Heroes-Season 1 (HD DVD) (2006)
Menu Animation & Audio
Alternative Version-Extended Pilot (+/- Tim Kring Commentary)
On-Screen Information Track-U-Control: Artwork, Character Bios, Helix Revealed
Game-Mind Reader; Genetic Abilities Test
Audio-Visual Commentary-U-Control: Cast & Crew PIP Commentaries
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Special Effects (8:44)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Stunts (10:21)
Featurette-Profile of Artist Tim Sale (11:25)
Featurette-Making Of-The Score (8:57)
Web Links-Web-Enabled Features: Download Center
|Year Of Production||2006|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (7)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
Paul A. Edwards
Universal Pictures Home Video
James Kyson Lee
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English (Burned In)
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It's present day, and across the earth people with unique abilities are beginning to surface. Seemingly everyday citizens are developing amazing powers far beyond that of normal human beings. What exactly is it that unites these Heroes, and how will they overcome their vast differences to prevent a mysterious, yet cataclysmic event?
In essence, Heroes is an involving character drama with a broad, global story base. Each of the main characters are introduced in seemingly isolated circumstances, but over time these characters cross paths as a wider story develops. A friend of mine described it as "X-Men meets Magnolia", which isn't a bad description in my opinion. Because of the nature of this series and the delicate twists and reveals in each episode, I have a great fear of divulging spoilers here unnecessarily, so I've decided specifically to not provide a synopsis of each episode. Instead, I'll give you a quick run down of the key characters. You'll find a detailed list of the episodes in season one and their arrangement across all seven of these discs in the extras section, below.
Future episodes in the series also include a fantastic array of guest stars, some of which include George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu), Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Eric Roberts, Richard Roundtree and Malcolm McDowell.
Series creator Tim Kring is also responsible for the popular series Crossing Jordan, which I personally have never seen. A great many writers and directors are employed in the making of this show, yet the flow and appearance from one episode to the next is very consistent. The episodes presented across these seven discs retain all of the recaps at the beginning of each episode, as well as the pauses and fades to black where advertisement breaks would usually reside. These interruptions can be a bit disruptive at times, but I suppose this does reflect the structure of the original broadcast. All 23 episodes in this season average about 43 to 44 minutes each.
If you enjoyed Series One of Heroes when it was broadcast, you're certain to love this boxed set. Hard core fans will relish the wealth of bonus features to be found and these features make great use of the HD DVD format's potential.
This video transfer makes for enjoyable big-screen viewing and is a significant step up from the digital broadcast. The transfer quality is consistent throughout all twenty-three episodes.
The 1080p image completely fills the native 1.78:1 frame and looks marvellous. Digital effects are generally seamless and don't draw any undue attention as far as the transfer is concerned. The series appears to have been shot on film, as there are numerous, albeit tiny, film artefacts visible at some points throughout the series, particularly the deleted scenes. Film grain is also present to varying degrees, sometimes heavy, but this comprises part of the show's epic, filmic look.
The image is generally sharp and clear with fantastic, fine detail visible from actor's hair and wardrobe to vast cityscapes. I do believe some digital noise reduction has been applied in order to reduce film grain in some scenes, but in turn this serves to soften the image a little.
Overall, I found the series a little too bright in comparison to your average movie transfer, because some dark night time scenes lacked truly convincing shadow detail. This could represent an overall production decision to influence the appearance of the series, or maybe a tweak that was made in post with digital broadcast in mind rather than home theatre viewing. All the same, this is a minor complaint that didn't distract me too much.
Colours are rich and bold, with no rendering inconsistencies in the slightest. Skin tones can be a little on the pale side at times, and I did notice actor's thick makeup during some scenes. Otherwise, the palette is generally realistic and reds are suitably intense.
All twenty-three episodes have been compressed via the VC-1 codec. There are no compression issues to speak of at all, but I did notice some digital noise during brighter scenes which I believe to be the result of noise reduction processing, probably applied to reduce the appearance of film grain in the transfer. Those with smaller displays aren't likely to notice this artefact, let alone find it an an issue.
An English subtitle stream is burned into the video stream to translate the infrequent use of Japanese dialogue. An optional English subtitle stream is also included for the hard of hearing.
All seven discs in the set are dual layered, HD-30 formatted.
The show's original English audio is presented here in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1.
For a television series, this is a very good audio presentation, clean and clear with no issues at all. I never had any problems discerning dialogue, which can often be an issue with TV shows. Audio sync is generally fine, but I did notice several scenes in which lip sync failed miserably, usually involving lip movements of characters with their backs to the camera or who are not the primary focus of the scene. Every one of the sync issues I noticed, I put down to a lapse in editing or rushed post production, not the transfer at all.
Surround channel usage is sporadic at best. The rear channels spring to life once in a while, usually to deliver some kind of atmospheric effect such as wind or rain. The rear channels also deliver some elements of the soundtrack score such as percussion and strings. The remainder of the soundtrack is decidedly front heavy, but spacious all the same.
