If the box office is any indication of things, comic book based stories have a huge and devoted fanbase. So it was only a matter of time before someone created an original TV series, rooted in comic book-style story telling. While Heroes isn’t an adaptation of any specific super hero or comic book series, comic geeks could probably draw endless comparisons between the two.
Heroes is a story about ordinary people coming to realize that they’ve got extraordinary abilities. Similar to X-Men, evolution has played a part in all of this. While the super-powers vary from person to person, the characters are all struggling to come to grips with their newfound abilities. We’ve heard this story before. Regular-joe learns he can fly and takes it upon himself to change the world. In Heroes, it's not as simple as that.
What creator Tim Kring has done with the series shows that he recognizes that TV is a very different medium than film. Obviously, a TV series has to have a story compelling enough to carry the show through a 20-something episodes. Unlike a movie, which is only a couple of hours long, a TV series needs to find a balance between delivering regular conclusions so that the viewers feel satisfied, while also setting up new twists and developments, which will keep the viewers wanting to come back. Kring does that with Heroes in a very simple way.
Yes, these are regular people with super-human abilities but they are still human none-the-less. All of the characters have their own personal baggage to deal with. For example, Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg) can read minds. You would think this power would help him with his work as a police officer but it only serves to make an even bigger mess of his career than it already was prior to having the power. Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), one of the younger heroes, has the ability to heal herself. She has a hard time accepting this because, like any regular teenager, she just wants to be normal. Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) has been living in his brother Nathan’s shadow his whole life. While Nathan (Adrian Pasdar) wants to hide his ability to fly, Peter wants more than anything to understand and embrace his own power, which is the ability to mimic the powers of any hero he comes in contact with, so he can use it to help mankind.
My own personal favorite hero is Hiro. After learning that he has the ability to bend space and time, Hiro, with the help of his best friend Ando, leaves his office job in Japan to head off to New York and attempt to save the city from the impending explosion he witnessed when briefly visiting the future. Hiro’s heart is what drives him to forge his own path and work to make a difference. Hiro’s journey through the U.S., trying to figure out how to prevent the big explosion helps bring many of the heroes together, which proves to be extremely important by the end of the season.
In terms of my least favorite heroes, that prize would go to Niki/Jessica, a dual-personality hero (in the loosest use of the term). While it is understandable that Niki would be worried about the welfare of her son Micah and husband, D.L., she spends most of the season whining. Her alter-ego Jessica isn’t much better, being unstable and fairly reckless. The only time that I found myself intrigued by Ali Larter’s character is in “Five Years Gone,” when Hiro and Ando visit the future and see what’s become of the characters who survive the explosion. At that point, Jessica appears to be gone and the affects of what happened to Niki’s family seems to have hardened her a bit.
The characters stories drive the show forward and definitely serve to keep the season interesting but what are super heroes without a villain? Sylar (Zachary Quinto) is the first season’s major villain. His goal is to murder heroes and steal their powers. With every kill, he adopts a new ability that makes him an even bigger threat. Then of course there is the impending explosion that Hiro is trying to prevent, the mysterious organization that Bennet (Claire's father) works for and Linderman, the guy everyone seems to be connected to somehow. Everything comes to an explosive conclusion in the finale episode, “How To Stop An Exploding Man.” Questions are answered and new ones posed, giving us more than enough reasons to look forward to season 2.
As a first season, Heroes has everything – romance, drama, action, suspense and lots of special effects. If there is one flaw in the season, it’s that the show loses something in the rewatch. This is not to say that I found the season completely unentertaining the second time through; just that a lot of the story is driven by the suspense and mystery. There are so many unknowns at the start of the series that many of us found extreme enjoyment in speculating over how everything was going to play out. Would the cheerleader be saved? Who’s on the list? What is Bennet’s first name? All of this is answered at some point throughout the season so, while I can appreciate the enjoyment of rewatching it knowing how everything is going to end, I definitely didn’t feel the same eager anticipation for each new episode that I had when the season first aired.
The packaging for the Season 1 DVD set is fairly plain. The outer cardboard casing is black and on the front you’ll see the show title set over the infamous Heroes eclipse shot. On the actual DVD disc fold-out, there’s a shot of all of the main characters looking heroic. The disc descriptions are printed on the casing in comic-book font and beneath the discs are images from the graphic novel.
When you put in the first disc, you can bypass the previews and head right into the menu. The menu is actually pretty cool. It starts up with a brief clip of the eclipse and then, after the menu bar appears, in the background you’ll see Isaac’s studio. It zooms in to various paintings around the studio and the artwork morphs into actual scenes from the season. What I love most about the menu is that the menu-bar (complete with a Play All option, Chapter Index, Bonus Materials and Languages option) appears immediately after the eclipse clip so you don’t have to sit through the menu clips before you’re able to select from the menu.
