review by Bill
Hunt, Editor of The Digital Bits
Season Three -
2006-2007 (2008) - Sci-Fi Channel (Universal)
Program Rating: A
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/A-
Is there another show on television right now that's remained
as consistently good, surprising and relevant as Ron Moore's
reimagined Battlestar Galactica?
If there is, I haven't seen it. Science fiction though it may
be, week after week, Battlestar
continues to earn its place among the very best dramatic series
TV has ever delivered.
As fans of the series already know, Season
Three picks up about a year after the cliff-hanger
finale of Season Two (or
2.5). The human survivors of the Cylon attack on the
Twelve Colonies, weary of endlessly fleeing through space in
search of the mythical planet Earth, chose to settle instead on
New Caprica, where they've managed to remain hidden from the
Cylons for nearly a year. But just as the colonists began to
hope their troubles were over for good, the Cylons arrived and
occupied the planet. Adama and Lee, outgunned and outmanned,
were forced to flee in the Battlestars Galactica and Pegasus,
leaving everyone they loved behind. In short, the situation was
the season begins, we learn that life has indeed been difficult for
the colonists under Cylon rule. Certain people have disappeared.
Others have decided to collaborate with their oppressors. Still more
have organized an underground resistance movement. Nearly all of
them have given up hope of salvation. But Adama and Lee aren't about
to abandon them, and now they're about to hatch a desperate,
all-or-nothing gamble to free the people of New Caprica, or die
Battlestar Galactica: Season Three
contains more than its fair share of terrific episodes, beginning
with the four-part story of Adama and Lee's return. Exodus,
Parts 1 and 2 in
particular are outstanding, depicting one of the most ballsy and
audacious action/rescue sequences this or any other science fiction
show has ever attempted. The sight of the Galactica "jumping"
into the atmosphere and falling like a flaming rock is the last
thing I ever expected to see, and I'm sure mine wasn't the only jaw
to hit the ground during this episode. The season continues as the
fleet (minus several thousand casualties) resumes the search for
Earth... and the Cylons begin to take a serious interest in their
quest. A Measure of Salvation
sees Adam and Roslin debating the use of a biological weapon to wipe
out the Cylons. In Unfinished Business,
we learn exactly what happened during that year we missed on New
Caprica, and why Kara and Lee in particular had grown to resent each
other so much. The Passage,
Eye of Jupiter and Rapture
depict the discovery of the final major clue to the location of
Earth, and the lengths to which both human and Cylon will go in
order to find it first. Then, in Maelstrom,
Kara learns that her ultimate destiny may have serious implications
for the fate of humanity. And as the season closes, Baltar finds
himself on trial for his actions on New Caprica, Lee is forced to
make a difficult choice, and some favorite characters uncover a
terrible secret that will change EVERYTHING.
In terms of A/V quality, all 20 episodes on this 6-disc set are
presented in very good looking anamorphic widescreen video. Color
and contrast are just as intended by the show's creators, and image
detail is first-rate for standard definition, with only minor
compression artifacting and no other visible defects. The Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio mixes here are nicely immersive, with the
surrounds well used for general ambience. They're quite lively
during action and effects sequences, and there's good bass too.
Those of you who have the previous Galactica
DVDs will know exactly what to expect in terms of presentation
quality here. There's definitely nothing to complain about. FYI,
subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish.
One of the nice things about having this series released in DVD in
full - as opposed to half - seasons, is that you tend to get more
bonus material. Season Three
proves this nicely. First of all, EVERY SINGLE EPISODE includes one
of producer Ron Moore's podcast audio commentaries (that were
previously available for download on Sci-Fi.com). These have been
routinely excellent, so be sure to check at least a few of them out.
You also get several bonus commentaries. Hero
includes a second commentary with producer David Eick that hasn't
previously been available. The season's last three episodes, The
Son Also Rises and Crossroads,
Part 1 and 2, also
feature additional commentaries by actor Mark Sheppard, who plays
Romo Lampkin (these were available on Sci-Fi.com as well).
This set includes two versions of the episode Unfinished
Business - the original broadcast version AND a new "Ron
Moore" version that's some 25 minutes longer. The new version
isn't necessarily better. The broadcast version is tighter and has
more dramatic impact, I think. BUT... the new version does fill in a
lot more blanks. For example, the conflict between Lee and Kara is
MUCH more personal in the longer version. Kara's actions are more
sympathetic in some ways, in that you see that they're motivated by
fear, but there are nastier moments too. Kara basically outs what
happened right in front of Dee, and you definitely feel Lee's rage.
On the other hand, you also learn that Dee knew what she was getting
into from the very beginning, and married Lee knowing that it
probably wasn't going to last. While all this new material does
weigh down the narrative momentum, it also undeniably adds depth to
these characters. You'll appreciate having the chance to see it. I
should add that this longer version has its own new commentary by
Moore as well.
There's plenty more extras to enjoy, including I would guess around
an hour's worth of deleted scenes (presented non-anamorphic) from
the season's many episodes. These include some really terrific
moments: Kara attempting to kill herself in Cylon captivity, Baltar
telling Roslin that the Cylon heart doesn't feel like a human's
(breaking Six's heart as she listens), Lee giving up his Commander
rank to take over as Galactica CAG, Athena confronting Cally, hints
that Baltar could be a Cylon and MUCH more.
Nearly ALL of producer David Eick's video blogs from Sci-Fi.com are
included here, save for one (Peabody
Madness, probably because it would have required paying
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who appear in it). However, you also get
7 more blogs that have never been available online (there are 22 in
all in this set). Finally, you get all 10 of The
Resistance "webisodes" that were shown online
to tease the start of Season Three.
These video extras are all non-anamorphic widescreen (I wish they
were 16x9, but it's a small complaint). The webisodes are all on
Disc Two of the set, while the blogs are scattered around the other
discs. All told, this is a great assortment of bonus content,
including both new and previously seen material. If you're a fan,
you'll enjoy every bit of it.
One thing I would love to see, that we haven't gotten yet for this
series, is a great, in-depth documentary on the inner workings of
the show. The video blogs are cool, but they're not nearly enough.
What fans want is something that would run 2 or 3 hours, and really
cover every aspect of the production. I also wish Universal would
include the other bonus podcasts that have appeared on Sci-Fi.com
(the cast and crew roundtable, the writer's meetings, etc). And it
wouldn't hurt to have galleries of production and design artwork
either. Hey... there's still one season left to go. Maybe when
Universal delivers the Blu-ray versions - who knows? Speaking of
which, let's hope the Blu-ray versions are coming sooner rather than
later (and PLEASE in better packaging than the Season
Any way you slice it up, Battlestar
Galactica delivers the goods. This show has NEVER been
afraid to take risks and turn everything you think you know on end.
It dares to be bold and original, even to the point of changing its
tone and characters in absolutely fundamental ways. It's just been a
true delight to watch thus far. If you're new to Battlestar,
I highly recommend that you go back and start watching from the
beginning on DVD (click the links to read my reviews of
and the recent
TV movie) - this is not a show you can truly appreciate if you start
in the middle. The first half of Season
Four (the show's final season) debuts on the Sci-Fi
Channel on 4/4/08, with around ten episodes. Because of the recent
writer's strike, the remainder of the season (which resumes
production next week, as it happens) probably won't air until early
2009. In any case, you can bet that Ron Moore, David Eick and the
writers are cooking up a real rollercoaster finish for this series.
I, for one, absolutely can't wait to take the ride. Bring it on!
In case you hadn't guessed, Battlestar
Galactica: Season Three is very highly recommended.