Case Number 17156


Universal // 2008 // 1020 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 1st, 2009

The Charge

"He is one handshake away from being the most powerful man in the world."

Opening Statement

NBC's once-mighty, but recently-troubled superhero hourlong flies in for its third outing. Is this season heroic, villainous or (worse) a forgettable passerby?

Facts of the Case

The last time we saw our heroes, Nathan Petrelli was taking a sniper bullet to the torso, fired at him from...well, this is Heroes so it was probably from someone in the future. Yes, it was someone from the future. What ensues is 25 episodes of worth of betrayals, shape-shifting, freeze breathing, power-swapping, power-losing, power-regaining, more power-swapping, and the teeth of the season, a full-scale Guantanamo Bay metaphor with dudes who can fly and read minds. And it's all brought to you by Nissan!

The Evidence

My Heroes spiritual journey: absolutely loved the first season, though I felt the final few episodes started to decline. Still, with moderate excitement I went into the second season and, after only a few episodes, was bored silly, tuned out, and never went back. So here I am, reunited with Hiro, Peter, Claire, Mohinder, HRG, and the rest of the gang, and yeah...still not feeling it.

The main plotline is this hare-brained scheme that Nathan concocts to round up all the Americans with super abilities, dress them in orange jumpsuits, stick them on a plane, and cart them off to a top-secret facility where presumably they'll be tossed into boxes, told there's a nonexistent bee in there with them, and belly-slapped until they, I don't know, poop out a super-powered turd or something. The whole story is derivative and hamfisted in its attempts at allegory. Yeah, we get it -- the heroes are Gitmo detainees and we humans, especially the @#%$#%%#$% Army, hates people who are different. So that means it's time to toss them in a utility closet with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I was half-expecting Sentinels to appear.

But of course that wouldn't happen, because that would be too exciting and this is Heroes...and Heroes is boring. I'm sorry, but this show strikes me as so impressed with itself, the basic idea of being fun to watch appears to have eluded the showrunners. There's a lot of story, sure, but it's not even close to original and buttressed by mundane dialogue peppered with self-loathing. Mohinder is particularly guilty of this, never ceasing to indulging in his typical horrible decision-making -- hey pal, maybe not a good idea to suck up that experimental potion that will likely @#$% up your DNA -- then yapping on about how much he sucks. As the season progressed, all of this increased exponentially, capped by goofy flashback stuff that revealed -- are you ready for this spoiler bomb? -- the government did bad stuff to people with abilities. See, history repeats itself. Clever!

Okay, I'm going to tone down the snark. I did like the Sylar stuff. Zachary Quinto continues to do great work, as the tortured Alpha bad guy. There's some genuinely intriguing moments, as he struggles with his inner demons, but his endgame is so stupid, it tarnishes the character. And springing from that, our heroes make stupid decisions, like pledging to take him on by themselves because "I started it, I need to finish it," even though the guy who said that has a lame power and needs all the help he can get. But how else are we going to have drama?!

Oh, look at that. More snark.

Maybe the show floats your boat still, If that's true, then fantastic. You'll be happy to know this Blu-ray set from Universal is tricked out. The 1.78:1 widescreen HD transfer is very attractive, rich in color and detail, absolutely worth the investment. For all its deficiencies in the storytelling department, Heroes can put forward a stylistic program, and it shines on Blu-ray. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is clean, but dialogue heavy -- have I mentioned there's not a lot of action in this season? -- and will pump out the pretentious score and Mohinder's exasperating end-of-episode warbling with verve.

Onto the extras, and there are lots. Each episode receives a picture-in-picture commentary with an assortment of cast and crew. Some commentaries are more interesting than others, but whatever, it's a noteworthy accomplishment. In addition, there are featurettes on the powers, props, scene creation, set design, and the writers' process; deleted scenes on each disc; and "Hero connections," which help untangle the convoluted plot with pictures.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Biggest complaint in an already dreary season: the fact that we're totally gypped on the big battle at the end. How gypped? All of the flying, lightning, burning, and telekinesis happens off-screen. Seriously. Heroes, you can go screw yourself.

Closing Statement

A severely underperforming series that may be on its last legs. At least it snags a top-shelf Blu-ray release.

The Verdict

The set: Not Guilty. The show: Time to be put out to superhero pasture.

Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 95
Acting: 80
Story: 60
Judgment: 68

Perp Profile
Studio: Universal
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)

* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 1020 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Video Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes
* Hero Connections

* IMDb

* Official Site