Its always dangerous rebooting an iconic TV show, but, lets face it, the original four season run of Heroes didn't exactly end on a high. The show suffered massive set-backs during the 2007-2008 writers strike, resulting in a scramble to complete storylines and plug plotholes without anyone noticing. Sadly, EVERYONE noticed.
Now, just a short five years later, creator Tim Kring has resurrected his superhero drama in the form of Heroes Reborn. Some of the key characters, like Noah Bennet, Mohinder Suresh, the Haitian and Hiro Nakamura have returned to the 13-part series, but this time theres no cheerleader to save, no explosion to avoid and no Sylar splicing peoples heads open. To give you a taste of what to expect, we've pitted Heroes against Heroes Reborn in key areas to prove, very scientifically (ahem), which show deserves your love. It goes without saying that there are spoilers, spoilers and even more SPOILERS! Got it? Ok.
Time travel loopholes
Heroes: Perhaps Tim Krings biggest mistake was EVER giving a character the ability to control time and space. It sounds great in theory, but in practice it just made us all scream at Hiro Nakamura every time he came on screen. Sure, he started off funny, but even in his bad-ass future-self, Hiro was remarkably useless at solving any problems whatsoever. Fail.
Heroes Reborn: Having learnt from the mistakes of the past Heroes Reborn uses Hiros powers more carefully, relying on the butterfly effect approach when it comes to explaining away problems. But Hiros powers also come into play when hiding Claire Bennets twins Malia and Nathan (aka teleporter Tommy), proving his power can actually be useful to the forward motion of the plot.
The Verdict: Hiro is a great character; noble, brave, kick-ass and generally funny, but his powers have often been a blessing rather than a curse. At least in Heroes Reborn hes vital to the plot.
Sucking powers sussed
Heroes: Ability absorption was one of the key power groups of the evolved humans in the original series of Heroes, with Arthur Petrelli turning the power into a sort of all-you-can-eat-power buffet. His son Peter Petrelli had a similar version of empathetic mimicry in the show, which allowed him to replicate powers and use them in the presence of another evolved human. And let's not forget Sylar who, upon slicing into peoples brains, could steal their powers and use them for his own benefit.
Heroes Reborn: Of course, the problem with ability absorption is its tendency to become completely impossible to handle. Wheres the fun in one person having all the powers? Specialism works. In Heroes Reborn it is only Quentin Fradys kidnapped sister, Phoebe who shows the ability to mess with others powers and even then it has more of a masking effect.
The Verdict: Powers are more carefully controlled and distributed in a one-per-person model in Heroes Reborn, which actually makes it easier for the show to set storylines. Sorry Heroes, but your younger sibling wins again.
Pens at the ready...
Heroes: What made Heroes spectacular downfall and ratings nose dive so hard to handle was that the first season was so damn good! When two producers were unceremoniously sacked from the show in 2008, it came to light that the shows writers were assigned separate plot lines for each episode, meaning the much-needed continuity just wasnt there. Add to that a jumble of characters and its safe to say some bits just didnt add up.
Heroes Reborn: It has been clear from the pilot episode of Heroes Reborn that things were back on track. The dialogue is still the slightly corny Kring-isms that we know and love, but overall the characters and plotlines have all been given space to breathe. Weve particularly enjoyed the scenes with Erica Kravid and her feisty daughter Taylor.
The Verdict: Its a tough call between the good old days of Heroes and this more streamlined incarnation, so were going with a tie on this one.
HRG vs Noah Bennet 2.0
Heroes: Noah Bennet was an interesting facet of the original series of Heroes, occupying a kind of moral grey zone in a world of good guys like Hiro and Peter, and truly terrible guys like Sylar. Known as HRG for his horn rimmed glasses, Noah developed into a frustrating character, constantly dipping in and out of Primatech and battling incessantly with adopted daughter Claire. BUT he was always on the edge of your seat crazy, which made up for any weaknesses in his plot.
Heroes Reborn: Heres how the series has gone down so far Noah has a new wife, leaves her in the dead of night without so much as a see you later, love, kills the Haitian only to find out he'd wiped his own memory, hes sad about Claire dying, he has no idea whats going on, he tries to kill Erica, he has no idea whats going on, he finds Hiro who takes him back to the day of the Odessa bombing, HE STILL HAS NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON.
