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)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Tuesday, July 16

Modern Family - "Blasts From the Past" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Phil and Claire decide to take a cycling tour through Italy before they become grandparents, and Dylan (guest star Reid Ewing) introduces them to his mom who has an interesting past. Meanwhile, Cameron and Mitchell discover some interesting reading material in Lily’s room and decide to confront her about it, while Gloria and Jay discover their respective great uncles may have fought on opposing sides of a war.

The Goldbergs - "This Is This Is Spinal Tap" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
The Dropouts are thrilled when they book a gig at a Flyers charity carnival and Adam uses the opportunity to make his very first rockumentary. Since Barry doesn’t want to miss out on the fun, he forces his way onto the band, despite his sister’s objections. Meanwhile, Beverly’s concerns about Murray’s health push him to the limit.

Modern Family - "A Moving Day" (ABC, 10:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Claire and Phil aren’t convinced that Haley and Dylan can make it on their own as they move them into their new apartment before the baby arrives. Meanwhile, Pameron gets out of prison early and has a bone to pick with Mitchell.

black-ish - "Good in the 'Hood" (ABC, 10:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Dre’s sister Rhonda takes Jack and Diane to her part of town in a black neighborhood and claims the twins are scared of their own community. Dre and Rhonda take them to a local diner to show them why it’s so special. Meanwhile, Bow becomes the “office mom” at work, and Junior tries to help her break the label.

The Detour - "The Year" (TBS, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Delilah and Jared reunite and catch up on the past year.

Sydney to the Max - "Nightmare on Syd Street" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Sydney holes up in her bedroom after an embarrassing event at school; after finding old VHS tapes of Max as a kid, Sydney falls asleep and dreams she is in the 1990s.

Sydney to the Max - "Mo' Grandmas, Mo' Problems" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Grandma Maya comes to visit, Sydney loves spending time with her so much that Grandma Judy feels a little left out.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of July 15)

Tuesday, July 16

  • Fred Savage (What Just Happened??! with Fred Savage/Friends from College/The Grinder/Working/The Wonder Years) - Catch Fred on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Dax Shepard (Bless This Mess) - Dax visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • James Marsden (Dead to Me/30 Rock) - James appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan (Tacoma FD) - Steve and Kevin are guests on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Barry/The Good Place/Downward Dog) - Kirby appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Sam Richardson (Champaign ILL/Detroiters/Veep) - Sam is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Joel McHale (Community/The Great Indoors) - Joel chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg/Courting Alex/Accidentally on Purpose/1600 Penn/Growing Up Fisher/Imaginary Mary) - Jenna visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Deon Cole (grown-ish/Angie Tribeca/black-ish) - Deon stops by The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kathy Griffin (Suddenly Susan) - Kathy talks about Kathy Griffin: Hell of a Story on People Now at 12pm.


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

My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two The Good Place - The Complete Third Season

05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
05/13 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 2
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons (WBShop.com)
05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
07/09 - Broad City - Season 5
07/09 - Broad City - The Complete Series
07/17 - The Practice (1976) - The Complete Series
07/30 - The Good Place - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

07/16 - Welcome Back (to School), Kotter Marathon on Antenna TV; Lea Michele Gets ABC Holiday Movie
07/15 - Bounce Sitcom In The Cut Premieres Season 5; Conan Returns to Comic-Con for 5th Year
07/14 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 15, 2019)
07/13 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Reboot of The Flintstones in the Works (Again); Amazon Orders New Comedy Series
07/12 - Fri-Yay: The End of Friends on Netflix; Remembering Rip Torn of The Larry Sanders Show and Disney Channel Star Cameron Boyce
07/11 - Valerie Bertinelli to Host Food Network Series; Netflix Gets Katherine Heigl for Firefly Lane 07/10 - WarnerMedia Announces HBO Max for 2020 with Friends, Fresh Prince & More; IMDb Gets First Scripted Series
07/09 - COZI TV Schedules Two The Office Stunts; Adult Swim Picks Up New Seasons of Animated Comedies
07/08 - Comedy Central Closes Q2 Strong; Hallmark Channel June Weddings Stunt Scores in Ratings
07/07 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 8, 2019)
07/06 - SitcomsOnline Digest: WarnerMedia Considering Reboots of TGIF Classics for New Streaming Service
07/05 - Fri-Yay: Netflix's One Day at a Time Revived By Pop TV; WarnerMedia OTT Gets Gremlins Series
07/04 - 2019 4th of July Marathons on TV
07/03 - ABC Fall 2019 Premiere Dates; Celebrate Seinfeld's 30th in NYC
07/02 - Mindy Kaling Produced Comedy on Hulu; HBO's The Righteous Gemstones Premieres Aug. 18
07/01 - Lil Rel Gets HBO Comedy Special; Loudermilk Season 3 Details
06/30 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of July 1, 2019)
06/29 - SitcomsOnline Digest: MyNetwork TV Releases Fall Lineup; 70s Danny Thomas Sitcom Coming to DVD
06/28 - One Day at a Time Revived by Pop TV and CBS; WGN America Acquires JAG Starting July 4
06/27 - Remembering Max Wright of ALF; The Office Reruns Move to NBCU Streaming in 2021
06/26 - Comedy Central Gets Friday Talk Show; The Goldbergs Actress Releases Music Video
06/25 - Fox Fall 2019 Premiere Dates; FX Sets Dates for Fall 2019 Schedule
06/24 - Barney Miller Summer Fridays on Antenna TV; Tyler Perry Studios Takes Over BET with New Series
06/23 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 24, 2019)
06/22 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Mark-Paul Gosselaar Cast in black-ish Spinoff; Urkel Makes a Return in Scooby Doo
06/21 - Fri-Yay: The Amazing Superstore Season 4 Finale; Netflix Has Healing Powers
06/20 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Returns with "Modern" Twist; Showtime Is Back to Life For New Comedy
06/19 - truTV Gets 2nd Season of Tacoma FD; I'm Sorry Gets Season 3 on truTV
06/18 - NBC Fall 2019 Premiere Dates; The CW Fall 2019 Premiere Dates
06/17 - Netflix Gets Funny with Pranks with Stranger Things Star; Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba Series Gets 2nd Season
06/16 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 17, 2019)