Saturday, September 05, 2009

Blog DVD Review: Heroes - Season 3 (9/1)

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the weekly Blog DVD Reviews. This week we take a look at Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Heroes - Season 3. Villains will rise. Heroes will fall. Destiny will be redefined. See my Blog DVD review of Heroes - Season 3:

Heroes - Season 3

Heroes: Season 3 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $59.98)

Experience all the explosive action and shocking twists as Heroes - Season 3 comes to DVD! Rediscover the phenomenon in this six-disc set that includes all 25 suspenseful episodes from the third season's volumes, Villains and Fugitives. Plus, go behind the secenes with the show's writers, stars and artists as you explore hours of exclusive and revealing bonus features.

Season 3 began with a two-hour event on September 22, 2008. The first 13 episodes were part of the Villains volume, while episodes 14-25 were the Fugitives volume. Cristine Rose, who portrays Angela Petrelli, became a main character this season after being a recurring character in the first two seasons. New characters included Flint Gordon, Jr. (played by Blake Shields), Puppet Master (Eric Doyle), The Speedster/Daphne Millbrook (Brea Grant) and Usutu (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine). Ali Larter played the new character Tracy Strauss, Niki's triplet sister with the power to freeze objects with a touch.

The packaging is very stylish and similar to the previous seasons. The holofoil outer slip cover has a photo of 11 of the characters with Sylar, Hiro and Claire being in the foreground. An embossed Heroes title logo is at the top. On the back of the slip cover, there is a short synopsis of the set and a listing of the special features. The main digipak packaging slides out from the left of the outer slip cover. The Heroes logo is on the cover. Episode summaries and the special features are listed for discs four-six on the back cover. Opening the digipak, there are listings for discs one-three. There are photos of the cast and drawings underneath the tray which holds the discs. The plastic clips that held discs 1, 3 and 5 were broken on my set so the discs slide around. The discs have a red background and the Heroes logo on them.

The anamorphic widescreen menus are attractive and easy to navigate. The main menu opens with the familiar Earth spinning Heroes logo. That leads to about a minutes worth of video clips in circles with some great instrumental music by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman playing in the background. There are options for Play All, Chapter Index, Bonus Materials and Set Up. The Chapter Index menu features still images from the episodes where you can play the episode by itself, with commentary or view the deleted scenes. The Bonus Materials have a still image of a cast member and another music cue. The Set Up menus feature different photos of the cast. You can choose the audio commentaries from here. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Espanol and Francais. Closed captioninig is not available. Chapter stops are available but no scene selection menus are offered. When you first insert disc 1, there is a series of previews (5:56) for some other Universal tv shows and movies which you can play or skip.

Moving on to the video and audio, the quality is excellent. The episodes are presented in their original 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. All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times of 41-43 minutes in length. They have the "Previously On" Heroes openings as originally broadcast. The overall running time of the set is approximately 17 hours, 53 minutes. The audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and sounds great. 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 by Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman 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.

Over 20 hours of bonus features are included. Audio commentaries by the cast and crew are available on all 25 episodes. 36 deleted scenes from 15 episodes are included and run approximately 36 minutes. It would have been interesting to have commentary on these to learn why these scenes were cut. A nice mixture of featurettes are spread out over the discs. Here is the breakdown by disc:

Disc One
--------
Deleted Scenes
The Second Coming (:36) - Sylar Telekinetically Moves Mr. Muggles
The Buttefly Effect (:14) - Suresh Lifts Heavy Object
One of Use, One of Them (3 Scenes) - Micah at Funeral (:28), Original Movie Theatre Scene (1:13), Claire Gets Primatech Box (:21)
I Am Become Death (5 Scenes) - Nathan Comes to Angela's Office (1:41), Daphne and Matt Argue (1:51), Sylar Can't Save Son (1:57), Maya and Suresh Go Out (1:28), Linderman Appears (1:35)

The Super Powers of Heroes (8:02) - Stunt Coordinator Tim Gilbert gives insight to designing the hard hitting stunts of Heroes. He talks about how various sequences were done like the airplane scene, Suresh's bug-like power, the black hole vortex and Claire falling out of the iwndow. He also talks a little about the cast and working on the show in general. Stunt Utility Lance Gilbert is also briefly interviewed.

