Tim Kring - Heroes

Bill Cummings 15/12/2006

From the creators of 'Lost' comes an explosive new drama, HEROES - a show about ordinary people discovering they have extraordinary powers. The hit series is currently the number-one new show in America with weekly viewing figures exceeding 14million. Heroes is predicted to be a global phenomenon and looks set to grab the imagination of UK viewers when it premieres on the SCI FI channel in February 2007.

Predicted to be the next Lost by respected US entertainment title TV Guide, explosive NBC production HEROES has reaped huge acclaim from critics and fans alike for its cinematic scope, incredible effects and multi-layered plotlines. After six weeks of incredible ratings, NBC has commissioned a full run of 23 episodes!

The Plot: "As a total eclipse casts its shadow across the globe, a genetics professor in India uncovers a secret theory - there are people with super powers living among us. Amongst these are a high school cheerleader who learns that she is totally indestructible; a gifted artist whose drug addiction enables him to paint the future; a young man who develops a way to stop time through sheer will power; and a single-mother stripper who learns that she has an alternate personality with homicidal tendencies. In Los Angeles, a jaded cop discovers that he can hear people's thoughts, a revelation which puts him on the trail of an elusive and sadistic serial killer. As we follow their lives week-by-week, we discover that their ultimate destiny is nothing less than saving the Earth from Armageddon."

Each blockbuster episode costs $2 million to make and is littered with CGI and special effects usually reserved for Hollywood films. The action sequences and cutting-edge drama should keep British viewers gripped from start to finish. We have been given access to interviews with the shows cast and crew, first in the series is an interview with Tim Kring (the creator and executive producer of “Heroes”).

Where did you get the inspiration for this series?

The germ of this idea came about a year ago now. I was supposed to develop a show for NBC and I became fascinated with this idea of a new paradigm of the serialized large ensemble show. I happened to see two movies that sort of moulded together in my mind. One of them was The “Incredibles”. And the other was the “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” by Charlie Kaufman. I started to blend those two things in my mind over the next few days because I loved both of them. Mixing the idea of people who had superpowers trying to struggle with their everyday lives with these people that you could pass on the street and never think twice about. In my mind, those two things started to come together and that was the genesis of where the idea came from.

How does this show differ from other serialized dramas?

With this show I wanted to start from the very, very beginning. Looking at when people would discover these abilities. It's very much a journey of the hero in the classic sense of the term. We watch their growth and their journey through the course of the show and ultimately, gain this kind of wish fulfillment that you or I could be these people. This is their journey from very ordinary to extraordinary people.

The show has some fantastic cliffhangers. Have you found it hard to maintain the suspense and intrigue with so many different plotlines?

That's a very, very big challenge. But one of the fun things is watching characters develop and taking them to places that even you didn't expect. The writers' room is a very interesting place because ideas morph and bend and become very different things when you start filtering through lots of people's ideas.

A lot of us in the writers' room talked about borrowing Charles Dickens idea, who wrote most of his great books in one-chapter installments for a newspaper. This idea fascinates me, the idea of doing something very slowly and deliberately, the idea that each season would be its own volume with enough of a cliffhanger at the end of season one to launch you into a second season.

By having these constant twists and turns and revelations in the stories, I think the audience may feel like they're going to run out of steam because there's just too many of these coming along. It's one reveal after another. But the truth is, these twists and turns are actually the engine that are allowing us to generate even more stories. So there is a natural progression that's allowing us to go with a less and less scattered story.

Will any of the characters join forces to create a 'superhero team'?

Well, these characters do start to cross in all sorts of interesting and coincidental and unexpected ways, which is one of the things that I was most fascinated with. I think that the audience is going to be really hooked on trying to guess and predict how these characters' paths are going to cross.

So you take a character like Masi's character, who's an office worker in Tokyo and Hayden's character, who's a cheerleader in West Texas, and the idea of how those two characters will ever cross paths seems impossible and yet that's what the fun of watching the show is, to see how it continues along for these two characters to actually come into contact with each other.

How relevant do you feel the comic book world is to this project?

Our particular venture into that world is through the idea of the online comic that will run concurrently with the show. So people can log on, view and interact with an online comic book every week in conjunction with the episode. The comic won't be necessarily about that episode, but it will further enhance your viewing of the show. It will sometimes be an alternative look at what you've seen or the other side of what you've seen or a story that just sort of enhances your appreciation of the character and the story.

The show is called “Heroes”, but will there be a villains element to it?

Yes, absolutely. We are bringing in other people with superpowers and they are not necessarily heroes. The show does introduce the concept of a major villain in the second episode and that villain becomes a central character for most of the first season.

Finally, if you had a superpower, what would it be?

When I really started thinking about it for the show, I sort of decided that flight might be the best one to have it, just seems like it would be the coolest.

HEROES will premiere on the SCI FI channel on February 19 at 10pm starting with a double bill of episodes 1&2. Next week we talk to mind reading HERO, Greg Grunberg (“Matt”).