Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review

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by Simon Crust Aug 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

  • Movies review


    Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £159.99


    The discs present a broadcast correct widescreen 1.78:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and all are Region Free. Moore's introduction (on the first disc of each season) plus a disclaimer from Universal themselves try to pre-empt any negative picture reviews by stating that this is the definitive creators view of the show and everything you see is intentional. With that in mind let's take a look.

    The miniseries, unlike the rest of the show, was shot on film and thus has a very slightly different look, detail is still exceptional and the colouring remains the same gritty but real looking. However, there is a little stronger contrast leading to a little blooming and the blacks do tend to wobble a little. Stock is treated to give the familiar grain and wash, completely intentional and remains faithful, but does tend to give a 'dirty' look to some scenes, particularly those set in the dark, which is pretty much everything on Galactica. Grain and some noise does tend to muddy these areas, much of it is intentional, of course, but it does shorted the frame quite dramatically.

    Season one sees the introduction of the hi def cameras that will be used to film the rest of the series, however, budget was still relatively low and this first season has a very similar look to the miniseries, in that colouring is strong or muted when the scene calls for it; flesh tones still remain natural, save those on Caprica when use of filters does skew it slightly. Brightness and contrast remain strong, but still suffer the grain and noise problems within the blacks, though detail has been stepped up ever so slightly.

    From Season two onwards the picture is better again, there is a clear increase in the level of clarity, from skin detail to the battle scars on Galactica's hull. Colours seem to have a stronger sense of worth, they are more solid, bolder even, blues and reds especially, take a look at the interior of a Cylon Baseship, deep blacks with vivid bright colours. Brightness and contrast give a stronger indication of black with even better shadow detail than before. The digital grain and noise is still present, or course, and still plays with the depth of field at times, hiding that all important 3D pop, but clearly this is how the show was meant to look; and boy does it look spectacular; for truly lovely looking images take a look at the unprocessed location stock representing the final resting place, just breathtaking in its clarity and colour reproduction.

    All things considered I am going to award an eight for the picture, true to the creator's vision it might be, but as an over all picture it lacks the certain something that give the reference score; rest assured though this is as close as it gets to being a nine.

    Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Picture


    The discs present an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound track to accompany the spectacular visuals; luckily it is no slouch either. Full of deep bass and pleasing midrange there is plenty to light up your system; from the Viper thrusts and gun fire to the hustle and bustle of Galactica Actual there is much to fill the room. Surround steering is somewhat limited, but ambience is well catered for; everything on Galactica seems to be accompanied by a low hum representing the ships own heart beat - sounds especially convincing when she is groaning at the end of her life. Dialogue is natural sounding with no strain on the voices and Bear McCreary's exceptional scores swell and ebb around the room; listen close enough and you can pick out each instrument in the mix, a testament of the sound engineers. At times I was hard pushed to recognise this as a front heavy TV sound track, such is the excellence of the mix. Perhaps a tad on the quiet side, meaning the slightest of notches on the volume gain will really get the best out of it. Terrific stuff!

    Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Sound


    Oh boy! With over seventy hours of bonus material, you'll forgive me if I don't manage to get through it all, for example, nearly every episode has a commentary, no way I'm going to be able to listen to everyone and still get this out on time! I've split the extras into seasons rather than discs.


    • Behind The Scenes Featurettes

      Playable as individual titles or with a convenient play all functionality running for a combined time of about 63 minutes, each one looks at an aspect of the making of the miniseries; the titles nicely sum up what each segment is about - From Miniseries to series (8'27''), Change Is Good, Now They're Babes (7'29''), The Cylon Centurion (5'26''), Future/Past Technology (7'38''), The Doctor Is Out Of His Mind (7'38''), Production (9'04''), Visual Effects, Epilogue. Taken as a whole this is a pretty comprehensive making of with plenty or detail on everything you need to know about the series from its conception through to its completion. Plenty of in depth interviews conducted with cast and crew give plenty of information about this excellent start to the series.

    • Audio Commentaries

      On both parts I and 2 executive producers Ron Moore and David Eick and director Michael Rymer share their thoughts, feelings and ideas on resurrecting the show and where they wanted to take it and how it all came about.

    • Deleted Scenes

      Around twenty one minutes of extra footage deleted from the show for one reason or another.

