Heroes-Season 2 (2006)

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Released 30-Sep-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Drama Series Audio Commentary-Commentary on each episode.
Deleted Scenes-(25:06) 17 scenes from six episodes.
Featurette-Kensei Documentary (23:47) : Faux TV documentary.
Featurette-The Drucker Files (8:29) : Faux TV documentary.
Featurette-Making Of-A New Beginning (14:36)
Featurette-Making Of-Genetics of a Scene (16:24) : Three scenes examined.
Alternate Ending-Alternate Story (28:55) ; Original Episode 11 ending.
Teaser Trailer-(8:23) Season 3 sneak peek.
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 462:05
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Allan Arkush
Greg Beeman
Paul A. Edwards
Studio
Distributor
NBC Productions
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Masi Oka
Milo Ventimiglia
Hayden Panetierre
Jack Coleman
Adrian Pasdar
Ali Larter
James Kyson Lee
Greg Grunberg
Kristen Bell
Katie Carr
David Anders
Nicholas D'Agosto
Case ?
RPI $59.95 Music Lisa Coleman
Wendy Melvoin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, "Previously on Heroes"

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Plot Synopsis


The biggest new TV series of 2006 was undoubtedly NBC's Heroes. The product of the fertile imagination of Tim Kring, in its first season Heroes instantly seduced viewers into the fascinating lives of a small group of ordinary humans who find, often to personal great distress, that each of them possesses an extraordinary and unique power. Hooked each week by compelling characters, strong plots, vibrant action and tantalising cliff-hangers, a huge fan base followed the series to its explosive season finale. It will be welcome news to those fans that Universal have now released the second season, complete - though not the "complete" season that was originally planned - season on a four disc set. Though the second season was reduced to only eleven episodes, presented here on the first three discs, there is considerable compensation in the bag of excellent extras to be found on the fourth disc in the set.

The second season, the full title being Heroes Volume Two : Generations, was reduced to eleven episodes because of the recently resolved writers' strike in the United States. The original intention was to have twenty-four episodes but the action of the writers made it necessary for the producers to wind up the season before the shutdown. Scenes already shot for episodes twelve and thirteen were discarded - though most will see the light of day in season three - and the eleventh episode was hastily rewritten to bring the season to some satisfactory conclusion. Adding to the problem was the fact that the creative team, and audiences, were already not happy with the beginning of this second season. The character of Hiro spent the first six episodes in the past, in feudal Japan, and these goings on seemed unrelated to other plotlines of the episodes. Tim Kring took the almost unprecedented action of placing an advertisement in Entertainment Weekly apologizing for the weakness of these episodes. (I say "almost unprecedented" remembering the full page ad placed by the late and indisputably great Paul Newman apologizing for his epic turkey The Silver Chalice before its first screening on U.S. network television.) With little time to remedy the plot problems due to the threatening writers' dispute, it is no wonder that the finished, severely truncated, series does not measure up to Season One. However, despite these severe problems, the second season of Heroes manages to be highly enjoyable dramatic television, presented superbly on these discs and supported by a host of mainly fascinating and entertaining extras.

Season Two begins approximately four months after Season One's aborted attempt to destroy New York City. That season had followed each of the "heroes" in his, or her, struggle to come to grips with a particular unique power, in the season finale coming together in order to save the world. Their lives have been disrupted and in the new episodes they strive to come to grips with the changes in their lives. Hiro (Masi Oka) finds himself in the past, in feudal Japan , where he is disillusioned by his legendary childhood idol, Kensei (David Anders). Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) is in Ireland, falling in love with Caitlin (Katie Carr) while his brother Nathan (Adrian Pasdar), unsure whether Peter is dead or alive, suffers while he seeks solace in alcohol. Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman) and his daughter, Claire (Hayden Panetierre), relocate in an effort to conceal their identities, becoming "the Butlers".At her new school Claire finds an object for her burgeoning interest in boys in West Rosen (Nicholas D'Agosto), who himself has at least one hidden quality. Nikki (Ali Larter) adds another split-personality to her attractive bow while Parkman (Greg Grunberg) finds that he possesses new skills, joining forces with Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) to protect young Molly (Adair Tishler). The villain of the piece, Sylar (Zachary Quinto) finds that he has lost his powers and travels to New York to seek assistance from Suresh, with two new characters in tow, the South American twins Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz) and Maya (Dania Ramirez). As well there are two darker villains : the predator who systematically hunts down the older generation of heroes and "nightmare man", who has the ability to enter the mind, trapping people inside their own fears, thwarting the heroes as they endeavour to establish the link between the mysterious Company and the Shanti virus.

