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HTF Blu Ray Review: Heroes Season 1 - Recommended


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#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 24 2008 - 04:47 PM

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Blu Ray Title: Heroes Season 1
Disk Release Date: August 26. 2008
Rated: NR
Screen format: 1080P Widescreen 1.78:1 High Defintion
Studio: NBC Universal
First theatrical release: 2006/2007 Broadcast Television Season
Previous releases on disk: DVD and HDDVD day and date on 28 August, 2007
Written & created by: Tim Kring(24 Episodes). Directors: Allan Arkush (5 episodes, 2006-2007), Greg Beeman (4 episodes, 2006-2007), Paul A. Edwards (3 episodes, 2006-2007), John Badham (2 episodes, 2006-2007), Paul Shapiro (2 episodes, 2006-2007)

Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Masi Oka, James Kyson Lee, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Jack Coleman, Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia, Ali Larter, Noah Gray-Cabey, Greg Grunberg, Zachary Quinto, Santiago Cabrera, Tawny Cypress, Leonard Roberts
Sound Formats: English DTS-HD Master Audio
Length: 23 full length TV episodes plus the 73 minute unaired pilot over 5 BD-50 d disks
Subtitles: English, Spanish and French



Plot: 5/5

In Heroes, veteran TV Writer/Producer Tim Kring has crafted a TV fanboy/girl’s dream series, compromising a sweeping ensemble cast of newly discovered superheroes. Without giving away too much of the story, suffice it to say that while each begins to learn about their extraordinary new talents, they also begin to unravel the mysterious forces that tie them together and the inconceivable future that they must band together to prevent. I don’t even want to give a listing of the major characters and their powers, as doing so would ruin some of the charm as viewers witness the characters discoveries, but I will say that for me the breakout stars here were Hayden Panatierre and Masi Oka. While Panatierre’s high school cheerleader balances her two lives with delicacy, Masi Oka’s bored Japanese businessman breathes life into the geek fantasy of becoming a hero with such relish that it’s impossible to not root for the guy, and the hints to his amazing future capabilities that are uncovered in episode five are sure to draw viewers in even more tightly.

Despite the comic book pedigree, Heroes is one of the most creative and smart dramas to emerge in the last few years, along with shows such as Lost and 24. Chances are if you were addicted to either of those shows you’ve already had more exposure to Heroes than I have so far. Like Lost, Heroes excels at feeding its viewers with just enough answers each hour to keep the show moving, while introducing new twists and questions to keep everyone guessing. It is no mistake that the first episode is titled ‘Genesis’ as this very much just the kick off to what is hopefully a very long running series, and both the religious overtones and resonating importance of the genesis of this story is hard to miss.

Heroes also features more movie like cinematography and killer stunts, CGI and effects than most prime time TV dramas. That’s not to say that Heroes is all sizzle, the talented cast and complex story lines ensure that these window dressings serve to enhance the show, and aren’t the only reason for tuning in. In the end, Heroes captures what is best about Comic Book Superheroes, by giving extraordinary powers to average people and putting them into situations both incredible and mundane, we can really examine the best and worst of what makes us human, and in holding a mirror up to us all, help us to focus on who we are individually.

Sound Quality: 3/5
While the visual qualities of Heroes are easy to laud, the sound side of things is a bit more subtle and almost a disappointment. This BluRay version gets an upgrade to DTS-HD MA encoding, but the source material it is working with has to be remembered as originating for broadcast television and not a feature film. While asking for a truly enveloping surround mix for a 24 hour long dramatic series is probably asking a bit much, it’s hard not to note the very front focused sound stage.

So, what do we have? Well, despite being front loaded and a bit short on the bass end, this set DOES capture the audio content that is present with clarity and punch. In particular, the popular songs that are used plus the works of Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin. For more information on those, be sure to check the Heroes Wiki at:
Soundtrack (disambig) - Heroes Wiki

As noted the musical score is sharp and ranges the full gamut of emotions that a typical TV drama would need, and not shockingly a lot of it is used a bit repetitively. Dialogue is crisp and well imaged across the fronts, and there are very occasional effects that bleed into the rears. Overall, it’s quality stuff but the fact that it’s so front heavy is noticeable immediately and throughout the entire season.

