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

Friday, November 15

American Housewife - "Flavor of Westport" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Katie teams up with Oliver in hopes of growing her lasagna-making endeavor from hobby to serious business venture. Meanwhile, a bout of writer’s block forces Greg to look at new career opportunities. When a young YouTube sensation enlists Greg’s help to ghostwrite his memoir, Greg is pushed out of his comfort zone.

Fresh Off the Boat - "Practicum?!" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Evan starts to behave more like a typical eighth-grader, Jessica worries that his future as doctor-president may be in danger. Meanwhile, Eddie has decided on Allen Iverson as his “hero” subject for an essay, sending Louis on a mission to prove that he’s just as worthy of that title.

Raven's Home - "Crewed Up" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Levi starts hanging out with a new group of friends, Booker has a vision that leads him to believe that they're up to no good and tries to steer Levi away from them.

Just Roll With It - "Family Squabbles" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The Bennett-Blatts are invited to be contestants on "Family Squabbles," a game show that tests a family's knowledge of one another.

Gabby Duran & the Unsittables - "Olivia Gone Wild" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
When Dina hires self-proclaimed supersitter Susie Dustman to watch Olivia, Gabby's jealousy drives her to go toe-to-toe with the rival sitter for her sister's affection.

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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11/01 - Fri-Yay: Thoughts on BoJack Horseman Season 6; Netflix Sets Dec. 5 Date for V Wars
10/31 - Will Arnett to Host Fox Lego Series; Lil Rel HBO Comedy Special Gets Premiere Date
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10/28 - Fox Midseason 2020 Schedule; The CW Picks Up Full Seasons of Both Fall Freshman Series

10/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 28, 2019)
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10/22 - Fox Schedules Comedy Christmas Event; CNBC Gets A-Rod to Get Celebs Back in the Game
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10/20 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 21, 2019)
10/19 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Sunnyside Becomes First Casualty of 2019-2020 TV Season; Our Miss Brooks Arrives on DVD
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