Sunday, September 24, 2006

TV on DVD: Battlestar Galactica Season 2.0

• It's unlike anything else on TV, and better, too.

Genres: Sci-fi, drama, action
Released: Dec. 20, 2005
Cast: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Tricia Helfer, James Callis, Jamie Bamber, Michael Hogan, Aaron Douglas, Grace Park
Verdict: &&&&& (instant classic)

I live for the Battlestar Galactica DVDs. It's true not just because it's the best show on television — a show that gets impossibly better and better as it progresses — but because that's the only way I can watch it. My cable provider, Comcast, gives us obscure fare such as Discover Outdoor Health II in favor of more obvious choices, such as Sci-Fi and Comedy Central. But that's OK; this alluring show is best savored in crisp DVD images with surround sound. With season three set to begin Oct. 6 and the second half of season two new on DVD, I've just finished up the first half of the season, a remarkable extension of a show that sets a new standard for space drama. The season begins with Commander Adama's (Edward James Olmos) fate unclear and the fleet's perilous fate in the hands of deliciously flawed Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan), who is under the influence of strong beverages and his manipulative wife, Ellen (Kate Vernon), a character so suspect that she simply must be a red herring. Meanwhile, President Roslin (Mary McDonnell), as her health deteriorates, is increasingly intent on fulfilling religious prophecy and finding the mythical Earth, a delicate bit of plotting that is navigated successfully in a two-parter, "Home." While that bit of spirituality is an area where the show could risk losing its edge, the god angle continues to work brilliantly for the conflicted cylons, who, in human form, do not always know their true nature. Apart from Number Six (Tricia Helfer), who tightens her tease-torment routine on Dr. Baltar (James Callis), the cylon Sharon (Grace Park), in various incarnations, continues to have a prominent role; one of my favorite moments of the season finds two of the officers who engaged in toaster action with different Sharon copies coming to fisticuffs over her/it. With so many outstanding episodes, it's difficult to choose favorites, but among them are "Fragged," in which Baltar, demonstrating a rare instance of backbone, elicits the number of cylons in the fleet from the imprisoned Sharon, and mid-season cliffhanger "Pegasus," in which Adama's command is threatened by the queen bee of the Battlestar Pegasus, and two favorites face execution over an incident involving — would you believe — sex and the cylon Sharon.

// DVD notes //
Deleted scenes have rightly been moved where they should be — viewable after each episode. I'd like to hear more use of the surround channels, but the picture quality is ace. One head-scratcher: Why does an extended version of cliffhanger episode "Pegasus" appear on the subsequent season 2.5 set, but not here?

// Related //
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