Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blog DVD Review: Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 (July 28)

Welcome to our weekly Blog DVD Review. Today we take a look at Universal Home Video's Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5. Battlestar Galactica is a current remake of the '70s sci-fi series. See Seth's Blog DVD Review of Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 :

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 (Universal, $49.98) concludes on DVD the run of what I genuinely consider to be one of the finest shows on TV this decade. Battlestar Galactica was an absolutely amazing retooling (otherwise called a "re-imagining") of a rather cheesy 1970s sci-fi series. This version of the show, however, is really closer in tone to 24 and West Wing than Star Trek or another similar show. At its core, it's really a military and political drama that happens to be set in space. That blending of qualities makes for an absolutely amazing show, a program I discovered early last year and stuck with right until the end.

From where I sit, the twenty episodes comprising the 4th season (divided into 4.0 and 4.5) are actually a little bit weaker than the earlier years of the show, but a great show having minor issues is still better than most anything else you'd find on air. Indeed, I can overlook the fact that episodes that should be building up for the grand finale instead grind to a halt, only to launch into full-blown information dump mode two episodes later. Really, you can become agitated quickly if you get yourself in a bunch over minor squabbles. The important part of this final half-season is that, though the ride occasionally gets slightly bumpy, you ultimately reach the destination still richer for the experience. It's like driving a trip from New York City to Los Angeles in a brand new Mercedes, only to have a problem with one of the shock absorbers in Nevada. You've still had a great ride, it just feels a little rough in the final stages.

If you've only been following the series through DVD, then where the show last left off the Fleet had finally found Earth...as a desolate post-nuclear fallout wasteland. The second half of the season starts off with an explanation of what happened on this Earth, plus the identity of the final Cylon is revealed. The series progresses onwards from there, alternating between action episodes and story episodes, through 10 great episodes. At one point there's even a mutiny forcing Adama, Tigh, etc. to fight their way back through the ship to retake command!
The series culminates with the episode "Daybreak," originally presented over two weeks and considered a total of 3 parts. You can choose to view it as-aired on the final disc, or choose to watch the complete two hour and thirty minute unedited version, with many cut scenes restored. Viewing this second version *does* help things make a bit more sense and makes the finale seem less rushed, but that won't change the fact that many fans just aren't going to like the ending. With regards to it, you either have -- or will -- fall into one of two camps. Either you'll think it's a brilliant twist to cap things off, or it'll simply leaving you scratching your head. I'll be the first to admit, I started off as the latter but after a couple of re-viewings I've come around and now love how the show ends.

Technically speaking, this DVD set is simply stunning. Universal is one of the few studios who still seem to shun those horrible clear plastic keepcase abominations, something I'm thrilled to see. You get simple, functional slimcases which showcase the well-designed package art quite nicely. The actual artwork itself is given the reflective color treatment, and when combined with the raised lettering of the show logo, provides for package art that commands your attention sitting on the store shelf.
The art for set itself features variations on the cast shots seen in the top third of the main box's art. Between the four cases, nearly the entirety of the main cast is featured, with only a few supporting players omitted. The finale is kept on its own disc, much as the miniseries was on season one's set. The remainder of the episodes are arranged in varying orders.

Menus are animated, and feature multiple layers of animation. Profile shots of various members of the primary cast dissolve in and out, clips play on the left side, and the great main theme plays in the background -- with the clips syncing fairly well to the music.

Audio and video quality are amazing, bounded only by the limits of the traditional DVD. This is one set I would have loved to be able to view in HD on Blu-Ray, however that wasn't a feasible review option largely due to my not owning a Blu-Ray player. The video looks as good as is possible given the resolution and quality limits of the format. The audio, having more room to play around even on a traditional DVD, sounds absolutely wonderful, and makes full use of the full 5.1 channels of sound available. The dialogue mixes in with the sound effects and composer Bear McCreary's wonderful scores and creates a true audio experience. Episode runtimes are all over the place, as running times vary wildly from episode to episode...44-49 minutes is the norm. Chapter stops occur with slightly greater frequency than commercial breaks, roughly coinciding with major scene changes. Some episodes feature scenes omitted from their original Sci-Fi Channel airings. Nothing is edited, the only changes are the occasional inclusions.

Greater still are the special features. Included as audio tracks are the podcast commentaries done along with each week's airing by show executive producer Ronald D. Moore. You also get piles and piles of deleted scenes. You get video blogs, you get extra-length episodes. This set, in terms of its bonus content is really quite good. I've seen sets with better, but this set is fairly high on the list. Galactica sets are great for that.

Ultimately, if you are a fan of this show you probably have the set on pre-order for Tuesday already. Good. If you haven't given the show a try before, go to your local video rental store, and rent the first two discs from the first season set. It's the miniseries that kicked off this amazing show's run. It sold me on the series, plus the amazing first episodes. Watch them, though check any preconceptions you have about space shows at the door. What you'll see is absolutely great dramatic television. Even the guys on The Big Bang Theory think so!

