- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Diehard fans enamored with a classic television series franchise from their childhood can now own the original war between man and the robotic Cylons in a high-definition, widescreen and remastered format in Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, not rated, $149.98).

For those who forgot, writer and producer Glen A. Larson (“The Six Million Dollar Man,” and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”) delivered a space fantasy epic on the ABC Network back in 1978 as “Star Wars” was simmering.

The single season, short-lived tale featured the trials of the survivors of a Cylon surprise attack as they traverse the universe, in sort of a spaceship wagon train led by the battleship Galactica, while they are hunted by their adversary and looking for the mythical Earth.

The series starred Richard Hatch as Capt. Apollo, Dirk Benedict as Starbuck, Lorne Greene as Commander Adama, Herbert Jefferson Jr. as Lt. Boomer, John Colicos as Baltar and Noah Hathaway as Boxey.

Although the original series found a rabid fan base and offered a bit of a breakthrough in special effects for sci-fi shows on broadcast television, its slipping ratings and large budget ultimately brought about its quick demise.

In my humble opinion, the best reason for the show’s existence, to not sound too snarky here, was its ultimate reimagining by Ron D Moore on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2003. That “Battlestar Galactica” was easily one of the best sci-fi shows ever to grace television.

This definitive collection, spread out over 17 disks, includes the following:

Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series — Viewers get all 24 episodes from the 1978 season in both the original televised, 4:3 full frame format as well as the new 16:9 widescreen presentation — the later filling up modern day television screens.

Extras include a commentary track on the first episode with Mr. Hatch, Mr. Benedict and Mr. Jefferson Jr., a 45-minute remembrance of the show featuring 2003 interviews from the cast and crew, and three hours of deleted scenes.

Galactica 1980: The Complete Series — The failed attempt to revive “Battlestar Galactica” in 1980 starred Kent McCord, Barry Van Dyke, Herbert Jefferson Jr. and Lorne Green and managed to offer 10 episodes to stalwarts of the franchise. As with the original, this collection offers both the widescreen and full-frame cuts of the show. No extras are included.

Battlestar Galactica: 35th Anniversary Edition — Only the serious diehards will pop in this disk that presents the 125-minute theatrical edit of the premiere episode of the original series “Saga of a Star World,” originally shown outside of the U.S. before the series began. Its plot variations are minimal (but oddly pivotal, I’ll never tell) and the movie arrives in a 1.85:1 widescreen format with no extras.

A big note here: My confusion with the word “remastered,” splattered all over the packaging, quickly deepened after watching the extras featurette about the digital transfer process of both of the Galactica TV series.

The Universal technicians explain how they carefully digitally scanned in the original negative (2k resolution), cleaned up blemishes and scratches, retuned the color vibrancy (when necessary) and framed the shows in the widescreen format with no loss to the production’s original vision.

However, after watching a handful of the episodes in the widescreen format, I immediately noticed that many obvious scratches still exist in the digital versions. Was the original negative so damaged that it was impossible to clean up 100 percent? What does remastered for high definition exactly mean? I do not think fans will be entirely pleased with the results.

I’ll reference the recently concluded release of the seven seasons of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in a high-definition fully restored and remastered format for an example of astounding technical magic.

The result was an eye-popping revelation, with zero onscreen aberrations, incredible detail and color and even the updating of many of the special effects (especially during the exterior space and ship battle scenes) from the original shows.

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