Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mini-DVD Review: Heroes - Season 1 (Aug. 28)

Welcome to a special Sunday edition of mini-DVD reviews! Today we look at Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Heroes. Ordinary people with extraordinary abilities link a group of complete strangers that may determine the future of the world when Heroes - Season 1 comes to DVD and HD DVD August 28, 2007. Nominated for eight Emmy Awards including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series (Masi Oka), Heroes - Season 1 is the most acclaimed and addictive new series of the 2006-2007 television season. See my mini-DVD review of Heroes - Season 1:

Heroes - Season 1

Heroes: Season 1 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $59.98)

Discover the phenomenon that is sweeping audiences everywhere as Heroes: Season 1 comes to DVD! Experience the suspense, mystery, and electrifying twists as this astonishing series follows seemingly unconnected, ordinary people around the globe who discover they have extraordinary powers. As they come to terms with their unique abilities, their risky decisions will affect the futures of everyone around them ... and the world. Join their epic journey in this seven-disc set packed with hours of fascinating and revealing bonus features, including the never-before-aired series premiere from show creator Tim Kring.

Created by Tim Kring ("Providence," "Crossing Jordan"), Heroes features an extraordinary ensemble cast that includes Sendhil Ramamurthy (Blind Guy Driving), Milo Ventimiglia ("Gilmore Girls"), Adrian Pasdar ("Judging Amy"), Hayden Panettiere (Bring It On: All Or Nothing), Ali Larter (Final Destination), Noah Gray-Cabey ("My Wife & Kids"), Leonard Roberts ("Smallville"), Santigo Cabrera ("Empire"), Tawny Cypress (NBC's "Third Watch"), Greg Grunberg ("Alias"), Masi Oka (NBC's "Scrubs"), Jack Coleman ("Dynasty"), James Kyson Lee (NBC's "Las Vegas"), Zachary Quinto ("24"), Ashley Crow (NBC's "American Dreams"), Cristine Rose (NBC's "Friends"), Jimmy Jean-Louis (Monster-in-Law), Eric Roberts ("Less Than Perfect") and Malcolm McDowall ("Entourage").

This 7-disc set has some very stylish packaging. The outer slip cover has a black background and an embossed Heroes title logo. On the back of the slip cover, there is a synopsis of the set, a listing of the nearly 3 hours of bonus features, and a painting of the destruction of New York City. The main Digipak packaging slides out from the left of the outer slip cover. It features a nice photo of the 11 main cast members on a city street. Short summaries of the episodes and the DVD extras are listed for discs 5-7 on the back of packaging. Inside the Digipak, discs 1-4 are listed. Since there are so many deleted scenes and audio commentaries, the listings aren't incredibly detailed. I think they could have used an icon to note which episodes have commentaries. All but a few of the episodes have deleted scenes. The 7 discs are held in clear plastic holders. Underneath the holders, there are various color paintings and black & white photos of the cast. The discs are very plain looking with just the Heroes logo and disc number on them.

The menus are very attractive and easy to navigate. The main menu opens with Earth and the Heroes logo. That leads to Isaac's loft and his paintings. The camera zooms in on to them to show the scenes from the actual episode. The opening theme and music from the show is heard in the background. At the bottom of the screen, there are options for "Play All," "Chapter Index," "Bonus Materials," and "Languages" on each disc. A red splatter icon is next to the option that you highlight that turns orange upon your selection. Comic book drawings are featured on all of the sub-menus. When you select "Chapter Index," it takes you to a sub-menu where there are 1-2 episodes listed per screen. You have the option of playing the deleted scenes and commentaries from these menus, or you can find more detailed information on them on the "Bonus Materials" menus. There is a Play All button on those menus where you can play all of the deleted on each disc together. From the "Languages" menu, you can play the commentaries or turn on the English SDH, French or Spanish subtitles. Chapter stops are available within the episodes but no separate scene selection menus are offered. When you first insert disc 1, there are Previews which you can play or skip directly to the main menu.

