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Toronto: Why NBC’s ‘Heroes Reborn’ Makes Sense at A Film Fest

Toronto: Why NBC's 'Heroes Reborn' Makes Sense at A Film Fest


An eco-political thriller. A murder in a small town set
against a sweeping Icelandic backdrop. A documentary about one of the world’s
most influential rock stars. When “Heroes Reborn” – the upcoming miniseries
continuation of the original NBC show – was announced as part of the Toronto
International Film Festival’s inaugural “Primetime” component, it stuck out
like a sore thumb among the smaller, international offerings on tap.

READ MORE: TIFF’s First-Ever TV Lineup Includes Jason Reitman’s ‘Casual’ and ‘Heroes Reborn’

But take a closer look, and having a world debut of the high
concept series at a venue like TIFF makes perfect sense. If you’re into the
hype surrounding the show’s return, that is.

At its core, “Heroes” has always been a large, international
show honing in on various characters from around the globe. “Reborn” is no
exception; the two-hour pilot jumps from Japan and Los Angeles to Canada, China
and Texas. According to showrunner Tim Kring, that worldwide theme continues
throughout the rest of the mini’s run, paying homage to various cultures. He
cites Toronto as a great city for shooting the show in the first place because
of the Canadian tax credits and established crew, but also because of the
multicultural components the city offers, making it perfect for that
international landscape.

“‘Heroes’ depicts various places around the world; Toronto
gives us all of these different looks and places,” Kring said ahead of the
debut. “We’ve been here for six months and we’ve had all different weather as
well, which is helping the creative, global feel of the show.”

The pilot picks up five years after the initial series
wrapped, when cheerleader Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) exposed her powers
for the entire world to see. “Reborn” opens with a festival celebrating the
newly forged relationship between humans and the “evos,” or evolved, as they’re
now being called. Through Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) and his Horn Rimmed
Glasses point-of-view audiences quickly catch up on his estranged relationship
with his daughter, but before a reunion can be had the scene quickly turns to
chaos thanks to an unforeseen attack.

Flash-forward a year in time and this is a darker, more
dangerous time to be an evo. As the heroes are being hunted – mainly by a new
corporation and two rogue hunters with a personal vendetta (played by Zachary
Levi and Judith Shekoni) – audiences meet a plethora of new characters while
also catching up with some familiar faces.

“Our show has always had a film quality to it, but there are
also other shows that are so huge,” Greg Grunberg, who reprises his role as
Matt Parkman in a future episode, told Indiewire at the premiere. “To be
premiering here it’s unbelievable; it’s huge for us.”

“It’s very cinematic, it’s a huge show with a lot to look at
and to take in,” Coleman added. “It’s a sprawling, wide-spread, worldwide
story, that tells an international tale; it always has. That makes it good for
TIFF.”

Fans at the packed screening seemed to agree – some of them
lined up more than three hours before the debut in order to grab the best seats
in the house. Surely, those are the same types of fans who will appreciate the
many Easter eggs in the first two hours alone, and who might also be thrilled
by some of the newer, animated components that come with this new set of evos.
Others, who either gave up on the series once it grew too big for itself or who
never watched in the first place may take in “Heroes Reborn” with a more jaded
view.

Where both types of viewers would undoubtedly agree is that
when “Heroes” premiered in 2006, it was groundbreaking television that
showcased everyday people in extraordinary settings. Today, with Marvel and DC
taking over the airwaves both in film and television, that makes this
continuation a gamble. Especially after the series strayed so far off course
for many fans during the second season and beyond.

“This show has always been designed to be rare and special,”
Kring explained. “One of the challenges we had the first time around was (the
high episode order). It took us 14 months to make the first year of television,
so we were facing a mathematical impossibility from the very beginning. The
unique thing about ‘Reborn’ is that it is 13 episodes long with a beginning,
middle and an end. We’re making a contract with the audience that we’re
actually going to do that. There’s no talk of anything to come after this.”

To be fair, there’s no talk of anything to come after
“Reborn” yet. But if the hype
surrounding the series at TIFF or the explosion around the show in Year 1 is
any indication, those conversations could occur shortly after the ratings come
in. After all, even NBC needs a hero.

“Heroes Reborn” debuts
Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8pm ET on NBC.

READ MORE: 4 Characters We Hope Return for NBC’s ‘Heroes Reborn’ (And 3 Characters We Don’t)

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