Heroes first appeared on HD-DVD last year, when Universal and a handful of other studios were riding the HD bandwagon rather than Blu-ray. Now that Blu-ray is the format of choice, however, Universal has done everything in its power to make sure the five people who haven’t seen Heroes get the chance to do so via their Blu-ra player. The resulting BD presentation is arguably identical, with a slight edge going to the Blu-ray’s audio. A few instances of video noise hold this “new” set back a bit, but not nearly as much as the set’s price, which is higher than Season Two’s.
It was the wives and friends of our fellow geeks who propelled Heroes into the upper echelons of network TV. We pulled them into our weekly escape and let the show’s colorful characters and suspenseful comic-book endings do the rest, no matter how cringe-worthy the acting and dialogue may have been. We stuck around to the end, which is precisely why Universal owed us their absolute best effort when it came time to bring Heroes to Blu-ray Disc.
Heroes’ original broadcasts were a bit visually inconsistent, a facet that carries over to Blu-ray with an abundance of noise that varies from light to excessive. Scenes lit by the sun or extremely dark, such as Peter jumping off the roof in the pilot or anything filmed in Suresh’s apartment, are laced with a considerable amount of noise I don’t recall littering the broadcast version. The detail, however, is excellent, a definite step up from broadcast.
All of the extra features found on the HD-DVD version of Heroes: Season One are worth watching, even though Universal just ported them directly from the previous release. Deleted Scenes is comprised of roughly 50 deleted scenes broken-up across all discs except for the final one. Many of these are only 10 seconds long and offer little in the way of interest such as a line or two of additional dialogue cut from an existing scene.
Spanning all Heroes: Season One discs and the majority of episodes is Universal’s proprietary interactive set of features, U-Control. Universal offers a wide variety of U-Control options for this high profile release, most of which are interesting enough to activate. A question raised during the season, “Why can’t I clearly see all of Isaac’s paintings?” is answered in Artwork Presentation. This feature blows up an Isaac painting as it appears in the show for closer examination. Character Connections, as the name implies, builds a Suresh-inspired map as the show progresses depicting how each character’s path crosses with another via string. It’s fun to watch the map grow with each successive episode.
Picture-in-Picture Commentaries are just that, though it’s important to note that different groups of people sit down to chat about different episodes, and the PIP-specific volume can be adjusted in the settings menu. Last, and by no means necessary viewing, is Helix Revealed, which offers little more than pointing out where the Helix symbol appears throughout the show.
Knowing which U-Control features appear in which episodes is spelled out in the Chapter Selection menu of each disc. Going a step further towards achieving top-tier disc navigation, Universal has hot-linked each feature on each episode so you can, for instance, jump right to a Helix sighting rather than wait around in random episodes in hopes one appears.
The remaining extra features are disc specific, and Disc One has what every Heroes fan has been waiting for: the Tim Kring Extended Cut Pilot, in which Kring offers an optional audio commentary for this 73-minute long glimpse into a much darker side of Heroes that, until now, had never seen the light of day. A well-acted but awkward in the overall story arc terrorist plot and an alternate introduction of Matt Parkman’s character comprise the majority of new material. Sylar, played by a stand-in actor, even makes a brief appearance long before his actual reveal many episodes later. Kring is quick to point out other snipped bits and pieces, along with delve into the technicalities of filming scenes to look more theatrical than a typical television show because he had more time to work with, and how a vast number of sets were borrowed from Crossing Jordan. Aside from removing lines that better defined the Petrelli family relationship, the cuts made were the right decision.
Genetics Abilities Test — This feature allows viewers to log into Primatech as HRG to determine what their Hero’s ability is. Questions such as birth date, blood type, memorization tests and personality traits last a few minutes and deliver a final verdict. With the verdict comes an access code which can be uploaded to the Heroes Web site to reveal additional powers information.
The remaining extras include Making-Of Heroes, a typical featurette interspersing Tim Kring comments, cast comments from Hayden Panettiere, Masi Oka, Adrian Pasdar, Ali Larter and others; Special Effects, which dissects Hiro’s first time freeze scene in Tokyo; The Stunts with stunt coordinator Ian Quinn, who loves pointing out his cameos; and Profile of Artist Tim Sale, a great interview in which Kring discusses how he joined the Heroes team and adjustments he made to make.
Heroes’ ascent to phenomenon status demands a robust high-definition home video treatment, and Universal has not disappointed. There’s sufficient new supplemental material to keep the existing fanbase happy, and scores of slick high-def exclusive material to draw in new tech-conscious audiences. Toss the inclusive hard slipcase into the equation, and Heroes: Season 1 on Blu-ray is a must-buy.
Buy Heroes: Season 1 on Blu-ray at Amazon.com.
- Score: 8.8