Heroes Postmortem

It's official: NBC canceled Heroes. I'm fuzzy on the details. Something to do with the show hemorrhaging two-thirds of its viewers over the last couple of seasons? Not sure.

I was briefly tempted to start this off with, "I come to bury Heroes, not to praise it," but I'm not a huge fan of public gloating. Granted, the severe dip in the show's quality made me lose all enthusiasm for it by early fall last year, and I never did get around to watching the back half of the final season, but for a good run there, this site devoted significant time and energy to covering and analyzing the show. Thus, it seems only right to have one final wrap-up post.

Here's a handy master list of the Heroes-themed posts on this site:

Volume One recaps
Volume Two recaps
Volume Three recaps
Volume Four recaps
Volume Five recaps

Ten Common-Sense Ways to Fix Heroes

My pre-Volume Five Heroes spoof press release

My Volume Five speculative script

My account of meeting all those talented and charming cast members during the WGA strike.

Post-Volume Two character analyses

...and, for good measure, all those Volume Five recaps where I Photoshopped the inexplicably-absent Mohinder into the publicity stills, just out of spite. Ah, good times.

In all those words above, I've probably already said far more than needs to be said on the subject. Thank you for one damn good season, Heroes, and here's hoping all the cast members soon find their respective ways onto better projects.

Edited to add: the great Dan Liebke's awesome visual representation of the ideal end for the series:

Total missed opportunity there, Dan.


Dan said…
Aye. That one season truly was fantastic. If only the Haitian could wipe memories of the remainder, I'd be declaring it one of my favourite shows ever.

(Note: of course, I'd still want the Haitian to somehow allow me to keep my memories of Skulky the Turtle Wonder. No point throwing the baby out with the bath water. Not unless you want to be prosecuted for reckless child endangerment.)
Morgan Richter said…
While you were typing your comment, Dan, I added your totally awesome and bonkers Wizard of Oz-inspired graphic to the end of the post.

Yes. While it sounds lofty to declare that I only want to remember Volume One and forget all the nonsense that came afterwards, I'd hate to lose the memories of Skulky the Turtle Wonder and how, for a brief shining moment there, he hijacked Volume Three and elevated it into something much greater than the sum of its parts.

Also, I'd like to keep the part where Mohinder writhes around mightily while chained to a chair, and Nathan throws a bucket of water on him. Yeah. That was good, too.
Ingrid Richter said…
Heroes is dead. Long live Heroes.
Morgan Richter said…
When "NBC cancels HEROES" was trending on Twitter last night, I took a quick survey of the Twitter reactions. From what I could tell, the breakdown was roughly thus: Half of the tweets using that tag were from news outlets retweeting the news without comment, a quarter were disappointed fans, and a quarter were people who were happy at the news. And then there were a bunch from Twitter accounts that were attaching the tag to unrelated tweets just to increase views. Point being, I doubt we see any organized/successful fan campaigns to save the show. Not many hearts are in it anymore.

Whatever anyone's opinion of the quality of the show, it's very difficult to argue that NBC made a poor business decision in deciding to scrap it. TV is still a ratings-driven industry. Ratings decide the advertising rate, and advertising is the way networks make their money; DVD sales and online ads are gravy, not meat. Heroes was a very expensive show with very, very poor ratings. Hence, NBC couldn't charge much for commercial time and thus couldn't recoup their production costs through advertising. Factor in the way it'd been critically panned for the last few seasons, and factor in the rumors of disorganization and production discord, and... yeah, it was doomed.
levitatethis said…
Well I'm certainly not upset by the news. I think we were all counting down the days until NBC finally made one intelligent decision.

My first reaction to the news (thanks for the email, Morgan...I had no access to a home computer for a couple of days so I missed this) was a rather ho-hum, "okay then." I'm still bitter about all the wasted potential on this show. The first season was fun and interesting...and then the show slowly imploded until it was unrecognizable.

I blame Kring and the hacks show made shitty decisions and then tried to force feed them to the viewers, only to get annoyed with the viewers for not swallowing whole.

Happiness for me is remembering season 1, the awesome fandom I discovered, finding this blog and knowing Sendhil is off to (hopefully) better things. I hope all the actors move on to better projects.

Morgan - your recaps, ideas, photoshopping were second to none. You made watching this show more bearable than it deserved.
averys said…
Morgan - your recaps, ideas, photoshopping were second to none. You made watching this show more bearable than it deserved.

I second this. Hope your recaps of Covert Affairs will be just as great (and, of course, that the show itself will be good).

