I didn't get into Battlestar Galactica (BSG) until the complete series finally came to Blu-ray this past summer. While I'm not as devoted to the show as some others were and still are, it was disappointing to see the series come to a close. Thankfully, some members of the production decided to extend the life and passion for the series a little further with a new installment in the saga, an uncut release of the soon-to-be-aired SyFy movie titled The Plan.
For those peripherally familiar with the show, the cylons and humans are enemies and the show chronicled their battles. That's the baseline that you should know for the show, and there was a text introduction for most of the episodes: "The Cylons were created by Man. They rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a plan." This movie, written by show co-executive producer Jane Espenson and directed by Edward James Olmos (who plays Commander Adama) fills in some of the gaps that the show left in the original series. Since the title of the feature is The Plan, it focuses less on the Adamas, Starbucks and Tighs, and more on the machinations of Brother Cavil (Dean Stockwell, Blue Velvet), a.k.a cylon Number One, as he attempts to follow through on the plan of eradicating the humans as a form of justice so the cylons can live peacefully.
(Note: Spoilers may be nigh, proceed with caution!) Now, Cavil is disappointed with the Cylon attack on the colonies, and his quest to complete the mission is borne with many frustrations. We knew the cylons were on board Galactica, yet we did not know how their on board numbers. There were a couple of Six's (Tricia Helfer), a Four (Rick Worthy) a Five (Matthew Bennett) and a Two (Callum Keith Rennie). This is in addition to Boomer (Grace Park). Cavil has a copy down on Caprica, who runs into Sam (Michael Trucco), training with some members of a pyramid ball team at the time of the Cylon attack, but watches as Sam and the others slowly form into a resistance group.
What struck me while I was watching The Plan is that when you watch the show, you are exposed to the Cylon perspective, but you never saw that much of it in the days and weeks following the attack on the colonies. And yeah, Cavil remains the cold, calculating monster that he was from the show, but many of the copies express doubts about finishing off the human race. Two is unsure of his role, and there's an interesting arc in his story which shows his fascination with Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff). Four is even married with a child, and the family is on the ship.
There are also some interesting moments that are given more explanation; Cavil and his copy are both aware of what roles the six Cylons will play in the future, even though the six are largely unaware; Cavil's relationship with Ellen Tigh (Kate Vernon) is established here. One recognizes the role Sam will have in the future and in a quietly gripping scene, listens to Sam question his role as a member of the resistance before attempting to sway him to join the Cylons. This moment helped to begin changing One's way of thinking, to the point where he becomes a virtual opposite of his Galactica-riding copy by the end of the film. Scenes like this help show how much Olmos can relate to the actors he worked with, and he gave them the time and space to make the scene work.
(Note: Spoilers should be gone now.) Olmos is in the film, but much of his work is done with clips edited into the film. He's not alone, many of the soldiers like Starbuck, Lee and Chief Tyril are incorporated into the cut, though sometimes it's hard to discern old footage from the newly shot stuff. As a director, Olmos handles himself well, and with Espenson's story, The Plan makes for an interesting view on the war, one we didn't see before and that's nice to have on film now. Combined with excellent performances (particularly from Stockwell and Worthy), any BSG should be happy with The Plan.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The VC-1 encoded 1.78:1 widescreen presentation by Universal handles itself well. When the prior footage is incorporated, whites are overdone a little bit more, though this is an intentional decision. Detail is abundant in the newly shot footage, and blacks are solid, though there are some moments in slightly darkened areas where the shadows tend to crush the image and make it look soft. And as the nature of the show is to not retain a static image, expect a lot of handheld camera action and gritty image, even when you see Caprica and some of the other colonies before the attacks. It's a solid Blu-ray presentation and worth adding to the BSG Blu-ray library.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is more than serviceable. The real piece of new material to show off is the attacks on the colonies, and everything works out smartly. Explosions pack low-end rumble from the subwoofer, gun battles in later scenes have bullets flying all around, and when the colonies are shown post-attack, the wasteland surrounded by the rain and explosions make for a convincing sound environment for what is essentially a TV movie. Dialogue even sounds strong and requires no compensation, and the overall result of the film sounds great.
The big extra that comes with the feature is a commentary with Olmos and Espenson, though it's on the pedestrian side. It doesn't reveal very much information and basically introduces what we see on screen. Espenson is a little more specific while Olmos tends to breeze through his part of this, and it was bland. After that are seven deleted scenes (13:57), with a couple of big ones that extend Sam and Ellen's respective stories before the attacks. There's also a Cylon ambush of some of Sam's men that was originally excised. Altogether some decent stuff. "From Admiral to Director" (6:48) shows off Olmos the director, with Stockwell recalling his work with Olmos the director way back in the Miami Vice days. Other members of the cast talk about Olmos the director as well, while Olmos discusses the change in perspective. "The Cylons of The Plan" (6:51) interviews Worthy, Helfer, Stockwell and the other "cylons" as they talk about their role in the film, and "The Cylon Attack" (4:03) focuses on the battle between the resistance and the Cylons with its explosive finale. "Visual Effects: The Magic Behind The Plan" (19:03) features the cast and visual effects team discussing the process behind some of the scenes in the film, such as the colony cities being devastated. They cover any particular challenges in pulling it together along with the process involved to make it happen. They even cover the software used for some of the scenes, which is a cool touch. Wrapping things up in terms of BD-Live material, is a "news ticker" feature for releases of Universal films to video or theaters, and there's also a trivia question section that has more than 50 questions, but those and the D-Box enabled content don't really do it for me.
The disc looks and sounds pretty good, but from an extras perspective, it's boring. That being said, the reason this disc was done was to fill in some gaps and provide much-desired answers to some lingering questions for devotees of the show. It's well worth the time and money for. For those unfamiliar with the world of the toasters, do what I did and come into the fold; you'll thank the rest of us later.