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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Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Sunday, November 17

The Simpsons - "Go Big or Go Homer" (Fox, 7:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Homer is demoted and must supervise interns, among whom is a go-getter who asks Homer to be his mentor; when Homer inspires him to start a business of his own, the two find themselves being chased by the mob.

Bob's Burgers - "Boys Just Wanna Have Fungus" (Fox, 7:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Unable to afford a rare gourmet mushroom for a Burger of the Day, Bob and Gene jump into the cutthroat world of mushroom foraging; Tina's powerful new prescription glasses lead her to believe she has a superpower.

The Simpsons - "Livin La Pura Vida" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The Simpsons join other Springfield families on the Van Houtens' annual trip to Costa Rica, which they obviously can't afford; Homer befriends Patty's new girlfriend; Lisa tracks down the real reason the Van Houtens can go on this trip every year.

Bless the Harts - "Myrtle Beach Memoirs" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When The Last Supper is closed for repairs, the Harts head to Myrtle Beach for a family vacation that they can't afford; Jenny sees an opportunity to win some cash by competing in an intense mini-golf tournament.

Bob's Burgers - "Land of the Loft" (Fox, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Bob and Linda challenge themselves and attend a loft party on a stormy night; the kids challenge their babysitter and face the storm in an ice cream truck.

Family Guy - "Heart Burn" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
In celebration of Peter and Lois' anniversary, the Griffins recount their own versions of three well-known love stories.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 11)

Friday, November 15

  • Shia LaBeouf (Even Stevens) - Watch Shia on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Lil Rel Howery (Rel/The Carmichael Show) - Lil Rel appears on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Tig visits The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Cobie Smulders (Friends from College/How I Met Your Mother) - Cobie is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Kristin Chenoweth (Trial & Error/Kristin) - Kristin appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Lea Michele (The Mayor) - Lea is a guest on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Patrick Stewart (The Blunt) - Patrick stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Tracee is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Lena Waithe (Master of None) - Lena appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Whoopi Goldberg (Whoopi/Bagdad Cafe) - Whoopi dishes about her new book The Unqualified Hostess on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Tony Hale (Veep/Arrested Development) - Tony talks about Disney+'s Forky Asks a Question on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Valerie Bertinelli (Hot in Cleveland/Cafe Americain/One Day at a Time) - Valerie appears on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff talks about his new Netflix comedy special on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Autumn Reeser (Entourage/Complete Savages) - Autumn talks about Christmas Under the Stars on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show) - Wilmer is a guest on Access Daily, so check your local listings.


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

My Three Sons - The Fourth Season - Volume One Modern Family - The Complete Tenth Season Life with Lucy - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final 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
09/19 - The Guest Book - Season 1
10/08 - Leave it to Beaver - The Complete Series
10/08 - Life with Lucy - The Complete Series
10/15 - Mom - The Complete Sixth Season
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 1
10/16 - Our Miss Brooks - Season 1 - Volume 2
11/05 - The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang - The Complete Animated Series
11/05 - Laverne & Shirley in the Army (Animated Series) - The DVD Edition
11/05 - Letterkenny - Seasons 1 & 2
11/05 - Step by Step - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Twelfth and Final Season (Blu-ray)
11/12 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition)
11/19 - The King of Queens - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
11/19 - The Kominsky Method - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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