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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Horror > TV > Battlestar Galactica - Season One (2003/2004)

Battlestar Galactica – Season One/2003 - 2004 version

 

Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Episodes: C

 

 

After Universal and ABC gave us Battlestar Galactica, we had the lower-budgeted Galactica 1980 which critics hated and fans did not flock to.   If the first show was a bit stillborn, at least it had production values and its moments.  The sequel show had actually opened up aspects of the original it never got credit for and was amusing in its own right.  Home video and the collector’s market notwithstanding, the Galactica franchise went into the sunset and that seemed to be it.  Fans hoped for revivals of the original series, especially as visual effects became cheaper and more common, and original star Richard Hatch was even hoping around 1999 to do so making a trailer.  With the rush to remake & reclaim every franchise in the vaults of every major company, Universal & The Sci-Fi Channel decided to revive the show, but update it.  The result was an abandoning of the original altogether.

 

If this disappointed Hatch, he was not alone.  The Mini-Series was the same colorless-looking muck that had been past played out from all the Star Trek spin-offs and it’s many tired imitators, doing their imitation of a show a few generations down in itself.  In the original show, an exodus of humans from outer space are searching for earth, but they have to survive the human extermination of the Cylon Centurions, armed robot killers who are out to rule space.  Instead of logically pumping up that angel and dealing with unfinished aspects of the original space opera, the new series tries to take a Horror-genre turn as Cylons advanced to a more dangerous robot state (looking like an update of robot Maximillian from Disney’s The Black Hole (1979) on a diet and/or low budget) that has somehow allowed them to then find a way to assume human form.

 

With almost everything in look and name gone, the only reason to use the name of the original show is to get it to sell more easily.  Hatch even shows up, but as a different character, but that makes no difference.  Glen Larson did manage to convince Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell to sign on as regulars, but even some fairly good writing cannot escape the conventions, clichés and the fact that this cycle of Science Fiction is having one of the slowest deaths in genre history.  Like a comparison of the old and new Lost In Space, the original shows had more fun and energy than their drained “reimaginings” – a word than has its own dark new meaning and sets off a high B.S. Red Alert every time we hear it (i.e., Tim Burton’s unimaginably bad Planet Of The Apes) which runs contrary to anything science fiction does best.  This is much more dark in look than theme and substance.

 

There are 13 episodes here after the mini-series launch and the best we can say about this version is that it is “an acquired taste” at best.  The episodes are, with commentary tracks marked by an *:

 

1)     Mini-Series

2)     33*

3)     Water

4)     Bastille Day*

5)     Act Of Contrition*

6)     You Can’t Go Home Again*

7)     Litmus

8)     Six Degrees Of Separation

9)     Flesh & Bone

10)  Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down*

11)  The Hand Of God*

12)  Colonial Day*

13)  Kobol’s Last Gleaming (in two episodes)*

 

 

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is recent and looks like it was shot digitally, but still is not quite as good looking as the 1.85 X 1 non-anamorphic transfer for the 1978 film reviewed elsewhere on this site, as hard as that is to believe.  The digital visual effects are forgettable and not as interesting as the dated effects from the original series, which used good (and then-expensive) model work from LucasFilm and John Dykstra.  The very clichéd, color-drained look is not too good on the revival mini-series, and does not improve with the regular shows.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is weaker than expected, despite its surrounds, the directional ability of which is not too impressive.  Louder sounds seem to hit a ceiling of compression and there is a lack of presence throughout as well.

 

Extras include an audio commentary on the 3+ hours of the mini-series and 33 episode by co-Executive Producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore with Director Michael Rymer, Moore & Eick do the next two alone, then Moore is solo on the rest, then you get deleted scenes, 8 featurettes behind the making of the new show, art/sketches and Battlestar Galactica – A Series Lowdown.  That is even more interesting than the resulting shows.  I really would have liked to enjoy the show more, especially without commercials on DVD, but it just never comes together.  A second season followed.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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