Heroes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The shows looked great throughout these discs.
No issues with sharpness occurred. The shows came across as crisp and well-defined. Even wide shots appeared solid, as they demonstrated virtually no softness or fuzziness. I saw no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was minor. Source flaws weren’t a concern.
Heroes came as a series with a varied but usually pretty natural palette. The colors looked good within the production design. They were also full and well-developed in that realm. Blacks always seemed deep and full, while shadows were mostly clean and smooth. My only minor complaint came from lighting, as dark-skinned actors shot in shadows tended to be a little too tough to see. Nonetheless, these issues were pretty insignificant, as the series usually looked great.
Though not amazing, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Heroes worked well. The audio supported the shows just fine. The soundfield emphasized the forward channels and worked quite well within that realm. The front spectrum was nicely broad and blended together cleanly. The elements remained in the appropriate locations and panned smoothly across the channels. Surround usage tended toward general reinforcement and atmospherics, though the rear speakers came to life pretty well during action sequences. Surrounds didn’t dazzle, but they brought some life to the mix.
Audio quality always seemed good. Speech was consistently natural and crisp, though a little edginess crept into some lines. Music was clean and concise. The score appeared well-recorded and dynamic. Effects also came across as lively and distinctive, and they lacked distortion. Bass response was deep and firm. Overall, the audio was more than fine for the series.
A mix of extras pops up across all four DVDs. 11 episodes boast audio commentaries. These involve a variety of participants:
Four Months Later: series creator/executive producer Tim Kring, co-executive producer Jeph Loeb and actor Jack Coleman. We learn about story and character challenges, moving into a new season of the series, cast and performances, sets and locations, and other technical issues. The commentary launches the year pretty well. It delves into its topics in a satisfying manner and gives us a good overview of the expectations for Season Two.
Lizards: executive producer Allan Arkush, co-executive producer Michael Green, and actor Greg Grunberg. Though a little too heavy on happy talk, this track compensates with a lively tone and a lot of good nuts and bolts information. It provides a solid take on technical aspects of creating the episode and some creative choices as well. This makes it a pretty useful chat.
Kindred: director Paul Edwards, co-executive producer JJ Philbin, and actor Zachary Quinto. The content here resembles the kind of material heard in the prior chats, though oriented toward the events of the episode in question. Story and editorial decisions come a bit more to the forefront, though. The commentary covers the various issues in a reasonable manner, though praise and happy talk continue to be a little too dominant for my liking.
The Kindness of Strangers: Kring and actors Dana Davis and Adrian Pasdar. With two actors on board, you’d expect character and performance subjects to take center stage here. To some degree they do, but Kring provides the main voice during the commentary. He covers the usual array of nuts and bolts topics, and the actors – mainly Pasdar – throw in some info about their work as well. Though the track drags at times, it usually satisfies.
Fight or Flight: Grunberg and executive producer Greg Beeman. “Wacky” is the word of the day here, as the Gregs offer a more overtly comedic tone than usual. They often provide a Mystery Science Theater 3000 take on events, and they joke around a lot. They still manage to provide some decent notes, and their chemistry adds life to the piece. It’s a little light on real information but it remains fun.
The Line: Coleman and co-executive producers Adam Armus and Kay Foster. All the happy talk becomes a real issue in this commentary. It became a little heavy during prior tracks, but it didn't dominate. Here, unfortunately, praise is about all we hear. If I took a drink every time something was called "fantastic", I'd have passed out around the show's halfway point. A few minor episode details emerge, but there's not enough content to compensate for the fluffiness.
Out of Time: Director Daniel Attias and actor Masi Oka. We return to informative commentaries with this fun track. The participants interact well and keep things both lively and interesting. We get many notes about the challenges that come with Heroes, and Oka tosses in some nice anecdotes as well. There's still more happy talk than I'd like, but it's balanced by plenty of good content.
Four Months Ago: Beeman and actor Milo Ventimiglia. Here we get info about cast and performances, stunts and effects, and various story issues. The tone remains bright and lively, so expect the piece to move briskly. It covers some useful areas and engages us well.
Cautionary Tales: Director Greg Yaitanes and actors Kristen Bell and Ashley Crow. During this track, the actors give us notes about their characters and performance choices. Yaitanes fills in the rest with scene specifics about the episode. Both combine well in this commentary. It’s not one of the season’s best tracks, but it satisfies.
Truth & Consequences: Director Adam Kane and actor Stephen Tobolowsky. Actor David Anders also joins the conversation midway through the episode. Tobolowsky proves quite entertaining. He offers good anecdotes about his work on the series and also throws in amusing comments about his resemblance to a potato and his need for adult diapers. Anders contributes some nice notes as well, and Kane gives us a fine overview of issues related to the episode’s direction. This becomes one of the most enjoyable commentaries for Season Two.
Powerless: Arkush and composers Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin. With Wendy and Lisa on board, expect a lot of information about the series’ music. They provide useful insights into their work, and Arkush provides details about the episode. The Happy Talk Meter goes off the charts here – especially due to Melvoin’s constant reference to everything as “fantastic” – but there’s enough good content to make the track worthwhile.
