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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 (2005)

"Months on the run, and what do we have to show for it? Casualties. Deteriorating conditions. This crew needs a rest. It's finally hitting them, Saul. Our old lives are gone. The only thing we have to look forward to is this."
- Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: January 12, 2006

Stars: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katie Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park
Other Stars: Kandyse McClure, Tahmoh Penikett, Michael Hogan, Aaron Douglas, Paul Campbell, Alessandro Juliani, Nicki Clyne, Lucy Lawless, Michelle Forbes
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 07h:18m:00s
Release Date: December 20, 2005
UPC: 025192937521
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+AA- B

DVD Review

Remaking a television series is always a tricky prospect, especially when the original series is a cult favorite among science-fiction fans. In an attempt to sidestep the typical pratfalls and craft a more interesting story, creator Ronald D. Moore (Carnivale, the recent Star Trek shows) chose to develop a "re-imagining" of the beloved 1978 series Battlestar Galactica. The result was an exciting four-hour miniseries, which aired in December 2003 on the Sci-Fi Channel. Its documentary-style filmmaking and more realistic environment helped to draw viewers who would not enjoy the hokey, late '70s tone of the original incarnation. The new series' first season appeared in the fall of 2004 and delivered 13 remarkable episodes. Even the miniseries' dramatic success could not have predicted how effective the show would become. It continues to transcend the sci-fi genre and comment on some of the most pressing issues facing our society today.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 includes the first 10 episodes of the surprise hit's second season, which showcases major internal conflicts heightened by the extremely difficult battle with the relentless Cylons. After 40 years of peace, the robot enemies (originally created by humans) initiated a surprise attack that nearly decimated the entire population. In the miniseries, the small remnants of the fleet joined the ancient Battlestar Galactica and fled their galaxy to locate a safe haven, which set the premise for the series. The fleet is led by Commander Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos)—a stoic military man who must learn to adapt to a less-rigid situation. His second-in-command is the XO Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), who struggles with alcohol and self-confidence. The familiar names of Starbuck, Apollo, and Boomer appear here, but each one is considerably different than the original characters. Starbuck (Katie Sackhoff) and Boomer (Grace Park) have become female characters, with the former being a strong, attractive leader. Apollo (Jamie Bamber) is still a good guy, but he faces a larger internal struggle this time and does not always agree with his father Adama. This ensemble series includes notable characters too numerous to mention, but many will appear in the subsequent discussion.

The second season picks up following the stunning cliffhangers of the previous year's finale, Kobol's Last Gleaming. If you have not viewed the first season and prefer to avoid any spoilers, please skip this section and go buy that release. The biggest shocker of the conclusion was the point-blank shooting of Adama by his own pilot Boomer, who is a human-form Cylon. The leader's life will hang in the balance for a considerable time during the early episodes. In addition, the Cylons are poised to attack the fleet, which places Tigh in charge of a tense project. The former President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) has been arrested and placed in the brig by Adama, which creates a serious rift in the populace. Starbuck has arrived on the Cylon-occupied Caprica to grab an important artifact, but the appearance of her former comrade Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) and a possibly friendly version of the Boomer Cylon complicates matters. This description represents only a small portion of the storylines ongoing at the season's start, which shows the series' incredible depth.

This series flows in the vein of 24 by constantly raising the stakes for our heroes and building a lengthy story across many episodes. The intensity actually matches that excellent action series and improves on it by offering greater depth from each character. Even the most likable individuals face difficult choices, and their decisions are not always the right ones. Helo clearly loves Caprica's Boomer, but his alliance with her could lead to nasty implications for the entire fleet if she betrays them. In Fragged, Tigh's problems in dealing with the civilian leadership cause him to instill martial law, which may not be a wise decision. But his intentions are not villainous, just misguided from a mind under enormous pressure. Apollo makes a drastic choice in Resistance that places him in direct conflict with his father. The son's belief in doing the right thing is strong, but it could lead to disastrous consequences. This type of dilemma appears often and leads to gripping drama every week.

