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Battlestar Galactica (S1)
DVD disk
10.17.2005 By: Jason Coleman
Battlestar Galactica (S1) order
Michael Rymer, Various

Edward James Olmos
Mary McDonnell
Tricia Helfer


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The Cylons, robotic machines created by man, make a full scale attack on human kind after being AWOL for forty years. It’s up to the survivors to fight and keep the human race going, with some Cylons among them who now look human. A re-imagining of the famous 1970’s series.
As just a basic sci-fi story, this GALACTICA series is slow and long, making the original look like CITIZEN KANE. The up side: Director Michael Rymer, who directed the miniseries, 1st, 12th, and 13th episodes, does a really terrific job of making this GALACTICA look amazing. His style is impeccable and he has the budget to back it up. The sets are stunning and give some of the best space visuals since BLADE RUNNER. The down side: Sci-Fi Channel has put this talented director and budget behind a script that, well (for lack of a more intelligent word), stinks. This version is a good looking show, with nothing going on upstairs. This re-imagining (what the frak does that mean?) doesn’t “up the ante” (as the box suggests), far from it. The script is as deep as a puddle, the story uneven and the cast stock. The characters, which have the same names as those in the original 70’s series, were a mystery to me. Are they the decedents of the 70’s characters (since they mention the original Cylons, previous wars and the original viper), or was it just a coincidence? Either way, making the Starbuck character a butch woman with an affinity for cigars is not enough to call this a drone of a series a re-imagining.

Which leads to the second major problem, casting. On MIAMI VICE, Edward James Olmos played a very low key character, which clashed nicely with the hyper nature of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Here, as Commander Adama, Olmos is so subtle, I found myself falling asleep. The rest of the cast completely follows in his footsteps, acting like zombies - brooding and whispering - giving Olmos no opposite to butt heads with. They try with McDonnell, who plays (of course!) a reluctant President, but she is the female version of Olmos, known for her understated performances. I also disliked how, except for the few token older leads, everyone else here is completely good looking, young, and cocky, with zero charisma. The casting directors’ work here is deplorable; they cast dud Jamie Bamber, a hot white guy, to play Apollo, the son of hispanic lead Olmos. Also, the Cylons now have some human looking versions, so model Tricia Helfer plays a sultry, blonde bombshell Cylon, who uses her sexuality to infiltrate the humans. (Oooh, what an original idea!) The 13 episodes range from mediocre to ridiculous; the best being episode three, Bastille Day, where the idea is interesting (fully copied, but interesting). Ironically, it also boasts the best performance in the entire series, that of a zen prison inmate played by Richard Hatch, who was in the original 70’s Galactica. (Nice job, Apollo!) The only reason to view this set, is strictly for great budget and eye candy style in Director Rymer’s episodes, bypass the stuff in between. But this is a big mouth with nothing coming out of it, best to watch this one with the sound off.
The box for this set states that there are over 17 hours of extras, enough to choke an elephant, so fans will get their money’s worth. For all others hang on, it’s gonna be a long and bumpy ride!

There are a total of ten, yes 10 different commentaries, one on the mini series and 9 on various episodes. The players (in various increments) are Director Michael Rymer, who I wished had discussed his style and work more, Executive Producer David Eick, and Writer/Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore (this guy worked on the great CARNIVALE???). The commentary is adequate and does answer some questions (like the fact that they just gave the characters the same call sign names as the 70’s series as a homage), but seems more about being self indulgent than giving the fans info (bragging about the ratings on the miniseries part 2 – “nobody goes up on the second night!”). It’s standard stuff - story, sets, characters. My favorite moment: when someone states that people thought it “would be cool” to have “seen the Cylons destroy the entire battle fleet”, which they shun as pure “visual candy special effect extravaganza”, laughing as though it was beneath them (guys, that’s the only good thing about your series!). By the way, if you’re going to do some of the commentary at Ronald’s apartment (episode three), turn the damn phone off!

Behind the Scenes (1:03:15): This featurette is made up of 8 different sub docs, which cover everything from story to visual effects; it’s literally a GALACTICA fan’s wet dream. You can watch it as a play all, with the long running time, or in pieces, I recommend the latter.

From Miniseries to Series (8:31): Although seeing the actors was a breath of fresh air, it doesn’t help. The three commentary guys show up first, saying stuff already stated before. The actors mostly talk about Episode One (33) and basic stuff about how they think the show is good. This is a shameless plug to watch the series, masked as a featurette.

Change Is Good, Now They’re Babes (7:30): This one is slightly interesting, talking about the controversy of changing characters like Starbuck, Boomer, and the lead Cylon Six, into women. Fan reaction would have made this more interesting, but it’s not bad. Just change the title guys, according to you, these characters were changed for creative reasons, not because they were hot “babes”!

The Cylon Centurion (5:31): This one is strictly talk about the design of the CGI Cylons. (Is it just me, or does this thing look very much like a certain metallic Austrian killer Cyborg?) It’s light on info, heavy on stock Cylon footage. And while I like the idea of not using a man in a suit for the current Cylon, this featurette actually made me miss the voices the old Cylons used to have!

Future/Past Technology (7:43): Talk of art direction and sets, which are really well built, but this one doesn’t do it justice. This one should have had a walk through the set, showing the work first hand. The prop section shows off some of their stuff, but it’s still a glimpse. Too much talk, not enough walk.

The Doctor is Out (Of His Mind) (7:44): This one is much like the whole story line of Cylon Six talking inside the head (or is she?) of Dr. Gaius Baltar - annoying.

Production (9:09): Probably one of the most interesting one of this series, but why can’t they show us more actual examples, rather than just footage from the show?

Visual Effects (8:55): Again, they talk about some very interesting visual effects gags, but never show it. Until around the five minute mark, where we finally get to see behind the scenes stuff - about time!

Epilogue (8:15): Here everyone justifies and congratulates themselves - fun for them, not for us.

Deleted Scenes (48:26): This is mostly small snippets of footage that were cut for time or being just boring. Other than a little added Starbuck/Dr. Baltar sexual tension, no favorites here, sorry. If you can sit through all 48 minutes of this, you really are a fan!

Battlestar Galactica Series Lowdown (20:22): This is a basic overview of the series and everything surrounding it. At least this one is fast paced and uses footage of the actors outside of the GALACTICA halls.

Sketches and Art (4:13): A series of sketches, designs, and models that are stunning. The design and look of the show was never an issue and these show why.
If this BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was a woman, you’d sleep with her, but never date her. Remaking a show is bad enough, as it shows you have no original ideas left. But if you are going to do it and then boast that you’re upping the ante, be damn sure that you are, or you just come off looking like an ass.
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