Bryan Fuller Talks ‘Heroes’
Bryan Fuller spoke with Entertainment Weekly’s Michael Ausiello about his return to Heroes, commencing with the 19th episode of the season, close to the end of volume four. The series concludes it’s ‘Villains’ volume on Monday evening.
“[Former co-exec producers] Jeph [Loeb] and Jesse [Alexander], before they left the show, set so many great events in motion with the ‘Fugitives’ arc,” Fuller said. “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-magic.”
The new arc begins on February 2 and Fuller said, “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 because there is no face to a formula; there is no face to saving the world.’ So it’s turning this big ship back into a character stream, and everyone on the writing staff shares that desire. We need to get back into a character place, because that’s where this story started: Very clean, superhero metaphors to everyday life. That’s the path that we’re taking. But it is a big ship so it’s going to take a little while to turn it.”
As previously reported, the cast will be trimmed in dramatic ways including deaths aboard an airplane crash. But, other recurring figures will return. “Matt’s wife [Janice] comes back. We’ll find out what happens when you have a superbaby,” Fuller explained. “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.”
Fuller returns to the series after creating and overseeing the whimsical Pushing Daisies. In the meantime, season two was criticized for losing its way and after retooling in the wake of the writers’ strike, season three didn’t seem to woo many viewers back. Ratings were half of what they were and NBC got nervous which forced creator Tim Kring to fire Alexander and Loeb.
The creative consultant thinks the density of the mythology was off-putting to more casual viewers. “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 confusing issues was Sylar’s parentage, an issue that will be explored. Ausiello had already reported that John Glover will arrive from Smallville to be revealed as Sylar’s dad. Glover will also appear on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters to play Ron Rifkin’s romantic interest for an arc.