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Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series - Blu-ray Review

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Starring: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer, James Callis, Grace Park, Katee Sackhoff, Michael Hogan, Aaron Douglas, Tahmoh Penikett, Alessandro Juliani
Executive Producer: Ronald D. Moore
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 3500 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Blu-ray Release Date: July 28, 2009

Series:5stars:

Some time ago, Cylons, a race of robots created by Man, were built for the purpose of serving humans. One day, Man’s own creation began to turn on their makers, refusing to be their slaves and ultimately beginning a war between the Cylons and humans. In the midst of this war the Cylons mysteriously vanish and the lives of the humans return back to normal. After forty years without incident with the Cylons the humans are unexpectedly hit simultaneously by a massive nuclear attack organized by the Cylons to hit each of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. Nearly the entire human race is destroyed in this attack and the survivors are forced to flee from their home planets into the infinite realm of space. Among the fleet is an old warship, The Battlestar Galactica, which was to be permanently decommissioned and turned into a museum before the attack occurred. The commander of this ships celebratory last voyage, Bill Adama (Olmos) was also about to retire as well when the massive strike on humanity hit. Bill Adama leads the survivors on board Galactica, along with a fleet of fifty thousand surviving civilians, on an impossible journey to relocate the human race on a legendary planet named Earth.

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Since the forty years between the abrupt end of the war and the near-annihilation of the humans Cylons technologically advanced and the race that once were only metalloid beings now have started taking on the form of humans. So there are Cylons who are virtually indistinguishable to the humans now living amongst the survivors. One is made known at the beginning of the series, “Six” (Helfer), who was instrumental in finalizing the attack against the humans. She frequently converses and interacts through mysterious visions with Gaius Baltar (Callis), who unknowingly helped “Six” in her mission to infiltrate the defense system of the Twelve Colonies. Baltar hides what he has done from the fleet and becomes the fleet’s resident scientist who ultimately seems to do things to benefit himself. As the series unfolds, more and more Cylons posing as humans, or “Skin Jobs” as the humans call them, are revealed.

As the fleet progresses through its journey to find refuge on Earth, Cylons trail closely behind attacking the fleet of survivors continuously. Some of the key officers fighting against the Cylon attacks are Saul Tigh (Hogan), Adama’s XO and long time friend, Adama’s estranged son, Lee “Apollo” Adama (Bamber), CAP (Commander of the Air Group) of Galactica, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Sackhoff), a hotshot pilot who is well known for her talent as a pilot and her continuing defiance of authority, and Felix Gaeta (Juliani), a loyal tactical officer in Galactica’s CIC, Combat Information Center. Leading the civilians is Laura Roslin (McDonnell), who after the initial attack on the Twelve Colonies automatically becomes acting President of the Twelve Colonies. This is only after Roslin finds out a long succession of key members of office all the way to the former President had been killed in the attack. Roslin often teams up with Bill Adama to make decisions that will likely benefit the entire fleet and due to her continuing support and reliance on the military issues within the fleet always seem to arise.

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Many of the fleet’s ships are self-dependent and have enough resources to sustain themselves for long periods of time, but as the days, months, and years pass on, the necessity throughout the journey to replenish supplies and resources becoming continuing stumbling blocks and even contention within the fleet itself. Also since many of the resources are for space travel and living they also become choke points between Humans and Cylons and often times the constantly fleeing fleet must take the offensive in order to sustain themselves. Throughout the fleet’s many encounters with the Cylons each one equate to more survivors being lost. As the number of humans slowly diminishes and while the fleet tirelessly attempts to outmaneuver the Cylons they begin to realize that the possibility and hope of finding safe passage to Earth becomes less and less likely.

While the series appears to be a average science fiction show, Battlestar Galactica unfolds to be so much more than just a typical Sci-Fi TV series. Some critics simply classify this series as a Drama, plain and simple. There are layers upon layers within the series that make it so appealing to viewers, though. Of course what is an epic war between the Cylons and humans without fighting? This series has plenty of that and all that a normal Sci-Fi series would entail. There is much more interwoven into the plots and subplots of this immersive series that essentially cover the entire list of genres.

