Saturday, October 31, 2009

Blog DVD Review: Battlestar Galactica - The Plan

Happy Halloween from all of us here at SitcomsOnline! Today's blog of course is "all-boo"!

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

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (Universal, $26.98)) is a direct-to-DVD follow-up of the acclaimed Sci-Fi Channel original series, whose run concluded this year. The movie follows the action of the Cylons - robots (both mechanical and human-appearing) bent on the genocide of humanity - through the course of events of the first two seasons. If you're not already a fan of the show, you can stop reading right here: This one's strictly for the existing fans.

Warning: All remaining parts of the review will assume at least a passing familiarity with the plot of the show through its four seasons. I'll try to avoid excessive spoilers of both the feature and the TV run, but if you have no clue what I'm even writing about you're going to be doubly confused watching this feature.

Really, this feature - directed by show star Edward James Olmos - isn't even a follow-up so much as a clean-up. The show left several plot issues not entirely explained or even in a position to be left to the imagination, and so this feature goes back to fill in the gaps. The timeline of The Plan spans the events of the miniseries and first two seasons of the show. There's nothing from New Caprica or beyond, but as I happen to dislike the events after that arc was resolved anyway, it's perfectly fine by me to exclude that part.

In the process you get a major amount of new material for two characters, Anders (Michael Trucco) and Cavil (the amazing Dean Stockwell). You also get a flushing out and rehabilitation for one of the least-discussed models, Simon (Rick Worthy) plus some explanation for the conflicting nature of the Cylon model Eight known as Boomer. (Grace Park). Really, the entire thing is a two hour back-story info-dump. Really, that's the problem. There's no cohesive narrative. If you're not a BSG fan there's absolutely zero appeal to watch the movie, and nothing to hold you riveted if you choose to anyway. It's for fans only.
Though unrated, the DVD presentation is clearly for mature audiences only though the packaging doesn't state this. Aside from the near-genocide of the human species and militaristic violence, there's also a particularly disturbing act of violence by one of the two Cavils towards the end, plus some nudity and sexual situations. Without having to clean the show up for cable, things get slightly dirtier. The aforementioned adult situations are for the most part done fairly well contextually, but still, if just for the violence alone you'd have to be insane to let a small child watch this, and the packaging probably needed a better warning. Universal backed down from a plan to include an edited down "for-broadcast" version of the episode, leaving only the unrated full cut on the set. This was probably a mistake, in hindsight.

There's one disc in the set - the full feature being a movie running just short of two hours. The artwork is similar for the set as with the season releases, with lots of dark colors and silver tones, Because the film focuses so much on the Cylons, all characters depicted on the front cover are Cylons. The disc is blue, and in general fits in with the design scheme of the show's previous releases. Solid job by the artwork folks - it's appreciated. Video quality is an interesting issue: The movie features a combination of new footage interspersed with occasional old footage. The old footage looks just *slightly* out of place. More out of place is suddenly watching characters age forward or backwards five years in some scenes. Audio is a wonderful 5.1 surround track. The show has always made wonderful use of music, and it really shines on the multi-channel audio format. Obviously you can skip ahead via chapter stops - otherwise it'd be quite maddening to navigate a two hour feature.

The set also comes with loads of bonus features (otherwise it wouldn't be a Galactica set). Spanning the full length of the movie is a commentary by the feature's main writer Jane Espenson alongside the movie's director (and series star) Edward James Olmos. You get to hear their respective takes on why they did what they did in this movie's production. The episode is directed beautifully, though the writing does have one or two issues with scene flow. Overall it's quite a nice listen.
You also get a feature talking about Olmos' path from show star to show director, the social relevancy of the show (particularly in its first two-plus seasons), and interview with the cast. Also included are deleted scenes, plus features on creating the destruction of the Twelve Colonies, a lengthy one about the visual effects that went into the film, as well as one that talks about the Cylons and their portrayals. One of the main things to watch in this and the other features is the unrestrained praise for Dean Stockwell.

Dean (who I've been a huge fan of ever since the Quantum Leap days) slowly has all of the evil intents and purposes of the Cylons placed onto his shoulders, so that by the time we get to this feature he's easily the overwhelming source of the evil of the Cylon race. Add in to that having to portray a second, nicer, version of himself in this same movie, and you get a phenomenal performance by an exceptional actors. This one theme - that Dean Stockwell IS awesome - is hammered home more than just about any other single point it seemed to me, and I have to concur.

