What ‘Heroes’ Can Learn From ‘Misfits’

MisfitsClerkenwell Films/E4

NBC has called “do-over” on its ill-fated superhero drama Heroes. The series, which started strong in 2006 and then fizzled out over four seasons, is returning as a miniseries. And while we’re doing some head scratching over why the network would return so soon to this particular well, we’re also intrigued. Can creator Tim Kring identify just where the first incarnation of his baby went wrong and correct those mistakes? As inspiration, we suggest that Kring turn to British dramedy Misfits.

Misfits deals with similar subject matter: regular people — in this case, juvenile delinquents — develop super powers and have to learn to live with them. Where Heroes lost its way, Misfits had a largely consistent five-season run. Here’s what we hope the upcoming Heroes miniseries will steal from the other comic book-inspired show:

1. Keep a tight focus on a few characters at a time.

Misfits features a relatively small main ensemble at any given moment. Each character has their story told and when a story is finished, that character cycles off. It means we eventually have to lose a few of our favorites — we miss you, Nathan! — but at least we’re not drowning in an ever-expanding sea of vaguely developed “superheroes.”

2. Don’t be afraid of a little snark.

Heroes did dark and did it well. We have terrifying serial killer Sylar to thank for launching the career of Zachary Quinto, let’s not forget. But the series was just so painfully earnestMisfits delivers action and adventure with a heavy dose of cheek. Heroes could stand to loosen up a bit.

3. Create a world, but create a world that we recognize.

Misfits used gritty South East London as the backdrop for its unlikely heroes, grounding even the most insane plot twists (a villain who can control lactose?) in familiarity. Heroes always looked like it was firmly based on a soundstage, upping the cheese factor that eventually brought the show down.

Hopefully NBC’s second go at the superhero series can take a few of these lessons.