Babylon Five

Babylon 5 started as a five-season television series set in the 24th Century on a space station called, spookily enough, Babylon 5.

"Babylon" because it sought to unify many warring tribes speaking many different languages, and "5" because the prior four attempts went bust. Literally.

It is adored by its fans for its "five-year arc", with storylines developed from episode to episode, and from season to season.

There have also been several B5 telemovies, and a sequel series called Crusade (cancelled by the evil suits at TNT). J. Michael Straczynski, B5's creator, has recently signed a deal for a new B5 series called Legend of the Rangers, bringing joy to B5 fans worldwide, though it was quickly cancelled by the evil suits at SciFiChannel?.


Bab5's unique ScienceFiction angle (in contrast to SpaceOpera like StarTrek) was that Earth's government was DarkSide ShadowGovernment? Evil (not the most civilized & progressive founding member of The Federation) and the Security Chief was not a stern warrior, but a weak-minding dweeb who wigged out and betrayed everyone.

Disagree with the weak-minded comment. Garibaldi was a victim of true MindControl via Psi Corps, as well as his alcoholism

And BlakesSeven? did the evil-Earth government thing ten years earlier. More significantly it donated the genes for multi-season plot arcs and character and plot ambiguity to later SF shows. (Farscape in particular is often accused of being a dumbed down B7.)

Note the credits on the show of both HarlanEllison and the AmigaDos VideoToaster. -- PhlIp

I really wanted to like B5, and I did mostly, for the first 3.5 seasons. After that it completely lost its way and for all of it JMS should really, really, really have hired a dialog specialist, I mean, "get out of my Galaxy!" I ask you... -- TomAyerst

To be precise, it was "get the hell out of our galaxy!" It's cheesy, but I love it. -- LisaReeve

Nah, just cheesy. JMS could put some great gags together (the button and zip vs zip and button discussion springs to mind) but he had a tendency to OTT prentension that wasn't curbed after he took on pretty much all writing duties. -- TomAyerst

The loss of Claudia Christian, which had a severe negative impact on the fifth season, was JMS's decision. She wanted a guarantee that she would be able to do other projects, and he fired her when she wanted it in her contract and would not just take his word about it. I think the bigger issue in B5's quality loss was JMS burning out, as well as his having rushed to get things into season 4 for fear he would not get a season 5. I took last summer off, and one thing I did was watch B5 through from start to finish. Huge fun, great show. I don't think anything ever had me laughing as hard as the "Trapped in the elevator" scene. -- KenMegill

"Do not thump the book of G'Quon."

Babylon 5 was just a tremendous experience for me... I came in around season 4, watched all of the re-runs in time for the beginning of Season 5. The intro to season 4 is one of the best I have seen and heard. The sci-fi channel re-runs are making me live it again... certainly JMS isn't a perfect writer, his dialogue needs work at times, but the amount of absolute gems in this series more than makes up for this. I can't wait for a theatrical movie some day. -- StuCharlton

I think the five-year story would have been better done in three years. The first two seasons were really, really slow--episode after episode leading us to understand that a conflict was coming. (Yeah, yeah, I get it.) Some of the hokier subplots could have been removed (Garibaldi's mind control, for example). And Season 5 just didn't matter. -- KrisJohnson


A lot of BabylonFive was a ripoff and the larger "arc" (does this mean "plot"?) isn't at all original when you realize how it's based on medieval theology. The Shadows were devils, the Vorlons the angels (could they have made this any more obvious?). BabylonFive makes for a nice retelling of the coming of the scientific age eliminating both angels and devils but it's not original in the least.

Also, by DavidBrin's definition of ScienceFiction, BabylonFive is anti-scifi. The whole messiah and pantheism angles got old and tired very quickly. What's annoying though is how those elements undermine the whole point of the story; the elimination of religion!


On the contrary, I think those elements actually underline the point and make B5 RealSciFi?. The higher species had been part of a process going on for cycle after cycle, but then the lesser species reached a point where they could do without them. The Vorlons aren't thinly veiled angels, they are the official origin of angel myths, and as the story evolves they are gradually de-angelized. And the initially hocus-pocusy Prophet/Prophecy thing turns out to be just a pile of technology and a man doing his part. I think that's the best part of B5. -- ClaesWallin


I could never figure out how all my geek friends liked this show. With the notable exception of the side story drawing out the complex and well-played relationships between Londo and G'Kar (and to some extent, Vir), I found the dialog wooden, the CGI effects very "plasticy", the characters flat, and even the societies to be not believable ("The religious caste"? No native word for that? "Shadows"? Gee wiz, they even made that generic-eerie-shrieky sound that all the "evil" aliens are supposed to make). We get the Generic Inscrutable Sage Of Pithy Insight with Kosh, and the very personification of Deus Ex Machina with Lorien (did JMS just start cribbing names directly from Tolkein at that point?) Even so, it would have made an okay sci-fi, having enough story arc to go by (tho nowhere near blakes 7), but the writing and acting both ... just wretched.

I always found myself wishing for a sci-fi with the sense of epic scale of Babylon 5, but the acting talent of Space: Above and Beyond (a very short-lived prime-time sci-fi show with good writing, but a hokey and threadbare premise). Maybe Farscape is it -- not having much in the way of television for years, I've managed to not see a single episode of this series that seems to gather so much attention...


CategoryScienceFiction OffTopic

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