The Verdict: Heroes wins this one, largely because the new Noah is annoying as hell.
Who's top dog?
Heroes: Its hard to think of a more chilling villain that Zachary Quintos Gabriel Gray (aka Sylar). He was declared Patient Zero by Chandra Suresh and described as having intuitive aptitude powers, which enabled him to figure out how powers work and steal them from inside the brains of Evos. We were never convinced by his good guy turn in season four, but then, we werent convinced by season four in general.
Heroes Reborn: Theres a new baddie in town and she wears kitten heels. Erica Kravid is the head of Renautas the evil parent company of Primatech and shes on a mission to end the world. Were still not sure why, but its agonising why someone doesnt just KILL HER. There have been so many opportunities, like in Chapter Five: The Lions Den. Ericas henchman, M.F. Harris who is able to grow clones of himself, is pretty cool though.
The Verdict: Sylar is hands down the winner of the big baddies battle in the Heroes universe. We just wish he would hang-up his Spock ears and come back for a few episodes.
Twists and turns
Heroes: The Heroes universe thrives of keeping us on our toes, which is what makes it so difficult to choose between the original and the reboot. Finding out Nathan Petrelli was Claire Bennets father was an interesting development, but much of this cleverness was undone by Nathans terrible Sylar body-swap multi-death storyline in seasons three and four. Lots of interesting characters with great powers were introduced too, but they were never given enough space to develop (think Daphne Millbrook, Candice Wilmer, Molly Walker, Eden McCain). In the end we just couldnt take the disappointment.
Heroes Reborn: Where are Claires mum and brother? Seriously, shes died in childbirth and theyve just completely and utterly ignored it? Weird. Finding out Nathan and Malina are related was cool, as was finding out Hiro raised Nathan as his own in a time-travel-free past. We really didnt see that one coming!
The Verdict: We have to give this one to Heroes. Sure, the show had its problems, but its first two seasons gave us action, adventure and relatively understandable plots. Heroes Reborn is great, but we will reserve judgement until it reaches the season four danger zone.
Heroes: It was Hiros naive willingness to save the world, which always had people inexplicably trying to kill each other and destroy the universe in Heroes. Arthur Petrelli is a good example of a character almost ridiculously callous and evil; so much so that he was taken down by Peter, Sylar and the Haitian. Also lets not forget immortal Adam Monroe, who decided the world needed a rapid cleansing (but not before teaching Hiro to be a samurai, obviously).
Heroes Reborn: Were still not sure why Erica Kravid is so keen on seeing the destruction of the world, or the end of all Evos for that matter. Plus, it seems strange that LAPD cop James Dearing (played by Orphan Black's Dylan Bruce) wants to capture, torture and generally mess with Evos when he is one.
The Verdict: Every incarnation of Heroes has struggled with making apocalyptic plot points believable, but the initial series of Heroes REALLY struggled. One point of Heroes Reborn.
And the award for the most ridiculous plot point goes to...
Heroes: Can we just say the whole of season four and be done with it? No? Well, lets face it, there were plenty of unfathomable moments to choose from in the original. Like how can people creep up on Sylar if he has super hearing? If hes got a photographic memory, why doesnt he just kill everyone on Mohinders map of supers? What happened to the Sylar/Elle romance? What was the purpose of taking away everyones powers for one episode? Soooooo many unanswered questions.
Heroes Reborn: Weve already established that Heroes Reborn has a stronger, more consistent plot, but that doesnt mean it doesn't have its annoying aspects too. The award for the most unfathomable storyline has to go to Luke and Joanne Collins possibly the stupidest characters/couple in the whole Heroes universe. Their story makes little sense, they have almost zero chemistry and were not even sure Judith Shekoni can act. Seriously, why would you go around killing Evos? Surely someone would have noticed their murderous rampage by now?
The Verdict: It's definitely a tie on this one. No matter how hard they try it seems Heroes always has to have one facet that makes everyone collectively go 'huh?'.
