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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.

Extras:
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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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 10 November 2007
Plot:

A two-hour Battlestar Galactica special that tells the story of the Battlestar Pegasus several months prior to it finding the Galactica.

My Review:

With the recent news the possibly one of the most brilliant Science Fiction shows coming to its conclusion, producer Ronald D. Moore felt he owed Battlestar fans to a 2 hour short of a commemoration to the show in between Seasons 3 and 4, and with it he gives us the Battlestar Pegasus' history.

One can only construe that with the show ending on Moore's terms he does have the resources and realistic approach to make his ideas work. Albeit there will be no sixth or seventh season, he gives us a episodic filler that shows us the short spent life of a Pegasus office named Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen). Our focus encompasses her trial and tribulations associated with a unknown character. She passes the role of being likable in all aspects, even her darkest hours ascertain her character flaws but her hard-headed impiety and realist approach to a situation, even if it crosses a line.

For some it may be an uninteresting stop gap to fill in the void of the shows extended break, however it does remarkably well in providing some amazing visual treats. It gives us a crews account of tragic events as well as some character history, new and old faces reprise themselves with the same façade.

Whilst the story unfolds, we see flashbacks of Kendra's time on Pegasus during the chronological Season 2 episodes which the film is set and suggests that it took place during that time, while it flashbacks to her time under the command of Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes); whom proves that she can smile. The contrasting hard decisions she makes and if or not to follow her Admiral. We are also treated to a flashback of Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) of which gets the shock treatment with a younger actor who portrays him right down to the voice and mannerisms. A revelation ensues the flashback, in which we are given a rather disturbing insight into 'those skin-jobs'.

We are given a trip down in the melancholy road, visually; as we get to see the classic Cylon and Cylon raiders that were ever-present in the 70's version, that fit the modern re-imagining as they were constantly mentioned throughout the series as have being been in first war 40 years prior to the current Cylon war. They are given a reboot with the same familiar charisma, even for a machine as old catch phrases make a reprisal.

Some may suggest and argue that it was never logical idea to make this 2 hour special; as it really only keeps the fans on edge before the fourth and final Season returns. Nevertheless, us fan boys, and girls, need something to take the heat off.

Verdict:

