Babylon Five

It's actually 'Babylon 5', but this is the only way to educate it in being a wikiname.

Babylon 5 was, in its day, a groundbreaking piece of TVSF, a 'novel for television' in the words of its creator, J.Michael Straczynski, a science fiction space opera drama with a five-year preplanned story arc. Interestingly perhaps, the inspiration for this apparently came from JMS's observations of British TVSF, notably shows such as Blakes Seven and, to a lesser extent, Doctor Who.

The series had both narrative and technical effects on the whole field of TV SF, from encouraging a more long-term and intricate approach to story planning, the fruits of which can be seen in shows as diverse as Far Scape and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and in the introduction of the use of CGI effects sequences. Arguably even more importantly, by proving that it was possible to produce a slick-looking SF series on a modest budget, JMS reopened the door to non-Star Trek television science fiction, a door which had largely been closed since the late eighties.

While it's undeniable that some elements of the series are better in conception than realisation- some fairly large narrative jumps had to be taken to replace a number of major and minor characters throughout the show's run, and a change in parent company four-fifths of the way through the series (and attendant threat of cancellation) had adverse effects on both narrative and production values, the five year story of Babylon 5 is still a rich and rewarding one.

Babylon 5 was followed by a spin-off sequel series, Crusade, set up in the fourth Babylon 5 telemovie, A Call to Arms. Crusade was highly slated by fans for poor music, uninteresting and irritating characters, and lacking the elements which had made Babylon 5 so much more than just another tedious Trek. Although not all these criticisms are fully justified, Crusade was cancelled after thirteen episodes. A subsequent spin-off attempt, Legend of the Rangers, had a pilot episode produced and transmitted. The option of a series was not taken up however.

Rumblings from America Land indicate that after several misfires, JMS' new post-apocalyptic (B5-unrelated) series Jeremiah may actually be quite good.

Category TVSF

Thu, 30 Jan 2003 12:47:07 GMT Front Page Recent Changes Message Of The Day