Moving on to the video and audio quality, the excellence is continued. The set is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are vibrant and clean. The picture is very sharp and detailed. Some of the night time scenes can look a little grainy, but that can be expected. Overall, the lighting is excellent and the outdoor scenes are beautifully shot. These episodes look even better than how they were originally broadcast. All of the episodes appear to be unedited, running around 43-44 minutes in length. They have the "Previously On" Heroes openings as originally broadcast. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the original music had to be replaced. The audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I didn't notice any major problems on the episodes I've watched so far. The dialogue is at a good volume and easy to understand. I love the music score and other sound effects that are used in the episodes. Subtitles are available in English, French and spanish. The bonus features are not rated and not all are subtitled.

Nearly 3 hours of bonus features are included. They will blow you away! There is the original, unaired, extended 73-minute pilot episode with optional audio commentary. Besides the original pilot commentary, there are 12 additional commentaries by the cast and crew. 50 Deleted and Extended Scenes are offered for all but 4 of the episodes. Most of them were probably cut for pacing and time. Five featurettes are found on disc 7. I will break the extras down by disc.

Disc 1
------
Unaired Pilot: The Tim Kring Cut - This is the full 73 uninterrupted minute version of the original, unaired, extended pilot episode, as Heroes' creator Tim Kring first envisioned it. It features an unseen character, Omid, and a terrorist storyline. It also introduced the Matt Parkman character. If this original pilot ever aired, it surely would have been a 2-hour premiere. Due to review deadlines, this was the only commentary I've been able to listen to so far in its entirety. It is a very good one. Tim Kring covers many different topics, such as the technical aspects of filming, shooting locations, effects shots and how they did them, the terrorist storyline and why it was nixed, Parkman's wife being recast, Sylar's silhouetted introduction, and how various scenes were reshot for the final broadcast version. There are additional deleted and exteneded scenes from the pilot available in the deleted scenes section.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (10:22)
1. Genesis - 8 Scenes - DL Escapes From His Cell (:24), Meant For Something Special (:30), Simone's Breaking Point (1:43), The Only Way Out (1:33), DL's Promise (:29),
The Terrorist (:47), Time's Up (:31), Micah Saves His Dad (:50)
2. Don't Look Back - 4 Scenes - A Spark Ignites (:40), Niki's Mistake (:31), Behind Niki's Garage Door (1:57), Blood on the Map (:34)

Disc 2
------
Deleted and Extended Scenes (7:45)
3. One Giant Leap - 2 Scenes - Hiro's Book of Revelations (1:45), Niki Confronts Her Mother-in-Law (2:34)
4. Collision - 2 Scenes - The You That Ain't You (:13), Micah's Plea (:40)
5. Hiros - 3 Scenes - Claire's Miracle (:37), Strangers In Our Own Home (:56), Brody's Cheer (1:02)

Disc 3
------
Deleted and Extended Scenes (16:02)
7. Nothing to Hide - 8 Scenes - Matt's Voices (:42), Tough Love (:55), Nathan's Paternity Suit (2:28), You Can't Tell Anyone (:55), Stakeout (:36), Claire the Freak (2:09), Jessica Gets Her Gun (:47), Lyle's Secret (1:09)
8. Seven Minutes to Midnight - 3 Scenes - Appearances Can Be Deceiving (1:14), Eden's New Life (:47), Matt and Janice Reminisce (:54)
9. Homecoming - 1 Scene - The Battle For Claire (1:00)
10. Six Months Ago - 2 Scenes - Dad Is Dead (1:43), Jessica Takes Care of Busines (:50)

Disc 4
------
Deleted and Extended Scenes (7:14)
11. Fallout - 1 Scene - Mohinder's Discovery (1:46)
12. Godsend - 2 Scenes - Claire's Media Moment (:26), Peter's Awakening (1:29)
13. The Fix - 1 Scene - The Dishonest Plumber (1:20)
14. Distractions - 3 Scenes - A Shock to the System (:19), You're My Business (:38), Niki's Homecoming (1:19)

