Blu Ray Title: Heroes Season 1
Disk Release Date: August 26. 2008
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
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!"