watched S1 Heroes and loved it! I’ve tried to reconnect with the show every season since and it keeps being more futile and disappointing. This year it was actually keeping me engaged early on, but soon the story started to meander. I found myself with 2-3 unwatched episodes in my DVR queue and when I had free time, I found myself more inclined to rewatch a saved episode of Chuck (that I’d already seen once or twice), then catch up on Heroes. When I heard about the season finale, I felt infinitely better about my decision to drop the show from my recurring recording list.

    They say free publicity in any form is good, but I just don’t see that being the case here. All the backstage drama is cementing the apathy of people like myself, terrifying the hard core fans, and discouraging potential NEW viewers such as Eric. Perhaps, NBC can do damage control and the creative team will course correct…but I tell you this…when your show gets half the nominations (like 8 out of 16) for the Most Ludicrous Plotline in the TWOP Tubey Awards, you should not ignore the underlaying message!

  4. puredieselbc

    On a Heroes’ forum, earlier this year, I remember reading a post from a young woman who was still a diehard fan of the show. She wrote that while she still watches it, she doesn’t tell others about it anymore because now she was too ashamed to admit that she was still a fan.

    That tells you just how far this show has fallen.

  5. I’m a bit mystified who actually still watches it. I more or less gave up in Season 2, occasionally taken a quick look during Fugitives to confirm if I was wrong and I’ve yet to be dissapointed.

    I suspect I’m alot like many of the other disillusioned posters on sites like this. By that I mean we’re probably the demographic that Heroes is most squarely aimed at and yet we still won’t watch it. And believe me I have a really high pain threshold for bad tv.

    The main problem is that it has no internal consistency anymore. If anything can happen, and nothing seems to be fixed then the show just loses any dramatic tension it had. The “journey” Sylar has been on as a character is probably the best (by which I mean worst) example. His backstory was far more compelling when he was the son of ordinary parents, and I seem to remember that it was the whole point of the character.

    I like Quinto as an actor, but they really ought to have given the guy a sabbatical for a season or so as the show is really calling out for a new big bad to focus the plot around. Instead we get the same mix of head opening, time-travelling, Nathan flip-floping nonsense.

  6. Pas, you’re delusional if you think S4 has the chance of matching S1. Fuller quit because it wasn’t being fixed. So why quit if it has the chance of being great? They (Kring) were ignoring his advice. So you can’t say his touch will be on it.

    I mean it may not be as bad as the 2nd and 3rd seasons, but it most likely will be if not even worse.

  7. Some guy named John

    Season 1 was awesome, it could have ended there, and it would have been one of the best things ever on TV. I have watched the last two seasons and it something I just catch when I can. the show has beocme a joke, Maybe Kring should talk to Marvel or DC and ask them to get the story back on track.

  8. Season 4 isn’t going to fix anything, yeah.
    Going by the spoilers and hints given by Kring, they will still keep the focus on the Petrellis, Sylar and Claire. Although complaints in the fandom are getting louder and louder: “this is not the Petrelli Show”/”Hello? Ensemble cast?” They are still doing stunt-casting, too. Season 4 is still going in the same direction as Season 3, which ruined the show.
    They are not going to get new viewers, and they’re steadily alienating what little fanbase they have left. My theory is that the people who stick to it now are just trying to prove what dedicated fans they are. Personally, I cannot keep pretending everything’s gonna be alright. It’s also no fun anymore. None of my favourite characters are left. Those who are are unrecognizable, watching is unpleasant. I’m just following the news surrounding the show because a) I’m bitter and want to see the sow crash and burn and b) Sendhil Ramamurthy is still officially a main cast member and I am waiting for the inevitable moment when they fire him, too, like they did with the rest of their non-white cast. :/

  9. Josh Emerson

    Am I the only one whose favorite network is still NBC? Between 30 Rock, Chuck, and The Office, three of my Top 5 shows air on the network. I don’t think the problem is that NBC is lacking in quality shows.

    It seems that it’s the perception of the network that is really hurting it, which is what you were talking about. NBC needs people to realize that it airs some very good shows and they also need them to not believe the shows will be canceled before the end of the season.

  10. Nick C – To answer yo your post, I’m not delusional : I know S4 won’t match S1, and I didn’t mean to say it. My bad. Though I doubt it can get worst than some ridiculous parts of S3. That would just be cataclismic, but I’ve seen shows do worst before.
    I don’t need proof to beleive that’s why Fuller left either. If everything he was saying was being ignored, I kinda feel bad for him for staying aboard that long (isn’t it like 3 months of work already?) but nobody will be able to say he didn’t try.

    While we know Kring takes all the decision, I beggin to wonder what kind of influence the rest of the crew (writers and producers) can even have. Only based on their work on Heroes (without even looking at all their individual work), some of them seem talented enough to move on to other things if they want to. I suppose they don’t have a louder voice than Fuller when it comes to decision, so I just don’t get why all who didn’t get fired (yet) are still staying by their own will considering the downhill spiral. Maybe you could enlighten me since I don’t know a crap about inside things.

