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          Babylon 5:
The Complete Series
        review by Chris Medellin

“It was the dawn of the third age of mankind. Ten years after the Earth Minbari war. The Babylon project was a dream given form. It's goal to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call. Home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs and wanderers. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal. All alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last best hope for peace. This is the of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.”


So begins the opening narration by Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, war hero and the first commander of the Babylon 5 station. This science fiction TV show is known for its innovative 'novel for television' approach to its tale. Joseph Michael Straczynski, JMS to his fans, had been working in television for decades. He worked up from being just another writer on a variety of animated and live action television shows to co-producer of Murder, She Wrote.


He teamed with Douglas Netter to produce Babylon 5 as the flagship show for the fledgling Prime Time Entertainment Network. His idea was to have a story

where the characters could change and evolve through their various journeys. Unlike most franchises where characters had to stay static due to licensing. The pilot “The Gathering” aired in 1993. It was successful enough to continue with the series which aired in 1994 and, to the surprise of many, it continued and completed its story in 1999.


I say 'surprise to many' because every year it was threatened with cancellation every year. It was successful but not Deep Space franchise successful. It helped that no matter what JMS was going to tell his story. Some bits he had to move around because they thought year four would be the last. He wrote 92 of the 110 episodes himself.


He had trap doors for each character. If an actor could not continue, like Sinclair actor Michael O'Hare or wanted to move on like Talia actress Andrea Thompson, he could write out the character easily and bring another actor. Not necessarily to complete those characters arcs but to tell a different aspect of the Babylon 5 tale.


Commander Sinclair had a different story arc than Bruce Boxleitner's Captain John Sheridan, both needed their stories told. Talia Winter, the B5 telepath had a different tale than the first telepath B5 had, Lyta Alexander, who returns later in the series. Then you have characters like Londo Mollari, the Centauri ambassador, whose Centauri Empire was in the twilight of their rule. They had fallen to a shadow of themselves until, quite frankly, he makes a deal with a devil to bring them back to their former glory. We see his thrill and the fear of his choices.


I have yet to talk about G'Kar or Delenn or the Vorlons or anything else in this universe. Just pick up this set and get ready to binge one of the greatest science fiction TV shows ever made.

The Blu Ray box set has all five seasons, and the pilot ‘The Gathering” included in it. It contains no other extras, but you get an amazing science fiction story from beginning to end. You get to see it in higher definition than when it was originally broadcast. Granted, some of CGI effects used, cutting edge for TV in the late 90s, don't have the texture and detail most viewers would want these days. Hopefully, the story will sweep you up and carry you to the end.


My suggestion? Start with Season One Episode One “Midnight on the Firing Line”. The first season was still finding its legs, but there's enough solid stories to keep going. Watch “The Gathering” last. Mostly to see what they initially thought they were going to do with some of the characters. Have fun. Either way you button, then zip or zip, then button, you're going to have a great time watching Babylon 5 for the first time or fiftieth time.


In addition to this complete series release be sure to grab the recently released animated feature Babylon 5: The Road Home for more adventures from this great series.


Babylon 5: The Complete Series and Babylon 5: The Road Home are both available now from Warner Bros Home Entertainment.

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