I'm not sad about the cancellation of Heroes. My only wish is for the cast & crew to find new jobs, and for the channel to stop teasing with that "possible movie" nonsense. They should let people move on.
Morgan Richter said…
Thank you for the kind remarks, Levitatethis and Averys, and thanks to both of you (and to everyone else) for filling the comments on my Heroes-related posts with insightful and often hilarious observations.

only to get annoyed with the viewers for not swallowing whole

And there we get to the crux of why cancelation seems like the best possible outcome. I don't wish misfortune upon anyone or anything. If, say, FlashForward, which I have grown to sort of loathe, had been renewed for another season, I would have thought to myself, "Wow, dumb move by ABC," shrugged, and gone on with my life without thinking about it again. But with Heroes, the contempt and condescension some of the creative staff have displayed toward the fans makes me feel like they've earned themselves a little comeuppance. We've seen them be overly-defensive and inclined towards blame-shifting about legitimate viewer concerns, and we've seen them be outright hostile and abusive about legitimate viewer concerns. Heroes did a bang-up job of alienating its fan base, which I think is why the news has brought some Schadenfreude. I hope the cast and crew all land safely on their feet, but... this is for the best.
levitatethis said…
Heroes did a bang-up job of alienating its fan base, which I think is why the news has brought some Schadenfreude.

Precisely. Here is (was?) a show that seemed to go out of its way to lay blame on everyone else's shoulders except their own. There were people involved with the show who were rude, obnoxious, dismissive -- absolutely unacceptable behaviour by any professional standards. It's because of those people I take a certain pleasure in this news.
Dan said…
Morgan - your recaps, ideas, photoshopping were second to none. You made watching this show more bearable than it deserved.

Oh, I totally third this. Not only were the recaps timely, a tough enough feat in itself (says the man who is about eight episodes and one season behind on his Smallville recaps), but they were also invariably a perfect blend of detailed and funny. At the end, I can honestly say I was watching the show solely so I could read and understand the recaps and contribute to the comments section here.

So, thank you.
Morgan Richter said…
It's because of those people I take a certain pleasure in this news.

Ditto. Of course, there were people working behind the scenes who were just delightful: Greg Beeman, man, they never should have fired him. Jeph Loeb was another nice guy (who also got fired. I'm detecting a trend). Mark Verheiden always appeared to be smart and insightful, and Oliver Grigsby seemed like a pleasant chap. I'm sure there are others, probably many others, who are worthy of praise. But snakes alive, there were some toxic personalities on that staff (or, as I like to think of them, Human Resources complaints waiting to happen). And the show simply wasn't good enough to warrant the outsized egos and the unpleasantness toward viewers.

At the end, I can honestly say I was watching the show solely so I could read and understand the recaps and contribute to the comments section here.

Aw, thank you, Dan. It was fun while it lasted. Heroes used to be the perfect show to recap -- a nice balance of genuinely cool stuff, loopy plot ideas, terrible science, veiled homoeroticism, and hilariously exposition-heavy dialogue (Angela to Peter re: Nathan in the pilot: "You hero-worshipped him, and those feelings were never returned." Come on! It's so unnatural, it's hysterical!). And even when everything else let me down, at least I could babble on about Mohinder's hair and eyelashes and those long, long legs, to say nothing of his blindingly awful wardrobe. Ah, those were the days.
Anna said…
"You hero-worshipped him, and those feelings were never returned." Come on! It's so unnatural, it's hysterical!)

Hah, it's still the exact thing that goes through my head when I read comments by the last remaining, faithful Heroes fans. They worshipped Tim Kring, but those feelings were never returned.

I am looking forward to the day, some months in the future, when I'll be able to watch Heroes Season 1, maybe even Season 2, without this bitterness that's currently still infesting my mind. But two days ago, I suddenly remembered Company Man - not the black/white flashbacks, but the storyline where Matt and Ted took HRG's family hostage, and it was such a turning point. I had totally forgotten that Heroes had had such great moments. :(
Morgan Richter said…
Anna, yeah, I'm holding off on rewatching any Heroes until I feel certain the bitterness has ebbed away. Season One had some great moments, but right now it's still kind of tainted by the crap that came afterwards.

I feel like I should start a betting pool as to which cast member will be the first to run his or her mouth off about how bad things got behind the scenes. It may take a while -- it'll certainly be after these rumors of wrap-up movies or miniseries have faded away, because nobody is going to want to burn any bridges while they're still somewhat hitched to the show -- but I bet some awesome stories will leak out at some point.
Anna said…
Good question about the actors!
They sure don't seem heartbroken about it - nostalgic, maybe.

