Heroes Reborn Thursdays, 8 p.m., NBC.
Shows like Arrested Development, 24, Twin Peaks and The X-Files have benefited from the recent trend of TV-series revivals because their fandom has only grown in the years since they first went off the air, but Heroes seems like an odd choice to bring back from the dead. By the end of the show’s four-season run in 2010, much of its fanbase had turned on it, after several seasons of convoluted, unsatisfying storylines and forgettable new characters. In the time since it went off the air, TV and movies have become saturated with superheroes, and creator Tim Kring’s self-serious, less-fantastical version of the genre has not aged well.
And yet the new Heroes Reborn, with Kring once again at the helm, changes essentially nothing about the show, either positive or negative. It’s still a self-serious, semi-grounded approach to superhero storytelling, focused on vague conspiracies and portentous dialogue over acts of superpowered heroism. Fans of the original series interested in seeing their favorite characters again might be disappointed that Noah Bennet (aka HRG, played by Jack Coleman) is the only returning character who’s part of the main cast, although several of Coleman’s past co-stars are set to make guest appearances (one of them shows up for a couple of scenes in the first episode, only to immediately get killed off).
Bennet is joined by a range of new characters, some more intriguing than others, including the show’s first actual costumed vigilante, perhaps an acknowledgment of the current popularity of more traditional superhero shows like Arrow and The Flash. The show’s mythology has become even more reminiscent of Marvel Comics’ X-Men, with public sentiment against “evos” (the show’s term for superpowered beings) forcing them into hiding after a terrorist attack blamed on “evo supremacists.” Kring’s interest in recontextualizing familiar elements of superhero comics no longer feels particularly fresh, though.
There are a few bright spots, including a budding romance between a pair of teens and an amusingly paranoid “evo truther” who tags along with Noah. Mostly it’s business as usual, which, for a show that apparently ran out of good ideas years ago, is not exactly promising.