Following is a guest review by our resident BSG fanatic, John DiPalermo. The book is Battlestar Galactica The Official Companion Season Four and a review copy was provided to us by the publisher.
Battlestar Galactica The Official Companion Season Four
by Sharon Gosling
Reviewed by John “Battlestar New York” DiPalermo
I need to start this review with the following preamble: I am a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica television series, and was very vocal against the new Battlestar Galactica reimaging on the Sci Fi Channel (now SyFy Channel). I was one of the most vocal opponents of the new Galactica on many Internet message boards and one of the loudest “Boo-ers” during Ron Moore’s panel at Galacticon 2003. I created the Yahoo Group “Ron Moore Sucks” and was even interviewed for the New York Times, which is still online, and I am the one who first coined the term “The MooreRon” on those message boards years ago as well. I have even financially supported movements to have Glen Larson bring back the original Galactica to the big screen. I needed to mention these facts because I liked the Battlestar Galactica The Official Companion Season Four by Sharon Gosling. The following review and comments are coming from a person who didn’t like the series, but as a fan of Science Fiction in general, I can honestly say I enjoyed reading the book.
The introduction by Edward James Olmos was nicely dedicated to the fans. As much as I dislike Ron Moore, I have always respected EJO. He saw the backlash from the very beginning, and unlike Ron Moore and other cast members, EJO publically stated on his website that the new Galactica was NOT for fans of the original series, and that those fans shouldn’t watch the new series. From that day, I was a big fan of EJO, and enjoyed his introduction in Battlestar Galactica The Official Companion Season Four.
The next section, There Must be Some Way Out Of Here… discusses the thought processes that went into ending Galactica after 4 seasons, the process of coming up with the 5 Cylons by reviewing back stories to make sure no contradictions arose. We know how finicky Sci Fi fans are, I kept picturing William Shatner’s famous “Get A Life!” at this point. There is even a discussion of how the writer’s strike affected production. I was particularly moved about the discussion about how serious Michael Trucco (Samuel Anders) car accident really was.
Battlestar Galactica The Official Companion Season Four neatly recaps the movie Razor, where Lee Adama takes command of the Pegasus. For those of us that didn’t see Razor, the book summarizes the movie nicely, and from what I’ve read, that isn’t always an easy task to neatly describe an episode of Galactica. If you already saw the Razor movie, don’t skip this section because I am sure there are details mentioned that you probably missed during your viewing of the movie.
The next, and most important part of the book, of course is the episode synopsis for season 4. One of the things that most impressed me was the attention to detail, which any science fiction fan knows is rule number 1. The photos spread throughout the book are first rate, almost as if they were created specifically for the book, and not just images from the series. I will admit when reading the episode synopsis, my mind always called up Lorne Greene when talking about Adama, and of course Dirk Benedict with every Starbuck reference, so the photos were a good reminder that I was reading about the new series.
My favorite part of Battlestar Galactica The Official Companion Season Four are the “Surveillance: Additional” which are little tidbits of information that accompany every episode synopsis. The extras alone are worth getting the book for! I admit I am a trivia junkie, so I really enjoyed the extra information included in the book. Not only do you get additional in depth details about various references in the series, you also get information on scenes that were cut before being shot and information of drafts that also never made it to film! I would enjoy a book that only contained these extra tidbits, and I bet there is enough extra stuff out there that a book can be done just on that topic alone. (NOTE: you read that here first, so I want royalties if someone does indeed do a book just on the extras!!!)
I am not going to review each episode synopsis because that is what the book is for. I will say that the synopsis’ are all well written and you can tell that a lot of research went into each and every synopsis. The details are very specific, without getting boring. Without seeing the episodes, I was really able to fully understand everything that happened during the 4th season. I know it is hard writing these kinds of books because you have to summarize what other people have written, but then again, that is exactly what a book reviewer does. You have to comment on what the other person does, but it is easier for us, because we can say what we like and don’t like about a book. In the Battlestar Galactica companion to series 4, you have to describe the episode without really commenting on what you like or dislike because you don’t want to prejudice your readers. It isn’t easy to describe in detail what’s going on without saying why it isn’t working, but it is done here. If you missed an episode of season 4, of just didn’t understand what the frak happened in an episode, pick up this book and go directly to that episode’s page and you will be rewarded with great information and trivia.
The book concludes with a great set of color photos of the cast, along with props from the show. The Character BIOs at the end are also well researched and provide great background for each character.
Whether or not you are a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica or the new Galactica, this book is a must! Well thought out, well researched, and pleasing to the eyes, the companion to season 4.0 is worth it. I only hope they would do the same kind of book for Sanctuary and Warehouse 13!