Welcome to another installment of “5 Questions and 500 Words,” my approach to reviewing the crazy amount of shows that will be unspooling/returning over the course of the next few weeks. Given the glut of shows, and the glut of reviews that will be published for these shows, I’m keeping things short and sweet. This is for your convenience and my sanity.
“Heroes” premieres Thursday, September 24, at 8:00 pm on NBC
Here’s my first question: Why?
It’s an excellent initial point of interrogation. Because NBC? I guess that’s the best reason. They have been flinging shows up against the wall and seeing what sticks. In some regards, it makes sense: The superhero genre was all but absent on TV when this initially aired, and now it’s absolute huge. Why not try and re-establish a toehold usually a brand that’s at least familiar, if not exactly beloved, at this point?
What were your feelings as you pressed play on the screener?
“Look, no way this is worse than that circus shit.”
And was that true?
I would say absolutely yes, because that circus stuff was THE WORST. In all seriousness, the two-hour premiere (really two episodes aired back-to-back, which is different even though few people care) has everything you used to love AND hate about “Heroes.” I’d give a slight edge to the “love” side, but it’s super close, and this show has a track record of interesting ideas that gradually run off a cliff by volume’s end.
Can I just jump in having never watched the original series?
You could, although I think that you’d lose a lot in terms of emotional investment and “hey, it’s THAT character” moments. In short: this series alludes to the continuity of the original series, but uses a big moment at the outset of this pilot to reset the gameboard. This is a world that knows about superpowered people, but not everyone trusts them. Think every “X-Men,” and you get the picture. The cast is essentially all-new from the original series: With the exception of Jack Coleman’s Noah Bennett, those from the original “Heroes” appear sporadically, if at all, in these two hours.
Does the world need this miniseries?
“Heroes Reborn” would say yes, and its ponderous self-importance, coupled with an almost cripplingly lack of humor, can make this a slog. (One story, set in Japan, is the glorious exception to this rule: it’s full of mystery/visual wit and makes the rest look worse by comparison.) Still, the problem lies more in execution than in theory: The idea of people of all walks of life realizing they can do extraordinary things is Storytelling 101, and “Heroes Reborn” maintains the show’s original global approach. Its diversity of characters and locations is inherently potent. But “Heroes Reborn” consistently tells the safest stories, limiting its inherently unlimited scope. That’s a terrible superpower for a show to have.