The first half of Battlestar Galactica
's second season left no doubts about the continuing excellence of the best science fiction TV series of 2005. Beginning with the Colonial Fleet separated, Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) botching his temporary command, and Capt. Adama (Edward James Olmos) near death after a Cylon assassination attempt, series producer/developer Ronald D. Moore and his gifted writing staff packed more into these 10 episodes than most series manage in a full season. Maintaining its reputation as an adult drama, the series is compellingly anchored by the gravitas of Olmos and Mary McDonnell, whose role as Fleet President Laura Roslin grows more complex as she reveals her diagnosis of breast cancer and defies Adama, playing the "religious card" with her conviction that prophetic visions will lead the embattled fleet toward its legendary home planet Earth. As Adama's son Apollo (Jamie Bamber) wrestles with his role in Roslin's mutinous agenda, paranoia runs high as Cylon copies (or "avatars") of Boomer (Grace Park) complicate matters aboard Galactica and on Kobol, where a lost Raptor crew struggles to survive and Dr. Baltar (James Callis) endures the increasingly haunting and manipulative intrusions into his tormented psyche by Number Six (Tricia Helfer), the seductive Cylon who holds the secret to the Cylon master plan to destroy humankind.
Further action takes place on Cylon-occupied Caprica, where Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) and Helo (Tamoh Penikett) discover a group of human resistance fighters who survived the Cylons' nuclear attack in season 1. As all of these plot threads are expertly interwoven, the high-stakes conflict of BG 2.0 culminates in a suspenseful mid-season cliffhanger that pits Adama against Admiral Cain (played by Star Trek: Next Generation alumnus Michelle Forbes), who turns a happy reunion with Battlestar Pegasus into a massive military showdown. Through all of this, Battlestar Galactica maintains consistently high standards of intelligent drama and well-justified, story-based use of spectacular special effects, while developing rich relationships across a broad spectrum of interesting supporting characters. The series' large and likable cast is well-used throughout (even smaller roles are given adequate dimension), and Moore's "podcast" commentaries provide a smart, thorough analysis of the show's writing process and conceptual evolution. Yes, it's undeniably true that this half-season DVD set is a blatantly commercial ploy to lure more and more viewers into the ongoing season (which resumed in January 2006), but you can hardly blame Universal for capitalizing on a high-quality series. With solid ratings, good scripts, and a devoted cast and crew, Battlestar Galactica showed every indication of thriving toward a third season and beyond. --Jeff Shannon