As everyone’s pretty much aware, Heroes turned into rubbish for volumes two and three and the most recent volume – four – has been a vast improvement and general return to season one levels of quality.
The reasons are long and complicated, but many cite the departure of producer Bryan Fuller, writer of Company Man during season one, to create Pushing Daisies as one of the causes of the quality drop.
The fact that Bryan Fuller’s back now – anyone who saw Cold Snap might well agree that our Bryan certainly knows what he’s doing when it comes to Heroes – and the quality’s improved only seems to confirm the linking of Fuller and quality on Heroes.
But I have some worries, the chief of which is that all this praise might be going to his head and all the other writers are going to kill him.
I’ll tell you for why. Our Bryan’s been doing a lot of interviews of late, in which he’s been dissing [spoilers for volumes four and five] the previous volumes. Fair dos, they did go a bit pear-shaped.
But our Bryan – who despite sitting in the writers’ room for a bit during the early part of volume four only rejoined officially for episode 19, Shades of Grey – has been getting braver with every interview and bit of praise aimed at him and now has been dissing bits of the original plans volume four [mad numbers of spoilers but worth it], revealing what was originally going to happen before his second coming.
Then I started reading the Fugitives arc. I thought ‘this is interesting, they’re back in their real lives’, but then it took another tumble down the rabbit hole of getting really dense and characters being angry
The characters’ anger at their situations was such a barrier to entry for me, because I don’t relate to pissed off people. I have to know there’s something in that person that makes me want to root for them and care for them. I thought ‘well, if people are angry, let’s understand why they’re angry so we can sympathise with them.’…
I came back for episode 19, so we started breaking that. When they were breaking that, Sylar’s dad was going to be the ultimate evil, the devil essentially. I was like, ‘didn’t you guys just do that with Arthur Petrelli?’ They agreed, so we took it in a different direction…
I’ll put spoiler tags on this one, because although it’s not really a spoiler (since there were clues on-screen) and Bryan Fuller has been going everywhere, telling everyone about it, even on the episode commentaries on the NBC web site so that people don’t get annoyed when the pay-off is revealed, some people might not want to know yet:
When I came in, they were planning to kill Tracy off. She was gonna get shot in the back of the head! I was like, ‘couldn’t we have her go out in a way that is more dynamic, fun and open?’ I guess I was trying not to have Ali Larter basically die in the same way she did in the second season – ‘I’m a hero!’ Then she dies. It felt redundant to have her go out the same way, so I was like ‘let’s not kill her, let’s see how these events change this character and stay with her on the journey as opposed to just cutting it off…
Yes, basically, volume four was going to be shite as well until Bryan Fuller came back. More worrying, despite the departure of Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb from the show, this is how he characterised the writing room:
The good thing for me when I came back is that the pendulum was already swinging back the right way and everybody on the writing staff recognised the problems with the show and how far afield it had gotten from where it was. Often that writers’ room is like alchemy – you have the person with the crazy ideas, the person with the funny ideas, the person who defends the characters at any cost. When I came back, it was a little bit like coming home from college and realising ‘oh, mum and dad don’t talk to each other any more, little sis is a cutter and little bro is hooked on meth’. The room was a completely different room. What was a cohesive group had become divided, so it was a matter of someone coming in and saying ‘let’s work together’.
Yes, Bryan Fuller is in fact Jesus and has brought people together and healed them. So I’m worried that Bryan has been a little less than tactful about his co-writers and they might get a bit mad with him; more than that, I’m worried that if he ends up leaving as a result or to do his own project again, the show will revert to pantsness, because even though the writers do know what they’re doing to a certain extent, judging by the earlier episodes of volume four, they apparently need Bryan Fuller’s leadership and insight to avoid colossal great plotting cock-ups.
What say you?