Emmy Contender: Heroes

Drama: The freshman class

Stepping out of the more episode-contained procedural world of “Crossing Jordan,” Tim Kring and his staff found themselves with a rather challenging writing task this season.

It was certainly rewarding enough — “Heroes” was a much-needed hit for NBC, which just placed a whopping 30-episode order for season two.

But spanning an intricate storyline involving more than a dozen characters across 23 episodes can only be described as a kind of, well, heroism.

From the very start of the process, Kring says he established the endpoint and major story “tentpoles” for “Heroes’ ” first season, which tracked a globally dispersed group of characters who discover they have various super-human talents that can be used to either stop — or propagate — a nuclear explosion in New York.

Of course, with this kind of ambition, characters are what happen when you’re making plans, and things got a bit messy at times.

“A show this big has to be looked at as an organic process,” Kring says. “You can make plans to put two characters together in a romantic way, and lo and behold, those characters have no chemistry. If you’re not ready to jettison that storyline, you’re in trouble.”

In fact, Kring concedes that his writing team — which includes several other former “Crossing Jordan” denizens, as well as ex-scribes from fantasy-driven shows like “Lost” and “Smallville” — tried unsuccessfully on a number of occasions to cook up an onscreen romance, such as the ultimately tepid triangle featuring the superpower absorbent Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia), junkie painter of the future Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera) and conflicted siren Simone Deveaux (Tawny Cypress).

Ultimately, while not a romance, it was the father-daughter dynamics of slick operative Mr. Bennet (Jack Coleman) and immortal superhealing cheerleader Claire (Hayden Panettiere) that proved most compelling.

“It behooves you to be facile and go where the heat is,” Kring notes.


Best episode: Episode 20, “Five Years Gone,” featuring time traveler Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) — the show’s biggest star so far — quantum-leaping into a feature in which New York has indeed been blown up. Super-villain Sylar (Zachary Quinto), having earned political capital in the presidential election, intends to use it.

Underappreciated character: Coleman’s spectacled secret-agent-man, Mr. Bennet. “He had like five or six lines of dialogue in the pilot, but his role grew to the point where we had an entire episode devoted to him,” Kring says.

Great line: “I just feel like we should be fighting crime or something,” says boy hero Micah Sanders (Noah Gray-Cabey).

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