After five years, Heroes has been resurrected, well, “Reborn,” and it’s easy to understand exactly why. Since Heroes has been off the air, superhero properties exploded on film and TV, taking over pop culture. Combine that with an increasing trend that sees old, established television series revived as “events,” and the buzzwords “anthology series,” and Heroes Reborn looks like a surefire hit on paper.
In its initial run, Heroes squandered all the fan adoration and critical fervor it built over the course of its first season with convoluted time travel elements, lifeless new characters, and a mythology that started to collapse in upon itself. Heroes Reborn, mostly hitting the reset button, looks to recapture the energy of season one to become a cultural phenomenon once again. After watching the premiere, do I think that’s possible?
Maybe. First of all, I think the show presented a perfect balance of new and old tonight. Making Noah Bennet, aka HRG, the main protagonist and the anchor to the original series is a smart move. HRG was a fan favorite and consistently the most intriguing character on Heroes. In a world where Evos (that’s what we’re calling them now, if you didn’t figure it out by the 100th time you heard the word) are being rounded up and executed after a deadly terrorist attack at a humans/evos peace rally spooks the nation, HRG is one of the few people who has been behind both party lines.
One of our other new protagonists, Tommy, is another bright spot in this premiere. Tommy is a teenager that can teleport people and objects, but has troubling controlling his powers and is caught up in a greater plan that he doesn’t yet understand. He basically serves as a Peter Petrelli surrogate, an Evo that will eventually save the world. The thing is, I think Robbie Kay is already twice the actor that Milo Ventimiglia is, and I automatically feel more connected to his character.
Another character upgrade comes in the form of Quentin Frady, a conspiracy theorist who lost his sister after the attack and the man who reawakens HRG from his suburban slumber. Quentin is the over-enthusiastic true believer like Mohinder Suresh (who’s name hangs in the air as the supposed perpetrator of the terrorist plot but does not actually appear) but with more comedic potential and immediate likability. Giving HRG a spastic partner could lead to some good comedic relief moments.
The similarities don’t stop there. Miko, or Katana Girl, basically serves as a Hiro stand-in. Using the sword of Kensei and discovering her destiny in the pages of a comic book, Miko finds herself brought into the world of the video game Evernow in a quest to save her father. The video game sequences, though creative, unfortunately fall flat due to corny graphics. Overall, all the special effects in the premiere look like they came straight from 2010, but how much can you really expect from network television?
On the villain end, things don’t look as cut and copied from the original. Zachary Levi and Judy Shekoni play Luke and Joanne Collins, a married couple who lost their son on the June 13th terrorist attack and have been killing Evos ever since out of fear and grief. There’s a painful ice cream quip from Joanne after the murder a room full of people, but their psyches are slightly more unraveled later in the episode and the two have potential to be deeply complicated characters, so long as the tone stays consistent.
The most surprising character that popped back up in this premiere is Molly Walker, the little girl from Heroes Season 1 that Matt Parkman rescued from Sylar that could find any person on the planet like a human homing device. Molly is attached to a fresh conspiracy that involves a new shady organization named Renautus, a new technology called Epic, and likely some old familiar, dangerous faces behind it all. The one thing that is apparent is that this season seems to know where it is headed, which couldn’t be said of the original.
Honestly, I’m surprised at how comfortable Heroes Reborn feels after five years. I missed that classic, ambient soundtrack and that signature font that pops up with every jump to a different character. Some of the new powers, like the penny for your thoughts mystery man, are interesting and almost all of the new characters have my attention, which proves that maybe creator Tim Kring should have taken the anthology route all along. This premiere surely wasn’t perfect, but it’s a solid new start for an old friend that lost its way. Hopefully Heroes Reborn stays on track.
The Best of the Rest
– Opening with an explosion set a pretty bleak tone, especially after the scene was followed up by Luke and Joanne killing a room of Evos. Heroes Reborn begins as if the bomb from the end of season one actually went off.
– Our other new hero is Carlos, who’s now forced to look after his nephew Jose because Carlos’ brother Oscar was moonlighting as a costumed vigilante, El Vengador, and got himself killed. There were no costumed superheroes in season one (I’m blocking out that time one Hiro and Ando dressed up), so Carlos’ storyline sort of feels like a completely different show, but I like actor Ryan Guzman and I hope things get a little less cliché.
– Speaking of the costumed hero stuff, those fight scenes could use work. Daredevil makes that fight look like child’s play.
– Tommy is caught reading some 9th Wonder Comics.
– No Nissan Versa’s in the first episode, thank god.
– With diversity on television becoming more standard and applauded, I’m reminded how Heroes always had and continues to have a great, diverse cast.
– The Haitian appears briefly, but is killed after attacking HRG, on HRG’s own orders. Hmmm….
– Zoey and her Evo friend that capture Molly Walker, look like one of the old “one of us, one of them” pairs of old. I dig it.
– Though HRG believes Claire died at the Summit, a document is discovered that shows that Claire was absent. Her disappearance looks to be a major mystery. Hayden Panettiere has said that she is not involved in the new season, but could that be a smoke screen?
– Jose has Kitty Pryde-like powers and though Carlos doesn’t appear to have powers, he is able to hear what’s wrong with a car engine just by listening. Hmm, who else could do that?
– Tommy mentions that he doesn’t know the identity of his father.
– Two hours is too long for Heroes Reborn. I was losing patience during hour two.
– I’m sorry, but doesn’t Molly Walker seem too old?
– Let me reiterate, the special effects are baaaaad.