Power wish list
Heroes: Tim Kring let his imagination run wild when it came to developing Heroes, and there are some great powers to prove it. Nathan Petrellis flight, Claire Bennets regeneration, Monica Dawsons adoptive muscle memory and Molly Walkers clairvoyance are all high on our wish list. And, because the wider world didnt know about powers until Claire jumped off the Ferris wheel in season four, most Evos could use their gifts in secret. Great stuff.
Heroes Reborn: Powers in Heroes Reborn are a tad less exciting, and the whole Evo register feels like its been ripped straight out of X-Men. However, wed take Farah Nazans invisibility any day of the week.
The Verdict: The original Heroes wins this one hands down. The reigning in of powers may be great for the overall plot, but for our imagination its not so great.
Heroes: With all the Evo action going on it's hard to get invested when the boring, power-less humans come along and spoil the fun. As a result, Heroes systematically turned all its humans into Evos with a convenient jab. Mohinder Suresh became lizard boy, Ando Masahashi could amplify the powers of those around him, and triplets Niki Sanders, Tracy Strauss and Barbara were given their powers synthetically by Dr Zimmerman.
Heroes Reborn: The reboot gives humans slightly more credit, but, as a result, they're kind of in the way. Tommys friend/girlfriend Emily Duval is a welcome breath of fresh air, deadly married couple Joanne and Luke Collins are relatively pointless, Ren Shimosawa is too convenient and Quentin Frady was unceremoniously killed off.
The Verdict: Its a tough call. Theres something truly satisfying about 'normal' people having the chance to be special, but the show does lose something if everyone has powers. Wheres the control group? Well go for Heroes Reborn on this one.
Battle of the superkids
Heroes: Who remembers super cute Micah? Well, it turns out the tyke had some badass computer-controlling powers that made us very jealous. Plus, his skills even managed to make up for the fact that his mum, Niki was one of the most annoying characters in the history of television. True fact. In the battle of the superkids Micah is definitely up there.
Heroes Reborn: When Claire Bennet died giving birth to twins Nathan and Malina, Hiro hid them from Erica by messed around with their timelines to make them teenagers in the present day, rather than one-year-olds. Plus, Nathan turns out to be Tommy a character we are introduced to at the beginning of the series who can teleport - and his sister appears to be able to control the elements. Cool.
The Verdict: So Heroes Reborn does have some awesome teen Evos, but we have a soft spot for Micah. Plus, cctor Noah Gray-Cabey is expected to make a guest appearance on the show in his grown-up guise later this year.
Welcome to Evernow
Heroes: The comic book aspect of Heroes was one of the things, which made it great. We would happily hang any of the paintings by heroin-addicted precognitive Isaac Mendez on our living room walls, even if most of them predicted death and destruction. In the early days, the comic book-style story arcs were interesting by the end we we're just got confused.
Heroes Reborn: Some aspects of the comic book-style of the show have remained, including the opening sequence graphics, but the majority have been replaced by Miko (aka Katana Girl) entering virtual gaming world Evernow to rescue her father and Hiro Nakamura. Some of it is great, especially in comparison to the cringe-worthy live action fight sequences in episode two, but at times it slows down pace and creates more plot holes than we're willing to forgive.
The Verdict: Sorry, Heroes Reborn, but we think well pass on your attempt at gaming worlds. It doesn't matter how much you try and Quentin Tarantino-things up because a mixed-medium just isn't working for you.
And the winner is...
If we were comparing season one of Heroes and season one of Heroes Reborn we'd say Heroes was the winner hands down. When it first aired in 2006 it blew TV audiences away with its brilliant characters, quirky plot lines and special effects. And the figures speak for themselves - the show secured around 14 million viewers! But by seasons three and four things took a tumble. As Sheldon says in The Big Bang Theory, "Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season till we were grateful it ended".
Heroes Reborn on the other hand has shown that with a limited episode run and some seriously honed writing, the Heroes universe can be great again. So, who's the winner? We're going to go out on a limb and say Heroes Reborn. We're not sure it can erase the sins of the past, but it sure does make for some great viewing. Here's hoping it keeps up the good work!