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Battlestar Galactica: Season Two(TV) (2005-2006)
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 Two and the Battlestar Galactica: Season Two Blu-ray release, see Battlestar Galactica: Season Two Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on July 6, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Edward James Olmos, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber
Directors: Michael Rymer, Michael Nankin, Rod Hardy, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Robert M. Young
» See full cast & crew
Battlestar Galactica: Season Two Blu-ray Review
Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, July 6, 2010
A spirited fighter fears she may be a machine. A beloved commander lies dying at the helm of his ship. Two bristling battlestars teeter on the precipice of civil war. A Cylon occupation threatens the remaining remnants of the human race. An old friend returns from the dead in a blaze of glory. Four trusted crewmen discover an unsettling secret. A Cylon hybrid warns a doomed soul about the destruction of her species, and identifies humanity's "harbinger of death." Hopes surges before being crushed in a single devastating blow. If nothing else, Battlestar Galactica creators Ronald D. Moore and David Eick proved they knew how to craft and implement a cliffhanger... again and again and again. BSG's mad geniuses held fans in a perpetual state of anxiety for more than five years, all the while making one thing abundantly clear: they were willing and all too eager to break the rules. Season Two of Moore and Eick's critically acclaimed reimagining boasts some of the series' most shocking, sharply written, and engrossing storylines, tossing everything from expectations to timelines to the wind, and delivering a wonderfully unpredictable drama seasoned with cultural relevance and psychological resonance. And I can say, all hyperbole aside, that it stands among television's finest.
Despite my best efforts to pen a fitting plot synopsis for Battlestar Galactica, Moore's succinct opening text provides a near-perfect description of everything viewers need to know. The Cylons were created by man. They evolved. They rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a plan. Still, Moore's mythos is richer and more complex than nineteen words could ever convey. When a tenuous peace with a rebellious machine race ends with the sudden, simultaneous eradication of mankind, a small fleet of ships narrowly escapes the destruction, fleeing into the deep reaches of space in search of a new home. Led by commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) and the colonies' new president, former Secretary of Education Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), the remaining humans are forced to outrun dozens of pursuing Cylon basestars, attempt to identify and quarantine the humanoid Cylon models in their midst, and reestablish some semblance of civilization aboard their ships. Wavering between hope and hopelessness, the survivors face constant danger from space and from within, clinging to religion, ancient legends, and strange, inexplicable prophecies that suggest some form of salvation lies waiting just beyond the stars.
Jettisoning traditional science fiction archetypes in favor of a realistically flawed cast of troubled characters, Moore and Eick have populated the human fleet with fascinating humans and Cylons. Loyalties are strained, relationships are tested, and hardship abounds. Of course, rooting out the Cylon agents is a difficult task, even for warriors like Adama's son Apollo (Jamie Barber), snarky Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace (Katee Sackhoff), self-doubting Sharon 'Boomer' Valerii (Grace Park), second-in-command Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), the ever-reliable Chief Tyrol (Aaron Douglas), and everyman Karl 'Helo' Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett). It's especially challenging since their enemy is as cold and devious as the Cylons. In the wake of manipulating a smarmy doctor named Gaius Baltar (James Callis) into handing over the keys to their Caprican kingdom, humanoid model Number Six (Tricia Helfer) joined forces with her mechanical brethren in a relentless pursuit of the human fleet. Turning brother against brother, friend against friend, she left the humans with little choice but to question their very realities and existences. As Season Two gets underway, Adama's life hangs in the balance, Tigh struggles to lead the fleet, and martial law sparks unrest between the military and the civilian populous. Soon though, Roslin departs for Kobol in hopes of learning the location of Earth, the Cylons mount another series of offensives, and the arrival a second, more advanced battlestar -- the Pegasus, a ship commanded by stalwart military strategists Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes) and Colonel Jack Fisk (Graham Beckel) -- drastically changes everything.
