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

Wednesday, August 10

The Conners - "Messy Situation, Miscommunication and Academic Probation" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Becky inadvertently outs her relationship with Professor Davis, he’s forced to reevaluate his career, but his erratic behavior sends Becky down a path to reevaluate their relationship. Meanwhile, Dan and Darlene check in on Chuck, only to learn heartbreaking news about his family.

The Goldbergs - "Hip-Shaking and Booty-Quaking" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Erica and Geoff decide to throw a party to prove to others and themselves that they can still have fun as a young, engaged couple. Meanwhile, Beverly assumes control of William Penn Academy as “acting principal” and presses the school faculty to put together a “Fame”-themed send-off for the senior class.

Abbott Elementary - "Open House" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
It’s Open House night at Abbott Elementary, and while Janine prepares to meet her struggling student’s mother, the rest of the faculty uses the time to relax. Gregory is taken aback when he learns how Ava got the principal job, and later, Barbara’s daughter’s visit creates a commotion in more ways than one.

Home Economics - "Keg of Light Beer, $180" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
While Tom and Marina attempt to relive their youth at a college party, Connor and Denise deal with JoJo (Tetona Jackson) potentially leaving when she gets an offer to go on a reality show. Meanwhile, Sarah considers casting her niece in the school musical.

Wellington Paranormal - "A Civil War" (The CW, 9:00PM ET/PT)
In the wake of a shocking blindside, players scramble for power; a pair of underdogs must choose between creating chaos and playing it safe.

grown-ish - "Look What U Started" (Freeform, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Eager to impress Gamma Psi Delta while pledging, Junior faces a moral dilemma when he books a controversial comic to perform at a fundraiser; Aaron struggles to fit in with his colleagues, and receives advice from Zoey about how to cope.

Everything's Trash - "Family Is Trash" (Freeform, 10:30PM ET/PT)
Jayden's obsessive need to fix Phoebe creates a rift between them; Jessie, Malika and Michael attempt to mend the relationship and reunite the siblings.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 8)

Wednesday, August 10

  • Jamie Foxx (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Jamie Foxx Show) - Watch Jamie on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) - Abbi appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • David Alan Grier (Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!/The Cool Kids/The Carmichael Show/Bad Teacher/Life with Bonnie/DAG) - David guest hosts Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Kieran Culkin (Go Fish) - Kieran is a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Jeff Foxworthy (The Jeff Foxworthy Show) - Jeff appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Vanessa Bayer (I Love That for You) - Vanessa is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Julie Andrews (Julie) - Julie chats with the ladies of The View on a repeat on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Michaela JaĆ© Rodriguez (Loot) - Michaela discusses Loot on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Laura Linney (The Big C) - Laura appears on a repeat of The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Gabriel Iglesias (Mr. Iglesias/Cristela) - Gabriel is a guest on a repeat of The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Mariska Hargitay (Can't Hurry Love) - Mariska appears on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Biggs (Outmatched/Mad Love/Drexell's Class) - Jason and his wife Jenny Mollen are guests on a repeat of The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • D'Arcy Carden (Barry/The Good Place) - NBC's Today catches up with D'Arcy in the 9am hour.
  • Sherri Shepherd (Mr. Iglesias/Trial & Error/Sherri/Less Than Perfect/Suddenly Susan) - Sherri guest hosts a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Sofia Vergara (Modern Family/The Knights of Prosperity/Hot Properties) - Sofia is a guest on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.
  • Howie Mandel (Good Grief) - Howie will be on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.
  • Megan Suri (Never Have I Ever) - Megan appears on PIX11 Morning News on WPIX in New York at 9:40am.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (April-August)

Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release) The Neighborhood - Season Four The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Three

04/05 - Up All Night - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
04/26 - The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy) - The Complete Fourth Season
04/26 - Jackie Gleason TV Treasures - 70th Anniversary Collection (including Honeymooners Rarities)
05/03 - No Activity - Season Three
05/13 - The Donna Reed Show - The Complete Seasons 1-5 (Time Life)
05/31 - Becker - The Complete Series (2022 Release)
06/14 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Eleventh Season
06/14 - Hacks - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
06/14 - Rutherford Falls - Season One (Blu-ray) (DVD)
06/21 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season One / Season Two
07/19 - The Neighborhood - Season Four
07/19 - Reno 911! - The Hunt for QAnon (Blu-ray) (DVD)
07/26 - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - The Complete Season Three / Season Four
08/16 - And Just Like That... - The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. - Canada)
08/16 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Fourth Season (Blu-ray) (DVD)
More Upcoming TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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