Greg Grunberg has been promoted to series regular on Love Bites. Not a show I'm interested in, but good for him, and I wonder who else is going to snatch up a regular role in the coming weeks.
Morgan Richter said…
Good for Grunberg! Glad to see he didn't miss out on finding work in the upcoming season by the news of cancellation being announced so late: Most of the fall pilots have already been cast or are already filming.

I'm sort of thinking Hayden might be a good source of behind-the-scenes gossip in upcoming weeks. On the surface, she would seem to have the least to complain about, since that final season was pretty much all-Claire, all the time. But I doubt the working environment was much fun for any of the actors, and she's both young enough and outspoken enough that she might be less cautious and reserved about what she says than the others. If an interviewer asks her directly about it, she might just dish.
Anna said…
Hmm... I haven't really heard Hayden talk about the show at all in a long time. Since she gave up hyping the lesbian storyline?
But every actor is definitely going to get asked about the show, and something, anything, will get through eventually.

Have you read Tim Kring's hilarious statement about the show's cancellation?
Morgan Richter said…
I had a hard time making it past the description of Kring as an "award-winning transmedia storyteller." So the show was about hope, interconnectivity, and global consciousness? Really? Global consciousness???
Ingrid Richter said…
"One of the five most-watched shows across traditional and digital media screens in the history of television."

Oh, I see! The ratings weren't bad at all! People just weren't counting the other forms of digital media.

Sigh. I'm kind of grumpy today. My apologies.
Anna said…
At this point, the man just comes across as hugely arrogant.
He knows that people were not getting "hope" out of his story at all... to say the least.
Morgan Richter said…
Grumpiness caused by Heroes is infectious, Ingrid. No apologies necessary. Yes, one of the five most-watched shows. *cough*bullshit*cough*.

I'm still hung up on Heroes' important message of "global consciousness." The hell?
Anna said…
I seriously wish Hollywood would not try to be "global" quite as much. If the heart's not in it, it will only end in failure. Let's remember that in his first draft, Kring didn't know the difference between the Japanese words "banzai" and "bonsai". If Masi hadn't fixed it into "yatta", maybe we'd all have realized much sooner that Tim Kring is a giant hack.
Ingrid Richter said…
I don't know, Anna. I think there would have be something charming and mysterious if Hiro yelled "little trees!" when he landed in Times Square :-)
Morgan Richter said…
Correct me if I'm wrong, but by the end of the series (not like anyone was watching it by then, really), weren't the only remaining "global" characters Hiro and Ando? And they were pretty peripheral in the last season. I suppose the Haitian--Rene--was also kicking about somewhere. As has been pointed out to Kring often enough, whatever his original intentions, by the end of its run, the show just centered around a bunch of upper-middle-class American characters. There's not much global about that.
Morgan Richter said…
I think there would have be something charming and mysterious if Hiro yelled "little trees!" when he landed in Times Square

Okay, Ingrid. You get one of my very rare "LOL"s for that.
Anna said…
I don't think you're wrong about that, Morgan. The infuriating thing about Tim Kring is that he wants praise for all the positive aspects of the show, even if they only exist in his head or as potential, but at the same time he refuses responsibility for all the negative aspects. He can't even admit NOW that Heroes did not live up to its promises, and apologize for disappointing people who expected more, especially in regards to fundamental values.
Morgan Richter said…
Yep. If you start out having a bunch of characters from diverse backgrounds on your show, but then get rid of them over time until you're left with nothing but a bunch of upper-middle-class Americans, you don't get to take credit for having a "global" show anymore. Kring voluntarily surrendered his "global" card long time ago, which is why it's so galling that he's still trotting it out in interviews and wanting praise for it.
levitatethis said…
Part of me is curious about what it must be like in Kring's brain. His delusions are something else. The show was so "global" it succumbed to stereotypes while knocking off all the characters of colour save for two. Bite me.
Patrick said…
I'd like to add my thanks to Morgan for running this blog - you brought us all together, and kept us all together even when we stopped watching the show!
Morgan Richter said…
Thanks, Patrick, and thank you so much for providing so much smart and insightful analysis of the show -- your comments invariably lifted the level of the discussion.

Kring reminds me of a restaurateur who lost his Michelin star long ago -- after it's gone, he's no longer allowed to refer to his establishment as a Michelin-starred restaurant, but he's clinging tight to the dream anyway.

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