Whereas Moore and Eick's first season was built around self-preservation, suspicion and hopelessness -- the seeds of conflict -- Season Two hinges on the many conflicts that inevitably erupt. With Adama on his deathbed for four episodes, Tigh dragging the entire fleet into a drunken rage, and Roslin coming to terms with her impending death, the stakes are high and the fallout tragic. The Cylons remain humanity's primary threat, but hatred and arrogance emerge as the true enemy, splintering the humans among rival interests. (Not that everyone was holding hands in Season One.) Disagreements become commonplace, and war brews in every shadow; lines and blood are drawn, extinction seems imminent, and love wavers in the face of dispute. There are times when it seems the credits are about to roll on BSG altogether, moments before Moore and Eick deliver whatever game-changing shot they suddenly take across the series' bow. To their great credit though, each twist and turn (of which there are many, including one last jaw-dropping stunner involving the discovery of a harsh but habitable planet) expands the allure of the mythos and makes it all the more impossible to turn away. More importantly, few of these developments adhere to genre convention. The appearance of a second battlestar would normally be cause for celebration (as it is for a brief time), but it isn't long before Adama and Roslin have to contend with the reality of the situation. The birth of a human/Cylon hybrid follows a path few series would brave, one that fundamentally alters the way in which we view key characters. And a turbulent election (in which Roslin and Baltar vie for the presidency) puts the usually unshakable ethics of some of the series' most beloved characters to the test.
Above all else, a careful balance of character complexities and intertwining plot threads allows each episode to burrow deep within the hearts and minds of series fans. Religion is a constant source of conflict in the Battlestar universe, one that divides the monotheistic Cylons from their polytheistic human creators. The sense that each character, man or machine, is somehow embroiled in an eternal plan allows the writers to expand the boundaries of episodic television and inject an ambiguity into the tale; an ambiguity that makes the series' ongoing mysteries irresistible. It's this thematic momentum, as well as a viewer's personal interpretation of everything that unfolds, that guides each episode to fruition. Not Moore or Eick's personal beliefs. It's this clash of order and chaos that compels the fleet to find a new home, not the threat of extinction. For that very reason, Season Two solidifies the fact that Battlestar Galactica is as much a journey of the soul and mind as it is a trek to Earth. Moore's fans are asked to consider the fabric of reality, faith and existence as readily as they are asked to question the politics, religion and prejudices they see in the world around them. The series becomes a stark, disturbing mirror of our true selves; a litmus test of our true priorities and ideals.
By the time Season Two arrives at its startling conclusion, all bets are off. Just be warned: the question, "should I pick up Season Three," will suddenly change into a more fevered, "where can I get a copy of Season Three?" The finale doesn't end with a bang or a bleeding commander, it ends with a vicious gut-punch that promises to cripple humanity and drastically alter its future. But with a tremendous payoff lying in wait, character-defining moments still to come, and some of the series' best episodes looming on the horizon, Season Two's bold third act couldn't end on a more perfect note.
Battlestar Galactica: Season Two Blu-ray, Video Quality
Worried about Battlestar's video quality? Rest easy, dear readers. Here's what creator/executive producer Ronald D. Moore had to say about the Blu-ray edition of his beloved series:
"This is a very exciting thing. We shoot Battlestar Galactica in high definition on digital videotape, and have from the very beginning. But typically, in the broadcast format, you're not able to see all the depth and detail, and appreciate the photography that [director of photography] Steve McNutt has provided to the show ever since the beginning of the series. This is a chance to really see what the show actually looks like. When we mix and edit the show, we don't even really watch it in HD. The HD master is something that's sort of finished off in other parts of post production. As a result, I myself don't even get to watch the HD master very often. So it's kind of a treat for me to see the beauty of the images we've actually captured, as well as the amazing sound. So sit back, relax and enjoy this because I think you'll really get a chance to see Battlestar Galactica for the first time in a whole new way, and see the show as it was meant to be seen."
