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Save the cheerleader, save the world.

Iíll be perfectly honest; I didnít start watching HEROES from the very beginning. Somehow, the show was just overlooked and I didnít catch the first few episodes. However, when I started to hear the buzz about HEROES, I knew I had to check it out. Fortunately for me, there was a Sci-Fi Channel marathon that I recorded to the Tivo. When I sat down to watch HEROES for the first timeÖ well, let me put it to you this way- twenty minutes into the first episode, I was hooked. And you know what, I was kind of glad that missed those first few episodes when they aired on NBC, because the Sci-Fi channel marathon made it possible to watch a bunch of episodes in a row, without have to wait a week for the next one to air.

Created by Tim Kring, HEROES is a weekly dramatic series that finds the human species on the cusp of evolutionary change, with our genome beginning to give rise to people with extraordinary abilities- in other words: superheroes. As a television series, HEROES is stylistically similar to a pulpy comic book, with a lot of little nods to the fanboys of the world, but the execution is truly marvelous, thus making the series so much more than just another genre series. HEROES has been beautifully conceived, is well written and features an impressive and rather large ensemble cast that brings to life a group of diverse characters, whose stories intertwine. During the course of season one, we are introduced to the main characters, many of whom are just discovering abilities in themselves that they never knew existed. As they are discovering their powers, not to mention what they can do with them for the greater good, threats to these new heroes and the world itself also emerge.

The main characters introduced during season one of HEROES include: Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy)- a professor of genetics, who is following up on his fatherís theories that humanity may be giving rise to individuals with superhuman abilities. Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) works for a covert organization referred to as "The Company" that is investigating people with superhuman abilities. Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) is Noahís adopted daughter and a high school cheerleader who has the ability to regenerate, making her nearly impervious to harm. Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) is a Japanese computer programmer with the ability to bend the time space continuum, which allows him to travel into the future and witness the destruction of New York City. Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee) is Hiroís best friend, plus his traveling companion on the quest to prevent the destruction of New York. Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) has an empathic ability that allows his to absorb and duplicate the powers of those other heroes with whom he has contact. Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) is Peterís brother and congressional candidate, who has the ability to fly, which is the first power Peter duplicates. Angela Petrelli (Christine Rose) is Peter and Nathanís mother, who comes to the table with a hidden agenda. Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) is an LA Police Officer with the ability to read the thoughts of those around him. Niki Sanders (Ali Larter) is an Internet stripper, whose power of super strength only emerges when her other personality takes control. Micah Sanders (Noah Gray-Cabey) is Nikiís son and a child prodigy with the additional ability to control mechanical devices. D.L. Hawkins (Leonard Roberts) is Niki's husband and Micah's father, who has the ability to alter his molecular structure and pass through solid objects. Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera) is a graphic artist with precognitive abilities, who literally paints the future including the impending destruction of New York. Finally, there is Sylar (Zachary Quinto), who can also absorb powers from others, which unfortunately, is part of his own deadly agenda.

HEROES: SEASON 1 ($100) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a five-disc set that features the following twenty-three episodes that were aired during its freshman year: Genesis, Don't Look Back, One Giant Leap, Collision, Hiros, Better Halves, Nothing To Hide, Seven Minutes To Midnight, Homecoming, Six Months Ago, Fallout, Godsend, The Fix, Distractions, Run!, Unexpected, Company Man, Parasite, .07%, Five Years Gone, The Hard Part, Landslide and How To Stop An Exploding Man. In addition to the main characters, the season one supporting cast of HEROES also includes: Ashley Crow, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Adair Tishler, Tawny Cypress, Randall Bentley, Clea DuVall, Rena Sofer, Christopher Eccleston, Richard Roundtree, George Takei and Malcolm McDowell.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made all twenty-three episodes from HEROES: SEASON 1 available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentations are generally highly impressive and I am sure will please fans of the television series. There are little inconsistencies to the image, which crop up occasionally, but are a result of original production technique and not a flaw in the Blu-ray presentations themselves. For the most part the picture appears crisp, well defined and exhibits excellent dimensionality- all of which are terrific for a weekly television drama, that features a nice amount of effects work. Speaking of the effects work, it is sometimes apparent that the television level budget prevents the effects from appearing as seamless as they do in a theatrical feature. Close ups are demonstrative of picture quality at its best, plenty of definition and the fine details that one likes to see on HD programming. Color reproduction is a bit variable, but it is due to how any individual sequence was shot. Blacks and white are accurate, plus contrast and shadow detail are impressive for a television production. There are no notable defects in the source materials. Grain/video noise is apparent from time to time, but it never gets to the point where it becomes bothersome.

All of the episodes that constitute HEROES: SEASON 1 are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. These are fine quality, television caliber sound mixes that do deliver more than their fair share of directional effects. That being said, the sound designs tend to be front heavy for the most part, delivering upon the potential of the rear channels less frequently than one might like. However, sound placement does reflect on screen action and therefore that should be considered the limiting factor. Fidelity is very strong for a television drama and the bass channel does add sufficient weight to the proceedings. No other language tracks have been included on the discs, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, which are spread throughout the set. The most interesting supplement is a seventy-three minute unaired version of the Pilot Episode that makes a number of changes to the storyline and characters- the excised terrorist subplot was quite interesting. The unaired pilot also comes with an Audio Commentary by Tim Kring. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized to add interactive features to the episodes that include in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in a given episodes (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Picture-in-picture Commentaries are provided for these eight episodes: Godsend, The Fix, Distractions, .07%, Five Years Gone, The Hard Part, Landslide and How To Stop An Exploding Man. The Artwork Presentation and Character Connection also take advantage of the U-Control interface. HEROES: SEASON 1 is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Next we have the self explanatory Featurettes: The Making Of Heroes (nine minutes), Special Effects (ten minutes), Stunts (ten minutes), A Profile Of Artist Tim Sale (eleven minutes) and The Score (nine minutes). Additionally, fifty Deleted Scenes are provided to fill out the supplemental materials.

While I came to the party a little late, HEROES is definitely one on my favorite series currently airing on television. The Blu-ray release definitely shows the series at its best possible quality. Absolutely recommended.



Heroes: Season 1 [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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