With the Heroes Reborn revival series currently running on NBC, it’s worth taking a look at another offshoot of the original series that almost hit the air back in the 2007-08 timeframe. When Heroes debuted back in the Fall of 2006, it became an instant hit on a level not too dissimilar to Lost which reinvigorated broadcast network interest in sci fi back in 2004. NBC knew that they had a hit on their hands and went the multi-platform route with online comics and the Heroes Evolution “digital extension” of the show that bowed at mid-season. And going into the second year, the network wanted to continue and expand the show’s reach with a spin-off series titled Heroes: Origins which was originally planned to air when the main show was on its Winter break (later changed to act as a post script for the show’s second season). It was scheduled for a six episode run and it would introduce a new character in each episode, then give fans the chance to vote on which of these new Heroes could become a regular on the main show starting with its third season. Series creator Tim Kring also said that the spin-off would reveal the origins of the Helix symbol seen frequently on the show. And everything seemed to be in place for the Heroes: Origins launch as the Fall 2007 season prepared to kick off until it ran into a couple of major snags. First, the writer’s strike brought the broadcast networks to a standstill. The second season of Heroes was cut short to only eleven episodes and the decision was made not to do any more for that season once the strike was resolved. Second (and equally important), the parent show’s ratings slipped. The second season debut was down from the first year, though not by too much. But subsequent weeks saw the ratings continue to slide as Heroes-mania appeared to have cooled. In the wake of these pitfalls, NBC decided to cancel plans for the Heroes: Origins series altogether (no episodes had been filmed yet and I don’t believe that any scripts had been completed either). The writer’s strike has long been targeted as the main reason that the spin-off series never emerged, but as I was following the ratings closely at that time, I personally believe that the viewership drop-off was equally to blame. The writer’s strike definitely stalled things, but it was resolved soon enough that the six episode series could have been pulled together and aired by season end as originally planned (several other shows from the 2007-08 season returned with new episodes before year end). And it would have been the perfect stop-gap as only a handful of eps of the parent series would not have fit well with Kring’s plans of rolling that one out in “volumes” of twelve to thirteen episode arcs. I believe that NBC reacted too quickly to the ratings slippage early in the season and decided to pull in the reins on their Heroes expansion. Because Origins could have still fit into the show’s third or fourth season (or even aired in Summer), but the network lost all interest in moving forward with the spin-off. Of course, considering the decline in quality that we saw from the original show after its first season (which Kring blames largely on network tinkering), maybe it was for the best. But it still might have been an interesting addition to the show’s run. And with the current revival struggling in the ratings, I doubt the network would consider revisiting this idea as their schedule could possibly be Heroes-free by next season.
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