Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Heroes: Season 1 DVD

This is the first of several DVDs coming out in the next month that I planned to buy. I was particularly excited about this one as I expected "Heroes" to be much better in block viewing. Its continuous storylines favor watching several episodes at once.

And I was right, "Heroes" is even better on DVD. I spent most of last week just rewatching the episodes There’s visual hints in the background that I missed the first time, off-hand remarks that have meaning now and character moments that resonate even more knowing what follows.

"Heroes" also comes with several special features including the extended cut of the pilot, lots of commentaries and deleted scenes, plus several featurettes. Spoiler for special features under the cut.

1) The Extended Pilot: While not as tight as the aired version, there’s several interesting things going on here. The radiation man was a quite different character, a Muslim ex-terrorist with an American wife. The actor playing this character is excellent but this character possessed a much more legitimate reason to be considered a terrorist which would effect how the audience accepts the whole persecution angle. I think Tim Kring made the right choice here. He mentions in the commentary he didn’t want to spend a season in the mind of actual terrorists and that’s not what he wanted the show to be about. Also, I don’t see how Issac cutting off his hand in the pilot could be recoverable without some major hand-waving. It was too excessive. The OD storyline was much more effective and in-character.
One note, this pilot does not flow with the rest of the series. Several cut scenes from this pilot were redone and placed in later episodes. Not to mention there are several of small casting changes (Suresh’s father, Sylar and Matt’s Wife) that are jarring when going from the Extended pilot to the 2nd episode.

2) Deleted Scenes: While most of these deserve to be cut, there were several interesting hints at a more-developed storylines especially for the Nikki-DL characters. Unfortunately, none of these scenes were necessary for the series major arc (stopping the explosion in NY). “Heroes” does an excellent job of being a character-driven superhero story but too much character would slow down the pace of the show. One of the best features of "Heroes" is that things happen, move forward, people learn. Interesting but understandably deleted.

3) Episode Commentaries: Ok, I’m a commentary junkie. But the number of commentaries is a bit intimidating so I’m only three-quarters of the way through them. The most interesting tidbits so far:
- Greg Grunberg, while funny, is a bit overwhelming. If he’s on the commentary he will completely take over.
- Everybody in the cast & crew loves the following
(1)DP & the shooting style of the show. At least 3-4 times a commentary someone mentions the lighting or filtering of a shot and how awesome it is.
(2) The plot twists. Half the time the actors are shutting each other up right before big reveals and then geeking out about how cool it is. This could be pretentious but comes off as quite endearing. You can hear how enthusiastic these guys are and how invested they are in where things are going.
(3) Hayden Panettiere. All the other actors just rave about her. Personally, I think it’s justified. Claire wouldn’t be a tenth as interesting in the hands of a less skilled actress.
- I kinda like how several of these were recorded during filming. Several of the actors come & go between commercial cuts resulting in a very conversation-at-a-party feel. It can be a little hard to follow but it’s a nice little tweak to the usual commentary track.
- Sendhil Ramamurthy has some interesting ideas about marriage. “Every wife has a little bit of Mom in them...(pause while other people talk) Just for the record, I’m not married to my mother.”
-Also, Sendhil has my thanks for mentioning how ridiculous the “Texas” geography is on the show. Being from San Antonio, he should know.
- Tim Kring feeds the fringe fans. Both he and Dennis Hammer mention BroYay! for the Petrelli clan and then, go “We totally watch the [BroYay!] videos on Youtube” (blinks incredulously) WHAT? I don’t think I ever heard another show creator/producer so openly acknowledging this. Since this revelation, several Live Journals have exploded with glee.

4) Featurettes: There are 5 of them.
“Making Of Heroes” is short and pretty lame. Nothing really new here except the presence of Ali Larter whom I haven’t seen much in the other features. Her comments were interesting but a little weird to watch because it appears Ali Larter is a nervous smiler.
"Special Effects" was interesting in that several things I thought were special effects weren't and several things I thought were real...weren't. Which means these guys know their business. There's also mention of the fact Masi Oka worked for ILM and how that can effect his work in a special effect shot.
“Stunts” has some pretty cool behind the scenes work and provides yet another interesting fact about Masi Oka. At one time, he had a 1st level black belt in kendo. The other actors all get their chance to talk about how much they love putting their lives in danger.
“Artist Tim Sale” is shockingly laid back. But his discussion of his background was pretty interesting. Also, HE'S COLORBLIND! He does all the art in black and white, then scans it into a computer for the color work.
"The Score" was OK. The ladies scoring "Heroes" definitely know their business but I just that interested (sorry).

All in all, definitely worth $37 at Wal-mart.

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