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HEROES: SEASON ONE
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter, Masi Oka, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Milo Ventimiglia, Greg Grunberg, Adrian Pasdar, Zachary Quinto, James Kyson Lee, Leonard Roberts, Jack Coleman
Creator: Tim Kring
Audio:  DTS HD 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Universal
Features:  See Review
Length: 1035 minutes 
Release Date: August 26, 2008

“Save the cheerleader, save the world!”

Shows ****

I think superhero stories have always appealed to us in our culture because they tap into basic fantasies and desires that we all have…namely, the desire to be unique and special.  Sure, we may look mild mannered on the outside, but on the inside? 

Well, in my case and many others, on the inside is just more mild-manners.  But who hasn’t imagined there was something more?  Incredible strength?  Flying?  Invincibility?  The ability to right wrongs, do good, fight injustice and save the world?  Or at least get even with that jerk that cut you off in rush hour?

Heroes arrived on ABC in 2006 and became a phenomenal hit.  It was a globe spanning superhero origin story, where various people in various places are discovering their unique talents slowly but surely, and eventually begin to come together because not all who have powers like them are using them for the greater good.

There are characters like Niki Sanders (Larter), a single mom in Vegas who does web cam work to make money, and who… shall we say, isn’t always herself.  There’s Peter Petrelli (Ventimiglia), a home care nurse in New York who has dreams of flying, much to the worry of his older brother Nathan (Pasdar), a rising politician.

In Tokyo, there is Hiro Nakamura (Oka), an office worker convinced he can bend space and time.  In Texas, there is a young cheerleader Claire Bennet (Panettiere), who doesn’t seem able to be hurt.  There is a New York artist named Isaac Mendez, who believes he can paint the future, but only under the influence of drugs.  And in Los Angeles, there is a cop Matt Parkman (Grunberg) with marital and job difficulties…that is, until he starts hearing people’s thoughts.

They have no relation to each other apart from their blossoming secrets, but an Indian professor named Mohinder Suresh (Ramamurthy) believes his father’s radical work in the realm of DNA and evolution has traced some kind of genetic code that links them all.  His father was killed, but perhaps not by chance. 

Mohinder believes he can seek out the heroes and continue his father’s work, but he’s not alone…a frighteningly powerful villain named Sylar has found that by killing heroes, he can add their powers to his own.  It will only be a matter of time before he becomes truly unstoppable, and strangers with strange abilities from around the world will have to meet and join forces to defeat Sylar and prevent an apocalypse of unspeakable proportions.

The series is absolutely ingenious in its writing and crafting, taking separate stories and characters and slowly bringing them together.  There are visions of the future and the past that work their way in seamlessly but keep us constantly in a state of suspense over what has brought us to this point and what might be to come.  Every episode leaves you breathlessly awaiting the next, which is one reason I love collecting entire seasons in one nice multi-disc set, because sometimes, I just can’t wait.  And I don’t have the ability to speed up time.

Heroes is one of the most remarkable and well-done series on television…it’s intelligent, suspenseful, moving, and funny, with rich memorable characters, a truly terrifying villain, and a framework that keeps you unsure as to who all might be good and bad, and what each character’s true motivations might be.

In that sense, it’s like a good comic book series, not only in terms of visual style, but in the way it handles multiple origin stories and keeps all plot points moving toward a specific goal.  It’s so good, in fact, I think it's premiere season alone earns it consideration as one of the all time best dramatic and/or fantasy series in TV history.

BONUS TRIVIA:  Some guest stars this year included George Takei, Richard Roundtree, Eric Roberts and Missi Pyle.

Video ****

You ever wonder how good a television show could look on disc?  Wait until you see Heroes on Blu-ray.  Having been thoroughly impressed with the previous DVD offering, I was unprepared for what a new world high definition could offer this program.  I knew the shows, I knew the scenes, but I didn’t know they could come alive with such depth, clarity and detail.  Colors and contrast levels are superb throughout, and the many action sequences render with amazing crispness in all levels of lighting. 

Audio ****

The DTS uncompressed audio is a revelation as well, offering more subtlety and a wider range of dynamism and ambience in the mix.  Again, the action scenes play terrifically, with plenty of crossover signals and bass work, but the quieter scenes open up on their own with more audio detail than you heard in the original broadcast.

Features ****

There are plenty of extras on this five disc set.  There is a high def version of the original extended pilot with optional commentary from creator Tim Kring on the first disc, along with a making of-featurette and looks at the effects, the stunts, the music (by Wendy and Lisa, formerly of Prince and the Revolution!), and the artwork of Tim Sale featured heavily in the storylines.  Then scattered throughout the remaining discs are a total of 50 deleted scenes.

This disc also offers U-Control, Universal’s handy interactive feature.  With just a click of the remote, you can take yourself into picture-in-picture mode for cast and crew commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage, connections to your favorite characters, and even a look at the artwork as it relates to the events unfolding during the show.  U-Control is one of the best ways to experience extras while watching a program, because it lets you decide when and where you want to go.

Summary:

Heroes is everything a great television show should be…well written, acted, and directed, focused on character, and driving the storyline with relentless suspense, intrigue, and heart.  Thanks to Blu-ray, it looks and sounds better than ever!

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