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Babylon 5 Coming Back? 359

SaturnTim writes "Babylon 5 fans rejoice! It appears that our favorite space outpost is back. It will be returning soon in a series of direct-to-DVD 20min episodes, each featuring the past of one of our favorite characters."
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Babylon 5 Coming Back?

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @09:54AM (#15783651) Journal
    It's interesting that this is a straight to DVD production. I'm not a huge fan of Babylon 5 but I am very interested to see what distribution method they seek.

    The recent news is Warner Bros. is putting Babylon 5 on iTunes [pocket-lint.co.uk]. That's right, you'll be able to purchase episodes of the sci-fi show on iTunes. Could they promote this service by releasing The Lost Tales a few weeks early on iTunes? I think they could probably garner quite a bit of money from Apple if they were willing to do that.

    After all, what better fanbase for Apple to secure than the Babylon 5 tech/trek group? Old nerds with lots of money and few vices. I know some people at work that would buy a video iPod just to have copies of Babylon 5 on their person at all times.

    This could probably be a television show that successfully bypasses all traditional forms of distribution which would set huge precedence for weaning the public from the glass teat.
    • Great ideas, but this will likely follow the traditional straight-to-DVD route. There is such a devoted fan base that this prequel (?) will sell.
    • After all, what better fanbase for Apple to secure than the Babylon 5 tech/trek group? Old nerds with lots of money and few vices.

      Regarding the "few vices", apparently Star Trek is exceptionally popular among pedophiles for some mystic reason.

      B5, then again... here the episodes actually aired on saturday nights, of all possible times.
    • I know some people at work that would buy a video iPod just to have copies of Babylon 5 on their person at all times.

      Wow, and I thought that my coworkers and I were nerds.

      ...weaning the public from the glass teat.

      Yes, an "on-demand" portable plastic teat is much more convenient.

    • After all, what better fanbase for Apple to secure than the Babylon 5 tech/trek group?

      Starship Exeter is already on iTunes, so they probably have the trekkers already. Still, it'd be a cool move.

    • The iTMS versions of B5 are probably only 50% of the original show.

      The DVDs were artificially made "wide screen" by chopping off the top and bottom of each frame. You can tell on "Voice of the Resistance" test pattern or the Psi Corps ad on ISN with the frame that flashes "trust the corps". Those were full screen designs for tv and are now cut off.

      I watched a sample of an episode on iTMS and it looks like it's the same vertical image as the DVDs but has now been chopped off on the left and right to fit the
      • by jnik ( 1733 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:20PM (#15784920)
        B5 was shot widescreen. The CG was rendered 4:3. I believe part of the deal was that the CG would be rerendered for the DVD's (but I'm not positive).

        Warner lost the model files. Many conspiracy theories surround this.

        The DVD's were made by combining the 16:9 live action footage with CG that was cropped to 16:9, then scaled vertically (to achieve full anamorphic resolution). So scenes that combine live action and CG look a bit weird.

        If iTunes is 4:3, it's probably the original broadcast version, where you're missing the sides of the field in live action shots.

        (This is an entirely different issue from the first Sci-fi "widescreen" reairing, where they did indeed mess up and just mat out the top and bottom of the original broadcast.)
  • Alas, Babylon (Score:4, Insightful)

    by krell ( 896769 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @09:56AM (#15783665) Journal
    It won't be the same without G'Kar, one of my two favorite characters.
  • by Trestran ( 715384 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:06AM (#15783758)
    It won't be 20 minutes, acording to B5 creator JMS. From a usenet post [google.com] by him:
    No, it's closer to one-half-hour per story, so figure about 75-90 minutes per DVD, plus additional material adding up to a two-hour DVD. jms
    I for one am looking forward to this tremendously. I know that all the previous B5 spin-offs have been rather anti-climatic, abortive affairs (although I haven't seen nearly all of it), but the creative freedom he is getting seems rather amazing. As opposed to, say, Crusade, that according to JMS suffered from a death by studio interference. And having seen some of the memos that were leaked, I see no reason to doubt him.
  • Cashing in (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alienmole ( 15522 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:07AM (#15783760)
    I liked the Babylon 5 series just fine, but it had an ambitious overarching plot which did advance over time, albeit slowly and vaguely, that made it a bit more interesting than an ordinary space opera. Shows about the past of the characters sounds mainly like a way to milk the cash cow represented by the most diehard fanboys and anyone who doesn't have any, whaddayacallem, standards. It doesn't require much creative effort in terms of plot, it's just exploiting the franchise.
    • Making a movie would be. Fortunately he has too much integrity to recast G'khar and the Doctor (both who passed away). Someone after money would not have blinked.

