Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb….
In the last twenty-four hours, NBC released details of resurrecting an old franchise:
“‘Until we get closer to air in 2015, the show will be appropriately shrouded in secrecy, but we won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in’ said Jennifer Salke, NBC’s Entertainment President.’“
Read the full article here.
I remember when Heroes first hit our television screens. It had incredible word of mouth and became a cult favourite instantly. I recall my wife watching it with her family and well-versed film fans singing its praises. I remember because I was on the knife-edge when the first series appeared on DVD, but decided against buying “Part I” (and forking out further, when “Part II” arrived). Instead, I would wait, patiently, for the complete box set.
Unfortunately, by the time Season One was released in its entirety in December 2007, Season Two had already begun. In fact, Season Two had played out all eleven episodes by December 7th – three days before the Season One box set was even on sale in the UK. Fans of the series remember what happened with Season Two. Rather than build on the strength of the first season, it failed majestically due in large part to the writers’ strike.
In fact, in November 2007, Heroes creator Tim Kring apologised for the second season, admitting “We made a mistake”. In the middle of the writers’ strike, many series dipped – 24 settled for a one-off TV film 24: Redemption and other series, such as Lost, settled for half-seasons – but none hit the dust as badly as Heroes. It never recovered.
As a potential viewer of the series I lost interest before watching a single episode. While I waited patiently to pay out for the DVD, I knew that in the long-run, the series wouldn’t pay off (In the same way I know that The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Deadwood failed to come to satisfactory conclusions) and decided not to invest. Had I invested in the hours of time required to enjoy these series, the failure to properly resolve the character arcs would leave a bad taste in my mouth and the time spent would grate. I could’ve watched all of The X-Files, or watched The Wire, again. Instead I watched a failing TV series, and had I just waited, I wouldn’t have bothered.
But here we are, as Heroes: Reborn is due for release next year. A second chance perhaps? But still, new TV-series are touted as ground-breaking before the end of the first season (True Detective) and films smugly tell us “You’re Welcome” on their advertising campaign before a single critic, fan or audience member can judge the film fairly. Patience people, please.
True Detective may be one of the best television dramas this side of The Wire, but things change. Heroes screwed up after one of the strongest first seasons ever. It was over after four seasons – and cancelled on May 10th, 2010. Over 14m viewers in the US for Season One, rivalling Lost, and still it couldn’t muster up enough clout to gain a fifth and final season to properly finish. Instead, it was cancelled at the end of the fourth.
Marketing is integral to TV and film but it is worth hedging your bets. I’ve watched the second season of House of Cards and the third season of Game of Thrones recently – and, if True Detective and Heroes: Reborn are as good as they say, this time in two years I’ll have seen them too. But until the run is finished, and the full verdict is out, I’ll bide my time and enjoy series that court conversation and recommendations for years. TV series are praised for the longevity – and how they can explore topics in more detail with more depth and substance than a single film ever could. But this potential can be abused with weak plots and dull supporting characters – and the time lost on a weak series, you can never get back. Patience is all you need… until you’re hooked.