Filler; but a very good one, emotionally and visually enthralling as it keeps in tune with the series and keeps it fresh and fun. 8.5/10.
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on 4 February 2013
Having seen much of the original(Lorne Greene) series in which the Pegasus featured under the Command of Admiral Kane, who incidently in the original series was male. I found this a bit confusing since it seemed that the current Admiral Kane was the daughter of the previous commander and she is as much a loose cannon as he was even to the point of commiting murder of civlians to get what she wanted. the continual leep backs in time didn't help matters either. That aside there was still plenty of action against the Cylons which is what the film is all about
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on 11 March 2008
The Pegasus story arc from season 2 of BSG was one of the best of the entire series, so when fans heard that Razor, a double-episode/film filling in the back-story to the ship, was on the way they were understandably excited. On the whole Razor delivers on it's promises of more action and an insight into some of the Pegasus characters, but some minor flaws do enough damage to the experience that though it's entertaining this isn't really unmissable.
The story of Pegasus is told from the perspective of Kendra Shaw, a new character who we follow in multiple time-lines (this thing leaps back and forth in time a lot) as the cylons initial attack and aftermath are played against events taking place sometime around the end of season 2. The story is actually very good, with a nice series of character revelations (particularly with regards to Admiral Cain) about the Pegasus crew members and a pleasantly ominous ending which definitely changes the way you look at the ending of season 3. The story also features various scenes from the first cylon war, which have a nice little cameo from the cylons from the original BSG series.
Sadly it's these segments set in the first cylon war which let Razor down, the effects (normally so incredible) are very below par and Adama's dialog was deeply cliched. They set the scene for the main story nicely but frankly were a serious low point in the experience. Having said that the brief Cain segment in that timeline was very good and provided some interesting back-story for her character.
The DVD box promises us 'unseen footage and more action'. I missed this when it was first aired and as such cannot comment on that particular aspect, but Razor has a lot more action sequences in it then a standard BSG story. These action sequences certainly fit with the more militaristic aspects of the plot and also with Cain's more aggressive attitude to events. None of the action looks out of place (except with the bad effects sequences previously mentioned) and it's all done with that standard BSG gritty attitude that makes everything far more gripping.
This double-episode/film holds up nicely; it continues BSG's dark and philosophical style, delivers some exciting action sequences, provides us with interesting insights into some previously underdeveloped characters, and has a great twist at the end that will leave you very excited to see the fourth season of the main show. Having said that there are enough problems with this thing to keep it from a five star rating. If you're a fan of BSG and you're looking for something to tide you over until the fourth season then Razor should do that just fine.
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on 1 May 2008
The current re-imagined and updated "Battlestar Galactica" is, in my opinion, the best sci-fi series currently on air. Its sweep, the depth of its storylines, the characterisation and acting, the ability to create societies that are both alien and familiar at the same time, above all its ability to hold interest and provoke thought - there is nothing to match it, and there hasn't been for a few years. (I was a great fan of "Firefly" but wouldn't see these two series as going head-to-head, "Firefly" had its own universe and its own, very different, strengths.)
For fans of BSG "Razor" is a welcome addition to the DVD collection. It fills out the "side story" of Admiral Cain and the Battlestar Pegasus, and goes some way (not all the way) to explaining why she acted the way she did. The production style and dark gritty atmosphere were typical "BSG" and it was interesting to see the "old style" Cylons and ships, familiar to viewers of the original series, popping up in the obsolete and ostensibly abandoned Cylon base. It ended on a teasing note that will certainly whet the appetite of those who have just watched season 3 for the developments of season 4.
Those who have not been following "BSG" are likely to be totally lost; certainly they will miss most of the nuances and the plot aspects relevant to the story arcs of the main series. They should avoid "Razor" and instead go and buy the mini-series so they can get orientated and hooked.
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on 22 December 2013
It turned out that I got this with season 4 anyway, but it's nice to have it as its own stand alone movie, its amazing how well made these series were made, it stands up to any feature length sci-fi movie, and is better than most. Well worth a look if you haven't seen it.
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2008
Okay people, newsflash. This film is included in the Season 4 boxset. Which was slightly galling to discover, though Amazon's price was very reasonable, but I now have two copies of this, when I only need one...

First things first. Old school cylons. They're still CGI, sadly, but the appearance of the Centurions just reminds you how great that design is. And they say by your command, which is ace. There's a fab mid-air battle between a Centurion and a young Bill Adama, which also is ace.

Okay, so what about the rest of the film. The story uses an officer who served on the Pegasus as its POV character, allowing the writers to flashback to when Admiral Cain was still alive and therefore give the excellent Michelle Forbes more work. The film gives some of the back story to how the Pegasus escaped the fate of the rest of the Battlestars and how they came to cage a No. 6 cylon. While this fills in the gaps, I think that we've already had this ground covered just fine by Season Two of the show, so it doesn't work quite as well for me, as the other parts of the film.

The other parts of the film involve a Cylon god, a hybrid from the period when Cylons were evolving from just machines to the flesh jobs that characterise the reboot series. Some of this is set at the end of the first Cylon war, when Bill Adama was still young. As I mentioned earlier, this involves some lovely action set pieces. It made me look forward to Caprica. The rest is set while Lee Adama is in charge of the Pegasus and involves a mission to rescue people kidnapped by the Cylon god. It's bonkersly sci-fi, like the episode in season 3 where Baltar is living on a base ship, and very good for it. It also features a couple of hints of where the show is going in the fourth season.

Also included are Razor webisodes.

Overall though this is as usual pretty topnotch stuff. It feels odd to take a step back when the show is currently heading for new waters, but the little additions to the mythology and the old school cylons make up for it.
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on 30 July 2012
Really great, throughly enjoyed and bought it as I read a review saying you needed to watch it before watching season 4, so I bought it, watched it, and started the season 4 boxset (Battlestar Galactica: Season 4 (Part One) [DVD] and the first episode on disk 1 was...Razor

I also got caught out with the miniseries that started it all off, that was included on the boxset of season 1, but all in all, a brilliant series, highly recommend !
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