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


New on DVD/Blu-ray (April/May/June)

Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season Father Knows Best - Season Five The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season ALF - The Complete DVD Collection The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series

04/04 - Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Fifth Season
04/11 - Father Knows Best - Season Five
04/11 - Schitt's Creek - The Complete Third Season
04/11 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
04/11 - Veep - The Complete Fifth Season
05/02 - Red, White and Blue Collar Sitcoms - Make TV Great Again
05/09 - ALF - The Complete DVD Collection
05/09 - Divorce - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
05/09 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Second Season
05/16 - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - The Complete Series
06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, June 27

Downward Dog - "Getting What You Always Wanted" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Nan’s long-anticipated national campaign is hours away from launching in Times Square on the Jumbotron, when an overwrought Nan discovers an algorithm has been flipped, and instead of blocking penis photos from the photo feed it will choose them, which could torpedo the whole campaign. Meanwhile, Martin decides to reduce Nan’s stress by taking out his sworn enemy, Pepper, to unexpected results.

Downward Dog - "Lost" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT)
To take a break from the pressures of a major decision at work and the mess she’s made of her life, Nan decides to take a vacation. On the way, she stops by her estranged father’s place in the country, hoping to say hi and go. Instead, she discovers he’s selling the family home. While Nan tries to pack up some childhood treasures, Dad takes Martin for a walk — but Martin, runs off into the woods, hoping to prove he’s wild and free like a wolf. Instead, he discovers he’s not a wolf – he’s a dog who’s lost.

The Mick - "The New Girl" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Mickey believes Ben’s school is discriminating against him, she stands up for her nephew. Meanwhile, Sabrina and Chip spend time with Alba and learn some surprising things about her.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "The Night Shift" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
As Jake struggles with his first case back at the precinct, he encounters Jess Day (NEW GIRL guest star Zooey Deschanel), who is visiting New York, and enlists her to help him find his suspect. Meanwhile, Holt researches ways to increase office morale and Amy tries to figure out why Rosa keeps taking such long breaks.

Wrecked - "Caiman" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
After something taints the water upstream, Florence and Karen hike into the jungle to find the source; the others debate whether they want the pirates to spoil ``Game of Thrones''; Steve strikes up an unlikely romance.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 26)

Tuesday, June 27

  • Jerrod Carmichael (The Carmichael Show) - Catch Jerrod on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He will also be on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) - Eric stops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Mädchen Amick (Freddie) - Mädchen is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi) - Whoopi appears on a repeat of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm.
  • Patrick Stewart (Blunt Talk) - Patrick is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jerrod Carmichael (The Carmichael Show) - Jerrod appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Busy Philipps (Vice Principals/Cougar Town) - Busy guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Mckenna Grace (Crash & Bernstein) - Mckenna is a guest on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet) - Drew appears on a repeat of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kathryn Hahn (I Love Dick/Happyish/Transparent/Free Agents) - Katherine is a guest on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Miriam Shor and Molly Bernard (Younger) - Miriam and Mollly discuss the new season of Younger on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Hilary Duff (Younger/Lizzie McGuire) - Hilary can be heard on The Morning Mash Up on SiriusXM at 9:50am.
  • Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso is a guest on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) - Amy will be on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Sutton Foster (Younger) - Sutton appears on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • The Cast of Younger - Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar, Miriam Shor and Molly Bernard are guests on the AOL Build Show at 2pm.
  • Peter Hermann (Younger) - Peter appears on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 8:50am.