There's no disputing - in my world, at least - the inherent coolness of comic book/superhero icon Stan Lee ('nuff said!). So when The History Channel tapped him to serve as host of a series searching for honest-to-gosh superhumans it all seemed like a nifty match, a sort of hunt for real-life X-Men. The fact is Lee is really used more of a bookend/bumper on the series than anything else, yet it's his name that first caught my and brought the show to my attention so I guess that aspect of the marketing worked well.
Nice job, History Channel. Because if Stan Lee is looking for superhumans, then damnit I want to see it.
With the release of this two-disc season one set all 8 episodes are gathered up for our nerd-worthy viewing pleasure. The series uses Daniel Browning Smith - the so-called world's most flexible man - as Lee's right-hand man, and he's the guy who "searches the globe" for all sorts of human weirdness. There's all manner of apparent superhuman-ness on display here, among them a blind piano savant, a man who feels no pain, a man with echo-locating abilities and naturally some impressive feats of strength. Each 44-minute episode follows the same general track, and features five different superhuman (the word gets used A LOT on this show) potentials, with Browning Smith employing some "experts" to analyze and explain the abilities.
Anyone who's ever seen a History Channel show knows that one of the more annoying things about their programming is the reliance on the post-commercial recap. I realize this is done to draw in wandering channel-surfers - or in some cases remind the forgetful after some of those woefully long breaks - but when viewed on DVD this quickly becomes more than a minor irritant. If I had a nickel for everytime Daniel Browning Smith reminded us of his name and task I'd be a wealthy man, and without the padding of endless commercials this redundancy quickly becomes completely maddening. And that's probably my biggest complaint about the entire series and the presentation. The thing is, however, is that this isn't the first DVD release to have this annoyance, and it won't be the last I'm sure.
With that, the show is still mindlessly entertaining, crammed with a hodgepodge of feats of human quasi-freakism, whether it be the guy who claims to speak "wolf" or the human orchestra (did I really need to extended closeups of his epiglottis in action?). Browning Smith is a tolerable and likeable enough host (a little less reminding us who he is would be nice) and considering Stan Lee is more of an ethereal figurehead on the series it is left to the incredibly flexible man to carry the bulk of the show. And he does well enough to make these 8 episodes watchable.
All episodes are presented in their original 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. Colors are not overly vivid and the transfer is not especially crisp; in fact I'd go as far as to say the overall presentation is a bit bland.
Nothing especially noteworthy about the 2.0 stereo audio. It's a serviceable track, delivering clean dialogue/narration with no real frills of any kind.
The only supplements show up on disc two, in the form of five additional non-anamorphic widescreen segments (14m:54s), featuring Human Anvil, The Ultimate Diver, Modern Samurai, Splash and The Human Calculator.
Neat real-life superhuman concept - made cooler by the whole Stan Lee/comic connection - but I'm just not sure it's something you need to rush out and purchase, especially since it stills airs occasionally on The History Channel.
Perhaps not purchase-worthy, but still worth a rental. Fun stuff, but the presentation suffers the same problem all History Channel programs suffer from: too much post-commercial recap redundancy.