Original Extras •••
HD DVD Extras •••½
Any TV series that can get huge audiences to read subtitles - potentially opening those viewers up to discovering the cinematic powers of the rest of the world - has got to be a consciousness-raising event for mankind. And isn't that what Heroes is all about?
This seven-disc HD DVD set comes with all 23 first-season episodes (including the 73-minute extended version of the pilot) in 1080p with VC-1 encoding, producing smooth, film-like images. Interiors tend to be very gently and evenly lit, with slightly soft, dim images. Colors are warm, with rich highlights, such as Peter Petrelli's saturated-red hood, Mohinder Suresh's big yellow taxi (and I mean yellow), or the popping neons in scenes of nighttime Tokyo. Blacks are very deep but without great detail. Whites, though bright, did occasionally show some digital noise, especially on the walls of the room where Matt Parkman is interrogated. The "Five Years Gone" episode, set in a tougher, grimmer world, has a very different look - harshly lit, with more visible stubble, freckles, and warts and a greater three-dimensionality to shots.
The series has a lot of philosophical discussion, so it's good that all of the dialogue on the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtrack is crisp and clear. Music has a nice stereo separation, and the mellow rock songs and chants do come into the room a bit. For the sound effects, though, there's little surround action - a shame, because it could have made the superpower demonstrations more involving.
Most commentaries from the standard-def DVD set are here, but except for the one on the pilot, they're given as PIP discussions between different groups of cast or crew. It's cool to be able to see participants pointing to the scene you're viewing and watch them reveal something relevant. In another of the HD DVD set's U-Control features, whenever a comic book or a painting is included in a scene, an icon of it appears - and you can zoom in on the artwork. A clever mind-reading game is fun until you figure out how it works. You'll get much more from an interactive, Web-enhanced feature called Genetic Abilities Test, a series of multiple-choice questions based on Rorschach inkblots and the like.
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