on December 28, 2008
I would describe the first half of this season as occasionally mind-blowing, always gripping. It wasn't perfect, certainly, but it was pretty close. Each of this season's episodes was consistently good, compared to some of the weaker stand-alone episodes in the second half of seasons 2 and 3. BSG has made a successful and compelling transformation from a black/white, us vs. them SciFi/action series into a morality tale about peaceful coexistence, and every step of the way has been executed brilliantly. I'm eagerly awaiting the finale, though I would have welcomed additional seasons.
Also, I'm going to join the other reviewers asking people to stop posting 1-star reviews based on something completely unrelated to the quality of the show or something about the DVD set itself. Complain about the price, or the fact that it's split in half again (though the latter is due more to the writer's strike than anything), but don't come here to complain about problems downloading episodes. Over half of the 1-star reviews have nothing to do with the show or the DVDs.
on October 29, 2008
Battlestar Galactica has, over the last four years, proven to be a new milestone for the very idea of sci-fi television and, outside of "genre" standards, has still shown itself to be one of the strongest shows on television through consistently powerful acting, writing, and directing. Over the seasons, the show has always pushed the envelope when it came to reaching beyond the limitations placed on it by the network and the high level of quality it continued to place on itself. The third season faltered slightly due to all of this growing pressure, as the network forced the show to turn to a story format that didn't suit the overarching plot at all, conflicting with the show's natural evolution. Fortunately, the network took the blame, and for the first time since the show's conception, the writers had full creative control. And how they embraced it.
In turn, the show's fourth season is the perfect realization of Battlestar's miraculously coherent half-planned, half-winging-it plotting style. The ten episodes shown so far are the first large group of episodes since the beginning of the show's second season that can be seen working as a whole, each episode contributing to the core plot, slowly implementing important movements for the main players. The difference here though is that back in the second season, the writers still had to pair each major development with a weekly plot, making easily discernible story chunks. But now, finally at the end, the show has moved far past that phase, ambitiously linking episode to episode by bringing what were previously undercurrents to the foreground, creating the sense of a visual novel with no distractions or fluff. Each moment is even more necessary than ever, as the show has truly become aware of the power of its main narrative, shedding off the structure that other shows have settled on after great ambition. Battlestar dared to go past what was proven to work and has reached its ideal state.
As one might realize, if a show were condensed to its most relevant materials and its excess removed, the viewer is left with very concentrated bursts of development. Luckily, Battlestar's entire cast and crew seem to have been trained for this season through the show's progression, and each episode not only works to hold together the whole, but is a gem of television in its own right. An episode such as "Escape Velocity" shines for handling character growth perfectly through masterful writing and direction, while "Faith" will shine for immaculate performances and gorgeous, revelatory writing most of all. Even an episode like "Sine Qua Non," the only noticeable hiccup this season, still shines for the episode it is, its incongruity tempered by its importance to the full season.
Any viewer of the show can acknowledge the odd notion that, for such a beacon of hope, Battlestar is a dark, challenging, and at times outright depressing show. Season 4 continues dark and heavy, but with a new and refined perception towards the sense of each character, has shown palpable thematic brilliance, each emotional trench, realistically heart-breaking, each rare moment of hope, poignantly uplifting. Just as the characters of the show are flawed and are perfect for all of their faults, so is this fantastic season, in this once-in-a-lifetime show, worth watching unfold.
on January 3, 2009
Unlike most shows on television (cable, anyway), Battlestar Galactica is ambitious and unique. While most shows bow to studio demands and demographics, this show has no problem making its audience, at times, disgusted and queasy with the "good guys" and sympathize with the "bad guys". Each story is carefully planned out, with a purpose, and not just squeezed into season "arcs" that will keep eyeballs glued to the screen.
