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Heroes: Season 4(TV) (2009-2010)
They thought they were like everyone else... until they woke with incredible abilities.
For more about Heroes: Season 4 and the Heroes: Season 4 Blu-ray release, see Heroes: Season 4 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 24, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Milo Ventimiglia, Masi Oka, Zachary Quinto, Adrian Pasdar, Ali Larter
» See full cast & crew
Heroes: Season 4 Blu-ray Review
Kring's fourth, now-final season dies a slow, noisy death...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 24, 2010
NBC finally did what Sylar, a legion of bloodthirsty maniacs, the Company, a series-crushing WGA strike, Arthur Petrelli, and a vindictive government agency couldn't: kill Tim Kring's melodramatic do-gooders. Cancellation, it seems, was their greatest weakness. But that doesn't mean Kring's Heroes went out with a whimper. Grasping at former glory, Peter and his superpowered cohorts gave it their all, offering dutiful devotees some of the neck-snapping twists and turns they'd been demanding for two defunct seasons. Unfortunately, between its fourth season's erratic pacing, at-times excruciating theatrics, meandering subplots, mind-numbing dialogue, misguided game changers, and oh-so-predictable episodes, the series simply came undone. Could Heroes have sidestepped NBC's fatal bullet? Anything's possible I suppose, but it's doubtful. Dwindling quality aside, scorned fans rarely give a show a second chance after walking away. Still, could the series have died with more dignity? I'd say so.
Heroes: Season Four begins just six short weeks after the government black-ops inanity and Freaky Friday-fallout of Season Three. Unbeknownst to everyone but his mother (Cristine Rose) and two other conspirators, Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) is dead and buried, his consciousness transferred into his nemesis' shape-shifting body. Power-hungry, ability-swiping villain du jour, Sylar (series standout Zachary Quinto), finds himself in a similar predicament, trapped in the recesses of a reluctant hero's mind. Elsewhere, Claire (Hayden Panettiere) enrolls at a college in Virginia, befriends one of her dorm-mates (Madeline Zima), and attracts danger on campus; Noah (Jack Coleman), now divorced, discovers his new career path is much like his old one; Parkman (Greg Grunberg) is slowly going insane, losing control of his body and powers; Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) returns to his semi-normal life as a paramedic and meets a deaf woman blessed with an amazing power (Deanne Bray); Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) is finally reduced to a bit player; Hiro (Masi Oka) is steadily succumbing to a strange illness that threatens to strip him of his powers and memories; and Ando (James Kyson-Lee) tries to adjust to an alternate timeline Hiro inadvertently created after traveling through time to save the love of his life, Texas belle Charlie Andrews (Jayma Mays).
Of course, even the best heroes are worthless without a rogues gallery to match. With Sylar out of the picture, villainy presents itself in a variety of guises, most of which are more ambiguous than those in previous seasons. A traveling circus showman named Samuel Sullivan (Carnivāle's Robert Knepper, a welcome addition to the series) takes an intense interest in Claire -- something that never happens in the Heroes universe -- and invites her to join his nomadic carnie commune. But is he a well-intentioned messiah, a manipulative madman or, worse, both? And what of his close-knit carnival clan: blade-wielding speed-runner Edgar (Ray Park), prophetic living-canvas Lydia (Dawn Olivieri), self-replicating brawler Eli (Todd Stashwick), time and space bender Arnold (Jack Wallace), and invisible girl Rebecca (Tessa Thompson)? Are they friends or foes, allies or enemies? Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security head-hunter Emile Danko (talented character actor and current True Blood magistrate eljko Ivanek) is still on the prowl, targeting Samuel and any other superpowered citizen or fugitive he sets in his sights. Villain-of-the-week baddies crop up from time to time, old threats resurface, and once-unwavering boyscouts begin dancing with the devil.
