The super-powered soap opera Heroes has been in danger for so long, it's starting to look bad. First, the slow-moving second season was such a flop that creator Tim Kring apologized. And now, the new fast-paced third season has been losing viewers and annoying fans. But the show's problems have reached a new level of direness today: an Entertainment Weekly cover story on why Heroes is struggling. It's like the kiss of death. The article also includes some spoilers for upcoming episodes, including next spring's "Villains" storyline. The EW article suggests five ways to fix Heroes, most of which we've covered extensively in our recaps of the show. In particular, subplots have been multiplying and growing like mutant vines, there are too many characters, and people are acting ridiculously out of character for the sake of a wacky plot twist. But EW being EW, they're able to get inside dirt — such as the fact that the actors have been protesting their characters' out-of-character behavior. Also, the EW article, by the magazine's resident geek-TV expert Jeff "Doc" Jensen, highlights one complaint I haven't seen before: the show reuses the same sets too often, adding to the feeling of sameness. We're always in the Bennett house or the lab that used to be Isaac's painting loft.
The article also quotes Kring as saying it's an epic drama about two families, the Petrellis and the Bennetts. And then Jensen suggests that may not be enough — Heroes should be about something bigger and more thematic, like Lost. Jensen wants Heroes to do what Lost did — decide on an end date, and then work towards a big conclusion. (With fewer episodes per season.) And finally, and perhaps most damningly, Jensen says Heroes can no longer hope to be big, important TV like Law And Order. The best Heroes can hope for at this point is to be "a solid genre series that satisfies a smaller group of rabid fans." Did I mention this article is like the kiss of death for this show? I picture the network suits reading this and writing off Heroes season four. Meanwhile, the article also does include some spoilers. In particular, the "Villains" arc is leading up to a twist where Mohinder shares his powers-giving research with the uber-bad-daddy Arthur Petrelli. And in the big flashback episode, airing Nov. 10, there's a scene where Gabriel, who has yet to be Sylar, makes Ziti for Elle — who is about to doom him to his life of being a brain-scooping serial killer. Elle brings him a "scruffy dinner guest" who has a secret power. "He's special too!" Elle says. The "Fugitives" chapter, starting next spring, is totally different than the current "Villains" arc, promises Kring. "The story will again focus on core characters and enmesh them all in a plot that Kring says was inspired by current events pertaining to homeland security, invasion of privacy, and the war on terror." And the story has a "wide-open road," promises Kring.