The growing pains of other serialized dramas have been instructive to the “Heroes” brain trust, with exec producer Tim Kring saying that each season of the comicbook fantasy will address a central theme before tackling a new one in the subsequent year.
Kring and 11 cast members appeared Saturday as part of the Museum of Television & Radio’s annual Paley Festival, where a capacity crowd at the Directors Guild in Los Angeles watched an earlier episode as well as a clip from an upcoming installment.
The NBC drama is beginning its second hiatus of the season, with five remaining original installments to air beginning April 23.
The actors expressed few qualms about the uncertainty surrounding the fate of various characters, with some having already died. (Tawny Cypress, whose character Simone recently caught a stray bullet, was listed in the program but not on the panel.)
“It’s the nature of the show — to know we’re all vulnerable,” said Greg Grunberg, who quipped that “Lost” made “a huge mistake” by killing off a key performer — him — during its pilot.
Kring pledged that the next flight of episodes would wrap up the apocalyptic event foreshadowed throughout the season, opening the door for a new theme — potentially incorporating some different villains — in the second year.
He noted that “Heroes” had an advantage in following “Lost,” the ABC series whose ratings have dipped substantially this season, to the small screen. It’s important to allow a series to develop in unforeseen ways, he noted, allowing that the program’s sweeping narrative arc had been mapped out well in advance.
To succeed, he said, “you have to leave yourself open to the organic nature of the process.”
As an example, the character played by Jack Coleman known as Horn-Rimmed Glasses man — the mysterious adopted father of the show’s indestructible cheerleader — developed from a peripheral player into a focal point of the series.
“Heroes” has been a major bright spot for NBC and the program has evolved along a satisfying path, deftly juggling its array of characters, whose parallel storylines have gradually converged and crossed as the season has progressed.
The Peacock’s other freshman series — including the high-profile dramas that have followed the show on Mondays, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and “The Black Donnellys” — have struggled in the ratings.