As is obvious from the above, there is no shortage of characters or plot ideas in this season. The problem is that there is just too much. Despite some enjoyable lighter moments in Hiro's excursion into Japan's past, these segments become tiresome, seeming irrelevant and unrelated to the other plot lines. In an effort to compensate, the producers then cram too much into the mere handful of episodes that remain - there are too many subplots and too many new characters, although Kristen Bell's erotically sadistic Elle does add some welcome life into the action. However, little time is left to develop the original characters that we are interested in. As the formerly pivotal cheerleader, the extremely talented and lovely Hayden Panetierre has less and less to do, while the gorgeous Ali Larter frequently is sidelined, though not as severely as Ando (James Kyson Lee). Minor characters undoubtedly suffer due to the shortening of the season, notably Nikki's son, Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey), whose sole justification seems to be to introduce the character of his cousin, Monica (Dana Davis). The characters that are more satisfying are Peter, Nathan, Bennett, and Parkman each with interesting plot driven development, giving hope that these characters will be featured prominently in Season Three.

Once again the production values of the series are extraordinarily high. Filmed in 35mm, Heroes looks and sounds almost as good as a theatrical blockbuster. A variety of settings adds colour with action in a post-Katrina New Orleans, South America, Malibu, Ireland and ancient Japan, while special effects are consistently spectacular and convincing. Performances are uniformly excellent, with the bevy of attractive young talent and the experienced polish of the likes of Jack Coleman, Adrian Pasdar and Ali Larter.

Despite the inherent problems with this season, the producers were able to tighten up the plot lines in the last few episodes and bring the final episode to a satisfying cliffhanger ending. The enormous fan base for Heroes will eagerly anticipate the arrival of Heroes Volume Three : Villains, which began telecasts in the United States in September. Hopefully we will then see Tim Kring's "baby" return to its initial glory days.

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Transfer Quality

Video


This is a superb transfer doing justice to a spectacularly produced television series.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is brilliantly clear and sharp, with excellent detail. Close ups are magnificent in their clarity.
Shadow detail is outstanding, while blacks are deep and solid. There is no low level noise.
The use of colour remains a strong point of this series. Season One was outstanding with its use of a different palette for each "hero", and while this basic principle is still employed the sheer number of subplots leads to a reduced awareness of this detail.
There were no MPEG artefacts and no film artefacts..


English subtitles are available on all four discs.
Each disc is dual layered, with layer changes occurring between episodes, or individual extras.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The audio on each episode matches the image in quality, though it would benefit from more direction.
There are two audio tracks on the three discs containing the eleven episodes.
The primary stream on Discs One, Two and Three is English in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps, while the episode commentary stream is Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded at 192 Kbps.
Disc 4 has only the one audio stream, English in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded at 192 Kbps.

The dialogue was one hundred per cent clear at all times, with no sync problems.
Dialogue is centred, with very little direction across the fronts.
The use of the surrounds is extremely dynamic, with gunshots, explosions, lightning and thunder, clashing swords and a tremendous climactic finale.
There is also extensive and effective use of the surrounds, as well as centre and fronts, for the energetic music score credited to Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin. Music and special effects merge to make a rich and vibrant aural experience.

Adding much to the dramatic intensity is the involvement of the subwoofer channel, supplying a thunderous foundation for both music and action.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Buyers are compensated for the brevity of this season by the generous number of extras contained in the set, and the excellent quality of those extras. The Region 1 release has the eleven episodes and the extras spread over the four discs, with extras, such as deleted scenes, on the same disc as the episode to which a particular extra relates. The Region 4 release devotes the fourth disc to the extras alone. This may appear neater, but actually is less convenient for those who, after watching an episode, then want to watch any scenes which may have been deleted from that particular episode.

All extras are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced and have Dolby Digital 2.0 audio Surround Encoded at 192 Kbps.

Main Menu: Discs 1, 2 and 3 :

Presented 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced, with animation and SFX audio.
Options presented on Discs 1, 2 and 3 are :
Setup : A separate screen offers the options : Playback Trailer : A promotional montage of other TV series available on DVD.
English Subtitles : On / Off
Audio Commentary : On / Off
Play :
Episodes : Arrows progress the user through the episodes on each disc, having one screen per episode, with live action and music from the series.


