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on 29 December 2007
This review is for the UK region 2 version.

First off the Razor episode itself. If you are an established viewer of the series the main character will be new to you, her name is Kendra Shaw; a rookie officer who starts to serve aboard the Battlestar Pegasus only moments before the devastating attack against the human race by the Cylons. A few of the other characters will be familiar to anybody who has watched season two, especially Admiral Helena Cain played by Michelle Forbes, her X.O Fisk and an enigmatic I.T. lady who we've seen many times before. Most of the time we are seeing things from Kendra's point of view, like most BSG characters (and real people) she has her flaws but is also quite likeable. A few of the events that occur under Cain's command aren't as shocking as they might have been as we've already heard about them from a not entirely reliable source, although actually seeing what DID happen is as dramatic as it needs to be.

Running alongside this plot thread is a 'present' story (although all of this episode is set before the end of season two) of Lee Adama's first mission as commander of the Pegasus, again involving Kendra, now more battle hardened after serving under Cain. This involves a few of the regular Galactica characters and includes back-story that we haven't previously heard about and the appearance of the old school Cylons from the original series. There are also flashbacks to the first war mostly centered around a certain young Viper pilot.

The episode runs to just under 1 Hour 40 minutes, I assume all this 2 Hour talk included overly frequent commercial breaks. Effects work is great as ever and if you're a fan I'd be very surprised if you didn't enjoy Razor, I certainly did. The reason I say this may not be essential is because there doesn't seem to be much that is vital to the actual series apart from one comment made towards the end, from what I understand Razor was meant to be a stand alone but I'm not sure I could recommend it to newcomers.

A couple of deleted scenes (about 3 mins).
A sneak peek at season 4, the main cast and excutive producers give soundbites without really revealing much (about 2.5 mins).
Season 4 Trailer, ooooh (about 30secs)
7 'Minisodes', flashbacks to the first war, most of which are in the feature anyway (just under 20 mins)
Not listed on the back of the DVD box but ON the disc: Informative and interesting audio commentary with Co head-honcho: Ronald D. Moore and the writer of Razor: Michael Taylor. Made specially for the DVD and not a podcast.

I am such a geek.
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Back in 2008, with the transmission of Battlestar Galactica's fourth season delayed and its full run interrupted by a nine-month-long break due to the Writer's Strike, the Sci-Fi Channel saw fit to deliver us an extra treat, namely a TV movie delving deeper into the show's backstory.

Razor takes place at the end of the second season, shortly after the events of the episode The Captain's Hand. Lee Adama is now commander of the battlestar Pegasus, but as an outsider he finds himself not entirely trusted by his new crew. Lee decides to appoint a former favourite of Admiral Cain's, Lt. Kendra Shaw, to the position of XO, in an attempt to 'build bridges' with his new subordinates. Interestingly, the plot doesn't dwell on this idea. We know the fate of the Pegasus and Lee's command of her from other episodes and seeing him do a 'winning the respect of the crew' plotline would have been redundant. Instead we see much of the story through Kendra's eyes. Lengthy flashbacks take us back to the day of the original Cylon attack on the Colonies and we see Kendra rising through the ranks and observing Cain's gradual moral erosion as the tensions of command take hold. A present day storyline, which is little more than a subplot, sees the Pegasus crew stumble across a bunch of obsolete Cylons from the First Cylon War and have to eliminate them.

Razor straddles two stools. On the one hand, it is a balls-to-the-wall action story with huge, epic CGI battle sequences and lots of emotional intensity which is designed to appeal to newcomers as well as established fans. On the other, it features a lot of fan-pleasing asides and references to the original series. This is a somewhat odd idea (going for newbies and hardcore fans at the same time) but just about works, with the new character of Kendra providing a worthwhile 'in' to this story and universe for new viewers but at the same time allowing established fans to see stuff they've wanted to see since the series began. Kudos for the writers for managing not to make a total hash of this.

