Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 [2006]

Actors: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis
Michael Rymer
Box set, PAL
English, Italian
2 (UK, Europe, Japan, South Africa and Middle East)
Number of discs:
Universal Pictures Video

DVD Features:

  • Main Language: English
  • Available Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital



Both celluloid science fiction and its literary equivalent are often criticized for neglecting its characters. Sci-fi movies usually do so in favor of special effects and spectacle, while characters in SF novels usually take second place to grand scientific ideas and concepts.

This is a legitimate criticism of even the best examples of literary science fiction in which story plots and ideas are often much more memorable than the characters found within. Even the best writers in the genre Clarke, Heinlein, you name it have only the most hastily sketched of characters in their work. It is even worse in the movies, with their standard running time of one and a half hours, in which there is little time to spend on developing characters when the entire galaxy is to be saved or the vicious alien creature has to be jettisoned out of the airlock.

No wonder that actor Harrison Ford complained of Blade Runner one of the most intelligent science fiction movies ever made! that he as actor merely served as an object to stand in front of director Ridley Scott’s elaborate sets. However a lack of character development is the last possible criticism which can be directed at the new Battlestar Galactica revival shown on the Sci-Fi Channel. This series is a true rarity: a science fiction action series that spends as much time on its characters as it does on its many ideas and special effects sequences.

In fact while the special effects are deftly done and the series’ action and plot components always compelling, the series remains imminently watchable because of its character studies, the way in which its multiple characters deal with what is an extraordinary situation at best.

You probably know the plot either from the remake or from the late-1970s TV series on which it is vaguely based: a race of robots known as the Cylons practically wipes out 12 planet colonies of humans during a sneak attack. All that’s left is a few hundred thousand survivors fleeing in a fleet of spaceships protected by a single “battlestar”, or military spaceship. The survivors believe that to survive they must track down a legendary 13th colony of which little (including its exact location) is known, a planet named “Earth” . . .

Unlike the old Battlestar Galactica TV series which had your standard heroic types, this remake features much more human characters who are flawed in many ways that recognizably human. They have to cope with emotions such as loss of their loved ones, racism (towards their Cylon enemies), despair, angst, doubt, jealousy, you name it the full gamut of human emotions.

Unlike the one-dimensional stereotypes of, let’s say, Independence Day, these are real people who actually reflect on what it means when most of their friends, relatives and ultimately their way of life have been practically eradicated overnight.

In Independence Day the people jump right back into action again without seeming too perturbed by the fact that most of humanity has been wiped out. In Battlestar Galactica they actually spend a moment or two bemoaning their loss and the fact that they will probably never again do something as simple as have an ice cream on a Sunday morning with a loved one.

In addition to the compelling human drama, always handled in an intelligent and mature way, Battlestar Galactica does not skimp on the departments in which good sci-fi always excel at, namely plot and special effects. In case you were fearing something like Ingmar Bergman in space, they, like the Independence Day folks, do also ultimately hit back at their enemies. The special effects may be done on a TV budget, but are quite good CGI really has come a long way in the past decade or so since the clunky-looking spaceships of Babylon 5.

The plot plays around with ideas and concepts from the original series, but adds new interesting elements to them. Not all the Cylons are metallic creatures; some are designed to look and act human in every way. Like the Replicants in Blade Runner some of them aren’t even aware of what they are thanks to their programming. In fact the identity of the last five sleeper Cylons which have infiltrated the ranks of the humans on Galactica makes for the biggest jaw-dropping cliff-hanger in a TV series since, well, the finale of Galactica’s second season.

Some critics have complained that the season three finale is a case of the series finally having jumped the shark. These criticisms are however unfounded. That one not merely accepts the last five minutes of Crossroads, Part 2 the last episode on disc five of the season three box set but is actually squirming in one’s seat out of pure excitement and exasperation (it is so long until the next season!) is a testament to the talents of the writers and the creative team behind Galactica. This is surely the best science fiction TV show of the past decade or so!