      These short films come across as a writer's dream come true. How many writers could get a studio to basically pay for these types of films? If JMS is successful it might be a whole new market.

      Now, the idea of a B5 MMORPG - uh, no thank you. I still want an official space combat simulator out of these people ... I got the free mousepad and such
  • by Apocalypse111 ( 597674 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:09AM (#15783771) Journal
    I'm betting that the series will be about Sheridan's actions during the Earth-Minbari war. That would provide sufficient eye-candy and war drama for a plot, while at the same time confining the characters to those of primarily human or Minbari origin, keeping G'Kar out of the picture (RIP Mr. Katsulas). Also, during this time frame, Stephen Franklin was galavanting around the galaxy learning about xenobiology, so this war setting would also keep his character out of the picture (RIP. Mr. Biggs).
    • Please disregard the previous message - I just reread the title and picked up the "each" that I missed. Each episode will be about the past of a character. Not the series as a whole. That'll learn me to read more carefully before I post...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:13AM (#15783814)
    This series rocked, in its day. I'm not willing to say it was the best thing on TV ever, but i think it makes the top 5. Actions taken by characters had consequences, and fundamentally changed their relationships with other characters - not a static universe where a new episode happened every week but nothing fundamentally changed. It was a realistic world, where characters needed money to live, and there was greed, and corruption, and crime, and an underworld. There were complex characters - even the bad guys were not "one dimensional" - they had their own agendas and loyalties and were not presented as some simplistic "pure evil". Semi-decent newtonian mechanics for spaceships.

    It was good stuff. And although the special effects look dated now, at the time, it was amazing to see battles with 100 separate ships on TV - that kinda thing had been reserved for the movies up until then.
    • I never liked Babylon 5. Your explanation helps me to understnad why some people really like the show. It sounds like a good show based upon your description, and from all of the episodes I've seen I'd have to say you are correct. However, I still don't enjoy it at all. Can't really articulate why as well as the parent explained why it ws a good show. I guess as some troll mentioned the acting wasn't the greatest, but acting is rarely good in scifi and I still like many other shows with worse acting. Maybe,
      • Perhaps, it was too much like a soap opera.

        Well, I have to agree both with you and the GP. It was a soap opera (space opera), except things moved faster than on your regular soap opera. If you missed 1 or 2 episodes, chances are you would not understand a lot of things that happened. But if you can get your hand on all episodes, and watched them all, you will see the soap opera side of it was quite good.
  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:27AM (#15783930)
    as a "former stripper" then I'm not interested.

    I just realized that I wasted a good bit of 1994+ on that show :)
  • B5 v BG (Score:2, Insightful)

    by foo fighter ( 151863 )
    I'm sorry, but I can't watch Babylon 5 anymore.

    Battlestar Galactica has raised the bar, for me, personally, so high that most other sci-fi fare looks and sounds like scrapings from the bottom of a barrel. I realize and understand that the two shows have completely different themes, styles, etc., but the differences in production values and acting quality are especially marked.

    The same goes for Stargate (any version), Firefly, and Enterprise or even the new Dr. Who.

    I'm not judging anyone who still likes thos
    • Re:B5 v BG (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @10:53AM (#15784164) Homepage
      I think I must be the only person left on this planet who thinks that BSG is massively overrated. That's not to say it's not good, but I just really can't see why everyone sees it as some kind of Sci-fi messiah.
      • I think I must be the only person left on this planet who thinks that BSG is massively overrated. That's not to say it's not good, but I just really can't see why everyone sees it as some kind of Sci-fi messiah.

        Nope. You are not alone. I can't even watch it. It is just drivel.

        I loved Babylon 5, it was just such a great universe into which I could descend every week or so (travelling kills the "sequencing" of regular shows!!) to try and catch the next element of the overall plot. I can imagine so many stor

      • Re:B5 v BG (Score:3, Informative)

        by ender81b ( 520454 )
        You aren't the only one. To quote from Gregg Easterbrook (probably best known to the slashdot crowd for his 5...4...3...2..1.. goodbye columbia article: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/80 0 4.easterbrook-fulltext.html [washingtonmonthly.com])

        One of my problems with Battlestar Galactica is that the men and women in the show are depicted as so astonishingly across-the-board stupid, it's tempting to root for the robots. The military officers are stupid; the politicians are stupid; the civilians are stupid. In the pilot,
        • The military officers are stupid; the politicians are stupid; the civilians are stupid.

