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October 9, 2015

What's Hot on SlashControl: Babylon 5

by Jane Boursaw, posted Oct 25th 2009 10:03AM
Babylon 5
While perusing around SlashControl tonight, I nearly stopped breathing when I came across Babylon 5. Not just a few episodes or even one or two seasons. All five seasons, 99 episodes total.

My sci-fi-loving mom taped the entire series on VHS, and I have the first few seasons on DVD. But what a thrill to find it on SlashControl. If you're not familiar with J. Michael Straczynski's groundbreaking show, it takes place in the year 2258, ten years after an Earth-Minbari War. Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O'Hare) takes command of a giant five-mile-long cylindrical space station, orbiting a planet in neutral space.

The ship is a crossroads of interstellar commerce and diplomacy, and Sinclair -- replaced by Captain Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) in season two -- is tasked with establishing peace and prosperity between the various interstellar empires, while at the same time fighting forces from within the Earth Alliance and dealing with various quirky characters such as Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik) and G'kar (Andreas Katsulas).

The parade of notable cast members who trailed through the ship includes Richard Biggs, Mira Furlan, Stephen Furst, Jerry Doyle, Claudia Christian, Jeff Conaway, Andrea Thompson and Tracy Scoggins.

First there was Star Trek and then the early Battlestar Galactica (circa 1970s), which while groundbreaking, were fairly smooth space adventures in the big scheme of things. Babylon 5, which ran from 1994 to 1998, really paved the way for the edgier, darker space dramas like Firefly, the Stargate shows, and the most recent Battlestar Galactica. Humans and aliens got into fist-fights, and personalities ranged from the serene Delenn to the hot-headed Garibaldi. It's really a fun show that takes you on quite the journey through its five year run.

Watch the pilot episode, "The Gathering," to get you started. Then check out the rest at SlashControl.

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Hey Bill,

Okay, I think the fact that I remember this right off the top of my head officially qualifies me as a scifi geek. LOL.

The original two hour pilot was called, "The Gathering [Parts 1 and 2]." There are two version of it. The 1993 version is the original and there's a 1998 re-edited version. Amazon might have that original version on VHS and DVD (see links below) but I'm thinking it's actually the re-edited 1998 version they have. I'm pretty sure I have the true original '93 version on VHS somewhere but Lord only knows what condition it's in. LOL. Also, one of the best places to go for B5 information for the entire series, movies and comments from the show's creator, J. Michael Straczynski, is www.midwinter.com. Here's the link for information on, "The Gathering." http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/countries/us/guide/000.html.

Amazon links for, "The Gathering":


December 25 2009 at 11:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks Vince for correcting him on the episode number.

The first incarnation of BSG was a total rip off of Star Wars (one reason it failed). And how could you not mention Farscape when speaking of dark and edgy sci fi drama?

October 26 2009 at 3:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Europa's comment

I am trying to find the original pilot movie that Babylon 5 was based on. I belive it was a war between earth and a
superior alien species that came very close to wiping out the earth's defenses until they stopped the attack.Any help would be appreciated.

December 25 2009 at 9:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awesome! I had been borrowing my roommate's friend's DVD's, but I never finished season 5. I got a little bored by the new storyline... but I'm not against trying to pick it up again. Good to know it's there!

October 25 2009 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Overall the best sci fi show ever, nothing comes close. If anyone has seen any that are even close let me know. And no, BSG was not as good, not even close. And though I have seen every episode of every Star Trek show the writing and consistency wasn't there to the point that if I had anything to do with it the writers for ST would never work again. Oh, wait, there was Stargate SG1; that was fun but not as satisfying as B5.

October 25 2009 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's a great show. I've been rewatching it on DVD. It looks like they have all 110 episodes up on the site now.

October 25 2009 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Paul McCall

"You also have to be able to buy into a writing style that reminds me very much of classic Hollywood drama and melodrama with portentous declarations and literary turns of phrase everywhere."
Nothing wrong with that, absolutely nothing. Beats the current TV show writing!

October 25 2009 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One of the best TV series I have seen. Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar gives, over the five years, one of TV's very best performances in one of the best character arcs ever written. Add in the fact that there are minor remarks dropped in the pilot that don't pay off until the last episode five years later and you have some of the best epic scale TV writing in history.

That's not to say that it's perfect. The acting is variable, particularly before the writers learned how to maximize each actor's potential. You also have to be able to buy into a writing style that reminds me very much of classic Hollywood drama and melodrama with portentous declarations and literary turns of phrase everywhere. Nonetheless, for depth of story, for complex human emotions and dilemmas, for a long string of amazing recurring and guest characters played by many of the greats from the entire history of science fiction (my personal favorite being Tim Choate as the time twisting alien Zathras) and you have a series everyone should see.

October 25 2009 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was 110 episodes (5 x 22) not 99, as far as I remember.

October 25 2009 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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