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Battlestar Galactica: Season One(TV) (2003-2005)
Deep in the universe, cybernetic Cylons have all but wiped out the human race, laying waste to the Twelve Colonies of Man. Cast out, the few survivors aboard the Battlestar Galactica search for a so-called 13th colony: the mythical planet Earth.
For more about Battlestar Galactica: Season One and the Battlestar Galactica: Season One Blu-ray release, see Battlestar Galactica: Season One Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 6, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Directors: Michael Rymer, Michael Nankin, Rod Hardy, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Robert M. Young
Writer: Ronald D. Moore
Starring: Edward James Olmos, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber
» See full cast & crew
Battlestar Galactica: Season One Blu-ray Review
Ron Moore's expectation-shattering first season earns a strong solo release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 6, 2010
Although ten long months have passed since Battlestar Galactica wrapped its critically acclaimed four-season run – signing off with, by my estimation, as satisfying a conclusion as anyone could reasonably hope for – I still find myself getting an all-too-familiar SyFy itch every Friday night. Creator Ron Moore's thrilling series admittedly consumed my imagination for five years and rarely disappointed, but I can't help but miss it now that it's gone. While some fans drifted away mid-series and others fell out of love entirely, claiming its third and fourth seasons were overwrought bores, my affection for the mythos seemed to double with every passing episode. Apologist? Zealot? I've been called worse. But few television series have engrossed me as fully or captivated me as completely. As such, the chance to revisit Battlestar Galactica's first expectation-shattering season is an exciting opportunity. Even after reviewing the 20-disc Complete Series box set, an embarrassingly gushing write-up if there ever was one, I couldn't wait to focus on the season that started it all. With a more manageable price, reduced risk for blind buyers, and attractive packaging (aimed at those who despise Universal's big-box-o-BSG), Battlestar Galactica: Season 1 is another enticing series release primed to bring new disciples to the fold.
Far from the cumbersome adaptation many viewers feared it would be, Moore's reimagined Battlestar Galactica does what the finest science fiction has always done: cloak the present in trappings of the future. Yes, the series is set within the cosmos in some distant time, and yes, robots traipse around attacking space-faring humans, but nothing about BSG adheres to the genre's lesser, more pervasive conventions. Examining countless aspects of identity, religion, politics and spirituality, Moore relies on allegory and sharply conceived social commentary to explore 21st century issues and culture. Not to overstate things, but comparisons made to The Wire and other more "serious" dramas aren't without merit. Between its absorbing, empathetic characters and thought-provoking, pulse-pounding storylines, Galactica -- even in its earliest episodes -- proves itself to be a powerful, unpredictable epic worthy of the praise and adulation it's received over the last five years. Its first season, arguably one of its best, delivers a careful blend of action-oriented mystery and moving interpersonal tragedy. Chalk it up to the unsettling conflicts established from the outset or the intensity with which they come to a head, but Moore's groundbreaking opening season hits with so many visceral gut punches that viewers will be left with an overwhelming desire to dive into season two as soon as possible.
For those worried about the intellectual investment involved -- those shaky souls who ran screaming from Lost long before time travel entered the mix – immersing oneself in Moore's disquieting mythos is much easier than diehards would have timid newcomers believe. That's not to say Battlestar Galactica is simplistic, just that its complexities unfold at a manageable pace, allowing viewers to sink into humanity's plight without losing sight of the overarching story in the process. Endless questions are posed and answers are rarely given, particularly when it comes to the elusive identities of the human model Cylons, but such ambiguity is used to further the characters' development rather than knowingly tease, toy with or wink at the series' audience. While later seasons evolved into increasingly dense labyrinths, season one is a well-balanced, perfectly-paced stunner. "33," the first episode to follow the miniseries, involves little more than a deadly game of cat-and-mouse yet reveals the weaknesses and fallacies that will come to haunt the main characters for the next four seasons. "Water" is just as elemental, but subtly establishes key conflicts that will come to divide and alienate humanity's sharpest minds over the next ten episodes. "Litmus" finds the fleet's paranoia surging, leaving everyone to wonder who can be trusted, who can be believed. "Colonial Day" is as much a political thriller as it is a defining moment for President Roslin. And "Kobol's Last Gleaming"… well, let's just say you haven't seen a season finale as shocking, as game-changing as this one. Unless you've seen the finales for seasons two, three, and four. But that's another review.
Both the crew of the Galactica and their mechanical adversaries are utterly fascinating characters. Roslin and Adama desperately fight to preserve everything they hold dear, but continually fail to unite the survivors or resolve the violence brewing amongst the fleet. Tyrol and Boomer scramble to keep the Galactica safe, yet struggle with debilitating inner demons that pose a greater threat to the ship than the basestars tracking them across the galaxy. Baltar's arrogance is comprised of equal parts ego and insecurity, pitting his confidence in direct conflict with his bizarre visions. Number Six is as calculating a monster as she is endearing a shunned creation; hers is perhaps the most nuanced journey, if for no other reason than her loyalties and motivations are never clearly defined. Tigh is a raging alcoholic and Adama's trusted confidant. Starbuck is a rebellious scrapper and a beloved pilot. Lee is a faithful son torn between honor and duty. I could go on at length about each character, major or minor, and still only brush the surface of their personalities, hang-ups, addictions and flaws. Moreover, because every colonel and crewman that graces the screen could potentially be a Cylon sleeper agent, navigating their exchanges and decisions becomes as thrilling as deducing the logic and reasoning behind them. Nothing is certain, no expression can be overlooked, few reactions can be accepted at face value. While watching an entire season from the proverbial edge of your seat may sound exhausting, it's quite the opposite.
