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DVD Review: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA miniseries

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BATTLESTAR GALACTICA The Miniseries

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 183 minutes, double sided DVD, deleted scenes, audio commentary, Battlestar Galactica: The Lowdown

STUDIO: UNIVERSAL/ SCI-FI PICTURES

RELEASE DATE: 12-28-2004

ANALYSIS: The first thing I want to say is I love the miniseries and it takes BATTLESTAR GALACTICA into the territory it should have went into back in 1978. In addition to that, the mini-series has better writing than many or all episodes of the original series. The 1978 series is campy with some bad episodes (there were some good episodes), but the mini-series has no campy crap, bug eyed aliens, or overreaching religious overtones like the 1978 series. The story of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is simple: the Cylons have decided to exterminate the human race after a 40 year peace when no one has heard a thing from the cylons during that time. Now the Cylons can look like us and that takes the show to a whole new level with this re-imagining. Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) must lead a fleet of ships away from the Cylons, but there are some bumps before he decides to do it. There has much been said about turning Boomer (Grace Park) and Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) into women for the mini-series, so I'll just skip over that one for now.

The miniseries takes BSG into the realm of realistic military science fiction mixed with a tale about survival. Baltar (James Callis) is even a more interesting character here than the over-the-top villain of the original series. You wonder if Baltar is losing his mind as one of the Cylons, Number Six (Trica Helfer), is in his head because he is the only one that can see and hear her. Number Six had been sleeping with Baltar and she had gained access to the defense computers where she rewrote some of the programming to allow the Cylons to destroy the colonies and many of the spaceships with ease.

The special effects are excellent and the new look for the Cylon ships are great. The direction is good, but some of the acting could have been better. Since the miniseries has done well enough in the ratings, SCI-FI Channel (in co-production with Sky Broadcasting in the UK). So far, the series has been getting good reviews in the UK (so far nine episodes have aired on Sky One) and it sounds like the series is even better than the miniseries. In addition to that, Richard Hatch (the original Apollo from the 1978 series) guest stars as a political prisoner Tom Zarek for two episodes in the first season. Michael Rymer, director of the miniseries has directed "33" (the first episode of the series) and the two episode season finale, "Kobol's Last Gleaming".   The first season starts airing on 1-14-2005 at 9 pm ET/PT with a two hour premiere with regular episodes on Fridays beginning the following Friday at 10 pm ET/PT.

VIDEO/AUDIO: The miniseries is presented in 1.78 anamorphic widescreen. Colors and black are good. Image detail is OK. However, the picture is grainy at times.

You can listen to the miniseries in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DD, or Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround with the option of English captions, French or Spanish subtitles. Dialogue can be heard for the most part, but sometimes the lines do come off as mumbled lines. The music is very active on the 5.1 DD.

SPECIAL FEATURES: On Side A is an audio commentary track with director Michael Rymer, executive producer/writer Ronald D. Moore, and executive producer David Eick. They talk about scenes cut due to not enough left for additional special effects and a sequence not in the deleted scenes. They go into the aspects of the production from actors to the sets, and a few hints about the TV series coming up on SCI-FI. Ronald D. Moore talks about what he didn't like about the original series, sets the record straight on how the miniseries came about, and a little about the two hour BSGG pilot that almost got made for FOX.

On side B are 20 minutes of deleted scenes and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE LOWDOWN which originally aired on the Sci-Fi Channel last year. The deleted scenes amount to 12 scenes that features parts cut from the mini-series due to time restraints and effects work they didn't have money for. Some of the deleted scenes are extended scenes of existing scenes in the miniseries. All special effects in the deleted scenes are unfinished and feature blue/green screen and previs effects. You have extra character scenes and a previs sequence they plan on reusing the sequence for the series.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE LOWDOWN features clips from the mini-series, original series, and some behind-the-scenes video. Some members of the cast and crew are interviewed. Richard Hatch is even interviewed as he talks about the original show, his objections to Boomer and Starbuck being women in the miniseries, and fans rather wanting to see a continuation. You also get to see a segment between Dirk Bennedict and Katee Sackhoff as they talk about Starbuck at a Starbucks Coffee House.

PREVIEWS: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA TV series promo for Sci-Fi channel, Quantum Leap DVD, Riverworld, and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Original Series DVD.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  If you liked the miniseries, buy the DVD and get ready for the new TV series on the SCI-FI Channel starting on 1-14-2005.

this DVD Review is (c)12-29-2004 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia