Struggling for quality scifi programming, I turned to Hulu.com and to my surprise they had the whole Babylon 5 series available online for free. While this is a worthy collection in any scifi geeks home, I still find the cost to be way overpriced. Thank the makes over at Hulu for having the great sense of bringing this series back to life for this fan.
For those who did not see this pilot which aired in the early part of 1993, Babylon 5: The Gathering does a great deal of setting up this universe, give hints to the background of the many races such as the Vorlons, Narns, Minbari, Centaris and of course, Humans. At this time, Star Trek: TNG was still on the air with a strong die hard following and with a spinoff Star Trek: Deep Space Nine which also centers itself on a space station. While I love Trek, Babylon 5 or B5 was vastly superior. This is not to say DS9 did not find its voice but the series really did not take off for me until Season 3 when Sisko shaved his head, grew a goatee and became Hawk from Spencer for Hire; but enough about Trek for now.
What was truly unique about the story structure of B5, over the course of the 5 years, was a story arc which built upon itself. Trek, sorry, had stand alone episodes which sometimes made references in future stories but B5 ran with multiple storylines with multiple characters and with a tremendous amount of backstory, one could only stand and applaud the vision and the scope this series achieved by one man; J. Michael Stracynzski. When I started to become serious with my writing, I remembered reading in my Writer’s Digest Magazine, J. Michael’s column since he focused more on screeenwriting. He had discussed his ideas for this series in many articles and became more and more impressed with his writing talents as he has almost written every single B5 episode. The exception to this were to two writers, D.C. Fontana and Peter David who associated with Star Trek; D.C. with the original Trek series and TNG and Peter with the Trek novels – Imzadi being many fans favorites. (Side note, Imzadi II sucked major… stuff.) With this great premise, great casting, and great writing, one could not have asked for a better series. Like Star Trek’s opening 5 year mission opening monologue by Kirk, Commander Sinclair did his own version for the opening of B5:
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. Its 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 story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.
Finally, when you watch an episode, I strongly advice you to check out The Babylon Podcast of at FarPoint Media for some great fan perspectives on each episode. Eventually, I would like to do a B5 podcast review but I would have to re-invest a great deal to time to see them again first. In the meantime, I’m happy to have B5 available in this scifi dry spell. My question to you, what are some of your favorite past scifi series which you would be willing to watch all over again?