DVDs in Review #52: Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Fourth Season

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

As BSG's final season (or second half of the first season if you like) will be returning this week I've decided to review the previous/first half on DVD. For the rest of this review I'm going to plump with calling this the fourth season, I predict that the DVD set for the remaining shows will either be called the final season or the fifth season.

Edward James Olmos as Admiral William "Husker" Adama
Mary McDonnell as President Laura Roslin
Jamie Bamber as Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama
James Callis as Dr. Giaus Baltar
Tricia Helfer as Six
Grace Park as Lieutenant Sharon "Athena" Agathon
Katee Sackhoff as Captain Kara "Starbuck" Thrace
Michael Hogan as Colonel Saul Tigh
Aaron Douglas as Chief Galen Tyrol
Tahmoh Penikett as Captain Karl "Helo" Agathon

The Show:

By now you should be aware of Battlestar Galactica in one shape or form, the remake of this 1980s sci-fi fun fest has exceeded all expectations and has revealed itself to be above most sci-fi shows in depth and quality. Having said this, the third season of BSG was not the best one the show had to offer, the extended length of the season resulted in a lot of filler episodes which were frankly awful. Much of the third season can be ignored, events on New Caprica, the Eye of Jupiter, Starbuck's incident and Baltar's trial are the only important parts of the previous season. The engineering accident and boxing match episodes in particular were complete rubbish.

But here's the good news, this season run is back down to ten episodes so there is no sign of human interest/filler episodes at all. As such the season is joy to watch, running from one exciting moment to the next and holding your interest throughout.

Before I go any further it's worth mentioning that this set also contains the standalone movie Razor, which can be annoying for those of you who purchased Razor separately. It's a pretty underhand move by the DVD release company to be honest and the box should have written on it "WARNING: CONTAINS RAZOR".

At the end of the previous season four of the final five Cylons were revealed with one remaining unknown. This season deals with those final four while also constantly teasing you about the fifth. The final five are meant to know the way to earth and as such both the humans and the cylons want to get their hands on them. I shall not be revealing anything further about the identities of the final five at this point to avoid spoilering anything for those who've either not watched the show or not watched the previous season.

As such it's difficult to talk about the season in full, it's filled with monumental events which turn everything upside down and then shake it about. There is nothing but quality writing and acting from the cast and most importantly, Laura Roslin finally stops being a completely petulant, self-centered and unlikable moose and finally does something corrigible. As I've not written about BSG much previously you won't be aware of my deep and unrepentant hatred of Roslin who's become increasingly more corrupt and whingy as time passed. But this season finally redeems her character somewhat.

The Other Stuff:

The Packaging:
All of the BSG sets are packaged in a similar fashion except for the mini-series. Apart from the changes in colour to distinguish seasons they're well tied together. The artwork clearly highlights the religious theme of the show, both on the front cover (as seen above) and the uncomfortably sacrilegious 'last supper' photo shot on the back (pictured below).

These scenes serve to highlight the religious undertones the show holds with the followers of the "Greek" gods and the worshippers of the one god. This theme permate parts of the show and they're more present this season than ever before with "Ladies love Baltar: The Cult" making a heavy appearance.

The major issue with the boxed set is the material that the cardboard sleeve is constructed from, due to it's reflective foil nature it might look good but it picks up fingerprint smudges like it's an FBI file. Even with completely clean and dry hands you're still going to leave marks on the set. Irritating, but not a deal breaker.

The Start Up and Menus:
The start up for BSG is a quick and relatively painless affair for a DVD which has the FACT logo on the back, this is because the anti-Piracy movie is located after the episodes. It's the utterly hilarious "Pirates are out to get you" propaganda.

It's skippable, but so funny that it's worth watching at least once. I'm still waiting for some show to parody this one, but maybe it's already parodied itself.

I almost forgot to mention the menus because, well, they're rather forgetable. There's a loop which plays the same images from BSG on each menu, in short they're all exactly the same. I would have prefered something more interesting and engaging like the later Simpsons menus, or something simple and clean like the Living Planet ones. In the end they don't really offend, but they don't enspire either and as such they don't leave much of an impression.

The Extras:
There are a smattering of extras across the discs of the set. The first disc, which is the Razor disc, includes commentary, deleted scenes and minisodes. The final disc includes deleted scenes and a really short trailer/sneak peek for the final season.

The Details:
Aspect Ratio: 1.18.1 Anamorphic
Sound: 5.1 Surround
Regions: 2, 4 & 5 PAL
Rating: 15
Subtitles: English SDH
Runtime: 8 hours 38 mins

The Price:
HMV have it available for £24.99, but you might also want to check Zavvi - who have it priced in store at £27.99 but with 20% off due to their clear out sales. From HMV it works out at 4.8ppm, which is ok but not amazing.

The Final Word:

Season four of Battlestar Galactica is a welcome return to the form of the first two seasons, it's well written, superbly acted and constantly entertains. The season paces well, gradually building up to a great season finale which will leave the viewer hooked in anticipation of the final season. It's all thriller, no filler.


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