Prepare for the Heroes Reborn premiere with this exclusive e-book excerpt

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Heroes Reborn’ review: The song remains the same, but it’s a decent song.

For the battle to dominate Thursday night, NBC took a column of superheroes out of retirement and drafted Wesley Snipes to take on ABC’s Shonda Rhimes-fueled juggernaut. SERIES: “Heroes Reborn,” a 13-episode series that premieres Thursday on NBC, is a sequel to “Heroes,” which ran on the network from 2006 to 2010.The NBC series “Heroes,” which aired from 2006-2010, was about a group of characters who slowly come to the realization that they have superpowers. Though NBC’s offerings are among the more entertaining of the fall season, somewhere Olivia Pope is smirking, “It’s handled.” The revival no one was clamoring for, “Heroes Reborn” (NBC, 8 p.m.) is a 13-part miniseries about superhumans who must save the world. Learning the circumstances that transformed a character into a hero or a villain will naturally make an audience more invested in that character — but because the formula’s so engrained.

Five years later, the network is premiering a sequel series, titled “Heroes Reborn.” While it’s possible to watch the series without having ever seen any episodes from its forerunner, “Heroes Reborn” assumes that viewers have some familiarity with a number of characters and concepts. Watching an origin story also means sitting through scenes we could script in our sleep (Peter Parker is a nerd!) before finally getting to the fun stuff (Peter Parker can shoot spider webs out of his wrists!). There are plenty of nods to the first “Heroes,” which ended with superpowers being revealed to the world at large. “Heroes Reborn” finds them living openly in relative harmony with the normals, until a terrorist attack in the first few minutes throws suspicion on the “evos” (evolved humans). It centered on people all over the world who suddenly discovered they had superpowers. “Heroes” became a ratings hit for NBC in its first season and was critically well-reviewed then as well.

Get up to speed by reading this before watching the show’s Thursday night premiere: Bennet is a normal (ie: non-super-powered) human, and father of Claire Bennet, a teenager with regenerative powers. And yet … I’m cautiously optimistic about “Heroes Reborn.” Because NBC and producer Tim Kring are treating it as a miniseries of sorts — 13 episodes, and we’re promised a satisfying conclusion. Despite that all-too-familiar set-up, “Heroes Reborn” gets off to a promising start, with some fresh, sympathetic characters and a gentle introduction baited with a little mythology from the original to keep those fans on the hook.

The early episodes of the show were full of enigmatic hints about what would happen when the heroes faced off with a mysterious villain (Zachary Quinto in a breakout role). Bennet’s primary allegiance has always been to his daughter, though he’s also an agent of “The Company,” a shadowy organization whose various members and leaders have tried to suppress, study and/or protect super-powered humans (sometimes all three). But many viewers were underwhelmed by the season one finale, featuring the built-up battle, and many believed the show never recovered, though it continued to air for another three seasons.

The others focus on a new batch of evolved humans with extraordinary abilities, or “Evos,” in the show’s parlance — although if you watched Heroes itself, they’ll probably seem more than a little familiar. CRITICS SAY: The pilot “had its share of potentially showstopping moments, but they land awkwardly and without much force,” Mike Hale wrote in The Times. “In place of wonder, there is mostly nostalgia.” Admirers say “Heroes Reborn” captures the charm of the original at its best. Baby-faced teenager Tommy thinks his mysterious power will make him an outcast in his high school, much like Heroes’ indestructible cheerleader Claire once did. As an evol “truther” tracks him down and convinces him to help investigate the disappearances, we spin around the globe to focus on other heroes — some in hiding, some just discovering their powers.

The contentious relationship between responsible mechanic Oscar and his hard-drinking ex-soldier brother Carlos — one of whom is moonlighting as a lucha libre-masked vigilante known as El Vengador — recalls the bond shared by Nathan and Peter Petrelli. But with the prospect of 13 episodes with a definitive ending, I’m back on board. “The contract that we are making with the audience is that it is 13 episodes,” Kring said. “And that’s what you’re going to get with ‘Heroes Reborn,’ is this beginning and a middle and an end, which will allow us to do a very aggressive kind of storytelling.” And as with the original (and many superhero movies; “X-Men,” anyone?), the most engaging part is watching these fledglings grapple with their newfound powers, particularly Miko (Kiki Sukezane), a ponytailed Tokyo teen with a missing father who finds a magical sword that allows her fight off lethal attackers while she searches for him in an animated video game version of the city.

