Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.0

When we heard that the Sci-Fi Channel was remaking “Battlestar Galactica”, to say expectations were low is probably an understatement. But, however high your hopes were, it’s a fair bet that you weren’t expecting this Now about to enter it’s third season (sort of) the new “Battlestar Galactica” has established itself not only as better than the original, but maybe as one of the best shows on television. The reason I say it’s sort of entering its third season is that though it’s a great show, the folks planning “BSG’s” programming run aren’t great people. In fact, they’re straight up the devil. The confusing thing here is that I’m reviewing the second season of “Battlestar Galactica” on DVD while the second season of the show is still technically on the air. This is possible because the good folks at BSG have decided to march to the beat of their own drum, and so a normal BSG season now equals a half-season of just about any other non-cancelled television show (hello “Firefly” fans). So, BSG season three is really BSG season 2B, but the people in charge are calling it season three so they can: 1) release the first half of the season on DVD and get your money and 2) make you wait a really really long time between the airing of season 2A and 2B. That second part is pure torture, and if you pick up this set and watch it you’ll figure out why.

They why of it is that season two is killer, every bit as good as the first season and in some ways even better. The last episode leaves you hanging; hungering for more and cursing the idiots who are making you wait months to pick up the tale again. Season 2A ended September 23rd while Season 2B, the continuation picks up on January 6th. The show, like so much of the best television these days, is told in linear fashion. So one episode just slides right into the next. This is the best kind of show to watch in a big season DVD set, since this gives you the chance to watch them all together in sequence, kind of like a really good 10-hour long movie. Sure, your butt might go numb if you do it all in one day, but as long as you stock up on Funjuns and Pepsi you won’t regret it.

So you’ve never seen the old series and you’ve been foolish enough to miss out on the new one. What’s it about? The pilot episode started with an advanced civilization of humans… think of them as our distant relatives, living on far-off colonies in a different solar system from our own. They’ve forgotten where they came from, but they have religious mythos and random-mumbo jumbo legends which point to a place called “Cobol” as the origin of the human race and hint at another lost colony of humans on an unknown planet called Earth.

This all comes in pretty handy when in an instant, their entire civilization is snuffed out by a race of warrior robots called Cylons they inadvertently created and, have in the past been at war with. A few thousand humans survive in space ships and decide under the leadership and protection of their one remaining military vessel the Battlestar Galactica to strike out for Earth. It’s their only hope for survival. Along the way they’re hunted by Cylons and even each other as their ragtag fleet of survivors plunges into the unknown. Their only mission is survival, but that can’t always agree on the best way to do that.

The show is gritty, sharp-edged, and focuses on human elements rather than getting bogged down in the annoying techno-babble that plagues modern sci-fi franchise like Star Trek. The characters feel authentic, and that makes it something special. You don’t need to like Sci-Fi to love the hell out of “Battlestar”, though it helps if you have a little bit of an imagination. Hardcore “Law & Order” fans for instance, might be better off picking up the latest DVD set produced by the creativity-free monolith that is “CSI”. That David Caruso is such a nice fellow.

By season 2 the show has really hit its stride. The production values are stellar; the thing looks more like a movie than just about anything else on television save “Lost”. It’s one of those shows that’ll make you slobber over high-def cable. The stories are stronger than ever and the cliffhangers, as mentioned, are real hooks. The actors keep getting better too, Edwards James Olmos I guess was already a name before “BSG”, but I doubt anyone saw him like this. Pick up both Seasons 1 and 2 and get in on great science fiction television. I’m satisfied by what MCA has managed to put together for this set, with relatively minimum effort. The packaging is now standard TV on DVD setup. I’m really happy we’re finally getting away from those unnecessarily bulky television DVD sets that tend to overwhelm your shelf. This “Battlestar 2.0” set, like most newer television sets goes out of its way to maximize the amount of space taken up by its discs, without resorting to painfully cheap, cardboard slipcase packaging. Instead, the discs are individually packaged inside extra-thin, hard plastic snap-cases and thrown inside a single cardboard box to hold them all together. I’m not sure how durable the cardboard box is, but it doesn’t need to be since the packages inside it are sturdy stuff that’ll stand up to a few years of overuse. Best of all, it’ll slide easily onto your DVD shelf without taking up more than its fair share of space the way some older television sets (“Farscape” for instance) tend to. Sure, the packaging isn’t as tricked out and cool as those hard plastic, clamshell “Star Trek” sets, but when it comes time for shelving I think I’d rather have functionality than flash.

This isn’t a DVD loaded with extra features, it really only has three. But what those three aren’t half-assed. For instance, the show comes with deleted scenes. But it’s not just a couple of lame, 2 second deleted segments shoehorned into a long five minute scene that you’ve already seen. I hate that. These are actual missing segments from the show, and lots of them. It’s worthwhile stuff, and plenty of it.

Less inspiring are the audio commentary tracks included with the show, but that’s only because they aren’t audio commentary exactly. They’re podcasts recorded by various “BSG” creators and originally made available during the first airing of each episode on television. It was easy for MCA simply to throw them in there with this set, so they did it. Good idea on their part. My only problem is that the podcasts are a little annoying. The lack the comfortable atmosphere of a traditional commentary. I’m not sure how much you’ll really want to listen to these, but then does anyone really listen to commentary tracks that often anyway? You really should have something better to do.

The only other extra on here is a sneak preview of the new season of “BSG”, which as of this writing begins in two days. With the new season about to start, I decided I can wait, and didn’t watch it. If you can’t wait, it’s on there for you. Check it out.

This is a pretty average television on DVD release, which is good enough. With these sets it’s the show that matters, that alone gives you enough content to keep most people busy for a month. For a true DVD file like you, it ought to at least entertain for a weekend. “Battlestar Galactica” is a great show, and so this set is great. That’s all you need to know. Buy it.