Universal // 2006 // 461 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 2nd, 2006
"We fight them until we can't."
One of the hottest shows on television finally sees the second half of its second season released on DVD, supplementing the 2.0 release last year, prepping you for the looming third season launch. How does life find our hapless crew of genocide survivors?
Humans made robots called Cylons. The Cylons got pissed, and blew the hell out of humankind. With about 50,000 survivors and ragtag fleet of ships, the survivors abandoned their old planets, now under Cylon control, taking off for the mythical "Earth." Leading the fleet is Battlestar Galactica, an antiquated warship led by of Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos). Adama and President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) have had their ups and downs, clashing about leadership decisions but the midpoint of season two finds the duo working off of the same page.
The Cylons, however, are unrelenting, launching attack after attack, seemingly hell-bent on eradicating human beings as a species. The humans do have some weapons at their disposal, including hotshot pilots Apollo (Jamie Bamber) and Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), Cylon turncoat Sharon Valerii (Grace Park), and the brilliant but crazy (?) Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis), who's loyalties are tenuous.
When we left 2.0, another Battlestar showed up miraculously, under the command of a squirrelly Admiral who wasted no time in stepping on Adama's toes. Once more, inner divisiveness threatens to tear apart the survivors, and a power play may plunge the fleet into full-on civil war.
The 2.5 set brings the 10 episodes that comprise the latter half of Season 2, plus an extended version of the midseason cliffhanger "Pegasus:"
* "Pegasus: Extended Edition"
* "Resurrection Ship: Part 1"
* "Resurrection Ship: Part 2"
* "Black Market"
* "The Captain's Hand"
* "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 1"
* "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2"
While watching -- and immensely enjoying -- this capper to the second season of one of the best television shows on the air, it occurred to me that Battlestar Galactica is really a straight-up human drama that happens to have FTL drives and spaceship dogfights. It has now officially fallen out of the genre of "science fiction," and entered the category of "political-soap-opera-thriller-with-killer-robots," and that is far from a criticism.
This is a terrific show, and one that I have become pathetically hooked on; pathetic because we don't have a full cable package here at our house, so I am painfully forced to wait for the DVDs. It really is grueling, made especially unbearable thanks to the back-breaking cliffhangers Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore pins on us at the conclusion of each season. And Season 2.5 is no exception.
Moore and his stable of writers have tightened the focus this go-round on the personalities that staff the Galactica, making for some meaty, hard-hitting character development arcs, often at the expense of the usual space action fans have grown accustomed to. Don't fret, though -- the wicked interstellar mayhem is still there (featuring the best visual effects I've seen on TV) and there are true bursts of white-knuckle thrills. But the real juice comes from the interactions and maneuvering between Adama, Roslin, Baltar, Starbuck, Apollo, and, surprisingly, the Cylons themselves.
I'm not going to give a shred of plot away because every bit of story needs to be experienced afresh. If you're dying for tidbits, go to some Galactica forum, because the plotting and writing are so sharp on this show, it would be criminal to ambush you with plot points. Suffice it to say, 2.5 continues the excellent tradition of twists and narrative hairpin turns (and brutal tragedy) the show has been known for, and though the season ends with many, many, many unresolved questions, it's a fracking great ride.
Here's a general lowdown of what you can expect: strained relationships, unrequited love, deep psychological issues, surprise promotions, a nail-biting Presidential election, Tricia Helfer in revealing states of dress, some nuclear shenanigans, a memorable birthday, domestic terrorism, anti-Cylon terrorism, Dean Stockwell and a mind-blowing finale.
Also, these episodes tackle more hot-button socio-political issues than others in the past, with episodes dedicated to abortion, stem cell research (sort of), the free market, the nature of democracy, and religion. Each topic is handled deftly, leaving partisan viewers on either side plenty of flexibility to argue whether Number Six is a Republican or Democrat.
So, to sum, awesome show, great season, killer robots. Go get it.
The show looks great, owing to its HD source material, though grain was evident from time to time. Colors are often washed out, especially on terrestrial scenes, but that's a stylistic choice. The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix was suitably aggressive, though more or less front-loaded.
Deleted scenes and some lightweight -- but entertaining -- video blogs from producer David Eick supplement the real extra feature gem: commentaries for each episode. Moore and Eick deliver a special-made audio commentary for the "Pegasus," and the remaining episodes get Moore's podcast commentaries. All of them are illuminating and worth listening to.
I'm not totally bowled over, however. For this portion of the second season, the writers seemed to be especially enamored with non-linear storytelling, with several episodes using flashbacks and flash-forwards; frankly, these episodes seemed too clever for their own good and ended up on the tedious side. And there is a clunker in this batch as well: "Black Market" left much to be desired, a sentiment shared by Moore himself who soundly criticized it during his podcast.
This show is so good, I have seriously considered springing for the extra $40 for an upgraded cable package, simply to get the Sci-Fi Channel.
Not guilty. Toaster.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Golden Gavel 2006 Nominee
* :1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 461 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary from Ronald Moore
* Deleted Scenes
* David Eick's Video Blogs
* RND Logos
* Battlestar Galactica Official Site
* Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries Review
* Battlestar Galactica: Season 1 Review
* Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0 Review