But critics so far aren’t won over, with reviewers writing that it “doesn’t make an airtight case for its revival,” is “awkward … muddled,” or is simply “a big hot mess.” Other reboots of old shows are in the pipeline, like Netflix’s “Fuller House” and Fox’s “The X-Files,” coming soon (“X-Files” arrives in January, while “Fuller” will stream sometime in 2016). Mohinder goes a little crazy after he develops spider/insect-type powers, including the ability to climb walls and make weblike cocoons. (He eventually loses all his powers except for superhuman strength.) Instead of joining his allies to stop evil circus ringmaster Samuel in season four, Mohinder returns to Madras so he can make up with his jilted lover. Now there’s another dark-haired white guy hunting them down — Luke, one of the only new characters played by a recognizable name (Chuck’s Zachary Levi).

Another interesting subplot involves a vigilante couple (Zachary Levi and Judith Shekoni) hunting evols in retribution for the death of their son at the Odessa summit. Some critics are complaining that “Reborn” has too many of the same themes as the original show – lots of mysterious people working behind the scenes and those who think they know what’s going on but aren’t believed by anybody. Heroes took place in a world much like our own; Reborn begins four years after the first show’s finale, not long since the globe was rocked by the revelation that superpowered humans exist. Whether the show will coalesce into something greater than its parts or devolve, as “Heroes” did, into flashy nonsense capped by an incredibly anti-climatic climax is unclear.

Because we can’t have nice things, a catastrophic attack soon convinces the American government that these Evos are dangerous liabilities, forcing the heroes we know (and the ones we’re just meeting) to go into hiding. Yes, it’s all very Mutant Registration Act, and it also prompts a familiar question: Why would the superpowered people allow a government of normals to control them? I enjoyed “The Player” more than I had right to, as it is the television show with the most preposterous plot of any this fall, and that includes series about a precognitive crime fighter, a drug that makes a failed musician the smartest person in the world and yet still not very interesting, and the producer of a late night talk show with an on-and-off relationship with a pig. “The Player” (NBC, 10 p.m.) has the feel of one of those high-octane action thrillers that Hollywood pumps out — you get caught up in the moment, but the intricacies of the plot dissolve the second you step out of the theater. Philip Winchester plays Alex Kane (they’re both such stereotypical names that I kept forgetting which was the actor and which the character), a private Las Vegas security consultant with a murky past as a military operative (picture the Sin City sign but with “Emotional Backstory!” blinking bright).

One day Kane foils an attempted attack on an ultra-wealthy generically Middle Eastern family, and later that night he celebrates with his ex-wife-with-benefits. Its setpiece scenes are visually striking; its script jumps across time and space and back again, keeping things interesting by never getting too bogged down in any one plot. (Let’s hope that this keeps up; the last thing we need is another extended, deadly dull trip to feudal Japan, a la Heroes Season 2.) The dialogue tends toward exposition, but that’s often the case in pilots; we can reasonably expect it to tamp down as Reborn continues. In the middle of the night, intruders shoot her dead, and Kane, who immediatley becomes the prime suspect, gets rescued by a shadow organization run by Mr. The show’s new characters, too, are largely appealing — another collection of multicultural threads we’ll (presumably) watch gradually come together through the course of the season. She is considered an asset to both The Company and to the heroes because she can locate other super-powered individuals. (She’s basically a human version of “Cerebro,” the machine that can locate mutants in the X-Men comics.) Molly hasn’t been involved in the heroes’ stories since season two, presumably because they figured out that endangering a child’s life is a bad idea.

Kane will be the Player, using the organization’s access to global surveillance networks and other … stuff to prevent the crime, and in exchange, eventually get revenge on those who killed his ex-wife. After leaving the world of the heroes behind in an attempt to live a normal life — like that’s ever worked — he’s drawn back in by a bearded conspiracy theorist who claims the blast that turned the tide against the Evos wasn’t what it seemed.

Noah’s is the only plot thread from the show’s premiere that boasts dots that won’t be easily connected — and it’s also the only one that brings in another welcome face from the first version of Heroes. The McDreamy-less “Grey’s Anatomy” returns at 8 p.m., followed by “Scandal” and “How To Get Away With Murder,” with freshly Emmy-anointed Viola Davis on ABC. You may also want to stick around to see how the miniseries’ various characters and plots end up being intertwined — although here, it’s probably best to approach with some skepticism.

NJ.com TV critic Vicki Hyman and super fan Erin Medley, the new dynamic duo of TV coverage, recap Sunday night’s Emmy Awards, which included a historic moment or two. Perhaps Reborn will escape falling into the same trap — but given how much it looks like Heroes, unless you’ve got the power of hyper-inflated lung capacity, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath.

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