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Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.0 (DVD Review)

2 Jan, 2009 By: John Latchem

Street 1/6/09
$49.98 Four-DVD set
Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer, James Callis, Grace Park.

As a fan of “Battlestar Galactica” I don’t know what’s more frustrating: That Universal is putting out only half a season on DVD, or that Sci Fi Channel has so spread out the broadcasts of the episodes so as to make half-season releases necessary.

So I’ve decided just to be grateful it’s on DVD at all.

This latest batch includes 10 episodes plus the two-hour TV movie Razor, which was released separately on DVD more than a year ago. Especially annoying for fans who already bought the earlier release is that the disc included here is identical to the earlier release, just repackaged. Some new extras would have been a nice touch. But it’s inclusion here certainly isn’t necessary, as the story takes place during the second season. It is, however, a nice touch for the few fans who didn’t purchase the earlier release.

Season four is turning out to be the weakest season for the show, which is not meant as a negative. The show has been so strong from the beginning, and these episodes, while almost uniformly excellent, have a lot to live up to. Since we know the series is coming to an end, a lot of story time must be devoted to setting the pieces in place for the finale. We are told the final 10 episodes will be among the darkest and heaviest the show has produced, and with what happens in Season 4.0, we can believe it. The set ends with a cliffhanger that fundamentally alters the premise of the show, which has become something of a habit over the years.

Executive producer Ronald D. Moore and his team have crafted a show that is so richly textured in character and meaning that trying to second-guess him is a useless gesture. At this point we are simply along for the ride.

As all the “Battlestar” DVD sets have been, Season 4.0 is loaded with supplements. In addition to the usual commentaries and deleted scenes, the set includes a number of featurettes that help remind viewers of what has come before while setting them up for what lies ahead. Among them is a featurette that profiles the various Cylon characters. The identity of the mysterious 12th Cylon is one of the show’s closely guarded secrets, due to be unveiled in the final run of episodes that begins Jan. 16.

The set also includes a preview of the spin-off prequel series “Caprica,” but doesn’t offer much in the way of new details not already available from the Internet.

The best extra is “The Music of Battlestar Galactica,” which at first appears to be a standard profile of series composer Bear McCrary. It turns out to be a hilarious adventure, as Bear attempts to secure an invitation to the wrap party, only to learn that no one who works on the show knows who he is.

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