Primed for launch with a faithful-to-a-fault 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, Season Two looks every bit as grainy, grimy and noisy as it should, lending BSG's second hurrah a visceral edge most science fiction series fumble or bypass altogether. McNutt's palette is overrun with blown-out whites, intense blacks and brief bursts of beautiful primary brilliance, and every jarring variance, eye-scorching contrast tweak and oppressive shadow enhances Moore's established aesthetic all the more. Detail is quite striking as well, so long as you're prepared to endure a slew of soft shots and obscured visuals. Fine textures are crisp one moment, muddy the next; skintones range from colorless to lifelike to oversaturated, occasionally in the span of minutes; delineation initially reveals then suddenly obscures the series' production design... and so it goes and so it goes. Again though, it all falls within the blemished bounds of Moore's vision. The only downside? Minor artifacting and banding appear from time to time, and noise tends to surge and relent, making it difficult to discern whether each anomaly traces back to the original source or slight imperfections in the technical presentation. That being said, Galactica isn't (and isn't meant to be) a pristine show by any stretch of the imagination, meaning any such shortcomings are hardly cause for concern.
Battlestar Galactica: Season Two Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Of Battlestar Galactica's four seasons, Season Two and Three are the sonic standouts, narrowly besting the series' already impressive bookends. Unleashing hell at every twist, turn and FTL jump, Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track leaves a lasting mark. LFE output is both hearty and nuanced, disrupting planetside skirmishes with the roar of heavy artillery, pairing chaotic warship battles with the perfectly muffled thoom thoom of in-space canon fire, and ripping through steel hulls and toppling concrete buildings with devastating force. Rear speaker activity is spot on as well, complementing the track's low-end fury with haunting ambient effects and eerily convincing acoustics. The whole of the mix is incredibly immersive, and it's easy to forget the soundscape is the product of a television show. More importantly, dialogue remains intelligible and smartly prioritized. Lines are never lost (unless they're meant to be), effects only overwhelm conversations when called upon to do so, and everything from Starbuck's war cries to Adama's hair-raising speeches are crystal clear. And Bear McCreary's score? Be it the sobering lament of a violin or the rousing rum tum tum of timpani marching to war, the series soars with McCreary's triumphant strings, stirring wind instruments and sternum-thumping percussion. Suffice to say, Season Two boasts a lossless powerhouse; one that makes Battlestar Galactica's soundfield every bit as sophisticated and refined as the episodes it accompanies.
Battlestar Galactica: Season Two Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Eighteen satisfying audio commentaries, nearly two hours of deleted scenes, a lengthy set of video journals, U-Control factoids, interactive online activities, and a variety of other goodies... whew. Universal's Battlestar Galactica releases have been accused of being a lot of things, but being light on supplemental material isn't one of them. Season Two is packed to the brim with a bevy of special features, most of which are well worth the hours and hours it will take to plow through them all. My only two complaints? Almost all of the video content is presented in standard definition and Universal's U-Control feature is a superficial bust. Still, with well over twenty hours of material on tap, I doubt anyone will be very flustered by such trivialities.
Battlestar Galactica: Season Two Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Battlestar Galactica's second season is just as compelling as its first, offering what is arguably the series' finest crop of episodes. Not every subplot works as well as the last, but BSG at its worst is still more absorbing, electrifying and arresting than the overwhelming majority of television shows at their best. Yes, the writing is that sharp. Yes, the characters are that intriguing. Yes, the story is that addictive. So much so that adding the Blu-ray edition of Season Two to your collection is a no-brainer. With a faithful video transfer, a potent DTS-HD Master Audio track, and more than twenty hours of audio commentaries and other supplements, it's a magnificent release. Alas, the standalone Blu-ray edition of Season Two has one weakness: its pricepoint. I would suggest saving up enough cash to purchase the mammoth BSG box set or, if you already own Season One, scooping up a used copy at Amazon on-the-cheap.
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Battlestar Galactica: Season Two Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Battlestar Galactica Season Two Blu-ray Announced - January 14, 2010
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of 'Battlestar Galactica: Season Two', which is set to hit store shelves on April 6. This box set will consist of five discs, identical to those included on 'Battlestar Galactica: The Complete ...
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