's Edward James Olmos wasn't kidding when he said "the series is even better than the miniseries." As developed by sci-fi TV veteran Ronald D. Moore, the "reimagined" BG
is exactly what it claims to be: a drama for grown-ups in a science-fiction setting. The mature intelligence of the series is its greatest asset, from the tenuous respect between Galactica's militarily principled commander Adama (Olmos) and politically astute, cancer-stricken colonial President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) to the barely suppressed passion between ace Viper pilot "Apollo" (a.k.a. Adama's son Lee, played by Jamie Bamber) and the brashly insubordinate Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff), whose multifaceted character is just one of many first-season highlights. Picking up where the miniseries ended (it's included here, sparing the need for separate purchase), season 1 opens with the riveting, Hugo Award-winning episode "33," in which Galactica and the "ragtag fleet" of colonial survivors begin their quest for the legendary 13th colony planet Earth, while being pursued with clockwork regularity by the Cylons, who've now occupied the colonial planet of Caprica. The fleet's hard-fought survival forms (1) the primary side of the series' three-part structure, shared with (2) the apparent psychosis of Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) whose every thought and move are monitored by various incarnations Number Six (Tricia Helfer), the seemingly omniscient Cylon ultravixen who follows a master plan somehow connected to (3) the Caprican survival ordeal of crash-landed pilots "Helo" (Tahmoh Penikett) and soon-to-be-pregnant "Boomer" (Grace Park), whose simultaneous presence on Galactica is further evidence that 12 multicopied models of Cylons, in human form, are gathering their forces.
With remarkably consistent quality, each of these 13 episodes deepens the dynamics of these fascinating characters and suspenseful situations. While BG relies on finely nuanced performances, solid direction, and satisfying personal and political drama to build its strong emotional foundation, the action/adventure elements are equally impressive, especially in "The Hand of God," a pivotal episode in which the show's dazzling visual effects get a particularly impressive showcase. Original BG series star Richard Hatch appears in two politically charged episodes (he's a better actor now, too), and with the threat of civil war among the fleet, season 1 ends with an exceptional cliffhanger that's totally unexpected while connecting the plot threads of all preceding episodes. To the credit of everyone involved, this is frackin' good television.
The fifth disc in Battlestar Galactica's season 1 set is highlighted by eight comprehensive featurettes covering all aspects of the series, from its miniseries origins to standard surveys of production design, visual effects, and particulars of plot and character. For hardcore fans and anyone interested in TV production, nine out of 13 episodes, plus the disc 1 miniseries, are accompanied by intelligent and informative commentary originally provided as BG website podcasts, mostly by series developer and writer Ronald D. Moore, who provides tantalizing clues about developments in season 2. The "Series Lowdown" is a cast-and-crew promotional program originally broadcast to attract SciFi Channel viewers who were initially reluctant to embrace a "reimagined" Battlestar Galactica. The strategy worked: First-season ratings left no doubt that the new BG was as good as--and in many ways better than--the original. --Jeff Shannon