in Television

‘Heroes Reborn’ Premiere Review: Confused Storytelling

heroes reborn

I want to say that I went into the first episode of Heroes Reborn with an unbiased perspective, but that would not be entirely accurate. I liked the first season of Heroes (2006), though I never found it to be worth singing extensive praises. I appreciated its cultural diversity and creative ambition, but I found many of the characters irritating and the show’s bloated sense of self-importance to be more than a little embarrassing. Nevertheless, season 1 bought enough goodwill for me to watch season 2, after which I dropped the show entirely because I had come to outright loathe it. With Heroes Reborn, I had two warring anticipations: that it would hearken back to the things I enjoyed in season 1, thus freeing me from my grudge, or that it would remain the nonsensical, confused mess I recall from later seasons.

Unfortunately, Heroes Reborn went the latter route, and would be better called Heroes season 5. This is not the reboot that I had hoped for, with fresh new characters and only casual cameos from the old guard. Sure, there were a collection of new faces, but what felt like nearly half of the pilot followed Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman), the most frustrating and hair-pull-worthy character of Heroes. His character swallowed up and dominated the original series, and it looks to be doing the same thing here.

I will never understand why the creators of the franchise are so enamored with this manipulative, murderous, mansplaining character. You may recall that many of his troubles in the first show resulted from his choice to hide his spy-murder profession from his family, whom he lied to constantly, with often fatal consequences. Yet when we pick back up with Noah a decade later, he immediately repeats the same pattern of lying to his new fiance and disappearing on mysterious errands. I cannot express how little interest I have in witnessing him experience the exact same watch-my-family-suffer plot that I despised in the first iteration of the show.

So we’re back in the universe of Heroes, with my least favorite character as the lead, and new faces. I could maybe have gotten over the inclusion of Noah if the episode itself had been well-made or exciting. Sadly, it met neither of those goals. While the bright colors and decent production value are reminiscent of the original show, it was hindered by clunky directing. There were several times when a scene attempted to convey a plot point visually, but instead of giving the viewer time to absorb the information, it cut away so quickly you’re left to wonder if what you saw was important or merely the show trying to kill time. In regards to time: it dragged like you would not believe, even compared to the glacial pacing of the original series. Every instance that there seemed to be a glimmer of something interesting, the story cut away (again) to something I did not care about.

Speaking of, let’s get down to story: roughly a year before the show picks up, there was some kind of vague terrorist attack at a convention intended to demonstrate peace between normal humans and “Evos”, a.k.a. “Evolved Humans.” Claire Bennet died in the attack, and the whole tragedy was publicly blamed on science-terrorist Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy). In retaliation, the American government begins registering and kidnapping Evos, forcing them into hiding. A conspiracy nut tracks down Noah Bennett and convinces him to investigate the original terrorist attack.

To give you an idea of how poorly this show is written: for the whole two hours this plot was being discussed, the show never once said if it was a bomb, a missile, a fire, or a super-power-assisted explosion. It’s not even clear if the attack was supposedly caused by supernatural powers or if it was caused by normal weapons at the hands of pro-Evo extremists. It feels like a two hour discussion about what we should have for breakfast, but no one is allowed to say the word “egg” or “cereal”, yet somehow the egg/cereal debate still takes up your entire morning.

In Los Angeles, a young veteran discovers his brother was a masked crime-fighting vigilante, and takes up the cause after his death. In Illinois, a teenage teleporter barely escapes being assassinated by vigilante Evo-hunters. Those were some of the more engaging storylines. In Japan, we get a series of scenes with a girl whose talent appears to be transitioning back and forth between conventional reality and the famous video game her father designed. She literally becomes the game character. Even within the super-powered world of Heroes, this plot is so ill-conceived and ludicrous that only journalistic integrity kept me from fast-forwarding through it. It doesn’t even feel like it exists in the same show as the rest of the pilot. On a purely aesthetic level, I know that watching professional gamers play quests is a big business on YouTube, but forcing the television audience to endure three video game fight scenes is asking too much from a series premiere.

In terms of overall plot, if you harbored any hope that a new show would somehow make sense of all the contradictions in the original, give up that dream right now. With Heroes Reborn, the producers had an opportunity to reinvent a popular show. Instead of taking the series in a new and invigorating creative direction, they sought to duplicate the past. Unfortunately, they latched onto those qualities which caused the failure of the past in the first place. I give it a D grade. One star. Thumbs down. Save me, please, from having to live in this boring, bile-inducing franchise a single minute longer.