    • Sketches and Art

      Is a photo presentation of the many artworks created for the show.

    • U-Control and Picture in Picture

      The U-control feature is called 'The Oracle' and occasionally pops up with text information about various aspects be they characters, ships or whatever. Of greater value is the PiP track which showcases production interviews and other insightful information.

    • BDLive

      Is BD live enabled but as yet there is nothing on line.

    Season One

    • Audio Commentaries

      Ron Moore, David Eick and Michael Rymer are on hand for the series opener 33, Ron Moore and David Eick discuss Bastille Day, Act of Contrition and You Can't Go Home Again, while Moore goes it alone with Tigh Me Up - Tigh Me Down, The Hand of God, Colonial Day and Kobol's Last Gleaming: Parts 1 & 2. I dipped in and out of all of these commentaries and can say they are informative and entertaining with few, if any pauses, giving up plenty of facts and figures about the production.

    • Deleted Scenes

      Each disc plays host to a wealth of deleted scenes with a combined run time of around fifty minutes. If you want more BSG this is one place to get it.

    • Are You A Cylon Personality Quiz

      A multi choice personality quiz with randomly generated sequences of questions - I'm a sleeper toaster not yet activated apparently.

    Season Two

    • Audio and Podcast Commentaries

      I've lumped these two together, because they are essentially the same thing. On his podcasts Moore is pretty sensational in his deconstruction of the episodes, not afraid to criticise and give any and all sorts of information; they are never a dull listen. The audio commentaries are, obviously much the same, but he tends to have a partner to spar with, in this case it's David Eick and they discuss the extended episode of Pegasus - Moore goes it alone on the rest of the season episodes (Fragged, Flight of the Phoenix, Pegasus (broadcast version), Resurrection Ship: Part 1 & 2 and Epiphanies are the only episodes without commentary).

    • Deleted Scenes

      Another huge bunch of deleted scenes for just about every episode with a combined run time of around 45 minutes, another place to get more BSG fix.

    • Pegasus Extended Episode

      As the name implies this is the unrated, un-broadcast extended edition of this episode, if you ask me this is always the one to watch!

    • Sizzle Reel - Sneak Peek at Episode 11

      Promo for the second half of the season concentrating on the season opener.

    • RND Logo's

      A compilation of the logos seen at the end of every episode where Moore and Eick end up killing each other in a variety of entertaining ways. Great fun.

    • David Eick's Video Blogs

      Eick's candid and often very entertaining 'video blogs', i.e. camcorder shot behind the scenes interviews and production information form the man himself; well worth you time to look at, as he captures the real behind the scenes atmosphere and camaraderie prevalent during the series' runtime; the titles are: Episode 205: Day Two, Episode 207: Day Four, On the Set of the New Pegasus, The Magic of Battlestar Galactica, Never Let the Inmates Run the Asylum, Scenes from the Video Blog Floor and Sex, Lies and a Video Blog.

    • Battlestar Galactica Career Assignment Quiz

      Much the same as the Cylon personality test.

    • U-Control

      The Oracle text information feature is enabled for each episode.

    • BDLive

      Disc one of this season is BDLive enabled, but as yet there is nothing there.

    Season Three

    • Audio and Podcast Commentaries

      As in Season two I've put these two together, because, as before, they are essentially the same. Once again each and every commentary is a joy to listen too as the participants talk in depth about the show giving insight and information in equal measures. Moore give a commentary on every episode in the season except the broadcast version of Unfinished Business which is covered by Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett. Eick gets a second commentary on Hero, actor Mark Sheppard and writer Michael Angeli discuss The Son Also Rises, while Sheppard goes it alone on Crossroads: Part 1 & 2.

    • Deleted Scenes

      Even more deleted scenes on each of the discs, combined run time is over an hour.

    • Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance Webisodes

      All ten webisodes are included here and together they fill in some of the gaps between season Two and Three concentrating, not surprisingly, on the Resistances' exploits.

    • David Eick's Video Blogs

      More candid footage from Eick as he goes around the sets for more camcorder 'blogs' with a combined runtime for over seventy five minutes. The titles are: Testimonials; Who Dies?; Prosethetics; Lucy and David; Introducing Bulldog; Characters, Adama On Adama, Episode 6 Read Through, On The Road, Steve Mcnuff Gets A Video Blog, The Soldier's Code: Leave No Man Behind; Takin' A Break From All Your Worries, On The Road: Part 2, Some Guy Named Colin; Building A Better Show; Katee's Scrapbook; Shooting; Mr Eddie If You Please; Oceans in the Desert; David Who?; Out Of Control; Last Episode Blues.

