GD has already posted about this but this New York Times article adds more to the original EW article and this Defamer article gives the point of view that Heroes has always been crap.
For me season three lost it when they decided Hiro needed to be more of a comic relief. The character was funny but it was his charming naivete that won us over and made him a favourite character. In the current volume he comes across as an annoying asshole. It was too forced and too slapstick.
The inciting incident for this Villains volume was Hiro doing something incredibly dumb which could end up destroying the world but it was played as comedy. Right off the bat you had characters doing things which made no sense and the comical tone meant we weren't sufficiently invested in the threat to the world. Although all the alternative realities and butterfly effects doesn't exactly help increase the tension.
Apparently the excuse given to the pissed off actors was that the rubbish set-up was needed for the great finale. Eh? Was there really no way of doing it without sacrificing logic? It seems unlikely.
Heroes is not a total wreck as there are things like Suresh wanting powers - which was added to the long list of bad decisions - which I actually liked and understood. It's lost about 20% of the audience but it still leaves a sizeable chunk - which would have been acceptable if the show didn't cost so much.
Lessons learned for me:
- Character logic can't be sacrificed
- You can't get good endings from bad beginnings
- The impact of your set-piece flashy sfx moments will be somewhat diminished unless the audience care about your characters
- Tone is crucial - pick one and stick to it
- Keep it simple - avoid too many characters and too many storylines
- Having a clear theme is important