It’s rare for a TV series to get a second lease on life — beyond “Dallas,” “The Comeback” and “Degrassi,” few spring to mind — and a revamping offers not just the chance for some corrective measures but the expectation of them. What was it about the first go round that fell flat, and what can this new incarnation do to avoid repeating them?
Within the first two episodes of “Heroes Reborn” — which air back-to-back for its Thursday-night premiere — it becomes clear that this is still very much the same show that played four seasons and outstayed its welcome by three. In fact, it’s tough to discern exactly what the “Reborn” part of the title refers to aside from an empty promise that “this time it will be different.”
Even the official synopsis promises this new run will “reconnect with the basic elements of the show’s first season,” a tacit admission that “Heroes” went off the rails after the writer’s strike, stranding its characters in ever-more-ridiculous plots and playing fast and loose with their motivations and trajectories.
So, just how “Reborn” is the new incarnation? Not terribly. This is still very much the “Heroes” of five years ago, replete with all its hallmarks — low-grade visual effects, lots of scowls, globe-hopping stories, overwrought narration by Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and the inability to feature Japanese characters without the inclusion of having a samurai sword nearby. Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman) is the focal point for the new series, but for the most part we’re getting all new characters.
We pick things up in ever-familiar Odessa, Texas, at a big summit meant to bring together everyday folk and the super-powered — dubbed “evos” in the show — in an attempt to ease tensions, because clearly the move by Claire (Hayden Panettiere) at the end of Season 4 to reveal to the world that heroes exist didn’t go over too well. In one of the series’ more direct rip-offs from “X-Men” — and there are many — we even get Westboro Baptist Church-style protesters outside the gathering. They don’t get to make much of an impact though, as the whole place soon goes up in a massive, mysterious explosion.
Then it’s a year later, and we’re treated to some ham-fisted 9/11 imagery and clumsily used audio clips trying to make this feel all too authentic — the choice to use familiar speeches from both George W. Bush and Barack Obama seemingly talking about the same event was ill-advised to say the least. And then we’re off on the traditional “Heroes” chase, watching the super-powered uncover their abilities and unearth clues about some terrible conspiracy. By the sixth or seventh time someone ominously intones, “It’s coming,” you’ll be just about exhausted.
Some things shouldn’t necessarily be reborn.
“Heroes Reborn” premieres Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on NBC.