    • Unfinished Business Extended Episode

      As the title suggest, the extended, unaired and unrated cut, again my preferred version.

    • Colonial Military Assessment Quiz

      More questions with the added bonus that the reward is Blu-ray exclusive deleted scenes; there are seven in total.

    • U-Control

      Text based The Oracle plus an additional Battlestar Blips, which is again text based trivia information and facts.

    • BDLive

      Disc one of the season is BDLive enabled but as yet there is no content.

    Battlestar Galactica: Razor

    The TV special, Razor, is presented in both its broadcast and extended versions, guess which one I advocate!

    • Audio Commentary

      On the extended version only is supplied by Moore and writer Michael Taylor. Everything I've said before applies once again.

    • Deleted scenes

      Just the three minutes, or so, of deleted scenes on this one.

    • Battlestar Razor: Minisodes

      More web based 'minisodes' expanding upon a plot point form the show. Play all runs for about 20 minutes and its more great stuff.

    • Featurettes

      Entitled The Look of Battlestar Galactica and My Favorite Episodes so Far. The first deals with production design, the various sets, ships designs, the general environments and costumes; while the second has cast and crew members exposit on their, not surprisingly, favourite episodes.

    • Season 4 Sneak Peek and Trailer

      As the title suggests.

    • Battlestar Galactica: Ultimate Battle

      A card game playable over BDLive, once all is enabled.

    • U-Control

      The Oracle shows up again, but is this time joined by Battlestar Actual a bibliography of the technical terms used.

    • BDLive

      The disc is BDLive enabled but as yet there is no content.

    Season Four

    • Audio and Podcast Commentaries

      Once again I've put these two together. As before Moore is on hand to provide insight and thought on his precious show, very easy to listen to as he piles on the information both negative and positive. The second disc of the season he is joined by a number of other participants that, again, make for informative and enjoyable listens, the list is: Faith - Moore, producers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle; Guess What's Coming to Dinner - Moore and writer Michael Angeli; Sine Qua Non - Moore and writer Michael Taylor; The Hub - Moore, co-executive producer Jane Espenson, editor Michael O'Halloran and supervising editor Andrew Seklir; Revelations - Moore, Weddle, Thompson and editor Julius Ramsay.

    • Deleted Scenes

      Combined twenty minutes of even more deleted scenes, and you still haven't had enough!

    • David Eick's Video Blogs

      Ten more of Eick's camcorder exploits behind the scenes of the show running for a combined time of around forty minutes, the titles of which are: Love in Space, Why Hath David Forsaken Us?, So, This Is It, What Next? What Now?, Digital Pressure, Space Cowboys, Lucy's Breakdown, Are You Frakkin' Kidding Me?, I'm A Frakkin' Cylon and Last Call.

    • The Journey Featurette

      This twenty one minute comprehensive featurette is packed with cast and crew interviews that trace the story arcs and developments of the characters, providing a wealth of insight into the choices and decisions made. Plenty of information is given in an all too short feature.

    • Cylons: The Twelve featurette

      An examination of the Cylons and what makes them tick by the actors and writers, concentrates more on the latter end of the series.

    • Season 4.5: The Untold Story - Untold

      Promo for the next half of the season.

    • The Music of Battlestar Galactica featurette

      A spoof type featurette hosted by composer Bear McCreary, of all the great stuff on show, this has to be the worst.

    • Caprica Sneak Peek

      As the title suggests this is a ad for the latest spin off series, the prequel Caprica.

    • U-control

      The Oracle and Battlestar Actual return with their text based information.

    Season Four Point Five

    • Audio and Podcast Commentaries

      As before I've placed these together. Moore here again to give more thoughts, information and criticism of his own work for every episode in the season, for Islanded in a Stream of Stars: Extended Version he is joined with Edward James Olmos and on the extended version of Daybreak he is joined with Eick.

    • Deleted Scenes

      Another thirty five minutes of deleted scenes are available if your BSG cravings still haven't been satisfied.

    • A Disquiet Follows My Soul (Unrated Extended Edition)

      As the title suggests.