The remarkable ensemble cast assembled is the premier group of any television series (including the impressive Lost), and its supporting actors often deliver the best moments of each episode. A consistently strong performer is Aaron Douglas as Chief Petty Officer Tyrol, a loyal guy whose life falls apart when he learns that his lover is a Cylon. He's especially strong in Flight of the Phoenix, which shows him attempting to create something new to overcome depressing memories. The especially cute Nicki Clyne receives more screen time this year as Crewman Specialist Cally and delivers one of the season's biggest shockers. Alessandro Juliani (Lt. Gaeta) and Kandyse McClure (Petty Officer Dualla) are given the unenviable task of spouting lots of technical jargon, but their characters are believable and interesting. Possibly the most difficult role goes to James Callis, who plays the slightly crazed Gaius Baltar. He spends much of his time conversing (and more) with the beautiful apparition of the Cylon Six (Tricia Helfer). It's unclear whether she's an imaginary creation or an actual vision, but it plays a role in his unstable mindset.

Battlestar Galactica's stories are enjoyable on their own, but they also relate strongly to the issues of today's world. The wall of "missing person" photos and the dreary images of destruction recall 9/11 and the current worries about terrorism. This season's major conflict between the civilian and military mindset correlates to the current discussions with our country's sometimes callous leaders. A primary example occurs in the mid-season finale Pegasus, which brings Galactica into contact with a lost Battlestar and the stoic Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes). Her crew members' vicious torture of a captured Cylon brings up pertinent issues about conduct during wartime that have been discussed during the Iraq invasion. Combined with stirring personal moments and entertaining battles, this intelligent approach helps to crown this series as the best program of 2005.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: I've been reviewing many television DVDs lately, and this release offers one of the best presentations in the format. The series' gritty look comes across especially well and helps to enhance the realistic atmosphere. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer effectively presents the battle scenes and personal moments while retaining a consistent tone. In addition, the space effects are sharp and bright, which leads to an excellent presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: This release offers an impressive 5.1-channel transfer that powerfully conveys the show's numerous dramatic moments. From the tense arguments and booming drums to the deadly gunfire from the Cylons, this track provides an immersive experience that improves on most television offerings. Its complexity does fall a bit short of the best DVDs, but it still delivers an enjoyable ride during each episode.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 40 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Battlestar Gallactica, Seaquest DSV: Season 1, Serenity, The Island
43 Deleted Scenes
7 Feature/Episode commentaries by Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore on Scattered, Valley of Darkness, Resistance, The Farm, Home (Parts 1 and 2), and Final Cut
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 includes seven podcast commentaries from Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore that should be a godsend for devoted fans. Because they were recorded close to the time of airing, these tracks lack the historical viewpoint often present on DVD commentaries, but Moore provides a tremendous amount of information. He's also willing to tout his show's strong points and compare them to other series. The only episodes missing are Fragged and the final two episodes, which probably were impossible due time constraints. It's possible they will appear in a future full-season release.

The other major feature is a collection of deleted scenes on every episode but the mid-season finale, Pegasus. The 43 entries run for more than an hour and present both extended sequences and entirely new storylines. The premiere Scattered gives more background material on the first meeting between Adama and Tigh as younger men. These storyline is interesting, but it was probably unnecessary to understand the character's development. The duo's past also plays a role in the Valley of Darkness extras, as Adama's comments help Tigh to defeat the Cylons in the present day. The Farm contains eight deleted scenes, including a bizarre dream from Starbuck. The other major inclusions appear on Flight of the Phoenix, where the excellent Aaron Douglas as Chief Tyrol receives additional screen time.

The only remaining feature is a three-minute preview of the final 10 episodes of Season 2, which promise to deliver numerous thrilling moments. The actors appear for quick interview clips, and we receive a few teasing scenes. I would normally rate this collection higher, but Universal's decision to release the first half of the season feels like a money-grabbing ploy. If a full set appears at the end with additional extras, my suspicions will be confirmed. I hope that this will not be the case.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 builds effectively on the success of the previous season and offers a smart, entertaining product. I have my reservations about this release, but I cannot argue with the merits of the actual series. Viewers who are not switching to the Sci-Fi Network on Friday nights are missing television's best series.

 


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