As much as I loved the first two-and-change years of the show, as much as I happen to love the acting of Dean Stockwell, and as much as I'm happy to see some depth added to the second-tier Cylons (Simon in particular), there's something about this movie that just doesn't feel right. Really, it's not a stand-alone feature at all so much as a companion piece to the first two seasons. If anything, the idea order for watching the series would be to watch the miniseries and seasons 1 and 2 plus Razor. When you get to the point where they want to airlock the dual Cavils, stop and watch this DVD. Once done, finish the series. That's really the idea viewing order, and the one that makes the most sense chronologically, thanks in part to the way the opening and closing scenes frame the film.

But as a stand-alone feature, based solely on its merits and without the cushioning of the TV show itself? It's incoherent, and there's too much going on with too little exposition. This, more than just about any other film release of a TV show I've ever seen, really is just for the fans. If you're a fan (with no inhibitions towards violence or moderate sexual content, pick this up NOW. If you're not a fan, or those two content issues are deal-breakers? Avoid it like the plague; you'll only get a headache. I personally liked it, but only because I already knew what was going on. If you're a fan? It is 4/5 Stars. If you're not? It is 2/5 stars. Hence, my final score below...

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
(3/5 stars)

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


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Thursday, January 17

The Big Bang Theory - "The Confirmation Polarization" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Sheldon and Amy’s super asymmetry theory is proven by two physicists, Dr. Pemberton (Sean Astin) and Dr. Campbell (Kal Penn) from Chicago, they’re thrilled, until they try to kick Amy off the Nobel nomination. Also, Bernadette has a big success at work and Penny’s going to be a part of it – whether she wants to or not.

Young Sheldon - "A Mother, a Child, and a Blue Man's Backside" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Mary bans Sheldon from reading a mature comic book, and Sheldon decides it’s time to stop living under Mary’s thumb.

Mom - "Big Floor Pillows and a Ball of Fire" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Christy and Bonnie are suspicious when Adam’s best friend, Mitch (Bradley Whitford), returns, insisting he’s a changed man.

Fam - "Freddy Returns" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After learning that Clem doesn’t plan to invite her father to the wedding, Nick’s parents encourage her to ask him over to their home for dinner to help repair their relationship. Also, Nick tries to teach Shannon to be more responsible at home.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - "Hitchcock & Scully" (NBC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Jake and Charles investigate a case of Hitchcock and Scully from the 1980s. Meanwhile, Amy's uniformed officers and Terry's detectives fight over limited resources.

The Good Place - "Chidi Sees the Time-Knife" (NBC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Michael arranges an important meeting and Janet makes a reconnection.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of January 14)

Thursday, January 17

  • Regina King (227/Leap of Faith) - Catch Regina on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Jon Bernthal (The Class) - Jon appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Sarah Paulson (Leap of Faith) - Sarah is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She also talks about Glass on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Michael visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Vanessa Hudgens (Powerless) - Vanessa stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Andrew Rannells (Black Monday/Girls/The New Normal) - Andrew is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jackie Tohn (GLOW) - Jackie appears on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Don Cheadle (Black Monday/House of Lies/The Golden Palace) - Don drops by Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11pm. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Sarah Chalke (Roseanne/Scrubs) - Sarah is a guest on E!'s Busy Tonight at 11pm.
  • Regina Hall (Black Monday/Grandfathered/Second Generation Wayans) - Regina chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She will also be on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Nina Dobrev (Fam) - Nina appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Haley Joel Osment (Future Man/Alpha House/The Jeff Foxworthy Show/Thunder Alley) - Haley Joel talks about the second season of Future Man on People Now at 12pm.
  • The Cast of Schitt's Creek - Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire and Noah Reid are guests on ABC's GMA Day at 1pm.
  • Heather Dubrow (Stark Raving Mad) - Heather appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) - William will be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (November/December/January)

Step by Step - The Complete Third Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Sixth Season Fuller House - The Complete Third Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season The Game - The Complete Series

11/01 - Episodes - Season 5
11/05 - Robin Williams - Comic Genius (includes Mork & Mindy)
11/06 - American Dad! - Volume 13
11/16 - Man with a Plan - Season One
11/20 - Step by Step - The Complete Third Season
11/27 - What I Like About You - The Complete Third Season
11/28 - The Great Indoors - Season 1 (The Complete Series)
12/04 - Family Guy - Season Sixteen
12/04 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Sixth Season
12/18 - Our Cartoon President - Season One
01/08 - Family Guy - 20 Greatest Hits
01/22 - Fuller House - The Complete Third Season
01/22 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fourth Season (WBShop.com)
01/29 - Ballers - The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray)
01/29 - Crashing - The Complete Second Season
01/29 - The Game - The Complete Series
01/29 - Kidding - Season One
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