When Heroes first debuted back in 2006, there was nothing out there quite like it. It was equal parts X-Men and Lost, combining some of the best elements of each into a cohesive, compelling story. Incidentally, it also made itself into one of the first shows focusing on superheroes to gain commercial success, paving the road for wildly popular series like Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of SHIELD. But after season one, things began to break down. Suddenly, a story that thrived on multiple characters in its ensemble cast had too many balls in the air.
New heroes were introduced virtually every other week, bloating the narrative and spelling the downfall of a once-great show. Of course, any fan will tell you that you absolutely have to watch the first season. Ask them about the following episodes and odds are you’ll get nothing in response outside of a heavy sigh, slumped shoulders, and inaudible grumbling about how nothing really made sense after they saved the cheerleader.
Now though, we’re moving forward. NBC is rolling with a full-on series reboot in the form of Heroes Reborn, as we try to pick up the pieces and move on to a (hopefully) improved show. In order to recapture the success of that first season of Heroes though, it has a tall order to fill. Can it capitalize on the simple yet nuanced storytelling that made it so good in the first place? Or will it follow suit and devolve into a complicated mess? Sometime this year, we’ll be getting the answers to those questions.
One of the biggest elements for accomplishing the weighty feats of Heroes circa season 1 may already be in place: The fact that it’s only going to be a 13-episode miniseries. One of the biggest factors behind the failure of the original was that the story became difficult to continue past one, maybe two seasons. After season one (spoilers ahead), the world was saved, the villain was vanquished, and all those rich plotlines and stories were closed out, making it so subsequent seasons had to start from scratch. The high concept for the show made it so the only way to keep moving forward was to introduce more characters, which ended up being the death knell that got it cancelled.
With just 13 episodes to work with, Heroes Reborn can focus on telling just one story, spaced out over a set period of time. They have a clear beginning, middle, and endpoint to work with, making for a story arc that isn’t responsible for needlessly setting up new characters or continuing on well into the future. What we hopefully will have instead is a concise plot akin to the simple beauty of the first season of Heroes.
Recapturing that magic, of course, is no small task. Much of the original cast won’t be returning, depending on some new faces to shoulder to the load moving forward. The teaser that aired during the Super Bowl doesn’t give us much information as to what we can expect specifically, but it does serve as a healthy reminder that simpler, better times may be ahead for the show.