Tim Kring, Allan Arkush
To start, the show's pilot is intriguing and fun, flaunting the high production values and excellent filmmaking with much aplomb, but only hinting viewers of the wild journey ahead in its closing moments. The first few episodes act as mostly character introductions and development, with the story getting into full gear soon afterward. For first time viewers, this is about the time where the anticipation becomes overwhelming. The fact that HEROES actually unveils the answers to its questions on a regular basis—i.e., the polar opposite of LOST—certainly helps matters.
The show does have its problems, however. Specifically, there are certain characters that are much weaker (both in terms of storyline and acting ability) than others. This is most notable with Niki, the angsty mom suffering from a not-so-mild case of multiple personality disorder (played by Ali Larter of FINAL DESTINATION/VARSITY BLUES fame). When the show began and she was shrouded in mystery, I found her to be fascinating. Then came the more prominent involvement of her son Micah and husband D.L., and everything went to hell. By the end of the season, their relevance to the main story at hand feels arbitrary at best, making me wonder why they bothered including them to begin with. The same can be said for a subplot involving the annoying wife of the mind-reading cop Matt Parkman.
Other characters are not so meaningless. The Japanese time traveling "Star Trek" geek, Hiro Nakamura, makes for one of the best comic book protagonists since the equally dorky Peter Parker. His presence only becomes irksome when the filmmakers blatantly find ways to make him unable to use his powers, thus allowing them the freedom of complicating things that would otherwise be easily solvable.
Complimenting the excellent choice for the classic "hero" role, the show presents an equally cool villain in the form of the murderous Sylar. He doesn't show up until almost halfway through the season, but damn is he awesome; such an unexpected change of pace from the glimpses of him that preceded. Also worth mentioning are Peter and Nathan Petrelli, the actors for whom turn what easily could've been a whiny emo loser and an obnoxious asshole politician into interesting, likable characters—though the politician is still technically an asshole.
Generally, the show's dialogue ranges from decent to good, but there were occasions where I sat back in awe at how awful some of the lines were ("What am I thinking now?" "Your last thought!"). Most of these occur during emotional or philosophical moments, sporadically forcing the show to feel like a low rent mix of a soap opera and THE MATRIX. Alternatively, there are some other dramatic instances that work like pure magic, as seen near the end of the season's run with Sylar and his snow globe-loving female relation. Segments like these make up for the weaker ones.
For viewers new to the series, the season 1 DVD makes for a perfect starting point, with the show actually playing much better on DVD. When it aired on television, there was always this promise of huge action in the previews that never really came to fruition. The bits of action the show does have are satisfying enough, but it's obvious that because of budget constraints (and possibly time) that the filmmakers couldn't go all out.
This is especially evident in the wildly disappointing season finale, which is almost entirely devoid of any sort of compelling resolution. For a show that has its characters constantly throwing out phrases about "saving the world", there's no excuse for having such an anticlimactic conclusion—especially not when other episodes like "Company Man" and "Homecoming" were three times more revealing, exciting, and emotionally satisfying than a single moment in the finale. No matter how brilliant those prior episodes were though, the sour taste left over is undeniable. Blessedly, there's an episode clincher during the season's final moments that should get viewers amped up again for Volume Two of the HEROES saga. Lets just hope there's a little more payoff next time.
There are 23 episodes spread across 7 discs, with each holding a default of 4 episodes (except for the first and last disc, which hold the first two episodes and the finale respectively).
Audio Commentaries: A huge variety of participants pop up on these 12 tracks, ranging from Tim Kring to Hayden Panettiere to Milo Ventimiglia to just about anybody else whose opinion you'd be interested in hearing. Each episode has different speakers, and honestly, it's easier to just name the people who don't appear—those being, Ali Larter (Niki), Adrian Pasdar (Nathan), Santiago Cabrera (Isaac), Tawny Cypress (Simone), and some of the more minor characters. Just about everybody else joins in on the fun at one point or another.
Episodes with commentary include: "Godsend", "The Fix", "Distractions", "Run!", "Unexpected", "Company Man", "Parasite", ".07%", "Five Years Gone", "The Hard Part", "Landslide", and "How to Stop an Exploding Man".
Unaired Pilot: The Tim Kring Cut (1:13:46 - with optional commentary by creator Tim Kring): This extended pilot episode doesn't seem too different at first, but there are some huge changes to the layout of the story, the actors playing a number of the minor characters, and in one instance, a whole new subplot involving a terrorist (wisely cut, and then altered to what would eventually become the radioactive Ted's storyline).
Deleted Scenes (49:28): Conveniently placed with an option below the actual episode selection, there are a total of 50 deleted scenes to check out (available on 19 of the 23 episodes). In several cases, the excised moments manage to be surprisingly interesting, likely cut more for time than for storytelling purposes. It's great to have these here, primarily thanks to them being so easily accessible the minute you finish an episode.
Episodes with available deleted scenes include: "Genesis", "Don't Look Back", "One Giant Leap", "Collision", "Hiros", "Nothing to Hide", "Seven Minutes to Midnight", "Homecoming", "Six Months Ago", "Fallout", "Godsend", "The Fix", "Distractions", "Run!", "Company Man", "Parasite", ".07%", "Five Years Gone", and "Landslide".
Mind Reader: Here we have an interactive game that has you pick a double digit number between 1 and 100, add the two digits together, subtract your answer from the original number, and then match it with the corresponding character from the list. Magically, it knows which "hero" you are. Simple math will show you that there are only about 9 possible answers you can get, with a different "hero" applying to all of those answers each time you do it. I guess if the trick isn't readily apparent to you, it could be considered cool.
Making Of Heroes (10:00): A very standard behind-the-scenes featurette that only becomes starts becoming interesting around halfway through. The final five minutes make it worth watching, but a more in-depth look at the show would have definitely been appreciated.
Special Effects (8:45): This featurette is fun to watch because you can see the raw footage of the scenes with a lot of visual effects, but the actual discussion at hand is incredibly basic.
The Stunts (10:22): This follows the same exact principles as the above featurette, except with stunts instead of special effects.
Profile of Artist Tim Sale (11:26): The man behind the show's artwork (centrally, the paintings of Isaac Mendez) offers up some insight into how he became involved with the show and his history in comics.
The Score (8:58): Three individuals behind the show's music discuss their backgrounds, how they created the score, and other interesting bits of information.
There are also a number of Sneak Peeks for other TV shows.