I've wanted to fall madly in love with Heroes. I have since its inception. But I have too many hangups and complaints with its world and characters to let go and enjoy the series for what it is (or isn't, as it were). Chalk it up to the years I spent falling asleep with the latest issue of "X-Men" sitting near my bedside, the many middle-school-cafeteria lunches I spent discussing Marvel and DC with my caffeine-addled friends, or my increasingly insatiable appetite for a truly absorbing comicbook-inspired television series... whatever the cause, I simply haven't been able to sink into Kring's unwieldy mythos. From its heroes and villains' terribly inconsistent powers to its ever-changing rulebook (its tenets are often born of convenience rather than reason), Heroes has burned me again and again. Yet I've returned, again and again, hoping beyond hope that this season would be the season that gets it right. Sadly, the series' fourth outing, though a bit better than its second and third-year misfires, is not that season.
The Petrellis, no longer the dueling dynasty princes they once were, are no longer the intriguing characters they once were either. Sylar, once the baddest baddie of 'em all, is confined to two separate prisons, neither of which give Quinto much room to work. (The storyline itself is merely a half-witted mishmash of "X-Men" and "Uncanny X-Men" tales involving Onslaught's origin and Magneto's inexplicable emergence as a kinder, gentler man named Joseph.) Parkman, the series' redemptive everyman, manages to strike the same obnoxious what-to-do, what-to-do chord from episode to episode. Noah, relegated to dutiful daddy-dearest nonsense (even though his unnervingly two-dimensional daughter is attending college), loses his family and his edge. Worse, Claire's college life is a melodramatic bore, Ivanek's Danko is wasted, and a slew of second-tier characters elicit yawns instead of excited chatter. And what of our dear Hiro and Ando? They do little more than run in circles, falling for the same tricks, making the same mistakes, and debating the same issues they have since the show's grandiose beginnings. Sure, Hiro is dying and Ando is more even-keeled than ever, but the fan-favorite duo get stuck in a rut. It's almost as if Kring's writers couldn't think of anything fresh to do with a humble, time-traveling demigod.
What does work? Quinto and Coleman's characters may flounder, but their performances are as strong as ever. Likewise, Knepper, Olivieri, and Park deliver some of Season Four's best scenes, and Kring's Carnivāle-derived meta-plot serves up legitimate tension over the course of at least fifteen of the season's eighteen episodes. It's also important to note that the remaining actors certainly give it their all, even through the most banal exchanges and redundant dialogue. If anything kept me coming back from week to week for more punishment, it was the cast's tireless efforts. And the season finale? Now the series finale? While it ends on a cliffhanger, it's the sort of open-ended capper Kring would have probably produced had he known his days were numbered. The majority of his characters come full circle -- particularly Claire, whose final act echoes her first season introduction -- and only a few major plot threads are left dangling. Regardless, Heroes' final season idles when it should rocket ahead, stalls when it should be easing forward, and crashes when it should be sailing around every turn. The ideas are there, and the actors are in place. The series simply lacks the magic required to invade an audience's imagination and evoke their wildest superpowered dreams. Fans of Season Two and Three will no doubt enjoy Kring's deep-fried carnival food, but most everyone else will leave hungry for something more satisfying.
Heroes: Season 4 Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Blu-ray edition of Heroes: Season Four struggles with some of the same issues as previous seasons. However, its 1080p/VC-1 presentation is a bit more consistent, pairing Kring's final hurrah with a commendable transfer. Noise, though unruly on occasion, is a much smaller factor this time around, as are the contrast inconsistencies that arise. Yes, dimly lit interiors and nighttime sequences still suffer with murky delineation and unsightly crush, the majority of Season Four's scenes feature warm colors, deep shadows, notable detailing, and some exceedingly crisp textures (as evidenced by the dozens of dramatic closeups that commandeer each episode). A few problems emerge along the way -- intermittent softness and overbearing shadows stifle the proceedings, minor ringing is apparent throughout, and skintones, though lifelike on the whole, sometime appear oversaturated -- but I suspect the whole of the presentation is an accurate reflection of Kring and his show-masters' intentions. Artifacting and banding are kept to a reasonable minimum, and other distracting anomalies never become serious factors. If anything, the unevenness of several scenes may yank sensitive viewers out of the experience. It may not be the greatest television transfer I've seen, but it is a solid one. Series devotees will be pleased.
