Heroes launched on NBC in 2006 and became an instant hit with viewers around the world. It told the story of regular people who suddenly and unexplainably manifested special powers. The show’s large cast of characters found a connection to each other and a shared mission – to save the world. However after a successful first year it failed to build on that and viewing figures dropped for future seasons. Shortly after a fourth season aired, it was announced that the show had been cancelled.
Five years later fans of the show got the good news that the show was coming back with Heroes: Reborn. Billed as an event “miniseries” of 13 episodes, many hoped that it would kickstart a permanent return to tv screens. However that wasn’t meant to be as fans and critics gave it a lukewarm reception and it stayed a one-off.
I was a huge fan of the original Heroes series and really welcomed the news with excitement. It did have it’s problems, but overall I enjoyed Reborn. Whatever it’s faults there was more to enjoy than not whilst managing to keep the feel of the original. I recently had a rewatch of Heroes four seasons, so naturally I followed that up with the miniseries. I am now going to revisit the show with my thoughts of what it got right and what it got wrong.
Brave New World
Heroes: Reborn introduces an array of new characters to the show, whilst limiting the number of returning ones. However the central focus and star billing goes to Jack Coleman reprising the role of Noah Bennett. In Heroes, Bennett was the (adoptive) father of Claire who was the cheerleader that needed saving to save the world. He was always a “morally grey” character, and that is certainly true in the revival also.
After that most of the cast is made up of new actors and characters. This is understandable as the makers want a new show to stand on it’s own feet. And this is where the reboot starts to falter. Too many of the new cast just simply aren’t very interesting. I found it very hard to care for any of them, or their fates in the Reborn world. Out of these though a few do shine, particularly Tommy and Miko and her alter-ego, Katana Girl.
Katana Girl is a ‘contruct’ designed to live inside the computer generated world called Evermore. Her destiny, or mission, is to save the ‘Master of Time and Space’ imprisoned within the game. This is realised on screen with some pleasing CGI giving these sections a different feel to the rest. It might seem outlandish as an idea, but this is the world of Heroes after all.
Tommy has probably the most important destiny of all the characters although this is slowly revealed as the plot expands. And Tommy isn’t his real name, his origins are slowly revealed, mostly in the mid-season two-part flashback episodes. His character grows as the series progresses, and is played very well by actor Robbie Kay.
Under The Mask
So what did Heroes: Reborn get right and what did it get wrong? The opening episode is intriguing enough, ending with a surprising death for a well loved character from Heroes. However one of the strengths of the show’s format is that dead characters don’t necessarily stay dead. From there on in I felt it struggles to engage until the season’s midpoint ‘flashback’ two parter June 13th. The events here give it a bit of another kickstart and feature one of the original’s most loved characters Hiro Nakamura.
As I mentioned previously, you don’t want a reboot show to depend too heavily on former glories or stars. I was interested to learn though that Masi Oka (Hiro) was only available to appear in a limited capacity. After Heroes ended he continued a successful career and was appearing in Hawaii-Five-O at that time. Similarly Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh) had prior committments limiting his appearances in Reborn.
The second half of the season is definitely stronger than the first. The plot has opened up by this point and has more direction. Also worthy of praise is the performance of Rya Kihlstedt playing the main villain Erica Kravid. She’s great as the evil boss of the tech company Renautus, who enslave and track down our Heroes. And Renautus bear an uncanny resemblance to our real world Google.
Watching Heroes: Reborn in 2020 it’s perhaps easier to see real world parallels to events in the show. Renautus have plans to microchip everyone, so they can track and trace the ‘Heroes’. We see this happening to ourselves in the year of Covid-19 and lockdowns. And there is the ‘racism’ on display towards the ‘specials’ not unlike Donald Trump and his Mexican wall.
So does the show’s failure mean that we will never see Heroes on our tv screens again? It’s hard to say, but I think never say never. The show will live on in fan fiction and comic books. I’m sure. The nature and structure of Heroes means there will always be a way back in to more stories.
And let us not forget, Heroes: Reborn finishes on a cliffhanger. Annoying as that is with no more tv series to come, it serves to leave a blank page to filled in the future. If you haven’t watched Heroes before, please do so. And give Reborn a chance too, it may surprise you.