The TV movie lives or dies on the performance of actress Stephanie Chaves-Jacobson as Kendra Shaw and thankfully she delivers a competent performance. She tended to mumble a fair bit, however, which resulted in much rewinding of scenes to make out what she was saying. The actress has a great rapport with Katee Sackhoff and Michelle Forbes, and in these scenes she is extremely good. The other actors are as trusty and reliable as ever, although some have very little screen-time (Athena and Tigh get a single scene each, President Roslin three short scenes and Dr. Baltar only briefly appears thanks to an extended scene only available on the DVD).

Overall, Razor (****) is an enjoyable slice of Battlestar Galactica. Some elements misfire a bit (the "By your command," moment, although amusing, totally breaks the fourth wall) and the resolution's dependence on yet more BSG mysticism is mildly exasperating, but overall the TV movie fulfils its remit of being both entertaining and restoring faith in the show after a patchy third year. I do think Razor works better if viewed chronologically (i.e., after The Captain's Hand in Season 2) than between Season 3 and 4 as originally aired, at which point it does feel a little more redundant.

The DVD edition is extended over the TV cut by some 15 minutes and features a lengthy flashback to the First Cylon War (complete with another huge battle sequence) as well as other new scenes, plus a writer and producer's commentary.
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on 15 November 2008
This is a really good special of Battlestar Galactica, but don't buy it if you get the series box sets, as its included in the Series 4 box set as disk 1. Bit annoying as I own both now
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Firstly, an important note: If you're looking at getting this while buying the rest of the seasons, then don't as it is included as disk one of season four anyway.

This extended episode is a bit of an oddity as it doesn't fit in with the chronological narrative as it left-off at the end of season three. It is a re-telling and expansion of the excellent season two `Pegasus' episodes from a different perspective. As a stand-alone episode it does its job very well, providing us with some background for the Machiavellian Admiral Cain while introducing a new story-line pertaining to Cylon mysticism and Starbuck's destiny.

If, for some reason, your season four set doesn't include `Razor' then it is worth getting if you're an ardent fan, but it doesn't really contain anything crucial to the overall story.
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on 17 June 2009
you are buying season 4, as apparently its included within that.
So when Amazon show you that people who bought this also bought that, don't follow suit like me...DOH!
Other than that its well worth watching, it's Battlestar Galactica isn't it!
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on 6 March 2009
This is one of those extended episode, 'writer's strike' specials. It's not a bad episode, but is included in the Season 4 boxset, if you're buying that, you don't need to also buy this.
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on 7 March 2008
Forbes as admiral Cain was superb and she puts in another great performance here.

Some of the main events we already knew about but these are executed well (no pun intended)but it would have worked better being incorporated into the pegasus story in season 2. The story works pretty well despite lots of flashbacks. There are good performances from the kendra Shaw character. This suffers a bit from the weakness of the rehash mania like the star wars series, 3 films made as prequels which don't tell you very much which you already didn't know. babylon 5 "in the beginning" did the same thing.

This film has very little of the religious bunk which for me spoils the series as a whole. You get the wondeful stark, harsh reality for a few episodes then the cringeworthy rapturous rubbish which Adama (an atheist) has to go along with and sadly us with it. I hope they begin to rationalise these "mystical"concepts much better otherwise this will be the major point where the series fails badly.

As a film this is entertaining and does give a few new strands for us to ponder over. I really did not particularly enjoy the old cylon bits very much, i think the show should distance itself from the kitsch original as much as possible. I really hated the original series it was truly horrendous SF, and badly executed. The effects are excellent particularly the attack on the shipyards near the beginning.

I think the script writers became too self conscious about the story. The main Pegasus stuff we already knew about and the rest seems like a tack on from "other" stories which should have been done seperately really. This really didn't need the Pegasus story but should have been done from the elder Adama's viewpoint from his past to his resolvement of this older cylon problem in the present. Even so this is very watchable despite my reservations.
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VINE VOICEon 7 February 2008
I'm a big BSG fan, I can dimly remember the original series from my childhood; it was all rather silly (and brown), but still good fun and quite ambitious by the standards of TV sci-fi.

