Tim Kring Talks Downfall of HEROES; Thinks Future of TV Lies in Shorter Seasons

     January 6, 2011


Depending on your stance during the last couple seasons, you’ve already mourned or celebrated the cancellation of NBC’s comic book drama Heroes. No matter who’s to blame for the show’s eventual downfall, the series creator has some thoughts of his own on the reasons for the show’s eventual failure. Coincidentally, his thoughts on the show’s demise also seem to predict what the future of television might hold for viewers who don’t have the patience for another long-running, involved series like Lost.

Find out what Kring had to say after the jump.

tim_kring_heroesKring talked to Metro about the difficultly of sustaining the quality of a sudden phenomenon and said that he thinks maybe the sheer number of episodes and length of a standard season of TV became the problem.  He goes on:

“It’s hard to sustain something that’s a zeitgeist phenomenon. Things burn bright and short these days. We did an awful lot of episodes – 24 a season – which is difficult to do. A little less of it might have gone a longer way. People talked about the first season because it was new. Once the initial premise has been explored and the characters come to terms with what’s happening to them, once those questions have been answered, the questions that are asked after that are less interesting.”

Considering the questions asked every season were usually the same, involved an end of the world premise, some character coming back from the dead, and/or Sylar flip-flopping between hero and villain, I think that also hurt the series. But Kring goes on to cite The Walking Dead as the new way to go about making a series last while still interesting viewers:

“The last series of Lost was panned and FlashForward didn’t last long… There are so many different things to watch that to invest in a show that asks a million questions and doesn’t deliver many answers for an extended period of time is a lot to ask for. A zombie series called The Walking Dead just launched here, which was a huge success because it was good quality – but also because it was only six episodes long. People knew it wasn’t a huge time commitment. It gave it more of a sense of an event rather than a series that would go on for years and years.”

Kring’s logic here seems solid considering some of the best TV shows running today don’t go the usual 24 episode run for a full season. Shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Boardwalk Empire have only 12 episode seasons. Others have even survived with eight or ten episode seasons. It’s certainly a great way to stretch out a story, get networks the profits they want/need and not burn out viewers on a series so quickly.

It’s the same reason British television series are consistently better, and more well-received than American series (and why we try to adapt them so often). It’s a shame this wasn’t figured out sooner or we might still have a decent run of Heroes on networks right now. What do you think?