Extras :

Episode Commentaries:
The great strength of these fascinating and absorbing commentaries is that they were recorded while the various episodes were still in production. Consequently there is an immediacy and an honesty usually missing from such discussions, frequently being assembled months, or even years, after the actual production. We are generously taken into the creative process with the cast and crew freely talking about criticism of the show and the effects of the writers' dispute.
Following is a list of the individual episodes, and those participating in each commentary.

Disc 1 : Four Months Later : Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb, Jack Coleman.
Lizards : Allan Arkush, Greg Grunberg, Michael Green.
Kindred :
Paul Edwards, JJ Philbin, Zachary Quinto.
The Kindness of Strangers : Tim Kring, Dana Davis, Adrian Pasdar.
Disc 2
: Fight or Flight : Greg Grunberg, Greg Beeman.
The Line : Adam Armus, Kay Foster, Jack Coleman.
Out of Time :
Daniel Attias, Masi Oka.
Four Months Ago :
Milo Ventimiglia, Greg Beeman.
Disc 3 : Cautionary Tales : Greg Yaitanes, Kristen Bell, Ashley Crow.
Truth and Consequences :
Adam Kane, Stephen Toblowsky.
Powerless :
Allan Arkush, Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin.


The balance of the extras are to be found on Disc 4:

Disc 4 :

Main Menu :
Animated with SFX
Options offered are : Setup : English Subtitles : On / Off
Bonus : Up and Down arrows navigate the user through the following extras :

Deleted Scenes (25:06) :
Seventeen scenes which were deleted from six different episodes.
Four Months Later : 2 scenes
Fight or Flight : 5 scenes
The Line : 3 scenes
Out of Time : 2 scenes
Four Months Ago : 3 scenes
Cautionary Tales : 2 scenes



Featurette : Kensei Documentary (23:47):
This is a faux TV documentary on Hiro's fictitious boyhood idol, "examining" feudal Japan and the history of "the Sword Saint", Takezo Kensei himself. Using narration, with "historical" illustrations, and mock interviews with two professors as well as the curator of a museum, there is nothing here that is enlightening about the series, but it is an enjoyable bit of fun.




Featurette : The Drucker Files (08:29) :
A second fake documentary, this time on "Richard Drucker", a character from the aborted (the strike again) Heroes : Origins spinoff project. Shorter, not as good as the Kensei effort, but still OK.



Heroes Season 2 : A New Beginning (14:36) :
This is a fairly typical "behind the scenes" look at the second season. There is an introduction by Tim Kring, and the various plotlines are discussed, but rarely does this rise above the usual fluff to be found in such featurettes.




Genetics of a Scene :
Executive producers/directors Greg Beeman and Allan Arkush take turns in describing the creation of some of the season's more difficult scenes. There is a clever and interesting combination of on-set footage and clips from the completed scenes.

The Final Scene
(04:24)
Maya and Alejandro Run from the Police (04:58)
The Anatomy of the Cherry Blossom Scene (07:02)





Alternate Story (28:55) :
There are two sections to this feature :
1) A fascinating look at the season's alternate ending, actually filmed prior to the writers' strike, and then abandoned.
2) Interviews with Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb and Jess Alexander in which they discuss the alternate ending and the impact of the writers' strike.


Season 3 Sneak Peek (08:23) :
This is a fairly standard "behind the scenes" look at Season 3, with all the back-slapping that usually entails.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 4 release misses out on :
* Genetics of a Scene : A fourth scene is examined in addition to the three on the Region 4 release.
* Untold Stories : A series of brief scenes from "never before seen" subplots, shot to be used in episodes twelve and thirteen. Evidently this material will now be used in Season 3.
* NBC.com Featurettes: These appear to be Internet teasers : Hotel Corinthian Explosion (0:42) ; Maya / Alejandro Viral Video (2:16) ; Nathan and Peter Brooklyn Cam (0:32).
* Tim Sale Gallery of Screen Art (2:02) : A closer look at the comic book art seen in the series.
* French and Spanish subtitles.


The Region 1 release misses out on nothing.

Summary

Despite problems with scripts and a crippling strike, the second truncated season of Heroes still manages to be highly entertaining. Superb in every technical aspect and with an excellent cast, there is much to enjoy despite the too numerous sub-plots and undeveloped characters. The extensive extras considerably compensate for the season's shortcomings and will delight fans. The image and audio are nigh as good as a television series can get, so even if dramatic interest wanes, Heroes still looks and sounds a treat. Season Three is coming, so here's hoping!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Monday, October 20, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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