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HEROES: SEASON TWO
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, Kirsten Bell, Dania Ramirez, Nicholas D’Agosto, Dana Davis
Creator: Tim Kring
Audio:  DTS HD 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Universal
Features:  See Review
Length: 482 minutes 
Release Date: August 26, 2008

“We cannot play God.”

Shows ***

The writers’ strike in Hollywood took its toll on more than a few great television shows, so it can be understood if the short second season of Heroes didn’t quite have the same punch as its debut year.  With only 11 episodes to work with, it was no doubt harder to create and maintain dramatic arcs for maximum suspense and character intrigue.

But there was still plenty of fun to be had in the second year.  Warning:  I will try to avoid offering spoilers for this season, but it will be hard to proceed without talking about the events of Season One, so if you never saw the first year, skip ahead to the technical sections of this review.  You’ve been warned!

Okay, the second year begins four months after the conclusion of Season One.  Peter Petrelli (Ventimiglia) almost lost control of his powers and destroyed New York, but thanks to the intervention of his flying brother Nathan (Pasdar), that was avoided.  Now, Peter is discovered in a storage bin in Cork, Ireland of all places, with no memory of himself or the events that happened.

Nathan, who was last seen winning a seat in Congress, seems to have dropped off the map.  He’s lost his family; we’re never sure why.  He believes his brother is dead.  Meanwhile, Claire Bennet (Panettiere) and her family are moving because her father Noah (Coleman), aka “Horn Rimmed Glasses”, believes she will never be safe unless she and her unique healing abilities can vanish off the map.

Mohinder Suresh (Ramamurthy) has a new concern:  a virus that targets people with advanced powers.  It may cause them to lose their abilities, but even worse is the threat that it would devastate the entire human population.  He may end up having to turn to “The Company” for help.  And of course, when we last saw Hiro Nakamura (Oka), he had ended up in feudal Japan, face to face with his hero, legendary swordsman Takezo Kensei.  Will his presence there alter the course of all history?  How do you say “Back to the Future” in Japanese?

And of course, there are new characters.  Kristen Bell makes an intriguing debut fresh off her terrific Veronica Mars stint as Elle, a young woman with an electrifying personality.  We are introduced to Niki Sanders’ (Larter) cousin Monica (Davis), who is learning she can physically copy any action she sees, and Maya (Ramirez), a Latin American lassie with a frightening power she can’t control.  And Claire has a new love interest in West (D’Agosto), the boy who could fly.

And what of Sylar (Quinto)?  He was last seen with a sword run through his belly, but in this world of heroes and villains, does anyone really stay dead?  That question is one of the problems the second year held for me; the notion that those who die may not actually stay dead.  I won’t give anything away, but such a premise pretty much gives you an ‘out’ for killing off any character, doesn’t it?  You can always bring them back.

Overall, the second year just didn’t seem as focused to me, but again, that was probably owing to the work stoppage.  Hiro’s entire adventure in the past seemed kind of irrelevant to me given the weight the first season held, even though the creators DID manage a way to make it germane to modern events.  And Peter with amnesia?  Isn’t that the oldest plot device in the book?  Okay, they found a way to make it feasible, but still, come on…

Still, there’s enough continuing promise to make me excited about the third year, which is coming up soon.  Heroes is a terrific fantasy show with an amazing cast and some bold ideas, so the future still holds much promise for fans.

Video ****

Universal continues to deliver stunning high definition presentations for this show.  Season Two looks as spectacular as the first year did, if not more so, because the range of settings is a bit wider.  Look at some of the shots of feudal Japan; they are filled with the kind of color and detail that would make Akira Kurosawa proud.  Darker and lighter scenes both render with clarity and contrast, with vivid lifelike textures and colors.

Audio ****

The DTS uncompressed audio continues to impress; this is one of the best sounding TV shows you can experience on disc.  The dynamic range is strong throughout thanks to the action and larger sequences, and the feudal and modern day battles really employ the surrounds and bass channel to great effect.  Spoken words are clean and clear, and the music from Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman is a great asset.

Features ****

Universal is back with their exclusive “U-Control” feature for Blu-ray, of which I’m becoming more and more of a fan.  You can use Hero Connections to learn more about the heroes and how they relate to each other, or access picture-in-picture for commentary with cast and crew and more behind the scenes info.  U-Control also allows you to fully customize your experience; you can make clips or use bookmarks to navigate your way around the series any way you see fit!

There is also a featurette on the new beginning of season two, genetics of a scene, the legend of Takezo Kensei, the Drucker files, Tim Sales’ artwork, and an alternate ending and a look at the difference for the episode “Generations”.  Scattered throughout the episodes are deleted scenes.

Summary:

Heroes still flies high as one of the best shows currently on television.  The second year showed a few faults that were probably unavoidable, but still offered enough fun, intrigue, suspense and superb characters to keep fans breathlessly awaiting the arrival of season three.

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