Monday, September 28, 2015

Pilot Review: Heroes Reborn

Heroes Reborn (NBC)
Premiered September 24 at 8pm

Some days it seems like there will never be a completely original new series. “Heroes” ran for four seasons on NBC starting in 2006, and I’m one of the few who thought it was overrated even from the start, producing a few solid episodes in a flawed first season and then dragging on for three unbearable additional years. Did this show need to be the latest to be revived with a few signature players and an otherwise similar concept? No, not at all. Will I watch it anyway? Probably, and this is actually one show I wrote that I was almost watching only to pick it apart when it was in the middle of what I had thought would be its final season. This new incarnation is definitely different, but its tone, style, and comic book obsession are all still very much present. It’s odd that Jack Coleman, who played HRG, is the only major returning cast member, but it does make sense if the premise is that it’s the next class of heroes just waiting to be found. The storyline has evolved just as the “evos” have, with the same uncomfortable darkness and brutality that existed in the original series and an inciting event that took many, many lives. I was shocked and a bit disturbed when Zachary Levi took out a gun and killed all the evos in the support group, and I feel like that sense of destructive violence is out of touch with the rest of the show. It was also a surprise to see Levi as a villain, though it seems clear that, despite his willingness to shoot first and never ask questions, he actually has a conscience that will likely get the better of him. Levi’s Luke is a member of two power couples with ulterior motives, one of which managed to capture a surprisingly grown-up all-powerful Molly. The most questionable casting is that of Henry Zebrowski, who was excessive comic relief on “A to Z,” as conspiracy theorist Quentin, who is sure to prove to be a constant headache for HRG. I’m perplexed by the necessity of having an Asian-speaking character and the even more questionable decision to have her power be that she can transplant herself into a video game. This show is appealing in some ways but just as messy as the original show was.

How will it work as a series? It’s designed to be a thirteen-episode miniseries, but, as the resurrection of this show demonstrates, such ideals are never finite realities. There’s more than enough happening here, and an overarching mythology capable of spinning plenty of plotlines thanks to the reboot caused by the public nature of the evos. Whether it’s quality drama is a different question.
How long will it last? The ratings were pretty good but the reviews weren’t as solid, and I think that this show needs to really land big in order to secure any sort of renewal. Its thirteen episodes will air no matter what, but the concept of a planned limited series being picked up for another round has to be based on true unexpected success and not just doing fine.

Pilot grade: C

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