'Heroes' creator says NBC reboot will strongly focus on new characters

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The man behind NBC’s Heroes is giving some hints about his miniseries revival plan. NBC intends to air Heroes: Reborn sometime next year as a 13-episode miniseries. Already on board is the man in the horn-rimmed glasses, Jack Coleman (Noah Bennet). But how many other returning favorites will be cast? And what’s the creative vision for the new show? 

In the past few days, two Heroes veterans have expressed some thoughts to the press about returning to the project. Ali Larter (Niki and Jessica Sanders) told reporters she couldn’t join due to her commitment to TNT’s new drama Legends (“I don’t have time to work on another project), and Zachary Quinto (Sylar) said his schedule is likewise full (“I’ve been in touch with Tim and he told me they were doing this and we left the door open for me to be involved, the trouble is really my availability …. at the same time I’m very interested in forward momentum, I’m very interested in expanding and defying people’s expectations of me. I don’t know that going back to such a definitely iconic character would necessarily do that.”)

Creator Tim Kring is actually buried in work too — focusing on his promising new USA Network limited series Dig, an archeology adventure starring Jason Isaacs as an FBI legal attache working in Jerusalem who stumbles onto a conspiracy. Yet Kring took some burning questions from EW in an exclusive chat on the upcoming revival of his genre-pioneering 2006 series:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: A few years ago when talking Heroes, you said the future of television is shorter TV seasons and lamented the show’s schedule. And that’s coming to pass, broadcasters are recognizing that you can’t do a heavily serialized genre show for 22 episodes a season and maintain the same quality as cable. Do you feel  some vindication there?
Tim Kring: All of us who were working in the serialized genre, we all knew that model of network television where you’re on all season long from September to May, we all started to feel that same thing. We were watching like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos and the audience would wait patiently for a year, or year an a half, for nine episodes and you started to see that scarcity really was a valuable commodity for the audience. With something that’s on all the time, it’s hard to be rare and special when you’re neither rare nor special. Having a limited idea is a very modern way to tell a story and we all got that lesson in the Harry Potter series when JK Rowling told the whole world she was only going to write seven books — so you knew when reading Book 5 it was very precious because there was only two left. And that scarcity really does set you apart when there’s a lot to compete for your eyeballs.

So what’s your plot pitch for this reincarnation of the show?
To be honest, it wasn’t a pitch from me, it was a pitch from NBC to me. They saw the value in that franchise and brand and asked if I was interested in helming it again. And we had left the story in a place where we had more story to tell. So given the opportunity, I had ideas of where I wanted the story to go originally when we were hoping for a fifth season and so when we were given the opportunity five years later, some of those same thoughts were there as to where this story goes. But five years had passed and I also had new ideas on how to reboot the brand in a way that gives people a whole fresh take on the series with a whole host of new characters but gives you that sense of you’re in that world of Heroes you’re familiar with.

Can you give a sense of what that vision is?
It takes place in a post-season 4 universe. So it will tie into some of the ideas that were left dangling.

One of the first comments people seem to have when hearing about this project, was that some wished you wouldn’t bringing back previous characters, that you’d start entirely fresh. Can you talk about the decision to return to old characters and how much focus will they have?
The vast, vast majority are brand new characters, brand new ideas. [Bringing back previous characters is] really only to give a sense of continuity and a tether to the original world. If it was all completely brand new, we’d miss certain elements that need to be there to give you that bridge to cross to something new. I approached Coleman because he was a character who had a spine through the series that allowed you to meet new characters. So he’s a character I wanted to make sure had a little part at the beginning of this thing.

Given the new chance to re-enter this world, are there any lessons from the first time around that you plan to do differently?
The big one we already touched on, and that’s to know where you’re going from the very beginning with a set number of episodes. We knew where we were going with each volume, but we never knew when the series was going to end and whether to kill off certain characters. We have a set number of episodes and whether it ever returns after that is unknown and there’s freedom in that.

Can you tease to any new powers you’re introducing?
Not yet. And right now, the truth is my attention is very much on Dig.

Heroes arguably started the modern-day surge of super-hero TV shows, yet it’s often remembered more for criticisms about its later seasons than what it started. To some extent do you see this as an opportunity to change the narrative that’s been built around the show?
I’m not really looking at it in those terms. I was always excited to start every season. Obviously as somebody who grows and matures as a writer and storyteller, I’m hoping the time away from the show will bring a freshness to it. I always saw Heroes as having a message about hope and global connectivity and consciousness and those are even more solidified in me as I get older and I think i have just as much to say about it as in the beginning of the series. I still have a lot more story to tell.


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