2015… it’s only 300 days away and yet it still feels like forever. When it does finally arrive, a lot of things will be happening on the big screen as well as the small. Although to be fair a 50″ TV doesn’t sound small, does it? Regardless, 2015 will see the launch of a reboot of the NBC hit show Heroes called Heroes Reborn.
Okay, well it was a hit show for at least that first season. After that, well, things went sideways but we’ll come back to that.
Heroes Reborn is all we know so far. There were two other bits of info that were let loose in the world and that was that there are only to be 13 episodes in the series run and there would be new cast members involved. Not much to go on at this early stage but let’s take a look at what we did get and make some educated deductions.
Back on September 25, 2006, the show premiered as a hit out of the gate. NBC had done a fantastic job promoting the series and it paid off in that first airing. From there the story of the huge cast was played out leading to the finale in which Peter (played by Milo Ventimiglia) and Nathan (played Adrian Pasdar) appeared to make the ultimate sacrifice. We returned for season 2 and learned that the battle of Kirby Plaza from the first season finale didn’t go down as shown. There was trickery afoot.
This. Right here. Was it. This is when the show began to lose momentum with the viewers. They bowed to the pressure of the fans looking to have the characters return. So much so in fact they brought back from the dead characters who should have died in season one. It also suffered from the Writer’s Strike and had to shorten the second season to 11 episodes from the planned 23. This affected the planned storyline and left major questions to improperly resolved plot points. The second season opener garnered the highest ratings of the show but lost 4 million viewers by the 2nd episode. For the rest of the season they were an average of 3 million below the previous season. The show never recovered after that and the ratings only got worse.
The wacky time travel story with Hiro followed by his tumor was terrible. The alteration to Sylar was not well done. Nathan. Peter’s continued whining and power changes. HRG/Noah Bennett story. Claire. Nicky. Almost everything with Micah. The show just started spinning it’s wheels after such a great first season. Sure, there were bright spots along the way and some half decent episodes among all this mess but it doesn’t change the fact the show had lost it’s way.
To lay the blame solely at the feet of Tim Kring or any of the other hands in the pot is simplistic. No, the greater issue of the show was that it surprised the world with it’s initial popularity and then what? It’s hard for the powers that be to not try and get their hands dirty in the show trying to prove it was them all along that made it a hit. I am a firm believer that if Kring had stuck to his original vision, the show would have done well. Okay, at least not any worse than what happened.
I’m hoping that as the title infers that we get a fresh new look at the concept. I want the new characters to be the stars, giving us a brand new vision of the new post human world with ties back to the original and with LIMITED guest shots from past cast members. The series needs to stay in touch with it’s troubled past but also keep it at a distance to ensure there is no contamination of past failures. The great thing is that the odds of any kind of Sylar return would be contained to a limited guest shot and let’s hope not at all.
Samuel would be the one hold over I would tolerate as villain in the new show, or at least as the Magneto type character they tried to make Sylar in the end. Robert Knepper has stated that he would love to return to the series as Samuel to explore the character more. This to me would be a nice way to link to the past and move forward into the future. Sure, his storyline was not all that good but his character was pretty interesting and Knepper is a great actor.
Which leads to the other tidbit. 13 episodes. This might actually be the smartest thing NBC has ever done. Making this a limited series similar to how the British typically do TV allows for more concise, intelligent writing. It also potentially gives them the option to get stars who may be to busy otherwise to get involved in a network show. The reality is that this has been brewing for a while and several of the cable channels have been doing this for years. TNT, SyFy, USA, BBC America, Starz and of course Showtime and HBO have been leading the way. It has has been proven that shows on these networks have become runaway hits with shortened 10-13 episode seasons. Giving us, the viewer, stories that make sense and follow tightly to the main narrative logic.
HBO’s True Detective would not have attracted it’s cast if it was 23 episodes long and the story would have been a mess spread out like that. Instead they made 8 episodes and have kept the labyrinthine story moving quite nicely. Networks will be watching 24: Live Another Day (May 5th, 2014) keenly to see how it translates to it’s new format. The show was once 24 episodes each for an hour out of the stories day. Now it will be 12 one-hour episodes with each being equal to 2 hours of story. It’s event viewing. That’s what FOX is saying at least.
All of this makes my interest in Heroes Reborn even greater. Could this, if successful, mark the transition to a new paradigm before switching to a binge viewing model such as Netflix? Only time will tell but we need to keep our eyes open for possible developments. The landscape is changing and Networks need to move with it.
Of course there is another more subtle story afoot here. NBC needs hits, big time. They are running a distant 3rd in the major network races behind ABC & CBS for viewership. They once ruled the airwaves with the Thursday night comedy block and they had hit shows like the 237 Law & Order series’ to keep them at the top but all of that fell apart and now they struggle to make it. If it’s a hit, Heroes could help reinvigorate the Network and help push them up the ratings charts.
There are a lot of subplots going on with this show and all we really know are the title, episode count and when it’s arriving. These next 300+ days or so are going to be fun to watch. No pressure but this a make or break type moment for NBC. They are struggling for viewers to watch anything they have and the landscape of TV is going to change over the next 5-7 years. Netflix is making too much for them to not start looking at changing the model somehow.
With all that said and my seeming hate for the original (which is not true), I am looking forward to seeing the show come back. All I want is something that is more akin to what was promised in the early days of the show’s run. Here’s hoping 2015 looks forward rather than back.
For more information go to Heroes Facebook page.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!