Audio Commentaries
The Second Coming - Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, Executive Producer/Episode Director Allan Arkush and Series Star Adrian Pasdar
The Buttefly Effect - Executive Producer/Director Greg Beeman and Series Stars James Kyson Lee & Brea Grant
One of Us, One of Them - Series Stars Cristine Rose & Milo Ventimaglia
I Am Become Death - Series Stars Greg Grunberg & Jamie Hector

Disc Two
--------
Deleted Scenes
Angela and Monsters (3 Scenes) - Nathan Tells Tracy About Dr. Zimmerman (1:30), Linderman Makes Knox An Offer He Can't Refuse (:44), Angela Awakens (:12)
Dying of the Light (3 Scenes) - Suresh About to Operate on Tracy and Nathan (1:35), Claire and Mom Talk (1:04), Ando and Hiro Wake Up in Usutu's Camp (:59)
Villains (5 Scenes) - Matt Wants Knox to Quit Gang (:59), Knox Asks to Sit Out of Robbery (1:32), Knox Is Seen Talking to Matt (1:28), Knox Kills Gang Leader (1:52), Matt Stops Knox in Car (:51)

Completing the Scene (7:54) - An overall look at the visual style of Heroes Season Three is discussed, including the tricks used on set and in post-production. This featurette includes interviews with Lead Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Grenaudier, Supervising Producer Mark Spatny, Visual Effects Supervisor Jason Sperling, 3D Artist Mike Enriquez, Executive Producer/Director Allan Arkush, Compositing Supervisor Supervisor Chris Martin, Compositor Ryan Wieber, 3D Animator Daniel Kumiega, 3D Animator Michael Cook and Compositor Meliza Ferman. They talk about how every episode is compltely different, how they conceptualize visuals at meetings, how they did the scene of Claire shooting the bullet, the cold snap episode with ice, the invisible effects, the new abilities of the Heroes and the Tokyo earthquake destruction scene.

Audio Commentaries
Angels and Monsters - Episode Director Anthony Hemingway and Co-Executive Producers Adam Armus & Kay Foster
Dying of the Light - Series Star Sendhil Ramamurthy and Co-Writers Christopher Zatta and Chuck Kim
Eris Quod Sum - Director of Photography Charlie Lieberman, Editor Scott Boyd and Series Star Jason Kyson Lee
Villains - Executive Prdoucer/Episode Director Allan Arkush and Series Star Jack Coleman

Disc Three
----------
Deleted Scenes
It's Coming - Tracy Tells Nathan About Her Connection to Pineheart (:36)
The Eclipse: Part I - Nathan Must Find the Haitian to Stop His Father (1:17)
Our Father (4 Scenes) - Arthur Reads Suresh's Mind (:57), Nathan Disturbed (:45), Arthur takes Molly's Ability (:33), Angela and HRD Find Claire (:25)

The Prop Box (5:37) - Introduction to the "Gold Room" where all of the props used for Heroes are stored. Relics from the first season to the present are shown and the methods of a prop master are revealed. Assistant Set Prop Master James Clark talks about his job and gives a tour of the Gold Room. I think it's very interesting how they hold on to everything in case they need to re-use it in a later episode. Maps by Property Assistant Reba Rosenthal, paintings by Tim Sale and various swords are among the many props shown.

Tim Sale Gallery of Screen Art (1:16) - Various paintings are shown with a music cue playing in the background.

Pineheart Commercial (:41) - Pinehearst is a biotechnology company with connections to evolved humans.

Audio Commentaries
It's Coming - Series Star Blake Shields and Director of Photography Charlie Lieberman
The Eclipse: Part I - Executive Producers Episode Director Greg Beeman and Series Star Sendhil Ramamurthy
The Eclipse: Part II - Series Stars Cristine Rose & Greg Grunberg
Our Father - Series Stars Masi Oka & Brea Grant

Disc Four
---------
Deleted Scenes
Trust and Blood (2 Scenes) - Suresh and Matt Buy Weapons (:19), Ando and Hiro Are Going to India (:59)

Alternate Stories
Heroes: Going Postal (10:12 - 3 Chapters) - The trilogy of online-only videos introduces Echo DeMille, a seemingly ordinary mailman with an extraordinary ability.
Nowhere Man (18:11 - 4 Chapters) - This webseries focuses on the life of Eric Doyle.

