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Battlestar Galactica - The Strike Ends, but the TV-DVD Impact Begins with a Battlestar

Rumors say the 4th Season will be split on DVD due to the WGA Strike

Posted by David Lambert
With the Writers Guild of America strike coming to a close, a lot of post-strike analysis is going to concentrate on the "winners" and the "losers" in this battle. Let's face it though, the fans were the biggest losers in all of this. With no new episodes being written, all of our favorite programs got pushed aside in favor of "more of the same" reality shows that we've seen time and time again. In the final tally, we see that some scripted series will get a handful more episodes this "season," others will wait until next season, and still others simply got the axe.

What about TV-DVDs, though? How did the strike end up affecting the home video release pattern of current shows? We're still waiting to see the fallout on this, and we won't know the extent of it for weeks or months, but our first indication has come to light in the form of Battlestar Galactica.

After Universal Studios Home Entertainment released the first season DVD set in the last half of 2005, at a $59.99 list price, fans were generally unhappy to see the second season split into two different DVD packages ("Season 2.0" and "Season 2.5"), sold at a list price of $49.99 each. The reason for the break-up was because the Sci Fi Channel had split the broadcast season up into "summer" and "winter" groups, with a three-month hiatus in the fall (like they did with Stargate SG-1), so that their shows wouldn't have to compete with the fall network premieres for ratings. That translated into a nine-month lag between the half-season DVD sets, though!

Why? Universal certainly wanted the 2.0 set out in stores before the broadcast premiere of the second half of the season, to maximize their sales of that set. But then the studio held off releasing the 2.5 set, until they could schedule it timed to be near the premiere date of the third season, and tie in those events with each other.

Fans were glad, then, that Sci Fi aired the third season straight through, with no mid-season lag. This resulted in the upcoming Season 3 DVDs - due March 18th - containing all 20 episodes for $59.99 SRP. The double-length Pegasus flashback story, called Razor ($26.99 SRP), is technically part of the fourth season, but came to DVD on its own this past December (it can be watched after seeing the second season, as it contains no spoilers for the third or fourth).

When the strike started back on November 5th, shooting on Galactica continued until the 16th, using already-completed scripts. Of the 20 episodes ordered for the 4th and final season (leaving Razor out of that count), 11 had been completed by the time production was suspended. Creator Ronald D. Moore blogged at the time his "frakking" promise that Galactica would surely be back, and with the strike now over the staff will be gearing up to shoot those remaining episodes. It looks like production will resume sometime next month (March). The first half of the fourth season will debut on the Sci Fi Channel on April 4th, but a decision is still pending on when the strike-delayed second half of the final season would be broadcast.

How does all of this affect the DVDs? We've gotten word from multiple trusted sources (giving us this info separately from each other), that Universal Studios Home Entertainment has decided to release Battlestar Galactica - Season 4.0 late this year. Very late, is the indication (but no date has been finalized, as far as we know). As before, we expect it to be timed for release before the broadcast premiere of the second half of the season, to maximize sales. The "4.0" package will contain the episodes that have already aired by that time, with the final episodes eventually getting released on a "Season 4.5" set down the road...probably in 2009.

So instead of getting one season set with a list price of $60, and getting 20 episodes all at the same time, the strike-induced hiatus means fans will instead have to pick up two separate packages at a list price of $50 for each one. And be patient during the wait between release dates. Can Ronald D. Moore and the other producers of the show, along with the studio, pack these two releases with enough extras to make it up to the fans? We'll have to wait to hear about that.

Until then we hear nothin' but the rain...grab your gun and bring the cat in. BG fans who recognize that reference, pour yourself an extra glass of ambrosia!

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