Season 4 was as surprising, entertaining, and thought-provoking as seasons 1-3. I've never met a TV show that I couldn't guess what would happen next before, or a TV show that seems to want to push the boundaries of what you should and should not do on TV (ex: New Caprica. Some of that stuff still freaks me out). My assumptions on how they would end this series have been completely thrown out the window and I honestly do not know what to expect next.
on January 5, 2009
Season 4 starts with dealing with the fall-out from the S3 finale. Four regular characters discover they are Cylons, Starbuck has reappeared despite last being seen in a Viper exploding above a gas giant and the fleet, having undergone a mysterious power failure, is under attack by a colossal Cylon fleet. The opening episode gives us the most impressive space battle yet as the fleet sustains heavy losses as it tries to escape. It's not too much of a spoiler to reveal it does escape, but the victory is marred by discontent over Starbuck's return and her claim that she has been to Earth. Adama decides to trust her and gives her a ship and crew to see if they can locate the planet, but Starbuck's orders do not prove popular and soon she has a mutiny on her hands...
Meanwhile, the Cylons are in turmoil with the revelation that the mysterious 'Final Five' models are in the human fleet, and it isn't long before the gulf between the models begun by events on New Caprica explodes into a fractious civil war. Back in the fleet the four Cylons try to work out what is going on whilst concealing their identities, and Apollo begins a new career in the fleet's political system. Baltar finds himself the leader of a new cult fascinated by the Cylon's belief in one true god, and Roslin, dealing with the return of her cancer, is confronted by the prospect of her own mortality.
Season 4 raises a lot of interesting issues and the story does move forward in an intriguing manner. However, the fact that what were supposed to be two full 20-episode seasons have been compressed into one is painfully obvious at times: Apollo's meteoric rise through the political ranks in just a few episodes and weeks of time in the series would have made more sense spread across a whole season and maybe a year of narrative time, and the Cylon Civil War happens mostly off-screen due to time and budgetary constraints. All of this really hits home in Episode 8, 'Sine Qua Non', which is possibly the most confused, bemusing and borderline nonsensical episode the series has ever done, moving characters into the positions they are needed in for plot purposes by having them behave totally out of character (Adama especially).
However, once that painful act is accomplished, the final two episodes of the half-season return the series to a form it hasn't enjoyed since early Season 3. The controversial alliance between the humans and one of the Cylon factions raises a number of very interesting questions about the nature of both humanity and the Cylons, whilst the attack on the Hub is nothing short of breathtaking. But it is the mid-season finale, 'Revelations', which impresses the most. The best episode since the 'Exodus' two-parter, it moves quickly but doesn't feel rushed and is packed with moments of stunning acting (Eddie Olmos as Adama and Michael Hogan as Tigh give us the most dramatically intense scene of the series to date, whilst Jamie Bamber delivers his best performance as Lee is put in a really difficult position). The final two minutes or so of the episode represent one of the most talked-about moments of television in the last year, and will ensure that everyone comes back for the second half of the season, regardless of how much they charge for it on DVD.
BSG: Season 4 is not the series at its best, but it does undertake a lot of necessary plot movements to set things up for the show's grand conclusion, and the episode 'Revelations' justifies the price of the set by itself. Recommended. Also remember that the final episodes of BSG begin airing on 16 Jan 2009 in the USA and 20 Jan 2009 in the UK.
I have only one criticism of this Battlestar Galactica DVD release, and in a sense it is not really a criticism... The movie "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" is included in this set. That's great for this set, but if I had known that it would be included, I would not have purchased Razor on its original release. So, for those of you building your collection, I recommend either waiting for the inevitable complete series box set to come out or note that you do not need to buy Razor separately.
As for the content itself, what can I say? The show is brilliant and belongs to the pantheon of "all time best shows" along with The Sopranos, The Wire, The West Wing, and Homicide: Life on the Street (to name a few). As with the other seasons' box sets, there are fascinating commentaries and some good special features. But of course the main feature here is the episodes, and this season (or, rather, half-season) is no exception. It's great stuff, and I recommend it to television fans, whether you generally enjoy science fiction or not.
on May 3, 2012
Just an fyi, this includes 4.0, 4.5 and Razor. So far the documentation isnt clear about that, so be careful
on August 21, 2009
Once the "Final Five" theme was introduced, this series fell toward the abyss.
