While NBC is embroiled in a late night scandal, things are just as bleak and horrifying for the network’s prime-time schedule. Last night’s new episode of Heroes was watched by just 3.9 million viewers, an all-time low for the once beloved and Emmy-nominated series.
If you’re wondering what happened, ask yourself two questions: did you used to watch Heroes and are you still watching now? Heroes premiere with over 14 million viewers and hit its highest point in the season 2 premiere with almost 17 million. It’s now less than a quarter of that.
The situation with Heroes isn’t an isolated incident, it’s a pattern of the kind of horrendous decision making NBC is responsible for. Much like the network is doing with the late night mess, the heads of NBC don’t readily accept change. Rather than let Conan O’Brien grow into The Tonight Show as he did with his original late night show at 12:35, NBC is ready to bump him for the safe Jay Leno.
On Heroes, rather than recognize that the plots and characters are stale and tired, do largely to showrunner Tim Kring, NBC keeps him on and simply lets other writers and producers on the show take the fall for the collapse of Heroes.
Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander left the show despite having extensive background and experience with comic books and action/adventure shows like Smallville and Alias. Adding insult to injury, Loeb and Alexander went on to create Day One, a new series for NBC that the network cut back to a miniseries before it even premiered.
Also, Bryan Fuller has left Heroes twice, despite being one of the most creative minds of our generation with shows like Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies.
These examples are just a simple way of showing that NBC’s problem isn’t the creativity of its talent, it’s the suit-wearing monkeys making the decisions. They’d rather fire some of the most inspired minds working on Heroes than recognize that the problem is the man in charge is the same guy who created Crossing Jordan. They’d rather lose Conan O’Brien than acknowledge that a graduate of Harvard who wrote for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live might be one of the great comic geniuses of our time.
Instead, NBC kept Conan’s predecessor around just in case and continues to run Heroes, a show once nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the Emmys, into the ground. Over the weekend, Saturday Night Live made a joke that Chuck is NBC’s only remaining hope. Seeing as how Chuck (a show NBC nearly canceled last season) got 6.7 million viewers, better in the 8pm hour than Heroes has done all season, maybe SNL isn’t so far off.
Where do you think Heroes went wrong?
(Image courtesy of NBC)