    • Islanded in a Stream of Stars (Unrated Extended Edition)

      As the title suggests.

    • Daybreak (Unrated Home Video Extended Edition)

      As the title suggest, actually all three parts plus an additional thirty minutes of footage to really flesh out the finale - trust me you haven't seen the finale until you've seen this.

    • A Look Back Documentary

      A six part feature that has a handy play all function with a combined run time of around forty minutes; the titles are; So Say We All; Manifesto Destiny; Battle-Style Galactica; Martyr to a Cause; The Sins of the Forgiven; Battlestar Revelations. In all the cast and crew take a look back at the last four seasons of reflecting on their time, the stories, how it came to be, the vision and directing style as well as a segment devoted to Richard Hatch and his appearance on both series'. Highly enjoyable and entertaining.

    • The Journey Ends: The Arrival featurette

      The cast and crew look back and reflect over the last four seasons and discuss, emotionally at times, how it has shaped their career and what an opportunity is was to be part of such a world class series, with particular emphasis on the closing of the series.

    • Evolution Of A Cue featurette

      Bear McCreary hosts this feature on which he thoroughly explains how a particular music cue comes about as an allegory for all the music he creates for the show. This is as in depth as it gets, folks, a true insight to the working of the music production with interviews, tracing how it developed from its initial ideas through to the filming of the cue and finally its mix - and it utterly absorbing, if you only get to watch one extra on this entire set, make sure it's this one.

    • The Musicians Behind Daybreak featurette

      Working in tandem with the above feature and again hosted by McCreary we are introduced to various musicians and the specialist instruments they play, that help to give BSG its unique sounding score and trace his cues from their very humble beginnings to the full on orchestral productions with particular emphasis on the finale score. Another extremely entertaining feature.

    • David Eick's Video Blogs

      Eick is at it again with his camcorder for yet more candid behind the scenes interviews and info in these highly enjoyable video blogs which, this time, have a combined runtime of about forty six minutes, titles are: No Retreat, No Surrender; The Hatch; The Fifth is Among Us; Action Please; Hanging in the Background; Some Guy Named Colin Part II; A Cylon 'Til the End; Inserts, Action & FX; Documenting Battlestar Galactica; Life on a Cylon Battleship and Favorite Battlestar Galactica Moment.

    • What The Frak Is Going On With Battlestar Galactica?

      A short but nevertheless very amusing look back over the series, with a terrific voice over incorporating a lot of the word 'frak'.

    • And They Have A Plan

      Very brief look at the new TV movie The Plan.

    • U-control and Picture in Picture

      The Oracle and Battlestar Actual return once more with their text base information. On the extended edition of Daybreak there is a Picture in Picture track entitled What the Frak Happened to You? which contains the usual interviews and information normally associated with a PiP whist at the same time hints at where our characters finally ended up.

    • 36 page standard BSG book

      Unfortunatley my check discs didn't include this booklet

    And there we have it, just about a complete extras package as you can get. Oh I know there is tell of a couple of other documentaries that have been available on SD DVD releases, but I'm not going to lament on those, simply because what is on offer is quite superlative. Shame it's not all in HD either, but again, the content is such that I can forgive even this. For me the inclusion of the extended episodes, especially the season finale is a real high; they are more rounded and complete episodes and should definitely be watched in preference to the broadcast ones. And as I said in the text McCreary music featurettes really are a treat!
    Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Extras


    Of all the re-makes/re-interpretations/re-envisions that have been produced over the years Battlestar Galactica is without doubt, or fear of contradiction, the best. Taking the main plot points of its predecessor and eliminating all of the ham, the child friendly elements and the aliens and by concentrating purely on the emotional drama of a struggling band of refugees fleeing for their lives, Moore and Eick have created epic and powerful television the likes of which had never been seen in the genre and as a consequence turned it on its head. This is not fantasy, this is science fiction as seen through the eyes of emotion. Attention to detail in writing, characterisation and story, Battlestar Galactica towers above anything before it and is the new bar upon which all will now be measured.

    As a Blu-ray Universal has provided a spectacular set, unparalleled in its presentation; picture and sound are absolutely top notch and there are enough extras to keep any fan happy for weeks and weeks.

    Make no mistake, folks, this is an incredible set and well worthy of your time and investment. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £159.99

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