  11. Network loyalty for me is a long gone thing. All of the networks have ignored/cancelled shows I loved, and of course, being a fan of those shows, felt the networks didn’t give a damn about me. I too am a veteran of the Nutting of CBS, and learned a lot about how those corporations work. Now, I find the shows I like and enjoy them while I can, but I know that my tastes certainly don’t jive with what the networks and their silly numbers tell them.

    Heroes used to be a favorite. It is a shame what has happened to that show. It makes me even more grateful to ABC for seeing what was happening to Lost, and for taking steps to end that show before it went totally off the rails. The recovery, IMO, has been remarkable. If they had stuck with the plan for Heroes, maybe it wouldn’t be the hollow shell it is now.

  12. Sadly I agree with the post, I had faith that season four would be much better than season 2 & 3 because of Fuller (the proof was in the episode ‘Cold-Snap’) but now he’s gone I think the show is just going on prays. Maybe Kring can rebuild the show but I have watched HIS original pilot and it was horrific (its like the spawn of evil, that Heroes is slowly decending into).
    I agree that the cast can be large but they should have allowed Kring to do what he had intended to do from the get go, have a new cast each season (maybe have old characters pop-in with storylines – a bit like Skins now). Although I feel that all season three characters were terrible (‘Elle’ can show you why I still find season two quite good) .
    If they concentrate on Peter, Sylar and Claire then whats the point. They are all american, it would be nice to meet some new (3D, strong or even weak in characters but interesting and compelling) people who are from different backgrounds. Maybe someone in a country struggling from the economic backset gains a power like Bob’s (from S2).
    Plus its like Prsion Break now, the storyline of season four is about a ‘new’ company (if Peter & HRG make it then maybe its about the moral trials) but it feels like there is nothing new in the show to make things worse.

  13. Well, S4 will very probably not be as good as S1 (I’ll let a 1% margin for an eventual miracle). Since I’m not hard to satisfy, I’ll be happy if it goes somewhere between S2 and S1 level, since S2 at least continued on the different S1 strenghs (but at a lower level of course).
    That would be a first step, of course it could also be the last. But even that seem hard now with the hole they dug. I don’t really count on Kring to do it, and I doubt the few talented writers/producers would be listened if Fuller just got flushed away.

    I agree on – maybe not an entire new cast – but a renewed cast (more or less half of it) each years, with some veterans having more or less importance. Was that NBC that didn’t let Kring do that? Because to me, not following the plan seems a lot like fan service, which became a big problem for Heroes this year.
    – You want less characters ? Great, let’s kill all who were introduced in S2. (btw now, people are complaining that they want to see Micah/Molly/Monica, even though the actors aren’t available… o they should think twice before asking something).
    – Some people get confused by time travel (seriously, wasn’t it used like 5 times during 2 whole seasons?)? Okay, we make Hiro and Peter powerless. Crap they don’t have powers anymore, let’s just give them weaker ones.
    – More Sylar ? Okay, you’ll see him all the time. (Sidenote : his arcs go nowhere and I’m still pissed they just killed of Elle for… well nothing).
    They even say they’d like to have Bell back. Well her character had potential, but she’s dead and have no flashback potential. And if it’s not Fuller, I don’t want any of them dealing with resurection.

    Well, next season still has potential. And this will be the last chance they’ll ever get now. The new Company could be interesting, but I don’t see how it won’t end up like the first one, one way or another. Won’t develop since we basicly know nothing about the diferent storylines, except exrtemely vagues spoilers Kring gave us…

  14. Some Guy Named John

    – Kring wanted each season to be a whole new cast, NBC said that the fans would hate that and told them to keep the same cast.

    – Sylar should have died in season 1. Elle should have lived, for the simple reason of a good character that could add to the lack of women with a decent powers.

    – Kid actors are tough to shoot a show with, I get that, but leaving giant plot holes open also make no sense. finsih their story lines or dont include them, simple as that.

    – Peter and Hiro had amazing powers and deserved to keep them, I think Peter having to learn he can become unstable and Hiro learning that time travel can effect too much could have created more drama and a decent sory arc.

  15. I am a Heroes fan. I have been ever since I mixed up the premiere dates of Heroes and Friday Night Lights and got hooked on season 1. (never actually ended up watching FNL) I bought season 1 on DVD because I loved what I saw. I anxiously anticipated season 2, and although I didn’t like everything about it, I did enjoy most of it, and so I bought that on DVD too. After months of waiting with the writers strike, I was pumped for season 3. And for awhile I liked it. Then it really lost its footing(not really going to go into details how). But I figured, hey I’m not really into any other show at this time, I’ll keep watching. Volume 4 started, and I really liked it. It was good, not Vol.1 (also season 1), but good. And then there was the season finale. Not the show’s biggest hour to say the least. I haven’t decided whether or not to buy the DVDs. I still plan on watching season 4. But to be honest, for once I’m not really looking forward to watching it. I wish the show would set a definite ending (like Lost, can’t believe this is going to be the last season!). I’ll keep watching the show until the bitter end, but I have a feeling it’ll be watching it in memory of a show that once was and thinking what could have been.