“There are moments in your life when everything crystallizes and the whole world reshapes itself right down to its component molecules. And everything changes. I have looked upon the face of a Vorlon…Laurel. And nothing is the same anymore.”
Dr. Kyle to Laurel Takashima
From 1993 until 2007, science fiction fans were, through various movies and series, able to step out of their everyday existence and lose themselves in one of the most intricate and emotionally engaging sagas in sci-fi television history. Through a core television series, a spin-off series, and a collection of made-for-tv and direct-to-video movies, we followed dozens of fully formed characters, each with rich histories and motivations. We watched wars erupt and governments collapse. We watched friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and friends become lovers. We saw aliens, monsters, magic, telepaths, celebration, lamentation, tears, laughter, revenge, reconciliation, life, death, the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind…..and Spoo.
We saw Babylon 5 stride into our world and take its place as a science fiction legend.
And nothing was the same anymore.
In 2011 I began a long-overdue viewing project. While I had been familiar with Babylon 5 since the premier of the pilot episode, and had seen a respectable number of random episodes, I had never had the opportunity to view the series in order, as it was meant to be seen. I found a recommended viewing order online, and watched from Babylon5: The Gathering, through to “Sleeping In Light,” the final episode of the series. In between, at the chronologically appropriate points in the story’s timeline, I watched In The Beginning. I watched Thirdspace. I watched the entire, lone season of Crusade. I watched everything. I even watched Legend Of The Rangers. And when it was all said and done, when J. Michael Straczynski literally turned out the lights of Babylon 5, I dried my eyes and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my expectations for television storytelling had been forever altered.
Make no mistake; as a lifetime fan of science fiction I cannot see a day when I would ever turn my back on Star Trek The Next Generation, or scoff at Star Wars (well, okay, I’ll always scoff at some Star Wars.) But after following the characters of Babylon 5 through over 20 years of their lives, the “watch it and forget it” nature of so many ongoing television series of that time could no longer hold me the way it used to. How many times do we see the crew of [insert Federation starship or space station here] endure situations that should affect them emotionally for years to come, only to see that situation utterly forgotten by the following week’s episode? One of the reasons I was unable to stay with Babylon 5 initially was because the character development and over-arcing story progression left me behind due to my unstable viewing schedule. When I was younger I hated that. Now, after seeing what it can accomplish on a show like B5, I have a hard time enjoying a show that doesn’t weave such a lush universe. Nowadays it is vastly more common to see shows that present a season-long storyline, with the advertising heavily underscoring it. With Netflix making original programming now, they take season stories to the next level by giving you the entire arc at one time. But in the mid-90s this was virtually unheard of. Babylon 5 began laying down seeds in the very first episode, not just for that season, but for the four seasons to follow. And since sci-fi fans often tend to be more invested in the characters, mythology, and backstory of the shows they enjoy, this endeared B5 to them even more.
The hallmarks of great television changed for me after I completed my full viewing of the Babylon 5 saga. I hope to use this blog as a way to discuss, review, and analyze different aspects of the series, share news and trivia when able, and play with whatever amusing notions come to my mind involving this universe. For example; what might happen if a Narn encountered a Cardassian on B5? Any and all readers who wish to share their thoughts, favorite episodes and characters, criticisms, wishes, or memories of Babylon 5 should feel free to do so. I’d love to make this as much of a discussion as possible. Let’s hear from all the people who loved Babylon 5, and whose definition of masterful science fiction was crystalized by this beloved television series.