Rating

Being a television show there really isn’t a set rating, but as a warning to any parents, this TV show has some relatively violent sequences as well as some sexual content that maybe questionable for the young crowd.

Video:3.5stars:

Battlestar Galactica comes to blu-ray in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with an AVC encoding. The two-episode mini series that begins the entire series was shot on normal film stock and as such it looked much grainier than the rest of the series. I also found that the resolution from the mini series was not quite as good as I was expecting when I first began to watch it. Fortunately enough as the series progresses, the video quality improves as well. It starts out rough around the edges and while I had no major issues with the image quality at the beginning, it began to impress me more and more. It became more of what I might expect from a quality television show.

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The directors and producers had a specific look in mind and they tried to keep as close to what they envisioned with the show. Because the setting takes place mostly on board various ships within the fleet, the interior is mostly drab and dull colored. Most of the color pallet revolves around plain colors. Also you get a feeling of the drabness within the confines of the ships with the lack of natural lighting in general. There are some instances throughout the show that break up the drabness and provide lush colors and brighter environments. As a whole, the detail resolution throughout the series remains fairly solid, as there weren’t many times throughout the series that the image looks soft, but I did not necessarily find myself being overly impressed while watching the show either. Black levels remain rich, and are especially noticeable on many battle sequences taking place in the void of space. Film grain is present, especially in the mini series starting off the show, but it also was purposefully applied digitally to the rest of the series to allow the image to match the feel of the series.

It’s also worth mentioning that this series is heavy-laden with CGI and some might share my initial concern with how the CGI would come across on the blu-ray. I am glad to say that the vast majority of the time, CGI work does not take you out of experience and that it doesn’t look overly fake. The only thing I continued to notice on several instances was aliasing, mostly during wide shots of the ships in space. If there were any other instances of CG hiccups or a lower-budget look creeping up, I found myself engaged in everything else that it was almost completely overlooked.

While I find myself generally pleased with the video transfer, I cannot say that it excelled and showed continued instances of stunning video that you might show off to your friends. I think that the intention of the directors/producers was to keep with the theme of drabness and desolation throughout the series and it came through as a solid transfer, but not a stellar one.

Audio:4stars:

This series is treated to a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio track that spans the entirety of the series. I was impressed at the opportunities throughout the series that it utilizes the lossless audio track. While this series is never as bombastic as a summer blockbuster film, it is certainly more impressive than most lengthy television series. Most of the time the surround speakers lent support as ambience to what was occurring on screen, but they also ramped up quite nicely during the various battle sequences. Ship flyby’s especially caught my attention, panning from speaker to speaker long with properly giving directional cues. Firefights had ammunition darting through multiple speakers as well. The LFE activity was used mostly in support of the action sequences and was certainly never bombastic and rarely reached even closely to the realm of earth shaking bass.

Most importantly, a show with as much depth as Battlestar Galactica also relied heavily on dialog and interactions between characters and fortunately dialog remained solid and audible throughout the series. I never found myself reaching for the remote to hear even a whispered line. Another thing to mention though is the subtlety of music used in the series. The two composers Bear McCreary and Richard Gibbs did a fantastic job and likely will be unnoticed for the majority of the viewers. Their work is phenomenal in bringing the mood without being overemphasized. Their music becomes much more prominent as the series progresses, but it caught my attention pretty early on in the series. It just has a certain uniqueness that was instrumental in bringing the show to life.

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Extras:4.5stars:
As much depth as the series alone has the extra content packed into the twenty discs is just as impressive, if not more impressive. The vast majority of the episodes have commentaries from the producers, David Eik and Ronald D. Moore. Each disc also includes various deleted scenes. On top of that, are individual featurettes that I will break down and list in their specific seasons. It’s worth noting that most of the extra features mentioned are only in standard definition. It would’ve been nice to have them all in HD, but I understand that most of this is just ported over from the DVD counter-part as it is. It’s still good to have this much there, though.

