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Only a half season of HEROES
%#&@$*! writers’ strike!

To say that every HEROES fan (including myself) was just a little ticked off, when the writers’ strike resulted in popular series’ second season of being cut in half, would have to be the biggest understatement of the 2007-2008 television year. After getting thoroughly hooked on HEROES during season one, I have to saw that this was the one series that I was most looking forward to returning during the summer break. Sure, things started off well enough for season two and I was getting my weekly dose of HEROES, but then, the writers’ strike turned into a protracted affair. As the strike dragged on, the announcement came down that season two of HEROES would consist of only eleven episodes. When I heard that, I started to feel like Isaac Mendez deprived his key painting supply…

The premise of HEROES 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 two, new characters with new abilities are introduced, plus our existing heroes have to deal with losses, plus dark, new challenges, including the possibility of a biological threat that could wipe the majority of the human population right off the planet.

Returning characters in season two include: Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), the genetics professor, who is building upon his father’s theories, while at the same time finds himself in bed with the enemy. Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman), who was on the wrong side during season one, has since walked away from "The Company" to protect his family. Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) is Noah’s adopted daughter, who has the ability to regenerate, and thus, making her nearly impervious to harm. Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka) has the ability to bend the time space continuum, which lands him feudal Japan where he encounters a legendary hero, who proves to be nothing like he is depicted in the history books. Ando Masahashi (James Kyson Lee) is Hiro’s best friend, who stands beside Hiro’s family during his absence. Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) finds himself with amnesia and unable to remember any of the powers that he has absorbed. Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) is Peter’s brother and has the ability to fly, but as we encounter him in season two, he has suffered the terrible consequences of helping his brother. Angela Petrelli (Christine Rose) is Peter and Nathan’s mother, whose agenda threatens far more than just her sons. Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) finds that his ability to read the thoughts of those around him is just a small part of his overall potential. Niki Sanders (Ali Larter) whose powers only seem to manifest when one of her other multiple personalities takes control. Micah Sanders (Noah Gray-Cabey) is Niki’s son and a child prodigy with the additional ability to control mechanical devices. Finally, there is Sylar (Zachary Quinto), whose powers are definitely down, but not out.

New characters introduced during season two include: Adam Monroe (David Anders) a founding member of "The Company" with an interesting past, as well as the ability to regenerate. Bob Bishop (Stephen Tobolowsky) is another founding member of "The Company" with the ability of transmutation. Elle Bishop (Kristen Bell) is Bob’s sociopath daughter, whose shocking abilities are put to good use by "The Company." Monica Dawson (Dana Davis) is Micah’s cousin whose ability is to mimic any physical action she sees. Maya Herrera (Dania Ramírez) and Alejandro Herrera (Shalim Ortiz) are sister and brother; her ability is to emit a toxic substance, which his ability counteracts.

HEROES: SEASON 2 ($70) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a four-disc set that features the following eleven episodes that were aired during its sophomore year: Four Months Later..., Lizards, Kindred, The Kindness of Strangers, Fight or Flight, The Line, Out of Time, Four Months Ago..., Cautionary Tales, Truth & Consequences and Powerless. In addition to the main characters, the season two supporting cast of HEROES also includes: Ashley Crow, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Nicholas D'Agosto, Randall Bentley, George Takei, Eric Roberts, Katie Carr and Nichelle Nichols.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made all eleven episodes from HEROES: SEASON 2 available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Like season one, the 1080p presentations here are highly impressive; maybe more so than what was contained in the first set. The little inconsistencies in the image, which I noticed during season one are lessened, as if the production technique has become more assured as the series has evolved. Image sharpness, detail, depth and clarity- all get top marks for a weekly television drama. The effects work isn’t at the theatrical level, but is smoother here than it was during season one. Close ups remain demonstrative of the picture quality at its best; definition and fine detail are all exemplified. Colors can be subdued or more intense, depending upon the mood any given sequence is trying to create. Both the blacks and whites appear pure. Contrast and shadow detail get top marks for a television production. Again, there are no notable defects in the source materials. Grain/video noise is again apparent in various sequences, but is never excessive.

All of the episodes that constitute HEROES: SEASON 2 are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. Again, these are very strong television caliber sound mixes, which deliver a good quantity of directional effects. However, the sound design does not hide the television origins of these mixes; which remain front heavy. Active surround usage is dependent upon on screen action, but there is the usual complement of ambience and fill does find its way to the rear channels. Fidelity is excellent for a television production. The bottom end of the track is sufficiently weighty and impressive. 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. 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 the entire complement of episodes. HEROES: SEASON 2 is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Next we have the following Featurettes: Heroes: Season 2- A New Beginning (fourteen minutes), Takezo Kensei: Sword Saint (twenty-four minutes), Genetics Of A Scene (twenty-four minutes) and Season 3 Sneak Peek (eight minutes). Generations Alternate Ending provides a look at how second season might have played out had it not been for writers’ strike, while Inside The Alternate Ending provides even more detail. Untold Stories looks at other aspects of season two storylines that did not materialize due to the writers’ strike. The Drucker Files profiles an online character, while Featurettes provide a look at previously online only content. Deleted Scenes fill out the supplemental materials.

Season two of HEROES took off slowly, and due to the writers’ strike, was grounded before gaining all of its forward momentum. However, the Blu-ray release of HEROES: SEASON 2 represents first class accommodations all the way. I enjoyed what little there was of season two, and therefore, it comes recommended.



Heroes: Season 2 [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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