I may just be another face in a mounting horde, but allow me to add my voice to the rabble. Battlestar Galactica has emerged as one of the best television shows in recent memory. Its first season alone is a slowburn science fiction masterpiece, an engrossing mystery, an emotional powerhouse, and an addictive introduction to a mythos that only grows stronger as it progresses. I've devoted thousands of words and a number of reviews in an attempt to convince stragglers to mine its depths. If you've yet to take the plunge, yet to sample everything it has to offer, be sure to pick up this first season release. Just be prepared to indulge the sudden itch that demands more seasons.
Battlestar Galactica: Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Blu-ray release of Battlestar Galactica accurately preserves the artistic intentions of the creators. The stylized visual elements within certain scenes are intentional and faithful to the broadcast presentation of the television show.
So opens the 1080p/VC-1 encoded Blu-ray edition of Battlestar Galactica: Season 1, a faithful-to-a-fault presentation if there ever was one. As Universal did with The Complete Series and Season 4.5, the series' at-times intrusive grain, harsh noise and garish digital anomalies are intact and Moore's every gritty intention has been preserved. That being said, those who look past his aesthetic choices will be treated to a satisfying picture in its own right. Warm oranges and searing Caprican yellows are bold and vibrant, blacks are inky and well-resolved, and skintones, whether human or Cylon, are natural and lifelike. Yes, Moore frequently allows color to bleed from the image, granting the steely hull of a battle cruiser and the cold sheen of marching Centurions power over the palette. And yes, many a shot is deprived of primary punch, whites surge and relent, and contrast charges and retreats depending on the tone and tenor of a scene. But it's all within the spirit of Galactica. Detail remains relatively strong through it all – despite some persistent interference from the aforementioned noise – and close-ups are often striking. Granted, the miniseries is cursed with a limited budget and its image quality suffers as a result, but any issues should be attributed to the source, not Universal's technical efforts. Artifacting, ringing, and other nonsense is kept to a bare minimum, and the presentation clings to Moore's bleak vision like a dutiful child.
All things considered, those with appropriate expectations will be happy with the results. Newcomers will require more convincing (trust me, reserve your judgment until after you've watched the entire season), but should be equally pleased by the time they reach the finale.
Battlestar Galactica: Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The quality of Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is more apparent from the outset. Again, the miniseries is a bit weak in the knees, but the season proper is blessed with crisp dialogue, hearty LFE support, and an immersive, three-dimensional soundfield. Raptors and raiders careen from speaker to speaker, encircling each other as smoothly and effortlessly as their pilots' well-prioritized chatter engages the listener. Explosions and gunfire are startling and weighty, shaking the room as readily as they shake the Galactica. Better still, Bear McCreary's evocative, oft-times heart-pounding score makes its presence known, haunting quiet conversations and intensifying the series' brisk action scenes. Through it all, directionality is precise, pans are transparent, and dynamics are commanding, lending the soundscape a richness and maturity usually found in more nuanced Hollywood blockbusters. There are a handful of occasions in which the actors lines' are buried beneath more chaotic sequences, but I suspect Moore wouldn't have it any other way. Fans will be ecstatic, inductees will be impressed, and audiophiles will crack more than a few smiles.
Battlestar Galactica: Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Like Universal's individual release of Season 4.5, the 4-disc Blu-ray edition of Battlestar Galactica: Season 1 arrives in a sturdy cardboard digipak; the same kind of digipak Universal has been using for all of its TV titles of late. It's slightly taller and wider than a standard Blu-ray case, but should still fit into your collection nicely. It will certainly going to appeal to those who don't want to purchase the ungainly box set or resort to shelving the rather small boxes inside. As for special features, it's fairly loaded. While the video content is presented in standard definition and the miniseries' Picture-in-Picture track simply recycles material from elsewhere on the first disc, everything else – specifically a whopping eleven audio commentaries, an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and seventy minutes of deleted scenes – takes any sting out of the price of admission.
Battlestar Galactica: Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you aren't willing (or able) to invest serious capital in The Complete Series box set, Battlestar Galactica: Season 1 is an excellent place to start. Sure, its price is a bit steep, but its value is much higher. Spread across four discs, the latest BSG Blu-ray release offers a faithful video transfer, an absorbing DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a heap of special features that include eleven audio commentaries. If you haven't taken the opportunity to immerse yourself in Ron Moore's magnificent mythos, you're quickly running out of excuses. Aside from the first season's price-point, I can't think of a single reason someone should continue avoiding Battlestar Galactica.
Battlestar Galactica: Other Seasons
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Battlestar Galactica: Season One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Battlestar Galactica Season One Announced - October 7, 2009
Our friends over at TV Shows on DVD have the scoop that Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release 'Battlestar Galactica - Season 1' for Blu-ray on January 5th. These discs have already been released as part of the 'Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series', ...
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