Season One:
-From Miniseries to Series
-Change is Good, Now They’re Babes
-The Cylon Centurion
-Future/Past Technology
-The Doctor is Out (Of His Mind)
-Production
-Visual Effects
-Epilogue
-Sketches and Art


Season Two:
-Extended Episode: ‘Pegasus’
-Sizzle Reel
-R&D Logos
-David Eick Video Blogs
-Various audio podcasts by Ronald D. Moore


Season Three:
-David Eick Video Blogs
-Extended Episode: ‘Unfinished Business’
-Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance
-Various audio podcasts by Ronald D. Moore


Season Four:
-Extended Episode: ‘Razor’ and a commentary to follow along with it as well
-The Look of Battlestar Galactica
-My Favorite Episode So Far
-Season Four Sneak Peek and Season Four Trailer – As a side note, I am not sure why these are included in with the rest of the Season Four discs. It might make a bit more sense to have it in the Season Three content since you don’t already have a Season Four disc already fired up. Just a thought, but I guess it adds to the overall plethora of extras.
-David Eick Video Blogs
-The Journey
-Cylons: The Twelve
-Season 4.5: The Untold Story – Untold
-Caprica Sneak Peek
-The Music of Battlestar Galactica
-Various audio podcasts by Ronald D. Moore


Season 4.5:
-The Journey Ends: The Arrival
-Evolution of a Cue
-What the Frak is Going On with Battlestar Galactica?
-A Look Back
-…And They Have a Plan
-Extended Episodes: ‘A Disquiet Follows My Soul’, ‘Islanded in a Stream of Stars’, and ‘Daybreak’
-More Audio podcasts from Ronald D. Moore.


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There are also some extras exclusive to blu-ray via Universal Studio's own 'U-Control', which is made up of trivia, picture-in-picture, and portion that pops up with BSG terminology. BD-Live also has some content and mostly in the form of previews.

I want to mention the packaging as well. The overall appearance of the box set is very appealing to me. The very top of the cases houses an articulate Cylon Centurion in a clear plastic case. The cube lifts up at the top third to allow easy access to the four individual season boxes. What was slightly disappointing is the manner that the individual seasons were packed. A simple cardboard box that has a flap that opens from the front that reveals all the various discs from that season. Each disc is in its own slot without any protection. I would’ve much rather have seen a digibook design that houses each individual disc in its own secure holder.

Overall:5stars:

I got this series sight unseen and had a lot of expectations going in. I can truthfully say that my expectations were exceeded in just about every way. I found myself plowing through this entire series in much less time than I expected. Each night I sat down to watch an episode and I often ended up watching three or four. There were so many times while watching the show that I said to myself “I can’t believe that just happened!” The show was so intense at times that I just could not put it down. The experience with Battlestar Galactica set a bar pretty high for future science fiction series to follow. Moreover, I am more eager to go through the entire series again because I know that there is plenty of plot nuances that I missed the first go around. The video transfer is solid, but as I stated before never really ‘wow’ me. However, I am certain that this is the best the series has ever looked on any format. Battlestar Galactica easily has become my favorite series of all time and I have no reservations recommending everyone to give this series a shot.
 

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This sounds like a very interesting series. I cannot say that I have ever watched any of the shows.

When did this series actually start and about how many shows are in each season?

Oh... and what can we expect to pay for this box set?
 

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Battlestar Galactica easily has become my favorite series of all time and I have no reservations recommending everyone to give this series a shot.
Agreed. I have been watching the DVD's each year as they have been released and I'm now ready to watch the last 4.5 finale.

No series has ever matched BG in my opinion.

brucek
 

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I watched a few episodes of this series and could not get into it. I just hate how they messed up the original 1970's series NOTHING is the same, Starbuck is a woman and the plot is not all that great. I wish the producers had stuck to the original story more closely.
 

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This is a fantastic series!
I must admit that I also had a hard time with some of the changes notably Boomer and Starbuck. Once I accepted those changes, I thoroughly enjoyed this series. I also really like the addition of Richard Hatch, he just really added something,...maybe a connection to the original. Also Glen A. Larson's involvement was the clincher,... figured if he gave it his seal of approval I'd stick with and see what it had to offer. Was not disappointed at all.