The Heroes Season 1 DVD set offers a fair amount of special features. Behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentaries and deleted scenes fill the 7-disc set. You’ll also find the original 73-minute pilot episode of the series. Because I purchased my Heroes DVD set at Walmart, I also found a bonus disc that includes four episodes of Friday Night Lights and a bonus clip from NBC’s new series, Bionic Woman. I don’t know about anyone else, but the opening to the cardboard cover on my set is on the left. Generally, the disc-case slides out from the right. I’m not sure if they just messed up on the casing or if all of them are like that or if I just got a weird copy.
The Bonus Features:
The Unaired Pilot
The people who attended last year’s Comic-Con got to see this unaired pilot. It’s now available as a special feature on the DVD set and includes a commentary done by the show’s creator, Tim Kring. What stands out most in the unaired pilot is the appearance of Matt Parkman. When the series aired, his character wasn’t introduced until the second episode. Apparently, he was originally set up to be in the pilot, involved in the investigation of what appeared to be a terrorist attempt. As the terrorist arc was removed from the pilot episode before it aired, Matt was completely cut out as well.
In addition to the commentary on the unaired pilot, there are commentaries for the following episodes: “Godsend,” “The Fix,” “Distractions,” “Run!,” “Unexpected,” “Company Man,” “Paraasite,” “.07%,” “Five Years Gone,” “The Hard Part,” “Landslide,” and “How To Stop an Exploding Man.” These commentaries were originally offered on NBC’s website when the series was airing so you might have already heard them.
Each of the commentaries includes different participants. While Kring does the commentary for the unaired pilot on his own, there are at least two people (various actors, writers and executive producers) present in all of the other commentaries. Greg Grunberg, who plays Matt in the series, is the most enthusiastic of all of the commentators. He clearly loves the show. Some of the other actors who participate in the commentaries are Masi Oka, Hayden Panettiere, Milo Ventimiglia, Zachary Quinto and Sendhil Ramamurthy.
Generally, I’m a fan of multi-person commentaries because I find the back-and-forth banter is usually much more interesting than listening to just one person talk through the whole episode but Kring’s commentary in the unaired pilot was a definite exception to that rule. He discusses a lot about his thought process when he created the show, the reasons for removing certain scenes before the pilot and a lot of basic, and general background information about how they shot everything. Without the distraction of someone else sitting in with him, commenting and asking questions, he stays on topic throughout each scene.
The Deleted Scenes
The deleted scenes are mostly filler clips from each episode. There are 50 deleted scenes scattered over all seven discs. Some people might prefer the deleted scenes to be listed all together under one single bonus feature but with a show like Heroes, where there are so many characters and so many things going on at once, I think it would be easier for people to view the deleted scenes disc-to-disc in order to be able to figure out which scenes go with each episode rather than just a giant pile of random 50 random scenes.
The Making of
This is a 10 minute video that features Kring and some of the actors from the show talking about the series’ creation. There were also some clips from the cast’s appearance at Comic Con last year. As great as this video is, I was very disappointed that it's only 10 minutes long. It definitely could have been longer, especially considering the hype surrounding the series when it first premiered last fall.
Mark Kolpack, the Visual Effects Supervisor, 3D Artist Tomy Ocampo and 2D Artist, Ryan Wieber talk about some of the amazing special effects throughout the season. We get to see a little bit of what it took to create certain effects, like when Hiro saved the little girl from being hit by a truck by stopping time and moving her out of the way.
In this ten minute video, the stunt coordinator, Ian Quinn and some of the cast members talk about what it was like doing stunts for the show. Between people getting thrown through windows, falling from buildings and beating the crap out of each other, the stunt-work is pretty extensive in Heroes so this feature probably could’ve been longer but we get a good taste of just how hard these actors and their stunt-doubles work to make the action scenes look good.
Profile of Tim Sale
The artist for Heroes, Tim Sale talks about his work on the show. Since the artwork in the series is extremely relevant to the story, I’m glad they put this feature on the DVD set. The only problem I have with it is that, while Sale is an extremely talented artist, he’s not all that charismatic as a speaker so the feature is a little bit dry.
Audio Engineer, Michael Perfitt and Composers Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman talk about doing the music for the show. I think this is my favorite of the behind the scenes featurettes on this DVD set. Until viewing this, it never really occurred to me to give much thought to the score of Heroes. The composers really put a lot of effort into creating new sounds by mixing musical styles and working them into the various scenes.
Overall, the bonus features on this DVD set are enough to make the set worth owning if you’re a big enough fan of Heroes.