Wednesday 26 November 2014


Just a quick heads-up (because these things are so easy to miss nowadays now that the likes of TV ZONE are long gone) but the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was released on Blu Ray in the UK yesterday (I'm not sure why it was a Tuesday and not the usual Monday... go figure).

That's not the theatrical edit of the pilot (which has been available for a while) but the whole series.  Yup.  And it looks (mostly) great!

The set contains all of the main series and all of GALACTICA 1980.  I've (obviously) not watched it all but I spent a pleasant 45-odd minutes last night watching the first part of the pilot (Saga of a Star World) with the audio commentary (by Benedict,  Hatch and HJJ) that was AWOL from the R2 DVD release from a decade-or-so ago.

The picture framing is the original 4:3, unlike the impending US release which (unless you spash out for the premium edition) is 16:9 or thereabouts.  The show (except the pilot) was never shot in that screen ratio so some cropping and letterboxing seems inevitable.  

It looks lush and lovely in the HD format, which I found surprisingly forgiving.  The production standards hold up well (although Universal did throw a lot of money at the opener) and even the effects work (which haven't been replaced or enhanced by CGI elements... hurrah!) look pretty good.  

I spotted two flaws in the picture: a vertical line (scratch?) appears once when the warriors are being "trucked" to the launch bays and once, on a SFX shot of the rear of Zac's Viper.  I've not spotted those problems on any previous release.  

One frustrating thing is the lack of information on the packaging.  The extras are not listed in full and there's nothing to tell you what appears on what disc.  Which is sloppy.  I assume all the extras (including the really rather excellent original documentary) have been ported across (in SD) from the DVD... including several short pieces omitted from the R2 DVD release.

One thing that the DVD (and I assume the same is true for this release) didn't skimp on was deleted scenes.  There are tons of them including an awful lot shot and discarded from the pilot.  A lot are just alternate takes and retakes but also included are full scenes.  They help to confirm that, at least for the opener, an awful lot more was filmed.  Most other episodes have at least one deleted scene as well.

One curious 'omission' from the pilot's deleted scenes is anything that show's Baltar's actual execution.  Larson claimed he shot something that he concluded was too gruesome to include (quite why he was personally directing the scene is unknown although the pilot had a troubled shoot so anything is possible) in the theatrical edit.  And then the decision was made to retain Baltar in the ensemble and the whole thing became academic anyway.  But, the deleted scenes simply show multiple variations of the scene as it appears in the final cuts... the sword to the throat and then... Cut!  The shot.  Not the head.  Maybe that scene was, deliberately or accidentally, omitted from the compilation of footage.  Or maybe it was never shot...

The GALACTICA 1980 episodes, like their DVD predecessors, don't appear to come with any extras.  That's a great shame as, although the series is pretty bad, it has a fascinating behind-the-scenes story which I would love to see fully explored. The just-published book THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA VAULT skates over the whole production in a paragraph-or-so.  

This isn't as comprehensive as the German release.  Their version included a Convention reunion for the cast and some (heavily edited) Super-8 versions of the three faux theatrical movies (BATTLESTAR, MISSION GALACTICA and CONQUEST OF THE EARTH) released in the West German market way-back-when.  

In addition to the behind-the-scenes story of G80, I would have liked to have seen the full theatrical print of CONQUEST OF THE EARTH thrown in (it's not even had a VHS sell-through release... it's as if even Universal want to bury it), the Sciography documentary from circa 2000, the blooper reel (a ropy quality one has been doing the fan rounds for years), TV and film version trailers, the assembled-for-syndication TV movie edits (some of which snuck onto the shoddy silver VHS box set just as the format was dying) and something on the copious merchandising. 

1 comment:

  1. another great larson related post and i'm getting quite used to seeing you on the space1970 blog....a nice synergy!


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