Plenty of stories still to tell in 'Heroes' universe, its creator says
There are logical reasons for US network CBS to introduce a Supergirl TV show this autumn (comic book movies are all the rage) and the nostalgic appeal of The Muppets on ABC is clear.
But even in the current rehash, reboot and regurgitate TV culture, the reliance of another channel, NBC, on Heroes Reborn remains a head-scratcher.
When Heroes debuted in 2006, it had a smash first season that made a star out of Zachary Quinto, who played villainous Sylar. But after an unsatisfactory finale wrapped the show's first season, there was a hint of problems in long-term storytelling that only grew as the series wore on, losing more and more viewers along the way.
When Heroes went off the air in 2010 its ratings had dropped from the more than 14 million who tuned in for the series premiere to about four million viewers for the series finale. A headline at TVFanatic.com captured the sentiment of some viewers succinctly: "Heroes Review: it's finally over!"
So why exactly is NBC bringing the show back?
Series creator Tim Kring always felt the series ended too soon, that he had more stories to tell - and more viewers who wanted to hear it than were captured by Nielsen ratings.
"The last full calendar year the show was on the air, 2009, we were the most downloaded show in the world, legally and illegally downloaded," Kring says. "We were right at the top of the most-streamed shows and we sold lots and lots of DVDs. It was very hard to either acknowledge or crow about the fact that your show is being watched in all these other ways besides the network, but now that's something the network looks at and realises, there was a big audience all along."
NBC is calling Heroes Reborn a 13-episode event series. "In terms of what we learned from the previous series, a big chunk of that was taken care of by the fact it was an order of 13 episodes with the idea of beginning, middle and end, which took off much of the pressure of 'how do you keep something going'," Kring says.
" Heroes was really best when it was perceived as rare and special. Part of being rare and special is not being on the air all the time."
The Heroes Reborn story kicks off a year after a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, home to cheerleader Claire Bennet in the original series. Actress Hayden Panetierre, who's occupied on ABC soap Nashville, won't return for Heroes Reborn so her character has been killed off. But Claire's father, Noah, aka HRG (Jack Coleman), returns after a conspiracy theorist (Henry Zebrowski) reveals the truth about the Texas attack.
This new series introduces a mixture of new characters with superhero skills - including one played by Zachary Levi (Chuck) - and returnees, including Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and the Haitian (Jimmy Jean-Louis).
Kring says time has not stopped in the Heroes universe. The show picks up five years later, so there's five years of story viewers are not privy to. In his mind, Heroes Reborn is essentially season 10 of Heroes, putting returning fans and newcomers on a closer-to-equal footing in terms of what they don't know about what they come into the series not knowing.
"HRG is a character whose storyline is uncovering the mystery of what happened in the intervening years," Kring says. "He unpacks a lot of the mythology from the original series."
That will include exploring the events of that Odessa attack that killed Claire, whose power was her indestructibility.
"She died along with many, many other people at this event that happened, which is a big mystery because we all know Claire shouldn't die," Kring says.
Heroes Reborn will not address the state of every character from the original series - Kring says Sylar's whereabouts are not addressed - because the new series is viewed as a relaunch.
"Who came back and who didn't was driven completely by the story," Kring says. "Why make people think about a character that isn't in the show?"
Tribune News Service