Sci Fi Sunday — Babylon 5

babylon 5 poster

(image from wikitvs.com)

Babylon 5 is one of those shows that falls into the cult category of science fiction. Oddly enough, unlike some other rabid cult shows (Battlestar Galactica and Firefly, for example), it doesn’t have much crossover appeal and most of its fans are diehard geeks. Being only a peripheral geek, I heard the name thrown around for a while before I even bothered to seek out the DVDs. Finally, I rented the first DVD of the first season — oh, about a year ago — and sent it back when I couldn’t get into the first episode.

I WAS AN IDIOT. A BLITHERING, DISTRACTED IDIOT.

To be fair, the first episode — hell, the entire first season — IS hard to get into. But after hearing all the fan praise, I decided to give the first season a second try and…well, the cult has another member. Because OH MY GOD, I am mad for this show! Babylon 5 has some of the best continual story arcs of any show I’ve ever seen. Everything is connected. Pay attention when someone has a vision or something bizarre happens, because it WILL show up later. Someone behaving badly? All will be revealed in the next episode or two. A connection between two people? You aren’t imagining things, it’s there. To tell you the truth, I became a fan of Michael O’Hare by the end of the first season and wasn’t too sure about Bruce Boxleitner, who replaces him in Season 2. I mean, the only thing I knew about Boxleitner is that he used to be married to Melissa Gilbert. So, it took a lot of convincing to turn me into a fangirl. Oops, a rabid squeeing fangirl.

The criticism you will hear about Babylon 5 is generally that it’s a ripoff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The timeline is dubious on this since Babylon 5 premiered in 1994 but was in production before DS9, which premiered earlier in 1993. Be that as it may, after the first season, the two shows really don’t have much in common. DS9 is a typical Star Trek show, with most of their story arcs lasting a single episode and the focus being on the characters aboard the space station.  Babylon 5 has a larger focus, with story lines that take it outside of the station quite often, and a scope that includes large parts of the galaxy including Earth. The story arcs also delve pretty intensely into politics, religion, civil disobedience, the nature of military command, et cetera. I think my love of space opera in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga (reviewed here) is part of what draws me to Babylon 5, because the show really forces me to think outside of my box. Is Londo evil or misguided? Is Garibaldi a good friend or a self-aggrandizing wretch or both? Will the lovers end up together or is their relationship doomed from the start? WHY CAN’T I GO TO THERE? Honestly, I love B-5 so much that I want to tongue-kiss my TV. Which I won’t do because it’s gross and unnecessary and will make the screen blurry.

OH, and I just finished the third season. DO NOT SPOIL THE REST FOR ME IN COMMENTS. Stabby does not even describe how I might feel.

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Posted on July 15, 2012, in Sci-Fi Sunday. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Yep. It’s awesome. Again, be sure to watch the movies etc that accompany the television run.

    • I have “In the Beginning” set to watch after Season 3, since it covers the time of the Minbari war but apparently has spoilers about the first 3 seasons. I am so excited!

  2. I loved Babylon 5! Thanks for making me think about the series. I should go back and watch them all. I had a raging crush on Susan Ivanova…
    I was predisposed to like Sheridan because I had had positive memories about watching him in _The Scarecrow and Mrs King_ while washing up the dinner dishes, all through high school…

  3. Grab bag of eggs

    Yeah the whole “Did Deep space 9 rip off Bab 5” thing is interesting. Babylon 5 was more or less charted out storywise before it even went into production, although it did have to take some modification around season 4 when there where concerns that it wouldn’t survive to season 5. Its understood that this all happened in the late 1980s and that some of the people who worked on the concept etc of DS9 knew of the premise and ideas behind B5 well before B5 went into production (slightly before DS9 went into production).

    But ultimately it doesn’t matter. Both shows start a bit weak in the first season and eventually find their feet as different sorts of shows with very strong virtues.

    And both where, perhaps coincidently, strongest in Season 4.

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