Tony, if you like the original,... give this one another shot. The plot, story line, writing and acting are far, far superior to the original.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Tony, I can see the changes they made being clinchers for some, but as Mark said, if you can get passed those, it is MUCH better in just about every way.

Sonnie, the MSRP on the set is $350. Pretty steep, but I know that it hovers right around the $200 point at a lot of online retailers right now. I've seen it go as low as like $160 or so, too.
 

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I noticed that Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is being released on 10/27.

Is this a movie summarizing the series?
 

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Sounds like I almost need to watch it first. Maybe that would give me a clue as to whether I will want to spend a couple hundred bucks too.
 

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Sonnie, have you seriously never heard of or seen this TV series on SciFi channel. It's been going on for years and only just finished recently...

The series has won widespread acclaim among many mainstream non-genre publications. Time magazine, Rolling Stone magazine and New York Newsday named it the best show on television in 2005. Other publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker and National Review also gave the show positive reviews.

The show has received a Peabody Award for overall excellence, several Emmy Awards for Visual Effects, and Emmy nominations for Writing and Directing. Time magazine has named it one of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time.


brucek
 

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I have heard of it, but only in passing, so to speak. I have not paid much attention to it at all. I have never read anything about it in the least bit up until today... and only because of Jon's review.

I haven't ever paid that much attention to the SciFi channel. I have watched very few shows on it up until recently when I watched a few recorded episodes of Warehouse 13. I can't even remember how I heard about that show... maybe flipping through the channels one day. :huh:

I can't believe we have never had a favorite TV Shows thread. We did have one that ask what your favorite show was last season.

We need to talk about TV shows more often. I may be missing some good ones. If it ain't 24 or American Idol, I may very well miss it, although I think I may like Flash Forward. I try to keep up with CSI: Miami and CSI (Vegas)... watch a few Law & Order shows here and there... liked the new Dark Blue series this past summer, but I really haven't been catching too terribly much TV.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sonnie, if you get a chance, go rent the first season on DVD or something to give this series ago. The price for the box set is tough to swallow for something sight unseen and even though I did, I decided to take the risk because I was confident that it was something I was going to enjoy nonetheless.
 

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The show was awesome. I like others bought the seasons on regular dvds. I am planning on buyin it on bluray when i can come across a good deal.
 

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I tried to watch the original and the newer version but you can add me to the list of people who just couldn't get into it. Little robotic dogs didn't do anything for me. More to my liking were Babylon 5 and SG-1.

Bob
 

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Well, it may not be for everyone, but I cannot urge everyone enough still to give it a try anyway!

To me, Babylon 5 and Stargate SG-1 were not as good or engaging as BSG. I found them to be "too sci-fi" and not enough substance. I had a hard time connecting with either of those two series.
 

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Well... I am officially hooked. lol

I picked up the regular DVD Season 1 and have watched the first two discs thus far. This is going to be really good and fun to watch all the way through.

Now to buy the complete series on Blu-ray. I have $75 in eBay Bucks, plus 8% Cashback for a final cost of about $110. This is for the UK boxed version, which appears to be a much better packaging.


Of course the guy doing the YouTube clip is kinda clumsy, but ultimately it ain't about him and he does get the point across.
 

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I have to admit, I do like the UK box better, after seeing it. Still, the US version will suffice for my BSG enjoyment. :)
 

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Jon,
Wonderful review.

I recently came back from a 1.5 yr assignment in Korea. This was a movie available to us, via download. Well my wife was not really looking forward to watching it but there were no more Weeds or Big Love episodes to watch.
Thank goodness.....not that I don't like those......but

This series was truly awesome! The wife was like lets watch another, then another. We ran through the entire series in record time. She could not wait to get my son to bed and then would be like can you hurry up and set up the show!

She and I were both hooked. The story, the acting, the special effects. It was all fantastic.
 
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