I admired the first three seasons, and was hoping the decline would be reversed in 4.0. Not the case. The FF theme is a narrative killer. It allowed the writers to fill up copy books with writing that should have been nixed in writers' conferences. Excellent actors go through the motions dramatizing these five non entities.
All five characters are reduced to unconvincing cut outs. Their previous character development goes down the drain. You can have no interest in these hollowed out creatures, they show no convincing motivation.
Meaningless ending to a final season that should have been stellar.
on January 7, 2009
This collection is at least on par with other Battlestar Galactica season releases. The additional collectibles are a must have for any collector of the series. However I caution anyone purchasing this set from Amazon to be cautious of the pricing. This gift set is currently being sold by another company (I won't say who, but it's initials are BB;)) in their store with no shipping charges for only $39.99. That being said, take a look around locally before ordering this set online. If you can't find it in any local stores (and of course have the available cash) go ahead and purchase this item. It truly is a must have.
on March 30, 2009
Without giving anything away, I will say that the final episodes are not for everyone. The problem with many of the reviews is that everyone has their own impression of how the series should have ended.
Nobody was happy with MASH's final episode. What about Seinfeld? With 4 years in, everyone has, to one degree or another, an emotional attachment to the story and characters, and each fan enjoys different aspects of the show.
First, if you like action sci-fi, the series in general did not focus on those aspects. However, the final episode does.
Second, if you are expecting a final conclusion that answers all of the two dozen subplots of the series, you may be dissapointed.
A couple of themes that ran througout the series however are focused on. Primarily, there is no good or evil. You can't put humanity in a box and label it. Every hero in the show is shown its darker side, and every villian a glimmer of kindness. In some cases, the machines appear more human than the human's that created them. Again, themes that play throughout the series.
Another theme that plays out more fully in these final episodes is the question of whether or not there is a God or angels that walk with us. Are there forces at work around us that inspire us or even punish us? I think the writers want to promote both premises, but they are, again, not going to put it in a box an label it for the audiance, which is something I think many that have reviewed this feel should have happened in this final episode.
Finally, there are some elements in the final episodes that I was very pleased to see. Questions like, what would happen if Chief Tyrol found out the truth about how his wife was murdered? What about President Roslin fate? But, not all of these issues are closed out neatly, and I can understand the frustration of many on such things as the "what about Starbuck" question, the 6 and alternate Baltar that are seen in the minds of Baltar and Caprica 6?
I could go on and on about the parts I thought were genius in the final episode, but probably none more than the Opera House dreams that are shared between Athena, Roslin, and Caprica 6. To me that was the highlight of the entire series, and played out perfectly.
I hope viewers will give these final episodes a chance with the expectation that not everything they hoped for will occur, but at the same time a beautiful ending to an incredible series.
on July 9, 2011
Whoa, Nelly. What happened? Bottom line - Season four will be a big disappointment if you enjoyed the series stellar first two seasons, which capably balanced the sci-fi-religious-mystical elements with a gritty, hard edged military and political drama. However, the sudden drop in quality won't come as a total surprise to anyone who made it through season three. Not that Season Three was a waste - there were some extremely strong episodes there (especially at the start), but in its second half the writing began to veer too far into the melodramatic.
Unfortunately, this trend continues and reaches its nadir in season 4. This season, we get Dr. Baltar as a vapid messiah in an underwritten subplot that never really goes anywhere. We get an increasingly overheated and yet curiously static Final Five subplot that made me regret ever wondering about their identities. Characters behave out of character, and the acting has suddenly gone down the drain. And instead of a show that tempers melodrama with a hard spun, pragmatic view of life after genocide, we get a bunch of soapy drama and yelling. Even the cinematography and editing have changed for the worse. Ick.