Judge Clark Douglas was forced to use only 11 words here.
Our reviews of Heroes: Season 1 (published August 27th, 2007), Heroes: Season 1 (Blu-Ray) (published September 8th, 2008), Heroes: Season 1 (HD DVD) (published August 30th, 2007), Heroes: Season 2 (published August 26th, 2008), Heroes: Season 3 (published September 3rd, 2009), Heroes: Season 3 (Blu-Ray) (published September 1st, 2009), and Heroes: Season 4 (Blu-Ray) (published August 2nd, 2010) are also available.
Ordinary people discovering extraordinary abilities.
Facts of the Case
In the first season of Heroes, the cheerleader was saved, and so was the world. Now that a massive disaster has been averted, our beloved characters are back for another season (well, half-season). If you thought the cast was big in Season One, just wait until you see Season Two!
Claire Bennett (Hayden Panettiere, Racing Stripes) is a young woman who has the remarkable ability to instantly heal from any injury. Claire and her family have been forced to go into hiding. There are a lot of people who would love nothing better than to turn Claire into a lab rat. So, she is forced to lay low. She's attending a high school in California, attempting to go through life unnoticed. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), someone does notice her. A student named West (Nicholas D'Agosto, Rocket Science), who has the ability to fly, knows about Claire's gift. Noah Bennett (Jack Coleman, Kingdom Hospital), the family patriarch, is determined to keep his son, daughter, and wife out of danger. For years, Noah worked for a sinister and mysterious organization known simply as The Company. In the first season, Noah betrayed The Company to protect his family, and now he is determined to take them down for good.
Noah is assisted by Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy, Blind Dating), a very intelligent professor who is fascinated by the mysteries of human evolution. Suresh is attempting to find a "cure" for all those who have strange powers, knowing that some human beings feel they would be better off without special abilities. He has taken a job with The Company and is making an attempt to learn all of their dark secrets so that he can help Noah gut The Company from the inside out. At the moment, Suresh is preoccupied with attempting to find a cure for a very rare virus that only afflicts individuals with powers. Back in the 1970s, Suresh's sister died from that disease. There wasn't another case for decades, until a young girl named Molly (Adair Tishler, The Sarah Silverman Program) contracted the same disease. Suresh was able to use his own blood as a cure, and now must find anyone else who has the deadly disease before it spreads even further.
Molly has a particularly remarkable ability. She can simply think about any human being and immediately know exactly where that person is. This would make Molly a valuable asset to a lot of people, and a police detective named Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg, Alias) is determined to keep Molly safe. Parkman was recently divorced, but has nonetheless decided to take on the responsibility of being a father to Molly. He occasionally employs her help in important cases, but there is one person that Molly cannot find. "When I think about him," she says, "He sees me."
Molly isn't the only special child with unique gifts. There's also a very talented young man named Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey, Lady in the Water), who can manipulate any electronic machine with his hands. Micah's mother is the perpetually troubled Niki (Ali Larter, Legally Blonde), who is still attempting to rid herself of her villainous and violent alter ego. Niki has turned to The Company for help, and Micah has gone to stay with some relatives. Micah's second cousin, Monica Dawson (Dana Davis, Prom Night), also has some special powers. Her astonishing muscle memory enables her to mimic any physical activity she sees. When she watches a wrestling match on television, she suddenly finds herself capable of delivering bone-crunching moves on local thugs.
At the end of the first season, brothers Nathan (Adrian Pasdar, Judging Amy) and Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia, Rocky Balboa) seemingly exploded together. We don't know all the details on what exactly happened, but Nathan is still alive. He hasn't seen Peter since the explosion and assumes that his brother is dead. Nathan has given up his political career, turning to alcoholism and depression. Peter is indeed alive, but not even Peter knows that. One day, Peter wakes up trapped inside a storage locker. He is found by some local Irish criminals, and Peter quickly winds up falling in love with one of their female members (Katie Carr, Raising Helen). There is a box that contains Peter's real identity, but Peter isn't sure that he wants to open it. He likes his new life.
The enthusiastic Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka, Get Smart) has somehow transported himself back to 17th-Century Feudal Japan, where he continues to explore his ability to transform time and space. Hiro also gets an opportunity to meet his hero, the great Kensei (David Anders, Alias). The only thing is, Kensei is not a hero, but a self-serving jerk. He's also English, not Japanese. Something has gone terribly wrong, and Hiro puts the burden of fixing history on himself. Meanwhile, his friend Ando (James Kyson Lee, Shutter) is back in the present, worrying about Hiro's father (George Takei, Star Trek), who has been threatened by a group of powerful individuals.
We also meet Maya (Dania Ramirez, Fat Albert) and Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz, Cory in the House), two South American siblings attempting to get across the Mexican border into the United States. Maya has a strange and dangerous ability that causes many around her to die, and Alejandro is the only one who can control it. Along the way, they are joined by the sinister Sylar (Zachary Quinto, 24), who seems to have lost his powers and doesn't know how to get them back. Not that a little power loss is going to get rid of his killer instincts…
After the immensely successful and engaging first season of Heroes, it was going to be a little tricky to improve with Season Two. The general consensus is that the second season was problematic to begin with, and that the problems were further compounded by the writer's strike (which forced creator Tim Kring and his team to create a rushed ending). Nonetheless, I'm still pleased to report that this second season of Heroes is worth checking out. No, it's not as memorable as season one, but it's not a disaster.
