I don’t know whether I really planned this, but this month has been Speculative TV show month. Today, I wanted to discuss my one of my favorites, and it is not Star Trek, Doctor Who, but this one, Babylon 5. If you never heard of it, I can’t say that I blame you. It lasted about five years, but the only thing that kept it alive was its fanbase.
The show was not one that you could just turn on and know what was going on. The show was conceived by J. Michael Straczynski, and he had an idea for an epic science-fiction show with a five-year storyline. He was able to get four years out of Fox, and then it was picked up on TNT. The sad part was the major storylines were rushed for a wrap-up of the show by Season 4, so Season 5 was kind of not really necessary.
Babylon 5 was about a space station of the same name as the show, and it is essentially a sort of United Nations built by the Earth of the 23rd century. The first season of the show was just introducing the show and its very complex characters, not to mention alien races such as the Narns, the Minbari, the Centauri, and the enigmatic Vorlons. By season 2, the storyline became about a war between an alien race known as the Shadows. To make matters worse, Earth becomes more of a totalitarian government as it shuns the other alien races. Seasons 3 and 4 really kicked it into high gear, and by that time there was so much going on that it became a delight to watch. As I mentioned before, Season 5 was sort of an anti-climax, but it ends with a terrific final episode.
Sadly, the show left a lot of plotlines as loose threads. It did spawn a series of made-for-TV movies. The film ThirdSpace takes place sometime during Season 4, while The River of Souls takes place after Season 5. A Call to Arms was meant to introduce a whole bunch of new characters for a spinoff show known as Crusade. Crusade was not a big success, and only lasted about 13 episodes. There are also two other movies that I haven’t seen, and there is a prequel movie that was essentially the show’s original pilot. Lots of shows have pilot episodes that were unaired because the network thought they needed work, and they are re-written and tried again. In the case of In the Beginning, the episode is still part of the show’s canon, even if some elements of it are inconsistent with the rest of the series and movies.
The show is about 20 years old, and some of the effects do not look very good. It has that really bad looking CG effects of the early nineties, but the show has no shortage of imagination. What I enjoy about the show is how history is made by ordinary people, and how little one can do to shake the universe. Another thing that I liked about this show is that there was often no bad guy. Sometimes there would be episodes where one character played a villain, and a few episodes later, I was rooting for this character.
I really hope this series comes to Netflix, as I want people to see it and appreciate it for what it is. It does require a commitment on the part of a viewer, but shouldn’t everything?