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, October 16

The Goldbergs - "Animal House" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Barry decides to rush a fraternity, but it doesn’t quite work out as he expects. Meanwhile, Beverly and Murray find themselves getting closer to being empty nesters, which means more hobbies and activities for Beverly and more TV for Murray.

Schooled - "Kick Like a Girl" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Hoping to improve the football team’s chances at winning the title, Coach Mellor and Principal Glascott recruit star soccer player Felicia to kick field goals. But soon, she is treated like one of the guys, which affects her relationship with fellow player Reza. Meanwhile, CB chaperones an overnight ski trip and hopes to get in some quality time with Lainey but is constantly thwarted by socially awkward Tom Scott.

Modern Family - "Pool Party" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mitch and Cam help Lily overcome her insecurities about wearing a bathing suit to a pool party but discover their own. Meanwhile, now that Gloria’s new internship is taking up so much of her time, Jay is feeling particularly neglected.

Single Parents - "Big Widow Wives" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After a house incident leaves Graham in fear of staying in his and Angie’s home, Angie enlists Will to help her get the house back together; however, there is a hiccup in the plan as Angie discovers a possum on the loose that she has to deal with. Meanwhile, Poppy discovers that Douglas is lying to her about a weekly poker game he must attend, as he participates in a weekly widow’s support group instead, causing Poppy to get a little jealous of his emotional vulnerability with the women in his support group.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - "The Gang Chokes" (FXX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Annoyed that the gang failed to react as he nearly choked to death on an appetizer, Frank decides the waiter, his savior, is the only person who has his back.

Family Time - "Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number" (Bounce TV, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Devin starts dating an older woman, which has Tony and Lisa concerned; Ebony's school project inspires her to go vegan.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 14)

Wednesday, October 16

  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends/Muddling Through/Ferris Bueller/Molloy) - Watch Jennifer on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Dane Cook (Maybe This Time) - Dane appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi) - Whoopi is a guest on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • John Goodman (The Conners/Roseanne/Center of the Universe/Normal, Ohio) - John appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Ed Helms (The Office) - Ed is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie/Burning Love/Players) - June appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Thomas Lennon (The Odd Couple/Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) and Whitney Cummings (Whitney) - Thomas and Whitney are panelists on Lights Out with David Spade at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.
  • Alyssa Milano (Who's the Boss?/Romantically Challenged) - Alyssa chats with the ladies of The View about her book Project Middle School (Alyssa Milano’s Hope #1) on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Melissa visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michael Rapaport (Awkward/The War at Home) - Michael stops by The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory/8 Simple Rules) - Kaley is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Paul Rudd (Living with Yourself/Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later/Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp/Wild Oats) - Paul talks about Netflix's Living with Yourself on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Ali Wong (American Housewife/Are You There, Chelsea?) - Ali talks about Dear Girls on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) - William talks about The Good Place on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Angela Kinsey (The Office/Haters Back Off/Your Family or Mine) and Jenna Fischer (Splitting Up Together/The Office) - Angela and Jenna talk about the Office Ladies Podcast on NBC's Today in the 10am hour and on the BUILD Series at 2pm.
  • Julie Andrews (Julie) - Julie talks about her book Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years on the BUILD Series at 5pm.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (August/September/October)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series

08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Third Season
08/06 - Caroline in the City - The Fourth Season
08/13 - I Love Lucy - Colorized Collection
08/13 - Leave it to Beaver - Seasons One and Two
08/20 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Six
08/27 - Baskets - The Complete Season Four
08/27 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Thirteenth Season
09/03 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 9th Season
09/03 - Fresh Off the Boat - The Complete Fifth Season
09/03 - The Goldbergs - The Complete Sixth Season
09/03 - Single Parents - The Complete Season One
09/03 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Second Season
09/04 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete First Season
09/10 - American Dad! - Volume 14
09/10 - The Jetsons - The Complete Original Series (Blu-ray) (WBShop.com)
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One
09/11 - My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume Two
09/17 - Friends - The Complete Series (25th Anniversary)
09/17 - Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season
09/19 - Angel from Hell - The DVD Edition
10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
10/15 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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09/20 - Fri-Yay: Primetime Emmy Predictions for Comedy; Paramount Heads to Paris for New Comedy
09/19 - Pop TV Renews Schitt's Creek for Sixth and Final Season, Fifth Season Marathon to Air on Sept. 21; HBO Max Revives The Boondocks
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09/17 - ABC Sets Reunions of Cheers, The Drew Carey Show, Girlfriends, Charmed, Castle and More; NBC Renews Titan Games for Season 2
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