One annoyance: the commentaries avoid participant introductions until their conclusion. Why? It seems bizarre to tell us who we listened to after the track finishes. This can become annoying since we’re often left to guess at the various identities.
Look for plenty of deleted scenes across many of the episodes. We get cut sequences for “Four Months Later” (2 scenes, 4:35), “Fight or Flight” (5, 6:46), “The Line” (3, 5:06), “Out of Time” (2, 2:42), “Four Months Ago…” (3, 3:43), and “Cautionary Tales” (2, 1:26).
As was the case with most of the clips found for Season One, this year’s deleted scenes lack true revelations or excised plots. We find an alternate intro to Nathan’s status at the season’s start, and we see more of Hiro in feudal Japan and Monica in New Orleans. Nothing particularly fascinating appears here, but it’s good to check out this stuff anyway.
On DVD One, we encounter a featurette called Heroes Season Two: A New Beginning. In this 14-minute and 40-second piece, we hear from Kring, Oka, Coleman, Quinto, Ventimiglia, Anders, Bell, Davis, Arkush, and actors Hayden Panettiere, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Ali Larter, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Dania Ramirez, Shalim Ortiz, Nicholas D’Agosto, and Noah Gray-Cabey. Essentially “Beginning” acts as an overview of Season Two, with an emphasis on new characters. If you already watched S2, it tells you nothing, and if you didn’t, it potentially ruins some surprises. It’s not a useful piece.
DVD One opens with some Previews. We find ads for House, Life and The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior.
Two more featurettes appear on DVD Two. Takezo Kensei: Sword Saint lasts 23 minutes, 48 seconds as it features University of Chicago Japanese Studies Professor Donna Dorn, Museum of Cultural History curator Tatsuya Atsumi, University of Cambridge Literature Professor Karen Chamberlin, The program looks at the story of Kensei in Japanese history.
But not really. It’s all a goof, since Kensei never actually existed. It’s a fun presentation, as it emulates a public TV documentary pretty well. It also gives us an interesting take on the Kensei tale presented in the series, so it’s a clever extra.
The Drucker Files runs eight minutes, 32 seconds. It offers a fake “Global News Interactive” report about fictional “Internet godfather” Richard Drucker. It’s not as interesting as “Sword Saint”, but it becomes another fun take on the Heroes mythology.
Over on DVD Three, we find the 23-minute and 14-second Genetics of a Scene. It provides notes from Arkush and Beeman as they discuss the specifics of shooting a few particular scenes. (We also get some quick remarks from Ramirez, Quinto and Ortiz.) They give us a look at the challenges involved in filming those elements and delve into them well. There’s a little repetition from the commentaries, but not a lot, so “Genetics” becomes a good program.
Plenty more materials show up on DVD Four. We start with a Season Three Sneak Peek. This eight-minute and 37-second clip features Ramirez, Ramamurthy, Larter, Grunberg, and Coleman. They tell us little about S3 specifics and mostly just inform us that the new season will be amazing.
After this we get an Alternate Ending for Season Two, also referred to as “Generations”. It runs 17 minutes, 59 seconds and often uses the same footage found in the final episode. The differences come from the scenes that show what happens with the virus. Those go off in a very different – and less satisfying – direction. It’s cool to get a look at this alternate conclusion to the season.
More about the finale comes to us with Behind the Alternate Ending of “Generations”. This 10-minute and 57-second piece provides comments from Loeb, Kring and writer/co-executive producer Jesse Alexander. They talk about how the writers’ strike affected the arc of S2 and why they changed the season’s ending. This is the only place anyone actually discusses the impact of the strike, so it’s cool to hear the way S2 would have gone if the year hadn’t ended after only 11 episodes.
The Untold Stories area lasts a total of 12 minutes, 13 seconds. These offer scenes shot for what would have become episodes 12 and 13 of Season Two were it not for the writers’ strike. Most of them focus on Elle’s pursuit of Sylar, though we also see a few other bits. They’re quite cool to see as part of an alternate path the series would have taken.
Next we find three NBC.com Featurettes. These include “Hotel Corinthian Explosion” (0:43), “Maya Y Alejandro Viral Video” (2:31) and “Nathan and Peter Brooklyn Cam” (0:34). I guess these were little Internet teasers for the series. They feature glimpses of Heroes events through media that resembles Youtube videos. They’re mildly interesting for archival purposes but that’s about it.
After this we locate a Tim Sale Gallery of Screen Art. This running piece goes for two minutes, two seconds as it shows close-ups of the paintings Sale created for the series. I like the ability to get a better look at his art.
Finally, DVD Four includes some Previews. It presents ads for a variety of TV series available on DVD.
Season One of Heroes impressed me, and Season Two continued to keep me engaged. Even in its strike-truncated form, the year offered a lot of interesting stories and entertainment. The DVD features very good picture, audio and extras. Heroes is a fine series that deserves my recommendation – I look forward to Season Three.