I missed Heroes when it first premiered. The commercials were interesting, yes, but they just didn’t fully grab my attention. I just assumed it would end up being a low-budget knock-off of Bryan Singer’s X-Men franchise, and dismissed it. But, when this box set was announced, I opted to give it another shot. Purely for the sake of curiosity and to prove myself right. Well, I can gladly eat my own words, as I was instantly hooked in Heroes. Infact, I finished the box set, and all the episodes included, ridiculously fast. I couldn’t help but jump to the next episode, which was so easy with the episodes available in one handy package. And it’s a helluva great collection, too. Be warned, there will be spoilers in this review.
Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), a genetics professor from Chennai, picks up his late father’s research and makes an astonishing discovery – a seemingly random group of people around the world are developing astonishing super powers. From a drug-addicted artist (Santiago Cabrera) who paints the future and an ambitious politician (Adrian Pasdar) who can fly, to a New York cop who hears other people’s thoughts (Greg Grunberg) and a Japanese computer programmer (Masi Oka) who can distort the space time continuum, these new Heroes seem to have a shared destiny. Creator Tim Kring (Crossing Jordan) fashions a complex new world full of hidden clues, breathtaking plot twists and suspense-filled conundrums for an exhilaratingly fresh story about average people who are confronting the existence of inexplicable super powers.
I’m not really sure exactly where to begin when scribbling up this review. There’s a lot to talk about, really. Whether it’s how the series unfolded over the season, leading to the inevitably disappointing finale, the characters, or the phenomenon itself, there’s a lot of ground to cover on a show such as Heroes. We didn’t really know that much going into it besides the commercials we saw. “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” was the catch-phrase that really hit with viewers last summer. It did interest me, but I wasn’t as enthused to watch it. I opted to skip out and focus my attention elsewhere. I actually regret that, to an extent. I’m regret missing out on such an enjoyable show, but I’m glad I waited until DVD. The cliffhangers, which must have been agony for some people, were generally non-existent. That was a major plus in waiting for this first season collection.
Of course, by waiting for this season set, I missed out on watching these shows during their broadcast premieres. I suppose that’s a small price to pay. I find that the more I was these TV DVD releases, the less I worry about missing episodes (except for 24). But with this show, I am sure I would have gotten hooked. Like I said, it’s not the best series out there, nor does it have the best dialogue or (sometimes) the best acting, but there’s something about it that hooks you in. It’s the approach the series takes, the grounded approach, which makes the series so enjoyable. Of course, that does work against it a little bit, too.
The realism (well, as real as a show like this can get) sometimes make the odd plot twist just unbelievable. I don’t know why, but the revelation of who Claire’s real father was fell flat with me. It seemed like just a very easy plot twist to make. It seemed almost phoned in. Something really interested could have been done here, but, for the show, it did work for the plot line, I suppose. I just found it a bit ridiculous. Maybe it’s because I didn’t find Nathan to be all that engaging of a character. He was pretty much a scumbag up until the very end, and even then, his “sacrifice” for Peter didn’t seem to redeem him at all. Knowing the character, I’m sure there’s an ulterior motive at hand.
And while I found Nathan a bit repulsive, there are characters that you can’t help but get attracted to. Much like the majority of America, the time-traveling Hiro is a favorite of mine. There was a pretty well-rounded set of characters, including Peter Petrelli, Matt Parkman, Jessica/Niki, and Sylar. I found them to be the most engaging, while others, such as Claire Bennet and Mohinder Suresh to be a little bit bland. Oddly, I think Claire’s father, Noah, was so much more interesting than his adopted daughter ever was. As the series progressed, our opinions on him changed, and he just became a fascinating character, even up to the very end.
Niki Sanders has a great storyline throughout the season. Sure, her son was a bit irritating and her husband a bit of a schlub, but her storyline was ripe with possibilities. Sometimes, we saw that fully exploited and it made for great television. Sadly, I found that her storyline for the first season wasn’t wrapped adequately, but it still made for great storytelling. Her conflict was so damn engaging and unpredictable.
I could go on in detail about these characters, but the Niki/Jessica storyline is one I wanted to highlight, same with Noah Bennet’s story, because I just don’t think they got enough notice. Sure, they drove big parts of the season, but people were too distracted with Peter’s ongoing storyline, and Sylar’s story, both of which were fascinating, mind you. I just think some of the best acting and writing came from the Niki/Jessica and Noah storylines. Niki/Jessica, the whole storyline, was so unpredictable. Up until the end, it really had me guessing.
The storyline itself was well done, and despite some eye-rolling plot twists, I thought it all lined up pretty nicely in the finale. While the finale was anti-climactic and too damn short, I did enjoy the journey to the last episode of the “first volume.” I thought there were some great twists and turns, and the villain was actually engaging. I was on the edge of my seat for the brief time where Mohinder was unknowingly teamed with Sylar (until he figured it out, of course), and couldn’t even help but cheer for him when he finally did in the precog painter (I can’t be the only one who was bored with his storyline, am I right?). Not every part of Heroes worked, but it did build itself up to quite tightly, with just about everything paying off at the end. To me, this show seems to be more about the journey than the actual destination. Even in the finale, a few seeds were planted about looming threats in the Heroes-verse, and I can’t wait to see what they are.
So, overall, the show is pretty good. But what of the DVD, particularly the standard DVD release? Within this snazzy seven disc set we have “The Unaired Pilot: The Tim Kring Cut with Audio Commentary,” which is the full 73 uninterrupted minutes of the original, unaired, extended pilot episode. Afterwards, the standard “The Making of Heroes,” a behind-the-scenes look at the hottest new series on television. Following that, it’s “Special Effects,” a look at the visuals which give the Heroes their special abilities. Along the same lines, we have a rather self-explanatory “The Stunts.” After that is the game “Mind Reader,” where Parkman’s mind-reading abilities reveal your inner hero. Tim Sale is also given a nice featurette, well warranted given how much of his artwork is put into this series. Last up is a look at the Award-winning musical score to the series. All in all, good stuff, particularly the unaired pilot. It is always interesting to see what concepts go, which ones stay, and all the tiny little changes made throughout! I don’t think Heroes fans will be disappointed with the nice collection of extras found here!
The audio and video is pretty good for this release. The video can get grainy at times, but it’s not distracting. The audio seems to be solid throughout every episode included.
The DVD packaging itself is gorgeous. A simple black cover hides a very elaborate and beautifully rendered fold-out digipack, holding all seven discs. The digipack held within is covered in amazing Tim Sale artwork, artwork seen in the series itself. I’m a big fan of DVD packaging, and this is one of the nicest ones I’ve seen. It’s nice to see that Universal put some real thought in effort in both the design and execution.
Overall, whether you’ve seen Heroes or not, I’d have to Highly Recommend this release. What I’ve said above is only the tip of the iceberg, and there’s much more to discover. There’s a wealth of characters, each one easily accessible and, for the most part, likable. And the story is pretty good, too. Sure, it’s not the best or most original story (and it seems to be a wee-bit inspired by Watchman in some parts), but the series is peppered with some amazing moments, some true laugh-out-loud moments, and some definite shockers. If anything, it’ll keep you wondering and guessing for the most part. The entire first season is collected . . . it’s all here and you still have time to watch it all before the second season begins. Heroes: Season One is defiantly worth discovering.
Heroes: Season One is now available on DVD and HD-DVD. The HD-DVD release includes HD-exclusive bonus features not available on the standard DVD release.