September 26, 2006

DVD Review: Battlestar Galactica - Season 2.5

Battlestar Galactica is hands down one of the best shows that is currently in production. There is no denying this. You can try, but you will lose. Back when it was first announced that there would be a new Battlestar Galactica mini series, I was more than a little skeptical. The original series may have been a little cheesy, particularly the second version of it (I want to say Battlestar Galactica '81 or something like that), but I have fond memories of it from my childhood. Then there were the casting changes, Starbuck was going to be female, and so was Boomer, the Cylons would look like people, things like that that made me a little edgy. The final straw was when Edward James Olmos, the new Adama, was quoted as saying that fans of the original should stay far away from this new version. Now, I had no real reason to be so skeptical, I had some good memories, but cannot say I was married to the original. To make a long story short, my fears were unfounded, as the mini-series proved to be decent, and then the series started, and the rest is history.

This set is the second half of season two. The series is broadcast on the Sci-Fi Network, and they have a habit of running the first half of the season during the summer, and then the second half during the following winter. The first half of the season was released earlier this year, now as we ramp up towards the start of season three, we are getting the second half of season two, to remind us of just how great this series is. I guess I should mention that the popularity of the series has caused Sci-Fi to change their strategy, they delayed season three to begin in the fall, where they will air all 20 episodes in a row.

The set kicks off with the first half finale, in an extended version which runs about 15 minutes longer. Much of the additional footage is character moments that do not add much to the plot, but does make the episode better for its inclusion. A few segments were not included as they take the episode a little further than the network would have been able to air, like Callie saying "Bullshit." The biggest change is probably the extending of the attack on the captive Boomer, it goes considerably further before Chief and Helo show up to put a stop to it. This was a dark sequence made even darker.

Following that mind blowing episode, which ends with Adama sending Vipers against Commander Cain and the newly discovered Battlestar Pegasus. We get right back into the action with the two parter "Resurrection Ship." It was a great way to start the second half, with Adama and Cain setting their feud to a simmer, backed off from the full on boil that was developing. They turn their focus to new recon from Starbuck that has uncovered a large Cylon ship that is used as a fallback point when their numbers are shot down.

The episodes have a shake up over what has come before, allegiances are tested, relationships develop, and there is a political shakeup in the works. There is some Cylon action, political intrigue, and general unrest as they build up to the finale.

As the end of the season nears we are given a glimpse into the world of the enemy. "Downloaded" takes us into the Cylon society of occupied Caprica. The recently downloaded Six (Tricia Helfer) and Sharon (Grace Park) are working to adjust to their new lives away from the humans. It is an intriguing look into their motives, and how they are not quite united as we may think they are.

The season closes with another two parter, "Lay Down Your Burdens." The political unrest stemming from the upcoming election reaches a boiling point as the discovery of a new, livable, planet that becomes a main focus. The finale takes an unexpected turn, that I will not expose here, save to say that it was totally unexpected and rather audacious. It has made the wait for season three almost unbearable.

Video. Presented in widescreen 1.78:1, and looking good. Battlestar Galactica thrives muted colors and lots of greys, and they are well represented here. The transfer has a nice gritty feel to it, suiting the tone of the show well. I am very happy with the look of these disks.

Audio. The soundtrack is presented in a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The track does a nice job of presenting the dialogue and sound effects, not top mention Bear McCreary's excellent score.

Extras. I would have liked some more in depth featurettes, but we do get some nice extras.

  • Commentary. We get a track with Ronald D. Moore and David Eick on the extended Pegasus episode. It is a good track that goes over the additional footage and how difficult it can be to cut some of the good stuff that was shot.
  • Podcast Commentaries. These were originally released online, but now they are here to accompany the DVD. Ronald D. Moore offers plenty of interesting info.
  • Video Blogs. This is a collection of video entries from David Eick that were originally found online. Unfortunately not all of them have been brought aboard. They give a variety of tours and insider shots, and a few straight up comedic skits.
  • Deleted Scenes. There are a lot of deleted scenes here, some good stuff that had to be cut for time, and others that are probably best left out.
  • R&D Logos. This is a collection of animations for Moore and Eick's production company. They are a slight extra, but they are pretty funny.

Bottomline. This is a series that is not to be missed. If you haven't seen it, go get season one (which includes the mini series), fall in love and then move on to the two season two sets. Great acting, stories, action, music, effects. This is a show to treasure.

Highly Recommended.

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