The new and updated BSG has just blown me away. It's simply one of the best shows on TV. However, maintaining such a standard is difficult, and season 3 has shown that by getting veeeeery shaky. Here's hoping season 4 will pick up the pace and lead to a great finale.

Anyway, to keep us going until then we have Razor. An original TV movie and companion piece to the series. Other shows have done this kind of thing in the past (Babylon 5 was quite good at churning out TV movies), and I wasn't sure if this would fit well with the rest of BSG canon, but to my surprise it does.

The movies tells the tale of the Battlestar Pegasus, how it escaped the initial Cylon attacks and then what happened under command of Admiral Cain up until the point she linked up with the Galactica fleet. A new character is introduced, Lieutenant Kendra Shaw, and she is the central protagonist of the movie. Plenty of regular series cast members are also on hand and the whole movie is a good fit into the series as a whole.

Razor is fairly standalone, you can enjoy it without much knowledge of the series, but there is also plenty in there for fans, even including a startling revelation towards the end which puts the upcoming season 4 in a new light. There are even old-style Centurions (a la the original series), complete with their three-man (or rather robot) crew Raiders.

The special effects are top notch (although there is one ship explosion which looks absolutely awful, very surprising for a show of this quality), the cast all maintain the high standard of the regular series and the plot moves along at a fair clip.

Razor is no great departure for BSG, it's pretty standard fare, but it's very well done and fine entertainment for any sci-fi fan, especially fans of the series.
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VINE VOICEon 1 December 2007
According to Amazon it seems the UK will be getting the extended version of Razor after all. The language and the gore in the extended version is a bit stronger than the standard TV episodes, but the real bonus (at least on the R1 version) is the inclusion of 7 mini episodes totalling nearly 20 minutes of extra footage. These aren't actually listed as extras on the R1 DVD, so I was very pleased to find them included. Not sure whether the R2 release will get them or not. Definitely worth buying with the release of the full Season 4 boxset almost a year away. If these 2 episodes are a taster of whats to come, then the final season of Galactica is going to be a cracker! So, make sure the R2 DVD has the same extras before buying, if not order the R1.
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This is a tv movie that ties into the tv series battlestar galactica, the remake of the 1970's show. if you've not seen this then don't start with this, get the first few seasons to begin with, because I really don't think the uninitated could pick it up from this.

But if you are up to speed on the show:

the movie runs for ninety five minutes [approx] and is set during season two of the show, after apollo becomes commander of the pegasus. it centres round a character hitherto unseen called kendra shaw, an officer on the ship. And through flashbacks, she recalls her time on the vessel, which started on the day when the new cylon war began, and how admiral cain, the ship's first commander, did whatever they had to do so the ship could survive.

when not flashing back, we also get the pegasus on a mission that turns out to be more deadly than imagined. and commander adama has a flashback to the first cylon war. and in flashbacks, cain has one to her past as well.

confused? if you're up to speed on the show, you will get the hang of this.

It doesn't tell us quite as much about cain as you might have expected, but this is a strong piece of work. shaw is a memorable character, and there are some stunning actions scenes, and a few interesting developments that will doubtless come back to effect the fourth season.

And unlike season three box set, we do get a few more extras this time:

a commentary by two of the writers.

two deleted scenes.

a trailer for the fourth season.

a sneak peek at the fourth season. do not watch this till you've seen razor, and even then be aware there are possible spoilers in it.

and seven three minute long 'webisodes' originally broadcast on the sci fi channels website, showing what happened to the young adama on the last day of the original cylon war. there's no direct access to each so you have to watch them in order, and episodes three to six and half of seven are actually incorporated into razor. but the ones that aren't are worth a look.

there is also a set up option on the main menu. access this to bring up a couple of sound options and subtitles that can be turned on or off. english is the only available language for these.

a good movie, and well worth watching if you're a fan. in a decent package
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