Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 10:19 UK

New characters for latest Heroes

by Kev Geoghegan
BBC News reporter

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Kring on the new series of Heroes

Ever confident in the face of his critics, Heroes creator Tim Kring has described the new series as "fantastic" and said there is "a lot more life" in the show.

The fourth series of Heroes, the adventure-drama about the battle of survival for everyday people blessed with extraordinary superpowers, is due to air on BBC Two in 2010.

The first series of Heroes in 2006 was hailed as a huge critical success on both sides of the Atlantic, winning large audiences and award nominations to match.

But the second series, which coincided with a screenwriters' strike in Hollywood, was criticised for losing its focus on the core cast and introducing too many new characters and storylines.

The criticism ultimately led to a steady drop in the US audience from a high of 16 million viewers to less than seven million for the season three finale.

Robert Knepper
Prison Break's Robert Knepper is in the new series

Since first airing on BBC Two in February 2007, Heroes has continued to shed viewers from a high of nearly four million to an average of less than two million for the most recent series.

But Kring remains sanguine in his response to criticism of the show.

Launching the DVD boxed set of that series, he said: "I think season one came to an end and a lot of the questions that the audience had, we answered.

"So the idea was to bring in all sorts of new characters but the problem is that the audience falls in love with certain characters and wants to see them."

But he denies that killing off many of the secondary characters in the closing episodes had anything to do with the lukewarm reaction from both the press and the viewers.

He added: "We're constantly re-jigging the show and it may feel like we're doing it in response to the audience but we end up being a mirror of what the audience is.

"We are like our own fan base and we start to think, 'Oh, we've taken this too far or we're moving this too slowly or too quickly,' and we adjust ourselves and the whole season two to season three thing was clearly that."

Redemption

Fugitives, the second half of series three, saw the collected heroes, hunted by a fully-armed US government taskforce, stop the supervillain Sylar from killing the US president and assuming his identity.

The new series, Redemption, sees them attempt to return to their normal lives and adds an extra twist with the introduction of a travelling carnival made up of people with special abilities.

Ray Park
Scots martial artist Ray Parks is also in the latest series

"This volume is about the idea of what happens now and how you start to present yourself to the world and what are the consequences of that and will people accept that?"

Running the risk of repeating the mistakes of the past, Redemption adds a whole slate of new characters, including Prison Break actor Robert Knepper as Samuel - a man with the power to move earth and water with his mind.

It seems he will play a pivotal role in the new series as a man trying to unite people with abilities, though his motives are still unclear.

Kring said: "I'd been a fan of his and he plays an extremely different character than the one in Prison Break. He's strangely likeable and charismatic like the leader of any kind of cult.

"He also believes very strongly that what he is doing is right."

Scots martial artist Ray Parks, who played Darth Maul in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Toad in X-Men plays a super-fast knife expert.

Season three of Heroes is out on DVD now. Heroes: Redemption will be shown on BBC Two and BBC HD in the new year.



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