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Battlestar Galactica - Season One [HD DVD] - dramatic television series DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, James Callis, Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer
  Studio: Universal Studios
DVD release: 04 December 2007   Runtime: 755 minutes
(6 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen
Features: Audio tracks (Dolby True HD 5.1 Surround - English; Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 - English), Subtitles (English SDH, French), 2003 miniseries, 13 Season One episodes, Download Center, Encyclopedia Galactica (including 12 Colonies of Kobol, Flight Training Manual, and Battlestar Characters), Deleted Scenes, Picture-in-picture behind the scenes of the miniseries, Deleted Scenes, Sketches and art, From Miniseries to Series, Change is Good - Now They're Babes, The Cylon Centurion, Future/Past Technology, The Doctor is Out (Of His Mind), Production, Visual Effects, Epilogue, Miniseries and episode commentaries with director and executive producers,

The only conceivable way that any self-respecting sci-fi fan can come away disappointed from the re-imagined 21st-century version of Battlestar Galactica is through blind faith to the original cult series from the '70s, like original series Trekkers who refuse to appreciate any other incarnation of the Star Trek franchise on its own merit (full disclosure: I was one of those for a long very long time). For everyone else looking for that too-rare intelligent SF concept that pays as much attention to subtlety and detail in characterization, story and nuanced human conflict as to brilliantly executed visual and audio special effects, this is the filmic science fiction holy grail.

Granted, the 2003 SciFi Channel mini-series (included here as a preface to the Season One episodes) and the ensuing regular series do pay homage to the original 1978 Lorne Greene-commanded Galactica in character names (while mixing things up gender-wise with Starbuck and Boomer), bringing Richard Hatch (the original series' Apollo) in as terrorist-turned-politician Tom Zarek, and the basic storytelling bones of plot, setting, and common threat. But, oh, how SciFi puts flesh on those bones!

Grizzled career soldier Commander William Adama (acted with terse understatement by Edward James Olmos) is playing reluctant host to the decomissioning and transformation of the dated Colonial warship Galactica into a museum when the planets of the Twelve Colonies are attacked simultaneously by the forces of the Cylons. Originally created by the people of the Twelve Colonies as slaves and soldiers, the android Cylons achieved sentience and rebelled against their masters in a bloody war that ended with a tense truce 40 years ago.

The smart, resolute former Secretary of Education Laura Roslin (can't-miss Mary McDonnell), 43rd in the line of succession and secretly riddled with metastasized breast cancer, has been sworn in as the president of the Twelve Colonies. Determined to hold together and preserve the last remnants of humanity - now numbering at 48,000-plus - she finds her duty to civilians often at odds with now-Admiral Adama's military objectives. The commander's Viper-pilot son Lee (Jamie Bamber), call-sign "Apollo", is still coming to terms with the death of his brother, for which he blames his father, and with his feelings for his brother's fiancee, the talented but rebellious Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff), aka "Starbuck". Self-absorbed scientist Gaius Baltar (James Callis), who unwittingly gave the Cylons the access to the Twelve Colonies' computer network that ensured the success of their strike against humanity, is alternately plagued and aided (one might say controlled) by his ongoing hallucinatory interaction with the beautiful blonde Cylon Number Six (Tricia Helfer). They all play out their almost hopelessly underdog roles against a backdrop of constant Cylon attacks and infiltration by seamlessly human-seeming Cylon agents, searching doggedly for Kobol, a planet that may lead them to the mythical origin of the human species: Earth.

The HD DVD Season One package holds all the extra goodies included on the standard DVD release, plus stunning clarity of picture (minus a somewhat disappointing presentation of the miniseries), Dolby TrueHD audio, U-Control picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes commentary, Encylopedia Galactica character, history and technology reference, and web-enabled features.

This is the pinnacle of smart adult drama that also happens to be kick-ass science fiction - the best I've experienced since the late lamented Farscape. Not to be missed, by newbies and reluctant BG purists alike.
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reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing
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