Commentary on "Godsend" by Jack Coleman, Leonard Roberts and Sendhil Ramamurthy

Commentary on "The Fix" by Greg Grunberg, Hayden Panettiere and Natalie Chaidez (Episode Writer & Co-Executive Producer)

Commentary on "Distractions" by Milo Ventimiglia, Zachary Quinto, Greg Grunberg, Jeanot Szwarc (Episode Director), Jack Coleman and Michael Green (Episode Writer and Co-Executive Producer)

Disc 5
------
Deleted and Extended Scenes (6:00)
15. Run! - 3 Scenes - Mr. Bennet's Phone Calls (:27), Janice Panics (1:26), The Haitian's Talent (1:35)
17. Company Man - 3 Scenes - Generation Gap (:53), The Cover-up (:42), Thompson's Mandate (:14)
18. Parasite - 1 Scene - Lonely Wolf (:47)

Commentary on "Run!" by Greg Grunberg, Kevin Chamberlin, Adam Armus and Kay Foster (Episode Writers and Supervising Producers)

Commentary on "Unexpected" by Greg Beeman (Episode Director and Co-Executive Producer), Zachary Quinto, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Jeph Loeb (Episode Writer and Co-Executive Producer)

Commentary on "Company Man" by Jack Coleman, Allan Arkush (Episode Director and Executive Producer) and Bryan Fuller (Co-Executive Producer and Episode Writer)

Commentary on "Parasite" by Allan Arkush (Executive Producer), Jimmy Jean-Louis and Christopher Zatta (Episode Writer)

Mind Reader Game - Matt Parkman's mind reading abilities reveal your inner Hero with a series of simple tests. You pick a number from 1-100, add the two digits together and subtract that from the original number. Then you find your hero on the next screen and he guesses your hero. He correctly picked mine!

Disc 6
------
Deleted and Extended Scenes (2:05)
19. .07% - 1 Scene - Linderman's Missing Sword (:30)
20. Five Years Gone - 1 Scene - Old Friends (:43)
21. The Hard Part - 1 Scene - Marty, That's An Order (:54)

Commentary on ".07%" by Chuck Kim (Episode Writer), Andrew Chambliss (Asst. to Tim Kring) and Timm Keppler (Asst. to Dennis Hammer)

Commentary on "Five Years Gone" by Greg Grunberg, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Jack Coleman

Commentary on "The Hard Part" by Jason Kyson Lee, Noah Gray-Cabey and Ian Quinn (Stunt Coordinator)

Commentary on "Landslide" by Masi Oka, George Takei and Matthew Armstrong

Disc 7
------
Commentary on "How to Stop an Exploding Man" by Tim Kring (Creator/Executive Producer & Episode Writer), Dennis Hammer (Executive Producer) and Allan Arkush (Executive Producer & Episode Director)

"Making of" (10:00) - From concept to pop culture phenomenon, a behind-the-scenes look at the hottest new series on television. Ths featurette includes interviews with Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, Masi Oka, Milo Ventimiglia, Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter, Adrian Pasdar, Greg Grunberg, Leoanrd Roberts, Co-Executive PRoducer Jeph Loeb and Sendhil Ramamurthy. It is divided into various sections: The Saga Begins, Casting, The First Screening and A Phenomenon Is Born. Tim talks about how he came up with the idea of the show and about superheroes. The actors talk about their characters. The casting was an easy process for them. Footage is shown from the first screening of the extended pilot at Comic Con in San Diego in 2006. The final section is about fan's reactions to the show. Overall, this was a decent featurette but I would have preferred a much longer, more in-depth special.

Special Effects (8:45) - The secrets behind the eye-popping visuals that give the Heroes their amazing powers. This featurette includes interviews with Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Kolpack, Masi Oka, 3D Artist Tony Ocampo and 2D Artists Ryan Wieber. The special effects are created in post production after everything is shot. The focus here is on the scene of Hiro first time-freezing moment of saving the red-ribboned girl from the truck.

