NBC’s ‘Heroes’ are reborn into a darker world with higher stakes

17 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Heroes Reborn’ Cast, Creator Offer Eight Things to Know About the NBC Revival.

Few programs have generated more initial enthusiasm than “Heroes” did when it premiered in 2006, before proceeding to demonstrate how quickly that heat can fade when the producers begin losing control of such a complicated dramatic enterprise.Jack Coleman, Zachary Levi, Robbie Kay, Kiki Sukezane, Ryan Guzman, Gatlin Green, Henry Zebrowski, Judith Shekoni, Danika Yarosh, Rya Kihlstedt, Greg Grunberg, Francesca Eastwood, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Lucius Hoyas, Jimmy Jean-Louis When NBC premiered Heroes in 2006, the comic-book epidemic was still somewhat contained in movies and nowhere near saturation point on television.The Toronto International Film Festival is well under way, and we had the opportunity to attend the red carpet for the world premiere of Heroes Reborn. Enter “Heroes Reborn,” which could easily be titled “Heroes Remade,” a revival of the series that combines characters old and new, replicating the original’s intricately woven template while introducing a new slate of super-powered players strewn across the globe.

Cut to today when the superhero population has reached plague proportions across all platforms, and reboots come what seems like minutes after their previous incarnation. As Heroes Reborn showrunner Tim Kring previously told The Hollywood Reporter, Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) is back, but his daughter Claire (Hayden Panettiere) is dead. But for many, that momentum didn’t last — after the show returned from a shaky second season (made even shakier by the 2007 writer’s strike disrupting all of their plans halfway through) ratings steadily dropped until the show was finally canceled after season 4, leaving a lot of disappointed nerds in its wake. The two-hour premiere plants plenty of potentially interesting seeds, while offering scant guidance as to how many of them will actually bear fruit. “Heroes” owed an obvious debt to the “X-Men” franchise, which, when introduced in comic-book form, created an analogy about teenagers feeling different — like outcasts. Which means series creator Tim Kring is resurrecting his sci-fi ensemble piece about ordinary people with extraordinary powers in a very crowded market.

And that makes NBC’s upcoming follow-up a darker show all about the new heroes who are either trying to save the world— or more importantly — just trying to survive it. And this is all three,” actor tells TheWrap of his role on the NBC revival Ryan Guzman didn’t come to “Heroes Reborn” as a fan of creator Tim Kring‘s original Heroes series, which ran on NBC from 2006 through 2010. “When it first came out I was a college student, so I wasn’t doing much watching TV,” said the 27-year-old ac-tor, best known for Pretty Little Liars and two of the Step Up movies. “I could barely afford a TV, and I was doing more partying than anything.” But he binged-watched the original before getting his role on the new series, in which he plays an Army vet with PTSD and “an opportunity to achieve greatness.” Added Guzman, “I’ll tell you what, this character has been a dream come true for me. For many relapsed “Heroes” fans, it’s weird to see a series that had so much potential back in the day getting a second shot at greatness with “Heroes Reborn.” But while at San Diego Comic-Con in July, the latest additions to the “Heroes” universe — Ryan Guzman, Judi Shekoni, Henry Zebrowski, Danika Yarosh, Gatlin Green and Robbie Kay — assured MTV News that their new project will capture the magic of the show we loved… but with a twist.

Heroes Reborn showed 90 minutes of their inaugural season and is part of TIFF’s new Primetime programme which showcases television series from around the world. The relationship between those feelings and gay rights later entered the picture, and that link is even more conspicuous here, as the series opens with “Evos” (basically the show’s term for “mutant”) having come out into the sunlight, while someone brandishes a “God Hates Evos” sign. In any case, the network would appear to be counting on nostalgia for the original with Heroes Reborn, which is more of a continuation than a reinvention. It needs to measure up to the original while standing out in a TV landscape now populated by flashy costumed champions from the pages of Marvel and DC Comics.

Claire exposing her powers at the end of the original series was supposed to leave viewers with the impression of a unified world between everyday folk and “evos,” as the humans in the series call the evolved. The initial two chapters, Brave New World and Odessa, which will premiere back to back on Sept. 24, debuted at the Toronto Film Festival as part of the new Primetime thread devoted to international television, with a busload of cast members and breathless fans in attendance. But when a terrorist attack during a human-evos event kills hundreds of people and a familiar face takes credit, all chances for a lasting peace are off. “It’s five years later and it’s a very dark and different world for them now,” says Coleman. “It’s a dangerous time and place to be an evo. Many of the virtues that made Heroes feel fresh when it first appeared are still in evidence — the propulsive pacing, dexterous balancing of multiple narrative threads and time jumps, the vigorous cinematic shooting style and dynamic scoring. He met some of those “Heroes”-worshippers when the new cast went to San Diego for this summer’s Comic-Con, understandably causing quite a stir. “We had 6,000 or 7,000 people waiting for us in Hall H overnight, just to hear us say maybe five sentences,” he said. “It was the closest thing I’ve ever felt to being a rock star.

They’d be robbing everything,” Zebrowski joked.) “What’s so great is [“Heroes Reborn”] keeps all the elements that people really enjoyed in the original,” Shekoni said. Among the new characters, the most interesting is Tokyo-based Miko (Kiki Sukezane), whose search for her missing father takes her into a new and fascinating dimension. As Heroes progressed, its plotting became more self-consciously tangled, while its overload of characters diminished investment in their individual fates.

And that brings Bennet into contact with a man named Quentin (Henry Zebrowski), who quickly becomes his partner in crime. “We’re not friends … I hassle him,” says Zebrowski. “He’s a very serious man that my character gets involved with. Picking up after the “Heroes” finale — in which a postscript showed the public revelation of the existence of people with unusual powers — “Reborn” initially posits a world in which normal humans and “evos” (evolved humans) are learning to live in harmony. There’s this idea of a fantasy, where I get into the heart of a conspiracy and think I’m going to kick ass and really expose some people … and then you show up and it’s like, ‘Oh. That lasts about two minutes before the evos are blamed for a Sept. 11-style attack, and it’s back to business as usual: paranoia, hiding and running, shadowy conspiracies, dead bodies.

He stars along side Kate Mara and Gary Oldman in a dystopian thriller about a former Marine desperately searching for his wife and son in a post-apocalyptic America. Yet while that should kindle a sense of excitement among those who enjoyed the show, considering it’s been five years since its demise, and given how the series fell apart in its third and fourth seasons — along with the current assortment of plots that are, literally, all over the map — the most helpful power of all would be the ability to remember the significance of those various connections.

The husband-and-wife duo are complex, to say the least, but they initially have some pretty dark forces driving their actions. “I quite like to think of them as a mixture of Natural Born Killers and Mr. and Mrs. Among the more prominent new characters in the premiere are an Illinois teenager (Robbie Kay) who can make things and people disappear by touching them, and a Japanese woman (Kiki Sukezane) who can enter the world of a popular video game. Given that, “Heroes Reborn” — whose competition includes Thursday-night football until “The Big Bang Theory” returns — faces a formidable challenge. It’s not clear how her power will be useful, but her story line — which includes scenes in 3-D animation set inside the game — drew the loudest response from the audience at the premiere. Without possessing quite the same nostalgia factor as “The X-Files,” the show must seek to recapture its early days while establishing new threads to reach beyond that core.

All told, the premiere isn’t a bad step in that direction, but it’s unclear whether enough untapped power resides in the premise to ensure that the series can save itself, much less the world. The multistranded story that the assorted heroes and regular humans will act out looks as if it could be as complicated and potentially muddled as before. From the beginning she was told that she was destined for greatness, so she kind of grew up separated and isolated from society and from the world, so that way she can train and use her powers and be the best she can be. Executive producers, Tim Kring, Peter Elkoff, James Middleton; co-executive producer, Holly Harold; supervising producer, Seamus Fahey; producer, Kevin Lafferty; directors, Matt Shakman, Greg Beeman; writers, Kring, Elkoff; camera, Anette Haellmigk, Alan Caso; production designer, Matthew Davies; editors, Louis Cioffi, Martin Nicholson, Tom Costantino; music, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman; casting, Jason La Padura, Natalie Hart, Kendra Patterson. 120 MIN.

Heroes are being hunted by various parties:husband-and-wife vigilantes (Zachary Levi and Judi Shekoni) seeking revenge for their son’s death, a mysterious wealthy woman and probably some sort of evil or possibly benign corporation. I love that we’re bringing the whole Latin culture into this new, crazy world of Heroes.” One of the top-secret reveals from the first two hours of Reborn involves the incorporation of a new type of Heroes storytelling and hero.

The result may be controversial with some fans, but it’s something showrunner Kring is excited for audiences to see. “Doing this five years ago was probably not doable on our budget and on our schedule,” he says. “When I talk about how so many things haven’t changed in making a show, that has been something the technology has allowed us to do.” The list of returning heroes includes such previously announced characters as Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), The Haitian (Jimmy Jean-Louis) and Micah Sanders (Noah Gray-Cabey). There are rumblings of another cataclysmic events coming and warnings that only the evos can save humanity — with conflicting reports indicating that they are being killed at an alarming rate but also that their numbers have reached unprecedented heights. Chief among these artifacts is Jack Coleman, the only “Heroes” actor with a prominent part in the “Reborn” pilot, and the horn-rimmed glasses he wears as Noah Bennet, both scourge and protector of those with powers. Of course, Canada also happens to be where the show is filmed. “They have the tax credits that allow us to make the show cheaper,” reveals Kring. “That allows us to put more on the screen than we can in other places.

His appearance drew cheers from the premiere audience, as did a cameo by Jimmy Jean-Louis as the memory-wiping Haitian, a shot of a young blond woman in a cheerleader’s uniform and a sign reading “Linderman Junior High School.” Other past performers, including Masi Oka, Greg Grunberg and Sendhil Ramamurthy, are to appear in future episodes. Kring’s bid to reel in a younger generation of viewers is evident in the focus on Tommy Clarke (Robbie Kay), a teleporter still struggling to control his abilities while hiding out at an Illinois high school. We’ve been here for six months and we’ve had all different sorts of weather as well, which is helping the creative feel of the global feel of the show.” A mysterious figure with a briefcase full of mind-bending pennies (Pruitt Taylor Vince) watches over Tommy from afar while he’s targeted by Luke and Joanne Collins (Zachary Levi, Judith Shekoni), a tetchy evo-killing couple out to avenge their son’s death. Meanwhile, in East L.A., jaded war hero Carlos Gutierez (Ryan Guzman, taking over resident swarthy hunk duty from Milo Ventimiglia) inherits responsibilities that go beyond his adoring nephew Jose (Lucius Hoyos), who is just beginning to experiment with his powers.

And Henry Zebrowski, as a conspiracy theorist, and Toru Uchikado, as a brash video gamer, are amusing, but none of the characters provide the sheer fun of Mr. Kring’s metaphysical maundering could drive you crazy, and he couldn’t sustain a tight narrative past Season 1, but he had an ability to pack honest emotion into comic-book contrivances and to keep topping himself with surprise twists. He’s a Mexican-American army veteran coming from Afghanistan to East L.A., and he’s being perceived in the public as a hero, but he doesn’t believe it himself. But it’s an incredible journey to go back into this, and make sense of it through the character of Claire because that’s always going to be his story.

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