Obviously this Season Three box set isn’t the place for newbies to start. Unlike Star Trek and other sf TV shows, Battlestar Galactica does not consist of standalone episodes. If you’re new to the series, then it is best that you kick off with the 2003 mini-series before moving on to the show’s first season. Unlike other single narrative shows such as Lost and X-Files, Battlestar Galactica cannot be accused of stretching its premise out needlessly.

This is a television series that has actually managed to get better with each season. As much as we love this new Battlestar Galactica and will miss it one day, the recent announcement that the upcoming fourth season will be the series’ last is to be welcomed. Quitting while you’re ahead is always a good thing. Neil Gaiman did it with his Sandman comics and so did Bill Watterson and Gary Larson with Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side respectively. Today these strips are remembered with fondness whilst no-one actually even bothers checking out the seemingly endless Garfield strip in their local newspaper anymore. Like these comic strips we will also respect Battlestar Galactica in the morning and actually really miss it in the years to come. It is, after all, one of a kind.

THE DISCS: These are the bare bones Region 2 (UK, Europe, Japan, South Africa and Middle East) discs. You get no special features whatsoever just the season’s 19 episodes collected on five discs. They are presented in their original broadcast aspect ratio enhanced for anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.

The Region 1 (U.S. & Canada) DVD box set is due to be released on 25 March 2005 so as to to coincide with the fourth season’s premiere on Sci-Fi Channel in April. The Region 1 disc will contain the below extra features not found on the Region 2 discs:

Region 1 Bonus Features

Disc One
DELETED SCENES from episodes Occupation, Precipice, Exodus
Ronald Moore's Podcast Commentaries

Disc Two
DELETED SCENES from episodes Collaborators, Torn and A Measure of Salvation
Battlestar Galactica- The Resistance Webisodes
David Eick’s Video Blogs for episodes Testimonials, Who Dies, Prosthetics, Lucy and David and Introducing Bulldog
Ronald Moore's Podcast Commentaries for episodes Collaborators, Torn and A Measure of Salvation

Disc Three
DELETED SCENES from episode Hero
Hero Commentary with Executive Producer David Eick
David Eick's Video Blogs for episodes Characters, Adama on Adama and On the Road
Episode 6 Read Through
Steve McNutt Gets a Video Blog
The Soldier’s Code: Leave No Man Behind
Ronald Moore’s Podcast Commentary for episode Hero
Unfinished Business with Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett

Disc Four
DELETED SCENES from episodes The Passage, The Eye of Jupiter, Rapture and Taking a Break from All Your Worries
Ronald Moore’s Podcast Commentaries for The Passage, The Eye of Jupiter, Rapture and Taking a Break from all Your Worries

Disc Five
DELETED SCENES from episodes The Woman King, A Day in the Life, Dirty Hands and Maelstrom
Ronald Moore’s Podcast Commentaries for The Woman King, A Day in the Life, Dirty Hands and Maelstrom

Disc Six
DELETED SCENES from episodes The Son Also Rises and Crossroads Parts 1 and 2
Ronald Moore’s Podcast Commentaries - The Son Also Rises (with actor Mark Shappard and writer Michael Angeli) and Crossroads Parts 1 and 2
David Eick’s Video Blog for episode Takin’ A Break From All Your Worries On the Road: Part 2, Some Guy Named Colin, Building a Better Show,
Katee’s Scrapbook

RECOMMENDATION: If you’re living in the States it's probably best to wait for the Region 1 DVD box set. You can pre-order it from using the link below.

Episodes are:

Exodus, Part 1
Exodus, Part 2
A Measure of Salvation
Unfinished Business
The passage
The Eye of Jupiter
Taking a Break from All Your Worries
The Woman King
A Day in the Life
Dirty Hands
The Son Also Rises
Crossroads, Part 1
Crossroads, Part 2




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