Audio Commentaries
Dual - Series Star Zachary Quinto and Special Effects Supervisor Gary D'Amico
A Clear and Present Danger - Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring and Series Stars Milo Ventimiglia & Greg Yaitanes
Trust and Blood - Executive Producer/Episode Director Allan Arkush and Writer Mark Verheiden
Building 26 - Art Director Sandy Getzler and Production Designer Ruth Ammon

Disc Five
---------
Deleted Scene
Exposed - HRG Comes Up With Plan (:23)

Genetics of a Scene (20:31) - An ongoing service in which the episode's director and cast give an in-depth look at the production process.
Exploring Claire's Mind (5:34) - This segment reveals the graphic scene of the Heroes Season Three opener. Optic Nerve demonstrates the props designed for the scene "Stylar steals Claire's powers." Executive Producer/Director Allan Arkush, Special Makeup Effects Artist Glenn Hetrick, Special Makeup Effects Artist Rich Mayberry and Special Makeup Effects Artist Mark Vinielle. Some pretty graphic footage of the open brain gag scene, the body cast on Glenn and Claire's open heart scene are shown.
Speedster Steals the Formula (6:12) - Allan Arkush highlights directing the Speedsters' speed effects and the time stopping qualities of Hiro. The segment features on-set footage of Daphne and Hiro and how their powers collide. Executive Producer/Director Allan Arkush and Compositing Editor Chris Martin are interviewed. They talk about how a new character was brought in to play off Hiro and Ando, how Brea Grant was cast, developing her power and how they did the frozen in time effects.
Throwing Thoughts (3:54) - A quick, fun look at the shooting style used to create a specific scene from Episode 322. Director Jeannot Szwarc reveals the camera tricks used to create the visual look when Matt thinks for the villain Danko. Greg Grunberg, Director Jeannot Szwarc and Cinematographed Nate Goodman are interviewed.
Lights, Camera, Beeman (4:54) - This fast pace segment features George Beeman working on set. Fun on-set footage is used to demonstrate the sometimes-frantic shooting schedule of Heroes. It focuses on episode 325 - "An Invisible Thread" and shows scenes 7, 10 and 13.

The Writers' Forum - Creator Forum (13:25) - Creator Tim Kring and selected writers/producers discuss the story-lines of Season 3, outling inspirations for character developments, story polts and the changes that took place along the way. Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, Writer/Co-Executive Producer Adam Armus and Writer/Supervising Producer Aron Eli Coleite participate in this sit-down discussion. They talk about the big ideas of the season, the good vs. evil and how the characters decide which side, Peter vs. Sylar, Sylar and his father, introducing Arthur Petrelli, actor Robert Forster and Arthur's ability, the Villains and Fugitives volumes and wrapping up the season.

Audio Commentaries
Cold Wars - Series Stars Jack Coleman & Sendhil Ramamurthy
Exposed - Series Stars Milo Ventimiglia & Greg Grunberg
Shades of Gray - Series Star David H. LAwrence XVII and Script Coordinator Oliver Grigsby
Cold Snap - Writer Bryan Fuller and Series Star Masi Oka

Deleted Scenes
Into Asylum (3 Scenes) - Micah Questions HRG's Motives (1:50), Peter Flies Into Church (:40), Nathan and Claire Battle Frat Boys (:45)
Turn and Face the Strange (2 Scenes) - Hiro and Ando Fix the Car (:47), Suresh Asks Landlord About His Father (1:00)
I Am Sylar - Hiro and Ando Discuss Building 26 (:56)

Audio Commentaries
Into Asylum - Director of Photography Nate Goodman and Co-Producer Joe Pokaski
Turn and Face the Strange - Writers Mark Verheiden & Rob Fresco
1961 - Editor Jon Koslowsky and Director Adam Kane
I Am Sylar - Director of Photography Nate Goodman and Co-Executive Producers Kay Foster & Adam Armus
An Invisible Thread - Director of Photography Charlie Liberman and Editor Donn Aron

Final Comments: After a disappointing strike-shortened season, Heroes came back with a much stronger effort in season three. Having a full season to continue develop the characters and storylines was a big plus. The second volume of the season, Fugitives, was a bit better as there were fewer characters and plotlines to follow. While the show may have not captured the magic of the first season, there is still a lot I like about the show. Visually the show has always looked great. The visual and special effects are great. There is a lot of action and stunts. I'm a big fan of the music by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman. The main cast members, recurring characters and guest stars are strong.

Overall, this is another excellent set that die-hard and new fans of the show will be sure to enjoy. If you enjoy listening to commentaries, you will love this set. There is a nice mix of cast and crew who participate on them. It's a little disappointing that the beauties Hayden Panettiere and Ali Larter weren't involved on any of them. The deleted scenes and alternate stories/online webisodes are fun to see for the first time. I haven't kept up with what's available on nbc.com . The featurettes are at a good length and give some interesting insight on how the episodes are made. I'm hoping that season four will continue in the direction of the last part of season three. Tune in for the two-hour fourth season premiere on Monday, September 21 on NBC!

-- Reviewed by Todd
(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0024FAD9C/ref=nosim/happydaysonline5-20

Also available on Blu-ray

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


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