The Sci-Fi Channel has certainly gotten its considerable amount of money’s worth from Ronald D. Moore’s reincarnation of Battlestar Galactica. The trouble, at least for me, is that it is still very hard for me to consider this Galactica at all. It might have been better if, as Jack Webb used to say, the names had been changed to protect the innocent. There isn’t much doubt that this version of Galactica is innovative science fiction in its own right. The cinematography is often mind-boggling, if a bit too dark. T…e stories are also quite dark in tone. Here is where Moore misses the point of the original entirely. The first Galactica and Colonial Fleet were fleeing the destruction of their worlds, but with a great deal of hope in finding their long lost brethren: Us. In Moore’s tale, Earth is an almost impossible dream. The entire atmosphere is one of dread and bleakness. Galactica survives almost just for survival’s sake. No one is really living in this fleet. Not to say that Moore’s version can’t make for some compelling drama. It does. Under a different name I think I might actually be able to somewhat embrace this series. I can’t shake the feeling of watching something dear morphed into something it was never intended to be when I see Katee Sackoff addressed as Starbuck. She’s also one of the weakest actors to grace a major science fiction series since Denise Crosby.
OK. So let’s talk about what I DO like about the show. No question it’s the f/x. Moore has a luxury that not even a million dollars an episode could buy you in 1979. With today’s CGI advances, there isn’t very much that can’t be realistically visualized anymore. The fighters are sleek and the space battles are epic. If anything, these dogfights can get entirely too busy. Edward James Olmos is a fine actor and lends a ton of credibility to what is otherwise a fairly weak cast. His earlier concerns have ceased, either by studio edict or an uncharacteristic change of heart. Remember, it was Olmos who warned fans to stay away, offering that they would not be happy with the new show. The scripts are tight and go into depths the original never even attempted.
Each episode of Battlestar Galactica is presented in a sweet looking 16X9 letterbox format. It fits snugly in your widescreen television. My only complaint is how darkly this series is shot. All that advanced technology, you’d think they could spring for a few lights. Still, the transfer handles the dark images impressively. I couldn’t detect the digital compression artifacts such dark transfers all too often display. Colors are purposefully soft to add to the dreary atmosphere the show so proudly displays. Colors truly shine on those moments when we see space explosions. Now the rich texture shines through, if only in short burst of fireworks-like brilliance. The f/x shots blend well with the action. There aren’t any flaws to speak of. Black levels are thankfully excellent.
Everything about this Dolby Digital 5.1 track is rather low key. Sure the space battles amp up the range a bit. Surrounds come alive momentarily during these spectacles. Mostly the dialogue is a little dull. It’s centered well enough, but these actors could use a few lessons in articulation. James Callis (Baltar) barely speaks above a whisper. Jamie Bamber (Apollo) doesn’t always successfully hide his natural accent. Even Olmos is too often brooding when he speaks, and it can be hard to understand him. The score lacks the bravado of the original, so takes little dynamic range in the soundtrack. Sound-wise this is a very easy one to sleep through (except when the battles occur).
Most of the episodes feature some deleted scenes. There are a ton of them. Honestly, some of the best stuff of the series can be found on the deleted scenes to “Scattered”. Here we are treated to the moment Adama and Tigh first met during a bar brawl. This stuff is golden and should not be missed. These scenes can be found with the episode they are taken from, so are found throughout the set.
Ronald D. Moore provided some pod casts on the internet during the season’s run. You could download these “pod casts” and listen to them along with the episode. These have been provided for the bulk of the episodes. The audio quality is pretty bad, but the insights are certainly worth a listen. Don’t expect Moore to sound humble, however. He constantly tells us just how innovative his show is.
The rest of the extras are promo items only.
I guess I still haven’t gotten off the fence on this show. My protective feelings for the original seem to rear their ugly heads at all the wrong times. I’m glad Galactica still has a life, of sorts. I’d hate for the original to somehow be nothing more than a footnote in the lore of Battlestar Galactica. For the most part, the critics have fallen in love with the show. All I can say is, check it out and judge for yourself, and let the critics “cool their collective heels”.
Special Features List
- Pod Cast Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes