Universal Studios Home Video presents
Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.5 (2006)
Tyrol: What do you want to do now, Captain?
Starbuck: The same thing we always do...fight 'em until we can't.- Aaron Douglas, Katie Sackhoff
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, Dana Delaney, Dean Stockwell
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (contains violence and adult themes)
Run Time: 08h:41m:00s
Release Date: 2006-09-19
DVD ReviewApollo: That's just it Kara. I didn't want to make it back alive.
Tyranny, military torture and rape, religious fanaticism, genocide, depression, political mudslinging, and stolen elections. This unfortunate list would appear to describe some of the most saddening issues faced within our modern society. However, it actually offers an accurate description of the key concepts depicted within the second season of Battlestar Galactica. The title could easily turn off many discerning viewers who avoid all things science fiction. Skipping this consistent, intelligent show would be a major mistake, however. It remains the best series on television and provides a realistic, character-driven story that continues to surprise with each successive week. The conflicts move well beyond the standard "good vs. evil" formula and explore the darkness within everyone, including the heroic figures.
In an unfortunate move, Universal has released the second season on two separate DVD collections. The first 10 episodes were released as Season 2.0 in December 2005. This new release includes the final 10 entries and an extended version of the mid-season finale Pegasus. That episode introduced the brutal Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes)—a stern leader who believes she has unbridled authority during wartime. Forbes displays a creepy, unyielding demeanor that makes her actions understandable while being terrifying. This extended, 58-minute version gives the ambitious story more room to breathe and makes the final cliffhanger even more powerful. The introduction of the Battlestar Pegasus drives several key stories and presents a much-different view on the dire conflict. Their officers have been pushed to the breaking point (and beyond) and have lost much of their humanity since the devastating Cylon attack.
Pegasus is the first part of a compelling three-episode arc that introduces new elements that play a pivotal role in everyone's future. Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) forms a bond with another Number Six Cylon (Tricia Helfer) named Gina who faced vicious torture from Admiral Cain's officers. Although her consciousness is different, Gina looks almost exactly like his past love, and this soft spot drives him to act in ways detrimental to humanity. Baltar remains one of the show's most riveting characters due to his possibly crazed interactions with another Number Six that only he can see. Does she really exist, or is she a manifestation of his mind? The answer remains a mystery, though hints do arise throughout the series. James Callis' mannerisms are way over the top but are understandable given Baltar's state of mind. Serving as Vice President, his often-selfish actions directly lead to the season's stunning conclusion.
The final two parts of this opening trilogy focus on the attempting destruction of the Cylon Resurrection Ship—a large space vessel that may hold the key to the enemy's apparent invincibility. Although the Galactica and Pegasus crews have joined to battle this menace, their truce could easily shatter at any time. The subsequent episodes drive the story successfully, but they also include a few lesser moments that don't work perfectly. The most striking example is Black Market, which depicts Lee Adama's (Jamie Bamber) difficult attempts to solve a murder involving the illegal trade. It introduces several female characters important to Lee who have never been mentioned in the past. While the action remains interesting, it does fall short of the high level of writing expected from this series. Slight problems also appear in Sacrifices, which involves a hostage crisis that may lead to the death of a major character. The concluding moments are powerful, but the plot feels more forced than usual. The wonderful ensemble cast remains strong across the board, and even the defects are minor when considered within the context of a grand 20-episode season.
Any reservations generated by the middle episodes disappear after a final stretch of four incredible episodes that close the season in stunning fashion. The Captain's Hand explores the ramifications of the abortion issue on humanity's future and the impending presidential election. Following the near-genocide of the human race, President Roslin's (Mary McDonnell) decision to follow past laws may not be suitable. Even better is Downloaded, a remarkable episode that gives us the first look at the Cylon society. Although they are machines, such human emotions as jealousy and love do exist within their personas, leading to a surprise result. A pivotal character in this episode is the Cylon known as Shannon Valerii (Grace Park), who once served as the pilot Boomer on the Galactica. Awaking in a new body, she struggles to adjust to the Cylon world and still feels strongly about her human comrades. Her individual feelings drive the enemies to seek a new path in the remarkable two-part finale Lay Down Your Burdens. This two-part shocker concludes with a daring leap from the creators into brand new territory. The final twists place everyone into a different situation and should allow for excellent character development during the third season.
Battlestar Galactica succeeds largely due to intense work from the primary cast, who continue to add greater depth to their three-dimensional characters. Edward James Olmos generates tremendous weight as Adama, the leader of the human fleet. His chemistry with Mary McDonnell grows stronger during these episodes, and their moments reveal two masters at work. Katie Sackhoff keeps Starbuck from becoming a superhero and conveys the doubts and flaws within her brash persona. Grace Park surprises in multiple roles again and brings warmth and a quiet menace to the Cylon Sharon. The top-notch actors are too many to mention, with others like Michael Hogan, Aaron Douglas, and Tahmoh Penikett also performing well. Guest appearances by Michelle Forbes, Dean Stockwell, and Lucy Lawless also deserve recognition for their fine work. Combined with the unique style and impressive writing, the top-notch performances generate premier drama on a weekly basis.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Battlestar Galactica's visual styles differ considerably depending on the location, with the ship appearing cold and blue, while Caprica is bright with an orange tint. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer presents each type in stunning fashion, with little grain and few defects. The visual effects are also strong throughout the collection, which leads to a top-notch presentation.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: This release follows the past trend and offers a strong 5.1-channel Dolby Digital presentation that immerses you into the powerful stories. The sound effects from the space battles and personal confrontations work especially well, which helps to enhance the viewing. Its complexity does fall a bit short of the best DVDs, but the transfer still delivers an impressive experience.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Surface: The Complete Series, Las Vegas, The Office, Slither
28 Deleted Scenes
11 Feature/Episode commentaries by Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore and Others
Packaging: Box Set
- Extended Version of Pegasus episode
The release also contains 28 deleted scenes from eight episodes covering more than 42 minutes. While some scenes include unnecessary conversations of the characters discussing the plot, others provide subplots completed removed from the episode. For example, Downloaded includes scenes involving the reporter D'Anna Biers' (Lucy Lawless) attempts to see the Cylon baby. That storyline was completed removed, though Lawless did still appear in the episode on Caprica. Also, several key relationships that felt rushed originally seem more fleshed out after viewing the deleted scenes. Lee Adama's key romance was affected significantly by the initial cuts.
The other major feature is a collection of seven video blogs from David Eick that were originally broadcast online. Each blog lasts about 3-4 minutes and focuses on a specific production element. The highlights include Episode 207 - Day 4, which presents an enjoyable cast read-through; and Never Let the Inmates Run the Asylum, which shows a "tone meeting," occurring during the end of pre-production and offering several actors a chance to ask questions. James Callis has a lot of fun with the read-through and gets everyone laughing with Baltar's crazy statements. Less successful is Sex, Lies, and the Videoblog, which shows Katie Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber goofing around with Eick. This release also includes the R & D Logos, the silly credits sequences involving animated versions of Moore and Eick. Each episode receives a different one, and many of them are provided with this disc.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsBattlestar Galactica appears primed to break out during its third season thanks to a recent Peabody Award, a cover story in Entertainment Weekly, and a recommendation from guest host Kevin Smith on Ebert & Roeper. If you plan to watch the new season, this DVD release is must-see viewing. Its 10 episodes wonderfully continue the compelling serial and offer numerous surprises within each unique episode.
Dan Heaton 2007-01-05