          That's called *Realism*.

          obtain the code, transmit it, and instantly all the human society's military equipment shuts off.

          If we compare a Battlestar to an aircraft carrier running Microsoft software, again, *Realism*.

      • Your'e not the only one. I tried and failed multiple times to get into the new Battlestar Galactica. By all accounts a scifi nut like me who was into the original Galactica should go nuts for it, but it just bores the living veins out of me. Same for B5, I never liked it at all even though the early CGI was pretty.
      • Re:B5 v BG (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:51AM (#15784688)

        I think I must be the only person left on this planet who thinks that BSG is massively overrated.

        You're not. I agree that it's a good show, certainly one of the best sci-fi offerings of recent years, but I don't buy all the "whole new level" stuff.

        I think because sci-fi was very tame, good-guys-always-winning fare for so long, some of the recent, more realistic shows like BSG have carried more weight with the viewer. This is partly because the plots are more credible and the characters can present a wider range of emotions, of course, but I reckon it's also -- in part -- simple novelty value. Of course, BSG wasn't the first to do this; indeed, Babylon 5 itself might have a fair claim on that honour.

        In any case, playing with Gritty Realism(TM) is not automatically the same as acting well, and other series have had gritty characters, too. Sure, not every sci-fi actor is waiting for their Oscar, but I would put many of those in B5 up against any of the cast of the new BSG when it comes to portraying a character of substance and interest. G'Kar remains, IMHO, the deepest character of any sci-fi show, and the B5 cast as a whole was easily the equal of other good sci-fi shows like Firefly or BSG.

        The thing about BSG is that, at least through series one (I'll watch series two when they bring them all out in one DVD box set instead of messing around with half-series) it was almost all pain and suffering and grief and loss. Where was the light relief, the inspirational breakthrough, the hope, the joy? I remember one scene, at the end of one episode, when a very significant number is increased by one, and that's about it.

        Having a plot that involves loss and suffering may bring more credibility, but it can be just as one-dimensional as the good-guys-always-winning if not handled well: credibility is not the same as killing off major characters indiscriminately or using the threat of wiping out the whole human race as your primary plot device. Some of the most moving episodes of Babylon 5 involved tragic fates for noble characters, but none of them was sacrificed randomly; compare and contrast with what happens in Firefly/Serenity (remember to mark those spoilers if you're replying). And of course, Babylon 5 was ultimately a story of hope, while BSG to date is more a story of survival without hope.

        So yes, BSG is a good series, and by TV sci-fi standards it's one of the best. But based on the first series, I think it's too negative and one-dimensional in its approach so far, and in that respect it has a lot to learn from classics like Babylon 5.

    • Re:B5 v BG (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JasonKiddy ( 850629 )
      I tend to agree with you... (some) sci-fi has raised the bar. But don't go overboard on the Battlestar Galactica thing... the story and especially the script is complete arse. Acting good... production values seem excellent... cgi excellent (although far too much use of camera shake) lol
    • Battlestar Galactica has raised the bar...
      Just like Babylon 5 did a decade earlier.
    • No offence, but I hope no one takes your suggestions. I've tried watching the new BG, despite the mind-numbing pain the pilot/miniseries caused me. There's just no hook for me. Acting quality and production values might be through the roof, but as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't have what made B5 and Firefly great: the characters.

      They're changed enough that they don't resemble the originals in their campy cliche roles, which is not neccesarily a bad thing, but there's nothing there to make me actually care
    • I might have partially agreed with you on some points.

      For continuity B5 still wins. For logic B5 still wins.

      Some of the things that happened in BSG did so because the writer needed them to happen, listening to the podcasts it was clear that they knew they could not back it up or seemed wrong - they had a story and damn if anything got in the way.

      Yet the show was still enjoyable, up until the recent episodes which seem to be just a little to contrived.

      BSG is experiencing the rabid fanboi surge all good show
    • The same goes for Stargate (any version), Firefly, and Enterprise

      Yeah, I see your point.

      or even the new Dr. Who.

      Die, heretic!!!!!111!!!!one!!

      Er, but seriously, the new Dr. Who has among the best writing on TV these days. So does Firefly. (And the old Dr. Who, but I digress.) They're all shows worth watching. (But I gave up on Enterprise a long time ago and never even started Stargate so I won't comment on them.)

