So by now we all know that NBC’s super powered soap opera, Heroes, has been having a rough third season. The series’ ratings have plummeted, and both critics and fans are saying that the latest chapter, “Villains”, is the show’s most disappointing installment yet. (And that’s really saying something, considering how bad “Generations” sucked).

NBC has recently demonstrated just how committed they are to righting all that is currently wrong with Heroes by firing two of the shows top producers. Now the network hopes to continue steering Heroes in the right direction again, by bringing back one of the show’s most popular writers and introducing new plotlines that will hopefully return the show to its focused, coherent, former self.

If you don’t recognize the name Bryan Fuller, here’s a quick reminder: He’s the man who scribed what is arguably Heroes‘ greatest episode to date, the classic story of H.R.G.’s shadowy past, “Company Man” (Heroes 1.17). Fuller also has some pretty strong sci-fi roots, having written episodes for Star Trek spinoff shows, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Last year, Fuller created the ABC comedy Pushing Daisies, which has since been canceled despite strong reviews from critics and a loyal (if small) audience following.

Fuller recently spoke to  Entertainment Weekly‘s Michael Ausiello and had this to say about the current state of Heroes, and the direction in which he hopes to take it:

AUSIELLO: Where did Heroes go wrong, in your opinion?
BRYAN FULLER:
It became too dense and fell into certain sci-fi trappings. For instance, in the “Villains” arc, when you talk about formulas and catalysts, it takes the face off the drama. And I think the goal for everybody is to put a face back on the drama. You have to save something with a face; otherwise you don’t understand what you’re caring about. I thought the “Villains” arc started out very interestingly, and then became sort of muddy and dense and I couldn’t get my hooks into the characters to understand their motivations. I also started to feel confused about what people’s abilities were. One of the great things about the first season is that the metaphor for their abilities was very clear. Those metaphors seem to have gotten complicated in the past two seasons. I share that concern with everybody on the writing staff. It’s not like I’m coming in and saying, “This is what you need to do to fix it!” Everybody knows what needs to be fixed and everybody is sort of rowing in that direction.

Fuller goes on to elaborate about the details of the next installment, “Fugitives”, which premiers on February 2. [WARNING THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS!]:

I’m fortunate to be coming into a very exciting story line. [Former co-exec producers] Jeph [Loeb] and Jesse [Alexander]…set so many great events in motion with the “Fugitives” arc…It really is a fresh start. All of the characters are back in their real lives. You see Peter as a paramedic. Claire is looking for colleges. We get away from the world of formulas and quasi-magicEpisodes 14, 15 and 16 are amazing. The whole “Fugitives” arc starts out very strongly, and then it gets a little dense in the middle in terms of the mythology. So I came in right at the point where everybody was realizing, “Oh, we’re getting too dense here and we need to put faces on stories…We need to get back into a character place, because that’s where this story started: Very clean, superhero metaphors to everyday life…But it is a big ship so it’s going to take a little while to turn it.

When asked about the overwrought cast of seemingly indestructible characters, Fuller added:

People will die. And some will return. Matt’s wife [Janice] comes back. We’ll find out what happens when you have a superbaby. We’re also going to tell fewer stories per episode. We’re going to limit it to three or four with one big one that you can wrap the stories around. We’re altering the structure of the show so that there’s a very clear A story that takes up a larger percentage of the show so that that story gets traction.

Sounds like Fuller has the right ideas in mind. If things play out well for the “Fugitives” arc, Fuller is expected to return to the show in season 4.

In meantime, one “Fugitives” story line that is already getting some buzz [SPOILER ALERT!]: brain-fingering psychopath Sylar (Zachary “Spock” Quinto), finally coming face to face with his real daddy! According to Entertainment Weekly, actor John Glover (a.k.a. Lex Luthor’s father on Smallville) will be playing the role of Papa Sylar in a storyline that appears toward the end of “Fugitives”. Said one Heroes insider:

“When Sylar meets his father, he’s going to see a path ahead of him that he doesn’t want to take…He has a lot more in common with his father than he realized.”

So there will be two brain-fingering bad guys on the show? Sounds like it could be a cool twist–however, after the disappointment that was Papa Petrelli (Robert Forster), I remain jaded. On the flip side, at least the powers that be at NBC are shaking things up, trying to revitalize Heroes instead of going the George Bush Jr. route of “staying the course”. Too much longer down the worn out, beaten path of “Villains” and there wouldn’t be much of a show left to salvage.

Do you like the proposed direction Heroes is going in? Or are you one of the ten people who likes where the show is currently at? Sound off and let us know.

Source: Entertainment Weekly