Things get off to a slow start here. The pace has dropped considerably, and it's evident that Kring initially planned to tell the stories of season two in carefully measured strokes. I suppose it's admirable of the show to try and take it's time, but part of what made the first season so successful was the thrilling speed of the plot. Told with comic-book style energy and flair, the first season seemingly piled on development after development at remarkable speed, making each new show a can't-miss event. Here, the general impression you get is, "Huh, that was kind of interesting. Wonder what will happen next time?"
Heroes plods along for a while, letting all kinds of meandering subplots take their time. Peter hanging out with some Irish gangsters and Hiro taking a trip back in time to Feudal Japan are sort of interesting, but letting those stories keep going for seven episodes feels like a bit much. Suddenly, salvation arrives in the form of episode eight, which fills in some of the gaps between the two seasons. Loads of compelling info is offered up in this episode, and the following three episodes charge full speed ahead towards a thrilling climax. It all ends rather abruptly, but bravo to everyone involved for returning to their A-game for the final stretch. Not only do these four episodes rescue a potentially bland second season, but they leave the viewer with a strong sense of hope that the third season could be pretty awesome.
The cast is once again in fine form. It would take forever to discuss all of the performances, but I'll take time to point out a few of the more interesting characters. In my estimation, many of the show's most interesting scenes are those revolving around former Company man Noah Bennett. Noah is consistently the one truly unpredictable character in the show. His motivations and actions frequently surprise us, and he is played with several shades of gray by Jack Coleman. He is contrasted nicely by the perpetually sincere Claire, played well once again by rising star Hayden Panettiere. Masi Oka's performance as the time-bending Hiro Nakamura has been a fan favorite from the beginning, and it's not hard to see why. Oka has a real charm that often fills the show with life. Sendhil Ramamurthy remains the show's moral compass as professor Mohinder Suresh, and I also admire Adrian Pasdar's weary and battered turn as washed-up politician (and flying man) Nathan Petrelli. Most fans weren't crazy about some of the new additions to the cast, but there were a couple I really liked: Steven Tobolowsky as the new company boss, and a quirky Kristen Bell as Tobolowsky's spark plug of a daughter. Finally, Zachary Quinto does a nice job of making Sylar a villain that is simultaneously creepy and pathetic.
As Brett Cullum suggested in his review, the presentation is what really sells this show beyond its initial television run. This four-disc Blu-ray set is jam-packed with special features. There are picture-in-picture commentaries on every single episode, which are frequently informative and engaging. A 17-minute alternate ending to the season finale shows where season two could have gone if there hadn't been a writer's strike, and there are a lot of interesting scenes filmed for future episodes that were never completed (and never will be, season three moves in a different direction). There's also a ten-minute panel discussion devoted to these extras, placing them in context for us. What else? Well, we get deleted scenes, some featurettes, and a "Hero Connections" feature that helps us figure out how everyone in the show is connected. Phew!
The hi-def transfer is also excellent. Black are deep; the image is crisp and well-balanced. There is occasional grain from time to time, but most of this seems to be an intentional artistic choice. This is a very good-looking show, and it really benefits from the hi-def format. The sound here is superb as well, though not really very aggressive for the most part. It's a little subtler and gentler than you might expect for a show with as much action as this one, but that's not really a bad thing. Audio is very clean and immersive.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Let's not sugarcoat things. Heroes: Season Two has some serious problems. Much of the slow pace in the early episodes of the show is caused by an influx of new characters. The show had a lot of characters to begin with, but adding all of these new ones means that no one has a whole lot of screen time in any individual episode. We spend four or five minutes with each set of characters, so it takes a while for any significant progress to occur within the subplots. This isn't so bad when you're blazing through the show at home, but I can imagine that it would be pretty agonizing if you were only able to see one episode per week.
Unfortunately, most of the new characters here just aren't that interesting. Micah's cousin learns that she has the ability to mimic anything she sees. We spend a lot of time setting up this character and her situation, but the shortened season means that we really don't get any sort of satisfying payoff. Claire's new boyfriend is more or less a waste of time. He's an incredibly dull and uninteresting guy who is actually kind of obnoxious quite a lot of the time. He doesn't provide anything of value to the show, serving more as a plot device than a character. Perhaps worst of all are the characters of Maya and Alejandro, two South American immigrants attempting to make it to the United States in order to get Suresh's help. These characters are so incredibly repetitive; I started to groan every time they appeared. For much of the season, almost every one of their dialogue exchanges went something like this:
Maya: Oh no! Please, no! Everyone will die! Alejandro, help me!
This starts to get old really fast. I suppose these moments are supposed to be big and emotional, but not when they happen every single time the characters show up.
Even with some uninteresting characters, dull moments, bad decisions, and a rushed ending due to a writer's strike, Heroes: Season Two is still worth recommending and gets treated very well on Blu-ray. Here's hoping for a third season that brings the show back to peak form again.
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