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Battlestar Galactica - Season 1 Review




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Rating
Video:   9/10
Audio:   9/10
Extras:   7/10

Universal's best TV release? I think so!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
9/18/2005

The starship Galactica is to be decommissioned, and its Commander is set to retire. It's been 40 years since anyone has heard from the Cylons - a race of robots created by humans which rebelled, intent on the destruction of mankind - when the attack comes. The Colonial fleet is decimated in a matter of hours, and the 12 colonies are virtually wiped out. The Galactica flees with the new President of the colonies on board. They gather refugees, and struggle to grasp the situation they're in; they could be the last survivors of the human race. Their only hope is Earth, a rumored 13th colony told in legends.

The series picks up where the mini-series left off; the rag-tag fleet of ships is frantically trying to outrun the Cylons. The 13 episodes of season 1 are stressful, frantic, and sad. We watch as a race fights to survive being completely wiped out. This isn't the happy future of Star Trek, it's very, very bleak.

Universal was kind enough to provide the previously released mini-series on disc 1, followed by the 13 episodes of season 1 on discs 2-5. Each single-sided disc comes in a slim case.

Disc 1 (3:02:25)
Mini-series (3:02:25)

Disc 2 (2:56:35)
33 (44:59)
Water (43:56)
Bastille Day (43:57)
Act of Contrition (43:43)

Disc 3 (2:55:54)
You Can't Go Home Again (43:54)
Litmus (43:59)
Six Degrees of Separation (44:00)
Flesh and Bone (44:01)

Disc 4 (2:55:56)
Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down (44:00)
The Hand of God (43:59)
Colonial Day (43:59)
Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 1 (43:58)

Disc 5 (44:00)
Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 2 (44:00)

Video

There was something I noticed as I re-watched the mini-series; grain. I can't recall noticing that much grain when I watched it the first time, or when I re-watched it with the commentary on. I'm sure it's the same transfer as the previous release; it wouldn't make sense for them to transfer it again. Both the mini-series and the first season are presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1). The transfer looks very good, except for the grain in the mini-series, and some noise in the first season. They switched from film for the mini-series to HD cameras for the regular season, so that's why I'm commenting on grain for one, and noise for the other. There's a lot of detail in the shadows; the DP talks about how much he enjoyed shooting with HD because of the control it gave him. There's a chapter placed after the opening of each episode, and each disc contains a "play all" option.

Audio

I love the audio for sci-fi shows, and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are the best way to show the sounds off. From the deep rumble of the ships, to the dogfights, the Battlestar Galactica series sounds great. I thought the rear speaker use was great, especially during battles. The previous mini-series included English, Spanish and French tracks (and subtitles), but this set just included an English 5.1 track, and English/Spanish subtitles.

Extras - How we rate extras

Commentary Tracks
Universal has included the commentary track for the mini-series which was on the previous release, as well as commentaries on most of the other episodes. They've also included Ronald Moore's PodCasts which are available from the SciFi.com website, and began with episode 9, "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down." He recorded PodCasts for the final 5 episodes, and has continued it into season 2.
Mini-series - Michael Rymer (director), David Eick (executive producer) and Ronald Moore (executive producer)
33 - Michael Rymer, David Eick and Ronald Moore
Bastille Day - David Eick and Ronald Moore
Act of Contrition - David Eick and Ronald Moore
You Can't Go Home Again - David Eick and Ronald Moore
Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down - Ronald Moore
The Hand of God - Ronald Moore
Colonial Day - Ronald Moore
Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 1 - Ronald Moore
Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 2 - Ronald Moore

Behind the Scenes (1:03:17)
There are 8 behind-the-scenes featurettes in this section. They examine various aspects of the production and are worth watching. These are the same pieces found on the Sci-Fi website, though the DVD is missing 4 segments that appear on the site, but you can watch them on the site.
From Miniseries to Series (8:31)
Change is Good, Now They're Babes (7:29)
The Cylon Centurion (5:31)
Future/Past Technology (7:43)
The Doctor is out (of his mind) (7:44)
Production (9:09)
Visual Effects (8:55)
Epilogue (8:15)

Deleted Scenes (48:26)
There are a TON of deleted scenes to keep you entertained. The international opening is here for those that want to see it.

Sketches and Art (4:12)
A montage of various sketches and artwork from the series.

Battlestar Galactica Series Lowdown (20:21)
This featurette explains what went on in the mini-series, and the direction of the show in season 1.

Trading Card
A trading card has been inserted into each DVD set.

Summary

I must say I really, really enjoyed the "revisioning" of the series (I have a friend that will kill me for saying that). When I re-watched the pilot I enjoyed it more than the first time because I had already dealt with any of the "surprises," and I understood more about the series, and the reasons for the changes. I thought the other 13 episodes were great; much darker than the original series, and there was a greater sense of urgency behind their actions. I'm not sure where I stand on the character of Baltar; I think I'll have to give him some more time.

This is a bit of an odd DVD release because a lot of the material was produced before the DVD set. Five commentary tracks (PodCasts) existed, as well as the featurettes, so this may be old material to many people. I'm extremely interested in what gave Ronald Moore the idea for the PodCasts; I think it's a great idea, and it shows that commentary tracks can be done very cheaply. The other bonus features which were included with the mini-series are not included on this set; you just get the commentary track. There's value in the previous release if you already have it.

This is the most impressive TV set I've seen from Universal in... hmm... I think it's the most impressive set I've seen from the company. A great show, good transfer, and great extras; I'd love to see them release more sets like this. Nice work Universal!


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