Battlestar Galactica: Complete Blu-ray
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Battlestar Galactica: Complete Blu-ray

I have never been a fan of this new trend of taking a well regarded movie or television series and slapping the term ‘re-imagined’ on it. In almost every case of this what is actually meant is the writers have a lack of imagination. The resulting work typically runs a range from boring to heresy depending on how popular and beloved the original was perceived by the audience. In 2003 the Sci-Fi Channel commissioned a miniseries based on the seventies campy cult classic TV show ‘Battlestar Galactica’. I had been a marginal fan of the show and thought it was a good amount of fun but it was light entertainment at best, I just couldn’t see any dire need to bring the story back. Like many fans of the genre I watched the miniseries and initially had to cope with some drastic changes. The main fighter pilot, Starbuck’ was a slick lady’s man. He smoked little cigars, gambled and strutted around. In the new version Roger D. Moore, better known to fans simply as ‘RDM’, performed a sex change making Starbuck into a woman. The thing is she still gambled, smoked cigars and had an excess of outward confidence. At first all the changes seemed very strange but once I got into them I started to appreciate the new ‘RDM’ version on its own merits and the great news was the new version quickly became one of the most imaginative series I have seen in many years. Instead of the rehashing I anticipated I was greatly surprised that RDM took the initial premise and set off in a completely different direction. Like many fans of the series I collected each season as they came out on DVD but when I heard they were going to release a high definition Blu-ray version I could wait to get. It is a natural question to ask why someone would repurchase the same content that already resides on your shelf. In this case the decision was rather easy. A series this well crafted deserves to have its presentation with the best possible technical specifications.

At the beginning of this Blu-ray set there is a little on screen comment by RDM. He mentions that ‘Battlestar Galactica’ was always recorded in high definition but initially was broadcast only in standard definition. This set was the first opportunity for the production team to see the full fruits of their labor. At the time the bulk of the series was first broadcast I had not yet moved up to high definition so it was like watching each episode for the first time. Upon revisiting it I discovered just how much attention to detail the producers and writers achieved. The 1080p video gives new life to just about every shot. As the series moves from one season to the next you can see how the military uniform take on very natural signs of wear. There is just a touch of fraying to a collar or parting of the weave that gives you the impression these clothes were long past their normal usage. Many of these actors are amazingly talented that you need the high resolution to see the nuances to the facial expressions. In 1080p you can make out the pores on the skin giving a completely realistic feel; it becomes more like watching a play in a small theater. I also noticed that the shadowing and use of lighting is much more dramatic. On board the ship the tone is contrasted between the bright work areas and the dim lit personal scenes. This provides a visual reinforcement to the ongoing juxtaposition of survival and trying to restore some sense of normalcy. The shots on the ground take on an unimagined clarity that pulls you into the story.

The DTS HD audio is sheer perfection. The soundtrack of this series makes a lot of use of large drums pounding out behind the action. I had always been impressed with the use of this motif but on a full 7.1 sound system the effect is chilling. The sub woofer lays down a foundation that not only contains the deep rumble of the huge drums but the almost constant vibrations of the Battle star’s engines. This frequently is just on the edge of what you can hear; almost more of a presence than anything else. In the scenes that depict combat between the Cylon Raiders and the colonial Vipers the entire sound field fills the living room. You can hear individual craft as they swoop and turn, their blasters roaring out culminating with an explosion that pushes the sub woofer. This audio truly shows off a high end system. If you have full size speakers for the front and rear mains their woofers will spring to life nicely balanced with the tweeter and mid range, the audio here is full range that is perfect to make your neighbors extremely jealous. Besides the full four seasons of the series the miniseries and made for cable movie ‘Razor’ are included. The studio has re-released the set this time including the second movie ‘The Plan’ which recaps the series from the vantage point of the Cylons. This was previously available in Blu-ray but this is the first high def release for ‘Razor’ in both editions. The new edition does not include the mechanical Cylon figure but other than that the sets are identical.

-The Oracle - An interactive guide including ships and characters
-Battlestar Actual - A glossary of all the unique Battlestar Galactica terms
-What The Frak Happened To You?
Exclusive Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes
Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
Podcast Commentary & Video Blogs with Executive Producers Ronald D. Moore & David Eick

Posted 02/17/2010

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