The Stunts (10:22) - A back stage look at the show's hair-raising stunts. This featurette includes interviews with Stunt Coordinator Ian Quinn, Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia, Masi Oka, George Takei, Zachary Quinto and Sendhil Ramamurthy. Ian Quinn talks about his background in stunts, his cameo as the firefighter, and how they try to let the actors do as much as possible to bring realism. The scenes covered here include Claire in the burning train wreckage, Nathan flying from the car and Heidi's accident, Peter being thrown off the roof, Hiro's sword fighting, and Mohinder's being stuck on the ceiling.

Profile of Artist Tim Sade (11:26) - A look at the Eisner Award-winning comic book artist (Spiderman, Batman, Daredevil) behind much of the Manga-influenced artwork used in the show. This featurette includes interviews with Tim Sale and Santiago Cabrera. Tim talks about his background as a comic book artist for 20 years and how he got involved with the show. It is interesting how he creates the artwork from the final finished scenes. Santiago Cabrera gives a tour of Isaac's loft. Tim talks about he met Santiago and gave him some tips for his character.

The Score (8:58) - Go behind the scenes with Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (of Prince's The Revolution) as they create their ASCAP Award-winning musical score. This featurette includes interviews with composers Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin and audio engineer Michael Perfitt. They are interviewed in their studio where they create the music. They talk a little about the vocals of Shankar, how the score is identifiable by one note, and how they mix different instruments from around the world. They do about 30 minutes of music per episode. I think they do an excellent job on the score. Hopefully somebody will release a score album like other series, such as Lost or 24.

Sneak Peeks (6:11) - Trailers for Friday Night Lights, House, Las Vegas, The Office, 30 Rock, Miami Vice, Nissan, Bring It On: All or Nothing

Final Comments: A truly outstanding set for a remarkable show! This was my favorite new drama from last season. I was hooked from the very first episode and liked everything about it. The storylines, actors, character backgrounds, music, stunts and visual effects - everything works for a thrilling ride. Die-hard fans will want to relive the excitement and enjoy the many hours of special features to learn new facts about the show. Others can discover it for the first time and prepare to start watching Season 2 in a few weeks. I can't wait for the second season to see what they have in store. New season, new story begins September 24 on NBC!

-- Reviewed by Todd
(5/5 stars)

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A HD DVD version is also being released on the same day. Purchase it here.

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Heroes Official Site
Heroes TV.com Page
Heroes Internet Movie Database Page
Heroes Wikipedia Page


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, July 15

Raven's Home - "Dress to Express" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Levi makes a documentary on how a person's individual style influences the perception of them, Nia, Tess and Booker each learn something new about themselves.

In The Cut - "The Honeymooners" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jay and Cheryl's honeymoon phase is short lived when Cheryl empties out her storage unit into their condominium; Kenny and Smitty become roommates for the weekend.

In The Cut - "Monster in Law" (Bounce TV, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Jay meets Cheryl's mother for the first time; Kenny reunites with an old friend who goes from houseguest to burden.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 15)

Monday, July 15

  • Mike Epps (Survivor's Remorse/Uncle Buck) - Watch Mike on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Joel McHale (Community/The Great Indoors) - Joel stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He also talks about Card Sharks on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Ricky Gervais (After Life/The Office) - Ricky visits The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Laura Dern (F Is for Family/Enlightened) - Laura drops by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Anna Faris (Mom) - Anna is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory) - Kunal appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Harvey GuillĂ©n (What We Do in the Shadows) - Harvey is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) - Kumail chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Alan Alda (M*A*S*H) - Alan is in the house with rapid fire questions for Rach on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Seth Rogen (Undeclared) - Seth talks about The Lion King on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Vivica A. Fox (Mr. Box Office/Getting Personal/Arsenio/Out All Night) - Vivica talks about Lifetime's The Wrong Boy Next Door on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Fred Savage (What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage/Friends from College/The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Fred talks about What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Drake Bell (Drake & Josh) - Drake is a guest on the BUILD Series at 12pm.


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