The series' score reflects the global themes within the plot, with a great range of instruments and styles at play. It is a very subdued score, one that sits in the background without drawing any undue attention to itself, but will really grow on you as the series progresses. The creation of the score is covered in a short featurette included in the extras, outlined below.
The subwoofer isn't especially active, but does let out a rumble now and then to augment explosions and the like. LFE activity certainly isn't up there with your average Hollywood blockbuster, but for a TV series this isn't bad at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a fantastic array of bonus features, all relevant to the show and utilising the HD DVD format to its full potential. The sheer volume of extra material is amazing; there are multiple U-Control features for every episode, and some of these cannot be viewed simultaneously. This means that some episodes need to be viewed three or more times in order to view all of the bonus content. Below, I've listed in detail the content of each of the seven discs in this set, along with the U-Control features for each individual episode (they do differ considerably). As with other U-Control enabled discs from Universal, there is a handy tutorial on each disc incase you run into difficulties. The viewer is also able to skip directly to a certain U-Control feature within an episode via either the Episode or U-Control menu pages. The range of U-Control features that are available break up as follows:
Each episode, across every disc, is enabled with a My Scenes function; a feature akin to an electronic bookmark that enables the viewer to create a list of their favourite sequences by simply pressing the 'B' button on their remote during the desired scene. These selected scenes are saved in the player's memory and can be retrieved at any time.
As with all Universal HD DVD titles, the disc is equipped with an animated screen saver that appears when the menu is left idle for three rotations. A handy progress bar is also coded to appear across the bottom of the screen whenever the feature is paused or skipped.
The Pilot Episode, Genesis, is presented here in an extended form (complete with a 1080p, VC-1 encoded transfer to match the rest of the series) that embellishes the introduction of these characters and adds an interesting terrorist sub-plot involving officer Matt Parkman. In the pilot that was aired, the Parkman character doesn't appear at all.
In the accompanying audio commentary, Tim Kring discusses the numerous additional scenes that are present and explains the cuts that were made. It would seem that this is the pilot that was initially submitted to Universal, who then made cuts in consultation with Kring to fashion their own, abbreviated pilot episode. Tim also points out many CG effects that were added in post, as well as scenes that were re-shot for the pilot that was aired. I was surprised at the sheer volume of additional scenes, not to mention the roles that had been re-cast once the series was picked up. Some characters that had not been cast when the pilot was shot utilised extras as stand-ins, which appear a bit dodgy in comparison to the slick look of the remainder of the series. This is certainly a great extra and well worth a watch.
There are twelve additional scenes in total. These cover several sub-plots that were cut, such as D.L. Hawkins in prison and Niki receiving a visit at home from the Child Protection Agency.
These are a couple of familiar sequences, slightly extended, with additional character interaction.
There are more than a dozen in total, but these are a bit more substantial than other deleted scenes in the set. One lengthy piece reveals some background story of Nathan Petrelli's wife, Heidi. There area also several scenes between Claire and her brother Lyle, making a sub-plot that was not part of the original episode. You'll also find an alternate take of the scene in which Claire and Nina cross paths.
These seven scenes are primarily scene extensions, with unnecessary character interactions that were trimmed. None of these are particularly missed, but they're interesting inclusions nonetheless.
These are a handful of short, missing sequences that are alluded to in the above episodes. The last of these is actually an extended scene involving Hiro gaining access to the Casino.
Allow officer Matt Parkman to read your mind! Through a series of simple mathematical equations, your mind is "read". Good fun.
Three brief scenes that were removed from these episodes, with some surprising character connections revealed.
Creator Tim Kring describes how the series was conceived and what themes he intended to convey. We also hear from a cross section of cast and crew members as they discuss what they believe to be the show's strengths. This relatively brief Making Of climaxes at Comic Con with the world premiere of the extended pilot episode.
Digital Effects Supervisor Mark Kolpack offers a rundown of the process in layman's terms and how it is applied, with some scene-specific examples. I was amazed to learn that actor Masi Oka is actually a former programmer for ILM and has a very broad and detailed understanding of the visual effects domain.
We're taken behind the scenes to see the Stunt Coordinators on the job and how the actors are incorporated where possible. A few of the series' key stunt sequences are dissected.
Tim is an accomplished comic book artist, who was hired to create the artwork by the Isaac Mendez character, as seen in the show. Tim explains his relationship with the show's producers, his approach to the work and his honest thoughts regarding the show.
Engineer Michael Perfitt and composers Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (known in the industry for their work with Prince) explain how they were introduced to the concept and their approach to each individual episode. For the score's vocal performance they recruited Shenkar, of the highly regarded group Shakti. His outstanding vocal contributions are what make the score unique and instantly recognisable. The composers also discuss the importance of serving the show's narrative without dominating scenes.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer is superior to the show's broadcast quality and retains a consistent, filmic look throughout.
The audio transfer is crystal clear and does the job without being extraordinary.
The extras are extensive, informative, worthwhile and utilise the HD DVD format to the best of its capability.
|DVD||Toshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.|