This review contains spoilers.
When author V.C. Andrews passed away in 1986, her publisher didn’t want to give up serving fans who loved her novels like “Flowers in the Attic.” So a ghost writer was hired by the name of Andrew Niederman.
Now Niederman was no pushover. Sure, he might have been an English teacher in Upstate New York before jumping in for Andrews, but Niederman would go on to write “The Devil’s Advocate,” which was made into a pretty darn good movie in 1997 with Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino.
But the Andrews estate wanted Niederman to stay close to the ingredients that created the magic of the “Flowers in the Attic” series — evil religious grandparents, even more vindictive grandchildren, and plenty of incest.
The problem, however, wasn’t with Niederman’s ability to weave a tale, but instead the limited universe he had to work in. While all those elements made “Flowers in the Attic” one of those killer stories that you have to just read again and again — he couldn’t just take the ingredients, recycle them, and somehow find that magic again.
Tim Kring doesn’t have a ghost writer for his work, and fans really remember and love the first season of his breakout NBC hit “Heroes.” The wonder, the surprises, the characters — we loved each one from the very first minute they appeared on the screen.
And the universe surrounding “Heroes” would’ve been perfect, if the series had ended right before the first season finale. After that, studio demands to keep popular characters and the like tied Kring’s hands, and future seasons of “Heroes” were really nothing to write home about.
But it seemed NBC had learned its lessons, and would just give Kring the freedom to do “Heroes” the way he wanted to do “Heroes,” and thus “Heroes Reborn” was, er, born. That doesn’t sound quite right, but you know where I am coming from.
Set some years after the final episode of “Heroes,” Kring had a chance to create a canvas that was exactly the way he wanted it, without any outside influences trying to shoehorn his overall story. We would see the return of some of our favorite characters, but get introduced to new ones as well. How could a “Heroes” fan not be excited about “Heroes Reborn”?
Well, a lot of that excitement likely disappeared during NBC’s double-episode premiere Thursday night.
Our first look back into “Heroes” was through the eyes of Noah Bennet, the infamous Horned-Rimmed Glasses man played by Jack Coleman. His visit to a celebration of regular people and what would become known as “Evos” (you know, for evolution?) turned into a nightmare, where he was one of the few survivors of a devastating terror attack.
It was a promising opening, but sometimes promises just aren’t fulfilled.
Kring, however, couldn’t shake the forced writing style of the later seasons of “Heroes,” and provided us with a meandering story, where we would be introduced to new characters, only to have them killed off just a few minutes later. Yes, we get it — Evos are being killed. But does nearly every single new one have to be killed instantly?
It was a bunch of unnecessary violence lacking any emotional punch — because we didn’t even get a chance to know any of these characters.
And then Kring reached into the magic bag, and looked to recycle the ingredients from the past again. Gone is Sylar, but in his place is a gambler who seems to have Sylar’s best traits. Gone is Hiro (for now), and instead is some silly storyline in Tokyo about a girl stuck in a video game. Gone are Peter and his brother, and instead we have … well, really no one.
We get Tommy Clarke (Robbie A. Kay), an ice cream-loving teenager who when not being hit on by a store manager and his school bully, is making people and objects disappear.
Then we get a superhero vigilante who … oh wait, sorry. He’s dead.
But wait! Then The Haitian (Jimmy Jean-Louis) returns to give HRG all the answers he’s been looking … dammit, dead too.
Seriously, the body count is so high in the first two episodes, I can’t figure out if I’m watching a “Heroes” retread or an old Steven Seagal film. So many die, most of them at the hands of Luke and Joanne Collins, a grieving couple played by Zachary Levi and Judith Shekoni, who really do nothing more than kill as many people as possible, and never really stop to allow us to get to know them.
In fact, that seems to be a major problem with “Heroes Reborn” through the first two episodes. Too many characters, too many storylines, and never stopping to take a breath and help us get to know anyone.
What made the first few episodes of “Heroes” so amazing is that it took the time to introduce characters, to help us understand their struggles, to become a part of their lives, and to care about each and every one of them from the very first moment. There was a sense of wonder for each episode, and moving scenes that made you want to hit the rewind button after every amazing scene.
“Heroes Reborn” is not that, however. The treatment of the Evos is so over-the-top that it’s insane. Many of the powers the characters have are recycled from previous characters, and remind us too much of the actors we’re missing, instead of the new ones we have. And the Japanese storyline contains character interactions and silly stories that are almost derivative of Hiro and Ando, if the whole storyline wasn’t stereotypical and outright creepy.
There is a little hope that this somehow will come together, but Kring and company will have to do it very fast. There is a lot of competition for those television-watching eyeballs, and if “Heroes Reborn” doesn’t find a way to keep those eyeballs glued and coming back, then the show will sadly be re-dead.
“Brave New World” was written by Tim Kring and directed by Matt Shakman. Odessa was written by Kring and directed by Greg Beeman.
“Heroes Reborn” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.