Visual Quality: 4/5

As a TV show you would be hard pressed to find a finer video package than Heroes. Heroes was conceived from the start as being an HD ‘killer app’, and the season was broadcast in SD and simulcast in 1080i HD. From what I’m told this 1080P encoded version blows away even that HD broadcast and has moderately improved in a few specific scenes over the HD DVD (mostly where video noise was problematic on that transfer) but generally looks identical to that version.

To start with, Heroes is exceptionally sharp and detailed. Individual fibers and small set content’s details are overflowing in just about every scene. Facial details are also quite clear which is something that is often lacking in movie content. I never noted any instances of over sharpening or other digital artifacts, but video noise WAS present in several scenes, particularly in scenes featuring Niki, tho I am at a loss as to explain why. These scenes in particular were particularly jarring on the HD DVD and have been toned down here, but careful observation into darker scenes will still show telltale signs for those who are actively looking for them.

The color palette is also quite wide, with some scenes taking on color dramatic casts but for the most part the series mimicked the vibrant hues associated with comic superheroes, and nowhere is this more evident than in the paintings created by Isaac. These are panels that would be welcome in any modern or classic comic book and they are brought through in tremendous detail in this transfer, and the real life scenes that match up with the panels are just as colorful and detailed. Those who are employing the U-Control feature will be able to see the full size versions of Isaac’s panels whenever portions of them are on screen, which is pretty sweet!

Overall Heroes looks better than any TV show deserves to look, via broadcast or on disk, and it is clear that a lot of love and hard work went into ensuring that these disks capture every bit of detail that was in those broadcasts, and more.

Extra Features: 5/5

Heroes Season One’s collection of extras is simply off the hook and I hardly knew where to begin going through all of them. Fortunately Universal includes a handy reference chart that tells you how to get going with both the U-control Features and the online interactive content. Most are direct duplicates of those found on the HD DVD and it would be tough to ensure that every piece is there but I didn’t miss anything I saw from that version.

The U-Control feature in particular is not as atrocious as it is in most implementations and on something as dense as Heroes actually has a reason for being. The data files such as character connection links, picture in picture behind the scenes details and commentaries, and high-res presentations of Isaac’s comic panels are all done quite well. There are also some BD-Live features coming but these are not live yet and truthfully I don’t see myself pursuing them unless the buzz builds that they are more well-done than any interactive feature in the short, miserable, history of such content.

Even without counting those features tho, Heroes would be in the neighborhood of a five star score. Extras include the full 71 minute unaired pilot episode (with commentary) which, to be fair, is very similar to episode 1. There are however 50 (!) deleted scenes which are selectable by episode, a full ‘Making of’ featurette, a featurette on the stunts, a featurette on the musical score, and a profile of artist Tim Sale who did the comic panels.

Finally, there are both standard audio commentaries for a few of the episodes but also video commentaries as noted in the U-Control segment. Slick! While not every episode has a commentary, it would probably be a bit much to go through 24+ hours of the cast and crew yammering on. Still, like the HD-DVD version of 300, having these run along side of the actual episodes is a treat that simply couldn’t be done on DVD and thankfully is now possible with BD 1.1 Bonus view and BD profile 2.0

Overall: 4.5/5 (not an average)
Heroes Season 1 is one of the most anticipated releases on BluRay (along with the companion Season 2, which I am viewing right now) and it comes through satisfying on every level except for those who expected it to have a fully enveloping surround mix. While that isn’t the case, it isn’t at all surprising and every other facet is rock solid or better. There isn’t a whole lot here that would be compelling for those who already have the HD DVD and are looking for something new either, but for those who would like to fully retire that format from their libraries there is absolutely no downside to this edition.

The good news is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Season one hooked me pretty hard and I’m fully on board for Season 2 and beyond. Fortunately S2 is alreasy in my hot lil hands and that is up next. Season 1 tho comes truly "Recommended!"

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#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 25 2008 - 12:14 AM

Sam,

I am happy to hear that Heroes Season One looks as
good (or better) than its HD-DVD counterpart. I also had the
privilege of first watching the show on high definition video and
I was absolutely drawn into it becoming a huge fan by season's end.

That being said, be prepared for Season Two as it will make you
very angry. Talk about taking a show that soared to new heights
in its first season and then just letting it crash to bits from the very
first episode right through the last. Season Two was a disappointment
of major proportions and even the pre-Season Three magazine articles
this week are all acknowledging that.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#3 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted August 25 2008 - 03:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
That being said, be prepared for Season Two as it will make you
very angry.
I'm hoping that it plays better when the viewer can watch the season continuously on Blu-Ray or DVD than having to wait week to week to see it on television. When you have a good episode and you have to wait a week to see the next episode, it makes you want to see what happens next and that adds to the fun and suspense of the show. When you have a crappy episode (and there's a number of them in Heroes: S2), you just have a week to think about how lame the episode was.

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted August 25 2008 - 03:41 AM

The HD-DVD had sometimes way overdone sharpening with thick haloes. Is this still the case? The scenes with less noise, were they just less sharpened or DNRed?

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 25 2008 - 04:50 AM

It's tough to say Michel. I'm not going to get in the habit of direct A/Bing every release, especially not a season of this length. But I can try to get an hour or two to compare the two. Suffice it to say that I would repeat what I said in my review: The two are roughly equivalent with a few scenes that look better to my eye, on identical equipment.

And keep in mind that I'm viewing 720p on a 96" screen, and my PJ is very kind to EE. If you want ridiculous levels of analysis on individual screenshots there are other forums where the resident experts will all give their psuedo-scientifically backed measurements and analysis. We here at HTF just call em as we see em.

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#6 of 15 OFFLINE   Eric F

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Posted August 25 2008 - 06:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
Sam,

That being said, be prepared for Season Two as it will make you
very angry. Talk about taking a show that soared to new heights
in its first season and then just letting it crash to bits from the very
first episode right through the last. Season Two was a disappointment
of major proportions and even the pre-Season Three magazine articles
this week are all acknowledging that.
Go blame that one on the writer's strike. Hopefully we will have a good S3 to look forwards to.

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted August 25 2008 - 02:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric F
Go blame that one on the writer's strike.
How do you blame the writer's strike for bad episodes? Maybe some of the stuff started in the first half of the season would have been paid off if there was a second half but that doesn't change the mistakes in the episodes that were made.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Eric F

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Posted August 25 2008 - 05:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
How do you blame the writer's strike for bad episodes? Maybe some of the stuff started in the first half of the season would have been paid off if there was a second half but that doesn't change the mistakes in the episodes that were made.
I blame the writer's strike for the abrupt halt in the season, so it really didn't make much sense what was going on.

To me it seemed like there was a whole bunch of subplot left hanging, and bang! Season over.

#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Arild

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Posted August 25 2008 - 06:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric F
I blame the writer's strike for the abrupt halt in the season, so it really didn't make much sense what was going on.

To me it seemed like there was a whole bunch of subplot left hanging, and bang! Season over.
People were complaining about the quality of season 2 long before that.

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted August 26 2008 - 12:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
And keep in mind that I'm viewing 720p on a 96" screen, and my PJ is very kind to EE.
.
Please consider upgrading to a good 1080p model. A reviewer should see what's on the disk and not a downfiltered version of it.

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 26 2008 - 01:47 AM

Yeah, I'll get right on that... Posted Image

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#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted August 26 2008 - 11:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Yeah, I'll get right on that... Posted Image

Do you need any help? Posted Image

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 27 2008 - 02:02 AM

Sure, do you have any spares sitting around? I'd prefer the AE-2000U cause of it's lenses flexibility but I can make any of the major brands work =) Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

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#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Loregnum

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Posted August 27 2008 - 02:32 AM

Thanks for the review and like others, I first checked out Heroes on hd dvd and felt it was a great show (season 1 ranks up there with my fav seasons of any tv show) but season 2 was mediocre although I am still getting it on blu-ray. The best part of season 2 for me was Kristen Bell as she did a great job playing her character...like she does with everything. IMO that is.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted August 27 2008 - 11:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Sure, do you have any spares sitting around? I'd prefer the AE-2000U cause of it's lenses flexibility but I can make any of the major brands work =) Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Ask me again after CEDIA. Maybe I need to upgrade after the latest announcements.
Posted Image





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