Spoiler-free review for BSG 4.5 on Blu.
Rago | 08/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not everyone watches the show when it airs, and if you're one of those people or if you'd just like to know what's on the discs, then this review is for you.
First, let me just say that I absolutely loved the finale. I also believe that the final half of season four was perhaps the strongest of the series (definitely the bleakest). This show had always been a drama with a scifi setting, and while some folks didn't like the fact that it became much more dialogue driven and less focused on action, I loved it. There are ten episodes (finale being a three-parter, but aired as two episodes, so you could say 11 episodes) spread across 3 discs. Here's a breakdown of the EXTRAS on each disc with my opinion of what's useful and what could have been airlocked.
"The Journey Ends: The Arrival" is a look back at the series with the cast and crew. Worth watching.
"What the Frak is Going On With Battlestar Galactica" is a quick 8-minute summary of the show through the first 3 seasons. It's concise and hilarious.
"A Disquiet Follows My Soul Unaired Extended Episode." Better than the broadcast version, and definitely the version I'd recommend.
"Evolution of a Cue" is a behind-the-scenes look at composer Bear McCreary's creation of music for a specific scene (with Roslin). It's incredibly detailed and if you're a fan of the music on BSG, I couldn't recommend this one enough. Actually, even if you're not a fan of the music it's still very interesting.
"David Eick's Video Blogs" is a collection of 11 3-5 minute video diaries with the cast and crew covering a range of topics. Some are funny and some are just fun to watch. Definitely worth watching.
"Islanded in a Stream of Stars Unaired Extended Episode." Much better than the broadcast version. I wasn't a huge fan of this episode when it originally aired, but this extended version definitely fleshes out the story a lot better and also fills in a few gaps.
"A Look Back" is another collection of videos(6) with the cast and crew. Not repetitive in the least, this is also well worth watching.
"...And They Have A Plan" is a quick 4-5 minute sneak peek at what the upcoming movie, "The Plan" is all about.
"The Musicians Behind Daybreak." Bear McCreary is again on-hand to discuss what went into creating the epic score for the finale. Even better, we're introduced to the various musicians (and their instruments) who have worked on the score from the very beginning. And once again, this one comes HIGHLY recommended.
"Daybreak Unaired Extended Episode." The finale the way it was meant to be seen. This contains all three parts, and along with extra scenes, it was also re-edited a bit. I highly recommend watching this and forgoing the broadcast version.
Across all discs you'll find deleted scenes (some are very interesting while some are just filler that should have been deleted, and they are presented in SD), audio and podcast commentaries (they're all worth a listen), along with U-Control. U-Control is an interactive feature that offers little facts about the show/characters which you can access as you watch an episode. Frankly, I found it completely useless. I haven't tried the BD-Live content as yet.
It should be noted that you should watch the entire series before watching any of the extras because they do contain massive spoilers.
There is, however, one glaring omission from this box-set: "The Face Of The Enemy" webisodes. While they are available elsewhere online, they should have been included in this set. They answer a question or two (from season 3) and greatly flesh out a certain character's motivations in these final episodes. I'd recommend finding and watching them before watching the episode, "The Oath." While this exclusion is noteworthy, the strength of the rest of the content in this set more than makes up for it. And perhaps we could see them available through BD-Live one day?
Visually, BSG looks gorgeous on Blu. You do notice the intentional grain a bit more at times, but colors pop and lines are well defined (CGI looks better as well). On the audio side, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is simply fantastic. Technically, this set is remarkable.
If you've come along for the ride this far, there's absolutely no reason to not pick up this final half-season to see how this story ends. However, as to be expected, the finale won't please everyone. Whether or not you like it, at least we were given a proper conclusion, which is a rarity in today's television landscape. They told the story they wanted to tell, and left it up to their audience to decide...and that's exactly what I did.
A wonderful conclusion to the best show to ever grace our television screens."
Just wish the Blu-ray packaging matched the DVDs.
S. Dennon | Detroit, MI | 09/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like many BSG Re-imagined fans, part of my growing-up was watching the original TV series (1978-79) as that story line developed, lurched around, rresumed (1980), and then came to a grinding halt; never fully satisfied with the end game. Initially, the BSG Miniseries (2003) and then Season 1 (2004) seemed just weird and unfaithful to the original, but with repeated showings on SciFi (now SyFy) it became an acquired taste, and then eventually an addiction. Friday Nights became planned around BSG airings. Eventually Seasons 1 through 4.0 became available on DVD editions as the only available near-HD format for collecting - until Season 4.5 became available. This presented a bit of an irritating dilemma for Season 4.5: buy it in DVD format to physically match the previous seasons, or buy it in Blu Ray to get the latest HiDef version. I chose the Blu Ray edition.
Unfortunately the packaging for the Blu-Ray BSG discs is rather bizarre. The DVDs came in nice, orderly, single-disc individual cases packaged in a boxed set, around 5 discs cases per box - nice and organized. The 4.5 Blu-Ray discs came in a single folding case with 3 discs mounted on spindles, and Disc 3 is sort of offset but underneath Disc 2, so you have to remove Disc 2 and set it aside to get to Disc 3. It gets my vote for Worst Packaging Ever - very inconvenient to use, at least relative to the orderly DVD box sets. It makes me wish i had chosen the DVD version of 4.5, which (presumably) nicely matches in style and packaging format with the other DVDs.
The Blu-Ray discs play just fine, meeting all expectations of the HD Blu Ray format. The previous season DVDs also play very nicely on a high quality Blu Ray player which does the proper upscaling. I do not see any significant and compelling advantages in replacing previous BSG DVDs with Blu Ray versions. Again - I am 50-50 on purchasing Season 4.5 as a stand-alone Blu Ray edition. I would have been much happier if the disc packaging had matched the form and convenience of the DVD sets. If I had not been purchasing the DVDs all along in previous seasons, I might have held off and gotten all of them in the Blu Ray format when that became an option after Season 4.5.
As far as content - if you were happy with the re-imagined BSG series and finale, then you will be happy with either the DVDs or the Blu Ray discs themselves. Mix and Matching though (as I did) is not very optimal, and I strongly prefer the convenience of the original DVD set packaging over the complexity and inconvenience of the newer Season 4.5 Blu Ray disc packaging. How hard would it have been to match?
Nitpicking at the inconvenient packaging aside, the re-imagined BSG series is epic, and the Blu ray edition is crystal clear (notwithstanding the production itself, which was always notable for sometimes grainy, shifty camera angles and such for a dynamic, "live" effect), and occasionally stunning, particularly when watching massive explosions and such frame-by-frame in "war scenes"."