“They can’t just cancel a show like ‘Alphas’ (2011-2012), you know?” complains Sheldon Cooper of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” (2007-present). “They have to help the viewers let go. ‘Firefly’ (2002-2003) did a movie to wrap things up. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (1997-2003) continued on as a comic book. ‘Heroes’ (2006-2010) gradually lowered the quality season by season till we were grateful it ended.”
The jibe, if stinging, is accurate. “Heroes,” NBC’s sci-fi/fantasy drama billed as a show about ordinary people with extraordinary abilities, excelled as an origins story but could not maintain logical storylines and was canceled in 2010 due to low ratings and audience frustration. The final episode, “Brave New World,” served as the de facto finale for the series, bringing the stories of empathic hospice nurse Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia), regenerative cheerleader Claire Benett (Hayden Panettiere) and ruthless serial killer Sylar (Zachary Quinto) to a close. Through the series’ four seasons, the characters stopped a nuclear bomb from destroying New York City, destroyed a deadly virus before it could be let loose on the world and stopped a crazed carnival owner from opening up the earth and killing a million people. Though the show succeeded in creating compelling characters with interesting abilities, it tangled itself up in the complexity of its storyline and the cheesiness of its delivery, ultimately proving unsustainable.
However, the show’s comic-book style, where several different characters have independent stories and, occasionally, converging plotlines is an excellent source for spinoffs. The “Heroes” universe contains a number of web series and comic books, and a 13-episode miniseries, “Heroes Reborn,” is now set to premiere this summer.
Speculation about “Heroes Reborn” has been floating around the internet since a teaser trailer premiered last February, and increased as a second was shown at the Super Bowl. The second teaser featured viewer favorite Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman), the non-magical — but still formidable — company agent known by fans as HRG, or the man in the Horn-Rimmed Glasses. Coleman’s character is complex and vaguely antagonistic, someone whose allegiances — except those to his daughter, Claire — are always unclear. “Heroes” creator Tim Kring has implied that HRG will have a small role toward the beginning of the new series, due mostly to the character’s “spine” and his knack for finding people with powers.
Thus far, Coleman is the only confirmed returning cast member. Ventimiglia, Panettiere and Quinto will not reprise their roles as Peter, Claire and Sylar, nor will Ali Larter, who cites being too busy with TNT’s “Legends” (2014-present) to reprise her role as the political shark Tracy Strauss. Sylar’s character, originally a brutal serial killer, struggled with his hunger for power but had found at least partial redemption by the end of the series. The jury is out on Masi Oka, who plays comic-book-obsessed master of time and space Hiro Nakamura. Though Oka has expressed excitement over the return of the series (writing “tick tock tick tock” in a recent tweet), he has not confirmed involvement one way or another. Oka’s character provides most of the few comedic moments in the series, as well as much of the series’ optimism — in a world where many of the “Heroes” are villainous or, at the very least, self-interested, he is one of the few characters that enjoys his abilities and wants to use them to help other people. Losing his character and not having another character with such strong morals as a replacement would create a drastic change in tone, but would eliminate some of the ridiculous plot twists necessary to keep the show interesting — Hiro, who is basically invincible because of his ability to stop time, has to lose his memory, lose his powers, get stuck in the past and even develop brain cancer in order to give the bad guys a fighting chance. No word either on Sendhil Ramamurthy (LA ’96), a Tufts grad, known later for his role as Jai on “Covert Affairs” (2010-present), who plays geneticist Mohinder Suresh.
The show will, however, feature a new character played by Zachary Levi, who voiced the character Flynn in Disney’s “Tangled” (2010). It’s unclear exactly what role he will play or what power he will have, but judging by the aurora borealis he apparently generates during the Super Bowl teaser trailer, it will certainly be impressive. Levi has been presented as a series regular.
“Heroes Reborn” will be accompanied by a webseries on NBC.com called Heroes Reborn: Digital Series, part of a streaming initative by NBC.