Season 1 - Part 2

Starring: Sendhil Ramamurthy, Milo Ventimiglia, Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter, Greg Grunberg, Santiago Cabrera and Masi Oka
Universal Pictures UK
RRP: 34.99
Certificate: 15
Available 12 December 2007

Experience the suspense, mystery, and electrifying twists as this series follows seemingly unconnected, ordinary people around the globe who discover they have extraordinary powers. As they come to terms with their unique abilities, their risky decisions will affect the futures of everyone around them... and the world...

Heroes was an almost overnight success and it's not hard to see why. The show follows a group of normal people from around the world who suddenly discover that they've got unusual super powers. None of these powers are duplicated amongst those that have them. Some of the powers are welcomed by their owners, but not all of them.

As the first season (or "volume" as the series like to call itself) reaches a close I was surprised to see how shallow the storyline actually is if you strip it down. Basically, and this isn't spoiling anything, we are building towards a single, catastrophic event that will take place in New York City - effecting the entire planet. And, in a nutshell, that's it. The entire second half of Season One slowly limps its way to this big show down (which happens rather quickly in the last 10 minutes of the last episode, I might add). Sure all the suspense and excitement of getting there is wonderfully built, and to be honest the show's creator, Tim Kring, is a genius. He's built up so many regular characters with so many twists and turns that you never actually question the main narrative. So a simple event, that on any other show (say The X-Files, or Buffy for example) would have been over in a two-part episode at a push, can carefully be stretched over 23 episodes without it feeling like we are being cheated out of any real story. Thread in-between this a lot of little mini-stories to keep the audience from seeing where you're going, and there you have it: Kring's masterpiece banged to rights.

Sounds like I hate the show, far from it - I loved every second of it. I even enjoyed the rather clichéd season ender - yes even the bit with the manhole cover. The show does offer something new to the sci-fi genre; it does have fantastic actors; it does have incredibly high production values; and it is a joy to watch.

There are some incredible guest stars in the second half of the season, including George Takei, Christopher Eccleston (who plays an invisible man who is an Obi-Wan Kenobi like character), Eric Roberts, Stan Lee, an almost unrecognisable Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors) plays Sylar's mother, and Malcolm McDowell. There are more than a few surprises too for a lot of the main characters. The great thing about having so many main characters is that it's not hard to simply kill off several as you go. I suppose it stops the actors from demanding more money as the show goes on - as they know that they are dispensable - but it also gives genuine jeopardy to the events that unfold. You have no idea if any of the characters will die at any moment and that really gives this show a serious edge that you just don't get in TV programmes these days.

Extras include audio commentaries on every episode with various cast and crew members; deleted scenes for most episodes; Profile of Artist Tim Sale (11 minute interview with Tim Sale, who provides all of Isaac's paintings - although he doesn't colourise them as he admits to being colour-blind) The Stunts (10 minute interview with stunt coordinator, Ian Quinn, which looks at a couple of the stunts in the show); and The Score (9 mins look at the use of music in the series. Includes interviews with composers Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman and audio engineer, Michael Perfitt).

While the episodes themselves are worthy of a finished mark of 10/10, the fact that Universal Pictures are blatantly trying to squeeze as much cash out of fans of the show as is possible is almost criminal. For fans that have bought this in two half-season box sets the entire season will have set you back £70.

Also released on the same day as Season 1 - Part 2, is The Complete Season 1 box set which retails at £60. The Region 1 DVD, which has been available in America for months before the UK release, contains the entire first season for $60 (around £30) and you get the exact same extras. In this day and age, where almost everyone owns a multi-region DVD player you've got to ask yourself why UK consumers are having to pay more for a half-season box set than our American cousins do for an entire season.

Fantastic show, great episode, rip-off UK retail price. You're better advised to buy the entire season box set, or better still you might be better off purchasing the American box set from Amazon.com.

Darren Rea

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All prices correct at time of going to press.