Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
Edward James Olmos
What's it about
The Galactica crew has finally found their way to Earth, only to find that what remains of our once fertile planet is nothing but a barren wasteland. With a ship that is literally about to fall apart, Adama, Starbuck and crew are in desperate need of finding somewhere safe to inhabit in order to ensure the survival of humankind.
Is it good movie?
I didn't pay much attention to “Battlestar Galactica” when the show (a revamped version of the series that aired in the 70s) kicked off in 2003. I'm not too big into science-fiction on television. With all of it being based off a Star Trek template, I often find it hard to distinguish one series from the next. “Battlestar” is something entirely different. This is a series that contains compelling human conflict, and richly developed characters that come to the forefront of the drama in exciting ways. While I'm not sure many would say the final season of “Battlestar” was the strongest of the lot (it came under heavy criticism in some circles), the wrap-up is satisfying and emotional, if you don't mind some heavy religious allegory.
Season 4.5 represents the last half-season of the series. Morale is at an all-time low. Captain Adama (Edward James Olmos) is now pretty much a full-blown alcoholic and happily drowns his sorrows away, much like Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan) used to do. Adama has really only now started to come to terms with the fact that Tigh, his longtime friend, is one of the final five Cylons (the cybernetic beings that wiped out most of humanity – for you total novices out there). The identity of the last “skin job” (Cylons that resemble flesh-and-blood humans) is confirmed here in the first episodes. An alliance is solidified between select Cylons and humans, which doesn’t sit well with many Galactica crew. Meanwhile, President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) continues her battle with terminal cancer, and puts on a brave face, jogging around the ship even as she approaches death. She’s been cheating it for four seasons – it’s going to have to come sometime. Still in the mix are other characters like the ever-manipulative Gaius Baltar (James Callis), no-nonsense pilot Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) and military advisor and son of the skipper, Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber).
Character arcs are fully completed, most of them effectively. Some are a bit too enigmatic, and (perhaps unavoidably) there are few actors with very little to do during the final stretch. There’s a bit of a mystery with Kara Thrace, aka Starbuck. At the end of last season, her character was assumed dead. To start off Season 4, Kara miraculously (and inexplicably) turned up in a Viper, alive and well – although most of the crew was suspicious of her return. Things get pretty weird for Starbuck here. There is some ambiguity about her fate, but it’s pretty obvious at the same time, and fits in with the religious themes at play. I wasn’t totally pleased with the direction they take the character in, but the episode “Someone to Watch Over Me” has great moments for Starbuck as she meets up with an unknown piano man in the bar and ends up playing a very familiar tune.
The acting has been terrific throughout the entire series, and the final episodes are no exception. Olmos is a pillar of quiet strength as Captain Adama. His growing romance with President Roslin (McDonnell is also excellent) is fragile, sweet and beautifully played by the actors. A personal favorite for me has always been James Callis as Gaius. He’s a slimy character more often than not, but Callis has managed to make him so fascinating and likable, it’s a minor miracle.
In case you hadn’t heard, BSG has some of the best visual effects you’ve ever seen for a TV production. Space scenes are staged in exciting and visually beautiful ways. The effects are only complimented by the fact that this has never really been a show ABOUT special effects; the investment in the characters and the story only enhances them. There’s certainly a lot of action as the series reaches its finale, including a two-part episode involving a mutiny on board the Galactica, co-conspired by a longtime crew member. The final episode must have totally blown the effects budget. It’s very action-packed and even features a new model of Cylon, revealed at the last minute. It’s also great to see Dean Stockwell as the Cylon leader, Cavil.
I would say that the finale is more satisfying visually than emotionally and thematically, however. I can understand some of the gripes people had with the ending. Not to spoil too much, but there certainly is some convenient plotting and everything works out a little too perfectly, almost as if overseen by a divine power. Of course, that’s the whole idea. But it all seems too obvious. However, “Battlestar Galactica” has always been gripping, emotional and even downright addictive at times. Season 4.5 continues that trend and, overall, caps the series off strongly.
Video / Audio
Video Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1
Please note, these extras are spread out over all four discs:
Evolution of a Cue Composer Bear McCreary talks about his process of creating music for the show. Pretty cool.
What the Frak is Going on with Battlestar Galactica? A recap of the first three seasons in about 8 minutes.
The Journey Ends: The Arrival Details of the evolution of the story for “Battlestar”.
So Say We All Producer Ron Moore and various cast and crew talk about the show.
Manifesto Destiny The creators wrote a manifesto when they set out to make “Battlestar”, stating they were not going for a cheesy sci-fi vibe, but realism and character. Did they succeed? You bet your ass.
Additional documentaries include Battle-Style Galactica (where people behind the camera talk about the approach to action and visuals on a low budget), Matyr to a Cause (featuring Richard Hatch, the guy from both reincarnations of “Battlestar”), The Sins of the Forgiven (which delves into the show’s religious themes), Battlestar Revelations (with cast members commenting on their favorite twists) and A Look Back
Audio Commentaries with Ron Moore, David Eick and Edward James Olmos Moore is the one most heard, with two solo commentaries on Disc 1. But I would watch for Olmos’ track on Disc 2, which is pretty good.
Ron Moore’s Podcasts are also included, as well as Deleted Scenes and Video Blogs. Phew.
“Battlestar Galactica” is one of the best science-fiction shows to ever grace television screens. Even non-fans of sci-fi should do themselves a favor and check it out, because this isn’t a silly series with rubber-suited aliens or anything. It’s damn good drama, and Season 4.5, while not without its flaws, is a solid wrap-up for this fantastic show.