If you are a Heroes fan, and I kind of presume that you are if you clicked on this column, this DVD set is one that you'll want to add to your collection. Now I'm not going to start defending the problematic and abridged second season of this superhero saga by saying that it was 13 incredible episodes. Because then I'd be lying, and I try not to do that on a regular basis. I thought the season was hit or miss, but still the set itself is pretty impressive and jam-packed full of extras that weren't just thrown on as an afterthought. The producers and cast of the show clearly have a passion for this series, and that comes across here.
I'm also not going to even attempt to thoroughly explain all that went down on this show in season 2; we've got full recaps for that. But suffice it to say it involved feudal Japan, a biological virus, a girl who has bleeding eyes, an Irish pub, lots of DNA stuff, a teenager who can fly and one notorious bad guy who likes to slice open heads and steal brains.
While the bonus feature I was initially most excited to see on this set was the alternate ending, it turned out that the best stuff was in the Untold Stories section. They are not only just scenes that are deleted, but arcs that never even made it to air. There's some truly fantastic stuff about Veronica... er, Elle tracking down Sylar. There are some more victims with unique abilities, that presumably Sylar has now made his own (judging by the twisted death scenes that unfold), and a fabulous scene between Elle and HRG about what a manipulative ass her father is. Good stuff. And then there's one amazing dream sequence with Mama Petrelli that gave me goosebumps and made me so excited for season 3. Which was probably the entire point of this.
Don't get me wrong, the Alternate Ending was worth it. Basically before the writer's strike the plot was supposed to go down a road where they examined what would happen if this scary virus got out into the world, instead of Peter catching the deadly vial and stopping it from spreading when Kensei/Adam dropped it. I was kind of amazed at the difference that one little twist would make to the show, and though some of it is storyboarded, it's pretty interesting. Also great to hear the producers/creators sitting around talking about why they made this change and talking about how sometimes this show takes on a life of its own, and how they have to rearrange plots and storylines around location and talent availability. And here I thought they had a plan. Which they seem to, but the path to the plan is flexible, apparently.
There are plenty of deleted scenes to go around on this set as well, pretty much each of the four discs has them.This set gets bonus points from me for not saving all its extra content for the final disc, or for an additional disc. Instead, they smartly decide to intersperse the featurettes and scenes on the discs where they are relevant. On TV sets, not much annoys me more than having to search around for the additional content that goes with each episode, and I applaud them for wisely putting it in the proper place. It's really the small things that make me happy. Some of the deleted scenes are great. Really great. They add a lot to the story, like there's a fabulous scene between Ando and Hiro's daddy in which the senior Nakamura talks about his powers which gives another look at the facets of Kaito (and gives the wonderful George Takei more scenes, which makes me happy.) Though then there's more of Hiro's misadventures in Japan, which were so boring that I had to get a cup of tea to revive myself. And I don't really need to see West changing lightbulbs in the air. In fact, I didn't really need to see West again at all. But there's some other interesting tidbits to be found in the mix.
Some other features, which are scattered appropriately among the set, are a Takezo Kensei: Sword Saint (a documentary shot history channel style on the mythical legend), The Drucker Files (an expose shown in a news report about the life of the mystery man who is known as the godfather of the internet) and Genetics of a Scene (the break down of how a scene is shot and what goes into making something as simple as blooming cherry blossom trees.)
Of course there's also a preview of Season 3 (which reveals nothing, except that the show will pick up after Nathan got shot, and that the cast isn't allowed to say anything under penalty of death), a preview of Season 2 (for those who presumably didn't watch it when it was on), some other featurettes which were originally available on NBC.com and a gallery of the great comic artwork of Tim Sale that the show uses.
And a Heroes DVD set wouldn't be complete without commentary. Every episode has one, and it is a mix of talent from producers and directors to featured cast members. I haven't had a chance to listen to all of them yet, but the ones I have are pretty fascinating, not just, "um, yeah I showed up that day and shot some stuff," that a lot of DVDs have, but some actual discussion about the making of this show, which can even make a lackluster episode more interesting. Now I'm just itching for Season 3 to start to see what the twisted minds behind this show will come up with to outdo themselves for the next DVD set.