NBC's HEROES Faces An Uphill Climb
As good as any network TV Sci Fi program is, it has nearly always faced an uphill effort to grab a decent ratings share. Just last season alone, ABC failed with INVASION. THRESHOLD on CBS was promptly cancelled after airing their best episode ever after being moved to the old CLOSE TO HOME slot in an effort to improve ratings, and drew only a small audience share. And the very good SURFACE over at NBC failed despite some breathtaking sets and underwater photography scenes. Even the great oringinal STAR TREK program of the 60's was a ratings challenged program that only became a cult classic in reruns after being cancelled from a short run on TV.
Network SciFi just hasn't drawn the audience that it should. Only a specialty cable TV network such as the SCI FI CHANNEL, has Sci Fi been really able to hold it's own. So you might ask why NBC is back with a new SciFi program this season, which looks like a cross between the FANTASTIC FOUR and some sort of regular TV drama. While this may provide for some dramatic rescue sequences, the long drama bits could well tire out any hardcore Sci Fi fans, who may be quick to claim that SPIDERMAN, BATMAN, SUPERMAN, X-MEN or even the critically panned, FANTASTIC FOUR, all did fantastic rescue scenes much better.
And the network viewing audience seems unlikely to veer far from a few police, courtroom or medical dramas as recent history has shown. Few programs such as comedies, some reality programs, AMERICAN IDOL or DEAL OR NO DEAL scene to find an audience beyond the limited drama genre that the network viewers seem willing to accept.
But the good news is that the critics like HEROES. But then again last season, THRESHOLD, INVASION, and SURFACE often made the top ten favorite new shows of TV critics.
It will an interesting challenge for HEROES to excite the viewing public as much as some critics. No matter how good HEROES is, it still faces the historical climb that recent sci fi has faced. Both HEROES and the ratings challenge it faces will fascinating to watch in the coming weeks.