Friday, July 17, 2009

Digital Bits review of BSG: THE COMPLETE SERIES

Since this box set (and the BSG Season 4.5 box) are coming out Tuesday July 28th, there will be tons of reviews out there.

But I don't think anyone will give us TrueFans a better rundown of the extras and features of BSG: THE COMPLETE SERIES than Bill Hunt at The Digital Bits. This guy is just a big a fan as we are, and he knows exactly which fan extras we have been fed over the years, and which ones did and didn't make the cut for this huge box.

Bill is reviewing the Bluray, not the DVD, but much of what he says also can be applied to the DVD release. According to the press release earlier this summer, the Bluray is 4077 hours of content and the DVD is 4066 hours total.

A few quotes from Bill's review -

All the series' episodes, the Miniseries and the Razor 2-hour film are included on 20 BD-50 discs, along with over 70 hours with of bonus content. Note that virtually all of the extras from the previous DVDs are in standard 480p here, as they were before (generally presented in 16x9 widescreen). A few of the new featurettes (mostly on Season Four) are in full 1080p. It appears that the first disc of each season starts with the same, newly-shot HD video introduction by Ron Moore himself. He welcomes you to the set, and tells you why he thinks high-def is the way to really fully experience the series. In terms of the special features, most (but not quite all) of the previous DVD extras have carried over here, and there's new material as well. I'll note what's missing and what's new for Blu-ray as we go...

...Unfortunately, the 10-part Face of the Enemy webisode series is missing here for some unknown reason (possibly disc space). We've checked with Universal and the studio IS aware that people want it, so we're told that it will be made available on disc at some point in the future. We'll keep you up to date on this. Sadly, also missing is The Making of Battlestar Galactica: Razor featurette that was available exclusively on a Best Buy DVD bonus disc - that's a real shame because it's pretty great. So if you have that bonus disc, don't get rid of it.

A few other items are missing from the box set as a whole, though they were never available on DVD, including additional blogs and some of the exclusive writer's room and "frak party" podcast commentaries. Also not here are most of the "recap" TV specials (Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far, Battlestar Galactica: Revisited and Battlestar Galactica: The Phenomenon) and the two finale specials (Battlestar Galactica: The Top 10 Things You Need to Know and Battlestar Galactica: The Last Frakkin' Special). That's a bummer - especially The Last Frakkin' Special, which included a lot of great behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew on the end of the series. It would be great if Universal gathered all those specials up (including the two Lowdown specials that launched the series) along with The Face of the Enemy webisodes and released them on bonus disc of some sort (mail-in perhaps, or a BD-Live online reward?) to accompany this box set. Yeah, I know... unlikely. But still a good idea. A featurette on the show's special effects work (and team) would have been cool too, but what are you going to do? I do have to give the studio a LOT of credit for the new bonus content included for Blu-ray - ESPECIALLY the new deleted scenes and extended episodes. Even if you've seen the entire series as broadcast, the three extended episodes from Season Four essentially include more than an hour of new Battlestar that you haven't seen yet. That's a real treat - like rollin' the hard six!

...Among the new featurettes on Season Four, there are few standouts. The Journey Ends: The Arrival is a retrospective look back at the finale and the series as a whole, featuring the interview comments of many of the show's cast and crew. Evolution of a Cue and The Musicians Behind Daybreak cover the work of composer Bear McCreary - the latter is a very nice glimpse at the recording of the finale score with a full orchestra. The 5-part A Look Back covers a number of interesting aspects of the series, including Moore's original show "manifesto" (that convinced Olmos to join the cast), Richard Hatch's perspective on having been involved with BOTH Battlestar series, and the stylistic contributions of director Michael Rymer among other things. And for those of you eagerly awaiting the DVD and Blu-ray release of Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, which will complete the series later this year (and will be broadcast on the newly rebranded SyFy in November), the ...And They Have a Plan featurette gives you a nice little taste of it.

...One other packaging note: Accessible via a clear plastic lid inset into the top of the case, is an empty space containing a toaster! Well... a replica Cylon Centurion figure at any rate - a nice touch. The figure itself is very nicely detailed and highly articulated too. Personally, I'm thinking about taking the figure out and setting him on my office shelf, then using the empty space to store other discs - the series' soundtrack CDs (from La La Land Records), those bonus DVDs I need to keep, and even DVD-R recordings of the missing content in paper sleeves. (What, like I wasn't going to record that stuff, knowing that it probably wouldn't be on the DVD/BD?! Yes... I am THAT much of a fan.)

So say we all, Bill!



falcy said...

thanks a lot for running down the content! it's really too bad that some of the great things like the last frakking special or the hilarious recaps are missing but i'm still looking forward to getting the blurays and enjoying bsg in high-def and an additional hour to season 4 - WOHOO! :D

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that interviews are underrated. I really don't get how they cannot have done in-depth interviews with each of the cast for each season. I'm talking 10 or even 20 minutes for each character for each season, exploring how the actor approached this or that and what they thought motivated the character in certain moments.

For example, I've always felt that Baltar was essentially becoming a more confident person in Season 2.0 -- more of a hero. This reached its height in "Epiphanies" when he heroically decided to save Roslin, rather than grab for power. This all changed when Roslin made him feel trapped in his old excluded role and even moreso when he became trapped with guilt about the destruction of the 12 colonies. I've also felt that Gina's death/suicide fundamentally destroyed him as a starting out president. He might have been a different man if the woman he believed he loved hadn't died and actually proved that she didn't love him enough not to kill herself. None of these facts are discussed in the audio commentaries and I've always wanted to know James Callis' take on this.

Matt said...

Face of the Enemy doesn't seem to be on the Season 4.5 set either. I'm a bit frustrated about that, considering that previous season sets have been so good about packing in as much as possible.

prberg said...

Sold out at Best Buy here in Los Angeles.

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