Heroes: Season 4 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Loud and ungainly, Universal's lumbering DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track suffers the wrath of Heroes' overbearing sound design. Low-end thooms, roaring gale winds, collapsing buildings, and explosions are hearty and intense, but footsteps are occasionally treated like thunderclaps and almost every firearm packs the sonic wallop of a shotgun. LFE output is so assertive that it becomes insufferable at times -- so much so that I kept my audio remote close at hand) -- and would certainly benefit from some finesse and restraint. Surprisingly though, the rear speakers are quite subdued, transforming the bulk of the series' fourth season episodes into front-heavy, LFE-reliant affairs. Dust-ups and energy bursts still tear a convincing swath through the soundfield -- a steady but faint stream of ambient effects do a decent job bringing Sullivan's carnival and other crowded environments to life as well -- but the chatty nature of the experience limits its impact. Unfortunately, dialogue isn't always as clear or distinct as I would have liked either. Softer voices are overwhelmed by Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin's domineering score, hushed lines are lost in the short-lived pandemonium that occasionally ensues, and background ambience tends to wash over conversations a bit too aggressively. Don't misunderstand: whenever Kring allows simplicity to rule his soundscape, dialogue sounds as good as it should. It's when the powers hit the fan that listeners may wonder what went wrong. Again, it's loud enough to wake the neighbors -- a boon if that's how you tend to measure the quality of an audio mix -- but it lacks prowess, refinement, and resolve, making it a decidedly average track in my book.
Heroes: Season 4 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Don't panic when you crack open the Blu-ray edition of Heroes: Season Four. Universal's digipak doesn't have traditional disc hubs, just wide, circular nooks. Debate is sure to ensue about the safety of the discs and the ease/difficulty of removing them from the case, but after spending some time with the set, I have to say I'm a fan. Held in place by two small tabs and two flexible prongs situated along the edges of each nook, each disc is snuggly suspended a few micrometers above the digipak's main plastic trays. In other words, the surfaces of the discs don't rest against any part of the case. Yes, I'd still advise caution when removing them -- it's possible to scuff up a disc when shimmying it out of place, particularly when you're first learning how to insert and remove the discs -- but with some practice, I found the nooks were much easier to use than traditional hubs and, in my estimation, resulted in far less strain on the discs themselves. The only downside? I suspect the discs could become dislodged during the shipping process, meaning some consumers will open their set and find four free-roaming discs inside.
And what of Season Four's supplemental package? I was left shrugging my shoulders. Four dull video commentaries, less than two hours of otherwise decent featurettes and interviews, and forty-five minutes of expendable deleted/extended scenes doesn't amount to much, especially when it comes to an 18-episode television series.
Heroes: Season 4 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Heroes: Season Four fails on nearly every level. While a host of intriguing villains and allies enter the fray (courtesy of the Sullivan Brothers Carnival), fan-favorite characters are wasted, the majority of the show's mainstays are mired in melodrama and dead-end subplots, and many an episode falls flat. Universal's hit-or-miss Blu-ray release doesn't soften the blow. Its video presentation, though a noticeable improvement over previous seasons, still struggles with noise and other inconsistencies, its DTS-HD Master Audio track is all bark and no bite, and its supplemental package is an all-too-short, all-too-boring disappointment. Unless you already watched and fell in love with Heroes' fourth and final season, might I suggest waiting for this 4-disc set to go on sale.
Heroes: Other Seasons
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Heroes: Season 4 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Heroes Season 4 Blu-ray Announced - June 4, 2010
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has officially announced Heroes: Season 4 for release on blu-ray on August 3. The final volume of this groundbreaking TV series, titled Redemption, will come out in a four-discs set with hours of special features, many of them ...
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