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Heroes: Season 1 (2006-2007)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/26/2008

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/26/2008

In my recent review for DC Heroes: The Filmation Adventures, I wrote that the popularity of super heroes comes and goes. Well, apparently, super heroes are very in right now. Judging by the box-office performance of both The Dark Knight and Iron Man this summer, the public can't get enough of comic-book characters. What was once a niche market, which was only aimed at "nerds & geeks", has now become very mainstream. This trend isn't only exploding at the theater -- television has gotten in on the act as well. The NBC series Heroes may be the ultimate attempt to create a product which will appeal to a mass audience while also catching the attention of comic book fans. But, will that attention be positive or negative?

Heroes is set in the modern-day United States and follows a group of people across the country who suddenly find that they have special powers. In Odessa, Texas, teenager Claire Bennett (Hayden Pantierre) has learned that she can quickly recover from any injury. In New York City, Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) is convinced that he can fly. Also in New York, painter Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera) believes that his paintings show the future. Niki Sanders (Ali Larter) of Las Vegas has blackouts and when she awakens, people are often dead. LAPD officer Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) can suddenly hear the thoughts of others. And in Tokyo, office worker Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) attempts to persuade his co-worker Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee) that he can stop time. Special individuals of this sort were being studied by Dr. Chandra Suresh (Erick Avari), who was convinced that they were the next step in evolution, until he was murdered. His son, Dr. Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) has come to New York seeking answers to his father's death. Finding his father's research, he begins to look for these powerful people. However, there are others searching for them as well; a man in horned-rim glasses (Jack Coleman) seems intent on capturing the special people, while a mysterious, dangerous man (Zachary Quinto) is bent on killing them all.

I can only imagine that someone at NBC said, "Lost sure is popular. We need a similar show." Like Lost, Heroes introduces us to many characters and follows several storylines at once. At times, the show bites off more than it can chew, and it either attempts to tell too many stories at once, or ignores a plotline for an entire episode. (And when the season end, there are definitely plot-holes.) Also like Lost, as the story of Heroes progresses, we learn that several of the characters are connected in mysterious ways. And just like on Lost, this plot device is interesting at first, but it then reaches a point where ridiculous overrides coincidence. Also, the first half of the season leads us to believe that those with special powers are unique, but then many people with powers are discovered, somewhat diluting this idea.

One's reaction to Heroes is also going to depend on your knowledge of comic book characters. When the show started, my fear was that I was find it derivative of comics, similar to the effect of things like The Incredibles. Well, I was right. Heroes owes a huge debt to X-men comics, specifically the books from the early 80s. (Many of those stories were written by Chris Claremont, and a character named "Claremont" appears in the show.) The whole idea of people developing special powers which disrupt their daily lives, and a group attempting to control these people is lifted directly from X-men comics. The entire plotline on Heroes which entwines the present and the future is far too similar to The Uncanny X-men issues 141 & 142. The super-powers featured on Heroes don't perfectly mirror any from X-men, but some are pretty close.

Despite these issues, Heroes is still an entertaining and engrossing show. The show works because the super-hero adventures are mixed with very human drama. The show takes the time to give the characters personalities and even if we can't relate to them, we understand them. Contrary to what one may think, this doesn't inhibit the fantastic nature of the show, but enhances it. Some embrace their powers, some hate them, but they are all effected by them. The characters also present a nice cross-section of society and personalities. The goofy and giddy Hiro juxtaposes nicely with the desperate Niki. The drama is further helped by a good does of levity and the show is able to move us and also make us laugh (mostly through Hiro).

I hate to admit it, but I've become like a lot of people whereas I decide which TV shows I want to watch, which I want to DVR to try later, and which ones I postpone altogether to watch on DVD. Heroes was one of those shows. I heard all of the hype and decided to wait. In a way, I'm glad that I did, as the show truly benefits from back-to-back viewing. This is an intricate show which isn't afraid to pile a lot of information on the viewer, so being able to watch episode-after-episode helps to keep things straight. While I can't help but see it as derivative, there's no denying that Heroes is a well-crafted and entertaining show.

