Universal // 2009 // 812 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 2nd, 2010
That was some great first season, huh?
The Heroes run has ended. Here is the final batch of episodes detailing the adventures of super-powered characters who talk a whole lot more than actually use their awesome powers.
Okay, where are we? Following the huge, amazing events of season three that I can barely remember, Sylar has been tricked into thinking he's really Nathan Petrelli, Claire is starting college, Hiro is bounding around time with a brain tumor, Peter is back as a paramedic, Parkman is a cop again and Mohinder is mercifully nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, a new foe is lurking: Samuel Sullivan (Robert Knepper, Prison Break), a mysterious owner of a carnival who has the power of geokinesis (their word) and make earthquakes large enough to swallow entire towns. He's built himself a remote getaway for other super-powered "specials" in the form of a traveling carnival, but as powerful as he is, there is one destructive force he did not anticipate: network cancellation.
Season Four confirms it. Heroes is blue-balls television at its most discomforting. You will hear no contrary opinion from me, if someone declares the first season of the show as one of the best hour-long narratives ever made (save for the brutal finale, which turned out to be a harbinger of doom). That Season One. Man, it just worked. Everything came together so well and moved along crisply and each week had big mythology twists and cliffhangers and...
...no use dwelling in the past. Because from that clunky finale through the end of Season Four and the eventual cancellation of the series, Heroes continually sloughed off viewers and burned through the goodwill it generated during its debut. I stopped watching the broadcast a few episodes into the second season, where the writers were insistent with forcing on me boring new characters and a stultifying plotline in feudal Japan. I revisited the show with my review of Season Threee, which produced one of the most maddening and moronic moments in the series run: a huge fight between Sylar and Peter that had been built towards the whole time -- and happens off-screen.
That ridiculous set-up has proven to be a microcosm for what ails the series as a whole and Season Four in particular; it's all convoluted build-up and a limp fizzle for the big pay-off. The writers really worked hard this season, attempting to add layers of complexity to the story and introducing a whole new sub-set of heroes and a main villain, all while rectifying the cluster-F that was created in the previous seasons, but that effort was largely for naught. The Heroes swan song is a slow-moving, laughably complex slab of storytelling that once again ends in a frustrating anti-climactic fashion.
Worse, the characters, so compelling in the beginning, have become dull. Claire? Her big story is hanging out at college and exploring the boundaries of her sexuality. Peter? Neutered now that he has only one power at a time. Parkman? Saddled with an awful story that has Sylar's consciousness trapped in his mind. Hiro? Shockingly inept at preventing horror and death, even though he can travel through time. Sylar? Evil I guess, but not really, especially towards the end when he opts to change his groove because -- as far as I can tell -- the script called for it. New characters are led by Samuel Sullivan who has a decent earthquake power, but he's hamstrung because he's the only bad guy and his diabolical endgame makes no sense. And the Carnival gimmick is just an enclave of super-powered people who are just as boring as all the other super-powered people out there.
The Blu-ray specs: the VC-1 encoded high-definition transfer is solid and comparable to past seasons Universal has issued on Blu. While it may lack the sizzle of Battlestar Galactica, the visual fidelity provides stark detailing and good color works, especially during the scenes set at the carnival. Heroes sports a hefty budget, but some of the visual effects suffer under the tighter clarity. Then again, these guys so rarely do anything cool with their powers you won't have to worry. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is clean, though it has little to do save for pushing out the occasional action scene and keeping the dirgeful score humming along.
Extras: pop-up character bios, which proved to be very useful in untangling the confusion of the plot, picture-in-picture commentary in select episodes, deleted and extended scenes and featurettes on Zachary Quinto, Milo Ventimiglia, the Heroes universe beyond the show, the design of the carnival and scene-by-scene breakdowns.
You'll need a five-subject notebook and a wipeboard to keep track of all the narrative switchbacks (the time travel alone is enough to asphyxiate a few brain cells), but the true letdown is how none of your perseverance pays off in exciting or meaningful ways.
Guilty. Round up all of these freaks and get them into Comic Book
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 812 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Character Bios