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
(5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Battlestar Galactica TV.com Page


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, July 19

The Big Bang Theory - "The Solo Oscillation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Sheldon kicks Amy out to work solo, she and Leonard bond during a series of science experiments. Also, Bert the geologist replaces Wolowitz in the band Footprints on the Moon, and Sheldon finds Penny a surprising source of scientific inspiration. Laurie Metcalf returns as Sheldon’s mother, Mary.

Young Sheldon - "Demons, Sunday School, and Prime Numbers" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
A worried Mary sends Sheldon to Sunday school after she finds him playing Dungeons and Dragons with his friends Tam and Billy. Billy Gardell guest stars as Billy Sparks’ father, Herschel.

Trial & Error: Lady, Killer - "The Suitcase" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Josh Segal and Associates get their first case, defending Lavinia Peck-Foster, the eccentric First Lady of East Peck, who was found with her husband Edgar's corpse in a suitcase in her trunk. Lavinia is surly, entitled, larger than life and, instead of hugs, her currency of connection is a face slap. On the other hand, she is wealthy so she can pay him. Winning this case could be Josh's ticket for his true goal, to be considered a "Pecker." Unfortunately, complications and bodies keep piling up and there are more questions than answers.

Trial & Error: Lady, Killer - "The Timeline" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
When Judge Kamiltow rules that Lavinia must stand trial for the murder of her husband, Josh and the team try to poke holes in the timeline of the case Carol Anne will present. But when a clock is determined to be the murder weapon, they are forced to seek help from two unlikely sources - the convicted murderer of Lavinia's brother and the host of a popular murder podcast called M-Town.

American Woman - "The Heat Wave" (Paramount Network, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Bonnie invites her co-worker Louise to join her and her friends at her pool; Diana asks for a promotion at work, as she struggles to get along with her overbearing mother.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 16)

Thursday, July 19

  • Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show/My Boys/Welcome to New York) - Catch Jim on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. He will also be on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo, Access Live (check your local listings) and on People Now on PeopleTV at 12pm.
  • Amanda Peet (Brockmire/Togetherness/Bent) - Amanda appears on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Daveed Diggs (black-ish) - Daveed visits Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) and Keegan-Michael Key (Friends from College/Playing House) - Olivia, Keegan-Michael and the cast of The Predator are guests on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Joel McHale (Community/The Great Indoors) - Joel stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. He will also be on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • David Alan Grier (The Cool Kids/The Carmichael Show/Life with Bonnie/DAG) - David visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Constance Zimmer (Entourage/Good Morning, Miami) - Constance drops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Steve Harvey (The Steve Harvey Show) - Steve appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Rob Riggle (Rob Riggle's Ski Academy/Golan the Insatiable/Gary Unmarried) - Rob is a guest on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Esther Povitsky (Alone Together) - Esther appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Niecy Nash (Getting On/The Soul Man/Reno 911!) - Niecy talks about Claws on People Now on PeopleTV at 12pm.
  • Sherri Shepherd (Trial & Error: Lady, Killer/Sherri/Less Than Perfect - Sherri talks about Trial & Error: Lady, Killer on Chatter on PeopleTV at 8pm.
  • Laura Benanti (The Detour/Go On/Starved) - Laura cooks with Clinton Kelly on a repeat of ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Trial & Error: Lady, Killer/Kristin) - Kristin talks about Trial & Error: Lady, Killer on the BUILD Series at 2pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July)

New Girl - The Complete Seventh Season Alice - The Complete Seventh Season Green Acres - The Final (Sixth) Season The Last Man on Earth - The Complete Fourth Season The Good Place - The Complete Second Season

06/05 - Living Single - The Complete Fifth Season
06/05 - New Girl - The Complete Sixth Season
06/05 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-First Season (Blu-ray)
06/12 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fourth Season
06/12 - Life in Pieces - The Complete Third Season
06/12 - The Office - The Complete Series
06/12 - Speechless - The Complete First Season
06/12 - Speechless - The Complete Second Season
06/12 - Step by Step - The Complete First Season
06/12 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season One (Blu-ray)
06/19 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fourth Season
06/26 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Fifth Season
06/26 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Sixth Season
06/26 - The Mick - The Complete First Season
06/26 - The Mick - The Complete Second Season
07/03 - New Girl - The Final (Seventh) Season
07/10 - Alice - The Complete Seventh Season (WBShop.com)
07/10 - The Bill Engvall Show - The Complete First Season (WBShop.com)
07/10 - Green Acres - The Final (Sixth) Season
07/10 - The Last Man on Earth - The Complete Fourth Season
07/17 - Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life - The Complete Series
07/17 - The Good Place - The Complete Second Season
07/17 - Son of Zorn - The Complete Series
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