Heroes: Season 1 flies onto Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. This five-disc set contains all 23 episodes from the show's first season. The episodes are letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only traces of grain in certain exterior shots. There are no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and realistic. The image offers a nice amount of detail -- the kind that show's the blemishes on the actor's faces. The depth is good as well, and some shots have a nice 3-D quality. This transfer more than rivals digital broadcast quality. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track offers clear dialogue and sound effects. This is sort of an odd track. Overall, the audio is crystal clear, and the sound effects and the music resonate through the subwoofer. And yet, there isn't an overwhelming amount of surround or stereo effect. There are some, and they are appropriately placed, but with all of the action in the show, I expected more, especially given the audio quality demonstrated thus far by Universal Blu-ray titles.

The Heroes: Season 1 Blu-ray Disc set contains several extras, spread over the 5 discs. Disc 1 let the viewer has the option to watch a 73-minute version of the Premiere Episode (as opposed to the 53-minute one which aired) and this can be watched with AUDIO COMMENTARY from Show Creator Tim Kring. There are DELETED SCENES for each episode here -- "Genesis" (8), "Don't Look Back" (4), and "One Giant Leap" (2). "Making of" (10 minutes) has Kring discussing his ideas and goals for the show, followed by comments from the actors on their characters and their views on the show. There is also footage from ComicCon showing the reception of the show. Mark Kolpak discusses the visual effects of the show in "Special Effects" (9 minutes). We get examples of how several scenes were done. "The Stunts" (10 minutes) has comments from stunt coordinator Ian Quinn discusses how the fights, burns, and falls were done. "Profile of Artist Tim Sale" (11 minutes) contains an interview with the artist who provides the paintings for Mendez. "The Score" (9 minutes) has an interview with Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, and Micharl Perfitt who discuss the show's music. The "U-Control" feature on Disc 1 has two options. One offers pop-ups which gives us a closer look at the show's artwork, while the other offers an in-depth look at the characters.

Disc 2 has DELETED SCENES for the episodes "Collision" (2), "Hiros" (3), "Nothing to Hide" (8), and "Seven Mintues to Midnight" (3). The "U-Control" has Artwork Presentation and Hero Connections. Disc 3 offers DELETED SCENES for "Homecoming" (1), "Six Months Ago" (2), "Fallout" (1), "Godsend" (2), and "The Fix" (1). Along with Artwork Presentation and Hero Connections, the "U-Control" has a "Picture-in-Picture" video commentary on the episode "Godsend" by Leonard Roberts, Jack Coleman, and Sendhil Ramamurthy, and on "The Fix" with Hayden Pantierre and Greg Grunberg. This is essentially an AUDIO COMMENTARY, but we can see them as well. Disc 4 starts with DELETED SCENES from "Distractions" (3), "Run!" (3), "Company Man" (3), and "Parasite" (1). The "U-Control" has Artwork Presentation and Hero Connections. We also get video commentaries on "Distractions" with Zachary Quinto and Milo Ventimiglia, "Run!" with Greg Grunberg and Kevin Chamberlain, "Unexpected" with Greg Beeman, Zachary Quinto, and Sendil Ramamurthy, "Company Man" with Jack Coleman, Allan Arkush, and Bryan Fuller, and "Parasite" with Jimmy Jean-Louis, Allan Arkush, and Chris Zatta. Disc 5 brings us DELETED SCENES for ".07%" (1), "Five Years Gone" (1), and "Landslide" (1). As usual, the "U-Control" has Artwork Presentation and Hero Connections. The video commentaries are ".07%" with Tim Kepler, Andrew Chamblis, and Chuck Kim, "Five Years Gone" with Greg Grunberg, Sendhil Ramamurthy, and Jack Coleman, "The Hard Part" with James Kyson Lee, Noah Gray-Cabey, and Ian Quinn, "Landslide" with Masi Oka, George Takei, and Matthew John Armstrong, "How to Stop an Exploding Man" with Allan Arkush, Dennis Hammer, and Tim Kring.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long