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

Wednesday, February 19

The Goldbergs - "Dave Kim's Party" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
A big party is being thrown at Dave Kim’s house and Pops has a plan to make Adam cool for the big event. Meanwhile, Beverly’s cookbook has made her “famous,” leading her to become out of control and fame-hungry, but eventually she learns an important lesson.

Schooled - "Moving On" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Wilma steps in to help CB move on from Lainey with help from Coach Mellor, while Lainey learns she has unresolved issues from her past when mentoring a student.

Modern Family - "Spuds" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Phil and Claire take Haley and Dylan to dinner to reassure them they are not bad parents. While out to dinner, they run into Mitch and Cam who are chaperoning Lily’s first date, as well as Jay and Gloria after attending Joe’s school play.

Single Parents - "Hip$ for Dolores" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After rent on the Winebrary goes up, the gang all chip in in their own ways to help solve Poppy’s new financial problem, each learning a valuable lesson in the process.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 17)

Wednesday, February 19

  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. He will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Lil Rel Howery (Rel/The Carmichael Show) - Lil Rel appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Laura Dern (F Is for Family/Enlightened) - Laura is a guest on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Tiffany Haddish (The Last O.G./The Carmichael Show) - Tiffany appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • James Marsden (30 Rock) - James stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Lizzy Caplan (Party Down/The Class) - Lizzy is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jane Levy (Suburgatory) - Jane visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Skylar Astin (Ground Floor) - Skylar appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - NeNe guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Adam Pally (Indebted/Making History/The Mindy Project/Happy Endings) - Adam drops by The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jurnee Smollett-Bell (On Our Own) - Jurnee appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Da'Vine Joy Randolph (High Fidelity/People of Earth/Selfie) - Da'Vine talks about High Fidelity on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Suzanne Somers (Step by Step/She's the Sheriff/Three's Company) - Suzanne is a guest on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Lauren Ash (Superstore/Super Fun Night) - Lauren appears on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly is a guest on People Now at 12pm.
  • Lark Voorhies (Saved by the Bell/In the House) - The actress who portrayed Lisa Turtle on the iconic teen sitcom Saved by the Bell opens up about her mental health challenges and her reaction to being left out of the reboot of the show on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.


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

Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One Martin - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Sixth Season Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - The Complete Series

12/03 - The Simpsons - The Nineteenth Season
12/03 - The Simpsons - Seasons 1-20: Limited Collector's Set
12/06 - 9JKL - The Complete Series
12/10 - Family Guy - Season Seventeen
12/17 - Atlanta - Season 2 - Robbin' Season
12/17 - Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season
12/17 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (2019 Release)
12/17 - The Other Two - Season 1
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume Two
01/14 - Veep - The Final (Seventh) Season (Blu-ray)
01/14 - Veep - The Complete Series (DVD)
01/21 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Third Season (WBShop.com)
01/21 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Series
01/28 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (DVD)
02/04 - Martin - The Complete Series
02/11 - Step by Step - The Complete Sixth Season (WBShop.com)
02/18 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
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