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Straczynski: It's a Babylon 5 feature film or nothing

by Jane Boursaw, posted Jul 17th 2008 7:57AM
Babylon 5 - The Original SeriesI've never interviewed Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski and don't know him personally, but he sure seems like one classy guy. He recently posted a note on his web site, giving readers his thoughts on more Babylon 5 DVDs.

In short, he's against it. He feels that offerings like the TV movie, Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers, and the straight-to-DVD story, Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, take away from the strength of the original TV series.

He writes that The Lost Tales was commissioned at a $2 million budget, and they did the best they could with it. Apparently, the studio wasn't sure there was an audience for Babylon 5. Silly studio.

Lately, Warner Bros. has been discussing the idea of more B5 DVDs or TV movies, again at a low cost with minimal investment. Straczynski says he's given the subject a lot of thought during the past few months, and he's come to a conclusion:

B5 as a five-year story stands beautifully on its own. If anything else is to be continued from that story, it should be something that adds to the legacy of B5, rather than subtracts from it.

"As well intentioned as
Rangers and TLT were, as enticing as it was to return to those familiar waters, in the end, I think they did more to subtract from the legacy than add to it. I don't regret having made them, because I needed to go through that to get to the point where I am now psychologically. But from where I sit now, I wouldn't make them again."

He goes on to say that he's not interested in doing any more low-budget DVDs, TV movies, or computer games. In fact, the only thing he'd be interested in is a big-budget, feature-length film. [Picture me standing up and cheering here.]

"At the end of the day, for me, it's not just a matter of getting more
B5. It's a matter of getting more *good* B5 that respects what came before it and doesn't have to compromise visually or in terms of action. The original show deserves better than that, the surviving cast members deserve better than that, and the fans who have supported it over the years definitely deserve better than that. A lot better."

Here's a guy who really has the best interest of the story, the characters, and the fans at heart. He says he has plenty of other projects going and isn't lobbying for a film -- and that we shouldn't either, because "such campaigns never really have much impact."

Honestly, I'm not really sure which side of the galactic fence I'm on. I haven't watched the The Lost Tales or The Legend of the Rangers precisely because of the reasons Straczynski mentioned: I was afraid it would take away from the original series, which I loved.

On the other hand, if they were to make a big-budget Babylon 5 movie, I'd be the first in line to get tickets. And my 84-year-old mom would be there, too, because it's one of her favorite shows of all time. Until something transpires, I'll continue buying the original series from Best Buy -- they've been running a special at something like $15 a season -- and keep myself happy by revisiting my favorite characters on that big floating space station.

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Straczynski has a lot of good points. In my opinion I think he knows his fan base quite well. I was thrilled when Lost tales came out and Legend of the Rangers came out. I own both and still watch them quite often. I am a fan and thats why I got them and enjoy them.

However, it is disappointing to see low budget films. Lost tales was set back when I watched it. The best part or the episode was with Sheridan but it left me with more questions and intrigue into the new story which did not go any where.

As a fan of B5 I believe I am entitled to a full featured film with a full start to end story line.

Granted if they do make more low budget films I will still watch them. I need my B5 fix.

July 30 2008 at 12:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Leave the original 5 year run as is with all the compared to a current viewing lowtech looking CG. Yes Lost Tales was nice but just didn't feel the same having a polished look to it. It just worked, it would be like redoing the original 3 Star Wars oh wait....
Unless it could be pulled off with a BSG/Firefly look for it, it would just hurt the image of B5 more than try to advance it.

July 18 2008 at 12:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Picviewer's comment

The BSG/Firefly style is exactly what I would want from such an effort. The Star Wars approach didn't work for me, partially because Lucas went and changed the films themselves to varying degrees. Leave the editing alone, and have that pseudo-documentary style to the space FX, and it could be great. B5 practically invented that style anyway, so it would be potentially interesting to see it come full circle anyway.

But I'd settle for WB getting off the fence and actually giving a damn about the show.

July 19 2008 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am a huge fan of B5. I would be one of the first in line for a movie, but I to not have the presence of G'kar would really be a huge hole for me. I am sure JMS could still make a great story though...but I still want to know what happened with G'kar and Lyta after they left.

July 17 2008 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey Geraci

The Lost Tales was just sad. Yes, seeing Sheridan again was cool, but that was the only redeeming quality of the entire enterprise. What a waste of $2 million.

July 17 2008 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would be there on day 1 for a B5 movie, but that'll never happen. WB has treated it like some kind of bastard stepchild, rather than giving it the loving and respectful treatment it deserves. Part of me would love to see JMS supervise a complete overhaul and restoration of the series for rerelease. Clean up and remaster the negatives (which were dirty and scratched to hell on the DVDs), recreate every FX shot using the models created for TLT (one of the high marks of the piece, the Sheridan story was excellent too), and put it out on DVD (Blu-ray someday?). As long as they stayed closer to the Star Trek side of things for such a project (rather than Star Wars), I could see it being a big success. Plus you'd be more likely to attract younger viewers who would probably mock the original FX, especially in the state they're presented on the DVDs. Hell, get with SciFi Channel and run a couple episodes a week, it'd last for over a year at that rate. Given the tonal similarities to BSG, the promotional potential seems strong. All it needs is someone with half a brain to step up and give it a shot. In other words, nothing will ever happen.

July 17 2008 at 1:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I rather wish JMS had just said, "I don't intend on making any more B5, I'm done," rather than this "only if A FREAKING MIRACLE OCCURS and they offer me tons and tons of money to make The Big Budget Movie." Because uh, obviously that's not going to happen, but fans are going to yak on about a nonexistent movie happening anyway.

July 17 2008 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't bother watching Legend of the Rangers. It was horrible! And I'm a big B5 fan! Lost Tales was pretty good, but maybe it's because it brought back Sheridan, Lochley, Galen, and that big beautiful station and awesome Star Furies in gorgeous contemporary CG.
I don't think Lost Tales detracted from the original 5-year story for me, but it didn't add to it either. I would certainly pay good money to see B5 in the theaters!

July 17 2008 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've always wondered what could be done in the movie? If TLT is 10 years after the end of the Shadow War, then we're still 6 years early for the end of Londo's reign. That's really the story I see left...the Drakh War and the Liberation of Centauri Prime.

But in the end, I don't know if I could go through that without G'kar and Stephen. Missing G'kar's words through trying times and Stephen's heartfelt pathos, I think any story told without them would lack that which B5 had in abundance...Meaning.

July 17 2008 at 10:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Where do I line up for the movie now? Best TV show, ever.

July 17 2008 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

B5 was one of the best series, ever. The characters were so defined, and so well acted, that I would have been happy to see it go on forever. Don't get me wrong, I love STTNG, but B5 was something different. Nothing was ever white washed, or prettied up. It was gritty, it was tragic, and it was awesome. A feature film? You betcha. Made for DVD? No, please. Don't take away from what was greatness.

July 17 2008 at 8:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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