Battlestar Galactica
Season Two

Starring: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis and Tricia Helfer
Universal Playback
RRP: 49.99
Certificate: 15
Available 28 August 2006

The colonial fleet continues on its quest to locate Earth and evade the Cylons. However, life is steadily becoming more complex, and fraught with bitter struggles within the fleet, rather than without...

The new Doctor Who is a triumphant example of how to resurrect an old show, and so is the new Battlestar Galactica. In this time of fickle American networks, the fact that Battlestar Galactica has managed a mini-series, and two seasons (with a third starting in October of this year [2006]) is proof-positive that the show is doing the right thing.

Ratings success and the approval of cynical studio executives aside, Battlestar Galactica works because it has brought the ideas of the original '70s show bang up to date, and made it relevant to a modern sensibility. The concept of us and 'them'; the hatred of one civilisation for another's way of life, was always prevalent in the original show, but stifled beneath superficial characters, special-effects, simplistic scripts and American jingoism. Today's Battlestar Galactica brings this fundamental conflict to the fore, existing as it does post-911, and therefore understanding all too well how one ideology can be violently juxtaposed to another. Not only that, but the show is also wise enough to appreciate how sometimes this division can become blurred. In the 1970s, the Cylons were simply creatures of evil, and humanity was on the side of the Angels. In the Noughties, it is not that simple...

The Mini-Series that kicked off the return of Battlestar Galactica to TV was a rich if slow-paced affair. Season One was a little more brisk, but Season Two frequently runs like fury with a large firework stuck up its backside. The scripts are still polished and sophisticated, the characters and their interplays as complex as ever, it's just that there is a lot more action. There are many superb episodes (in fact, there is never a dud), but among the best is Pegasus and Resurrection Ship parts one and two. What's curious about these three is that the mutinous conflict that takes place within the military is more thrilling than the fight going on against the Cylons.

There are some quibbles to be had with the show, the first of which is the overuse of the space-expletive "frak", and the frequent misconception that humans breathe oxygen, and nothing else. We don't; we breathe "air", which is a mix of nitrogen, oxygen, trace gases and water vapour.

Those who thought Season One was a little on the short side will be pleased by the increased number of episodes in Season Two. As a DVD release, the standard of presentation has also improved. Viewers are now dazzled with animated menus (whoo!) as opposed to the less than attractive static menu of the Season One release, and those among you who like commentaries will no doubt be pleased by the inclusion of chat on many of Season Two's episodes. As a negative, a few of the episodes displayed an increased brightness of image over the rest, but this may not be present on retail versions.

Not since Babylon 5 have fans of television science-fiction been able to luxuriate in such an exquisite experience. Battlestar Galactica is more than spaceships, aliens and war; it is a statement of life; a critique of the world in which we live, and long may it continue. So say we all!

Jeff Watson

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