      I agree that BG is an amazing SF show, but it has its own failings.

      • Re:B5 v BG (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PortHaven ( 242123 )
        Enterprise - the final season improved by leaps and bounds. In fact, it became some of the most enjoyable Star Trek episodes I'd seen. I think had it not gotten cancelled it would have continued to improve. Of course, the change resulted in the hiring of several new writers and who recognized the importance of "Star Trek" canon to it's fans. And instead of constantly making divergances in the Star Trek history they started focusing on explaining the discrepancies.

        Why were the Klingons in the original serie
  • ...is there anything like a good prequel?

    You have Star Wars, I think they were considering Star Trek: Junior Hi... eh, Starfleet Academy. As if Enterprise wasn't bad enough where they jumped way past the TOS technology in half a season. In fact there already was a B5 spin-off TV series (Crusade) that had a lot more potential.

  • I think some people have a romanticised image of Babylon 5.

    Bear in mind that, at the time, the only other Sci-Fi on Tv was Star Trek: The Next Generation. That was not a good show. So B5 didn't exactly have to work much to stand out as the best thing on TV.

    It performed a function of breaking the Star Trek stranglehold. It showed people sci-fi could have more depth. But compared to some of what came after (Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, new Dr. Who) it is nothing special.

    Its like people saying Citizen Kane w
    • Ok.. even non-slashdotters love the Next Generation, and you know it. Stop grandstanding.
    • Sure the original series was not quite at the same level as Battlestar Galactica (though I would argue that the overall plot may have been as good a premise, it's just character development and twists were not quite as impressive).

      But these new episodes are written in todays world, where viewers and writers have seen Battlestar galactica, and good quality computer effects are cheaper and more impressive than ever. There is no reason to think we might see improvement both in story and in cinematography, and
    • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:22AM (#15784431) Journal
      I have to say you're wrong about that. My image isn't romanticized, it's fresh in my memory (I'll kill a weekend ever few months watching the first four seasons).

      The main thing fans usually praise about B5 is the incredible story arc. Four seasons planned ahead from day 1. It's impressive. But B5 had something I find even more important, the same thing that made Firefly great before Whedon ruined it: Characters and the way they interacted.

      The best example, I think any B5 fan will agree, had to be the chemistry between Andreas Katsulas(R.I.P.) (G'Kar) and Peter Jurasik(Londo). But there were very few poor characters. Walter Koenig as Bester makes you want to punch him in the mouth, but that's because he's SUPPOSED to. Ivanova's monologues on C&C were always good for a wry grin ("No boom today. Boom tommorow. ALWAYS Boom tommorow.") Maybe I'm just fanboying, but I even found Bruce Boxleitner to be an excellent choice for Sheridan.

    • "the only other Sci-Fi on Tv was Star Trek: The Next Generation"

      Well, if you ignore DS9, Voyager, Stargate: SG-1, Earth 2, Space: Above and Beyond, and a bunch of others that most of us have forgotten by now. In fact, TNG only overlapped B5 by what, one year?
  • Babylon 5 is hardly "back." Direct to DVD 20 minute character episodes hardly qualify as any sort of ressurection. As for the greatest sci-fi TV series of all time, for me it's a no-brainer: Doctor Who. And I'm not talking about the newer episodes, I'm taking about the series as a whole. Babylon 5 was great but it didn't instill the sort of eternal love that series like Doctor Who (and even Star Trek: the Next Generation to some degree) have. To this very day if I walked outside and saw a Dalek or Patrick S
    • "Actually I'm kind of pissed at the new Doctor Who. Not having any Daleks or any Time Lords (besides the Doctor of course) pretty much kills my two favorite races. I'm informed they can't really not have any more Dalek episodes though, after all, the man does travel through time and the Daleks are his greatest enemy. He's bound to run into Daleks in the past."


      I'm saying nothing :)

    • Actually I'm kind of pissed at the new Doctor Who. Not having any Daleks or any Time Lords (besides the Doctor of course) pretty much kills my two favorite races. I'm informed they can't really not have any more Dalek episodes though, after all, the man does travel through time and the Daleks are his greatest enemy. He's bound to run into Daleks in the past.

      So you missed the last 2 episodes of the recent series then?

      And the last episode of the first series?

      The daleks aren't going anywhere... there's scope f
      • Sigh, I have seen those episodes. But if what you say is true that sucks... bigtime. I don't want to run into more random single Daleks or crazy demented Daleks, I just want plain old Daleks.
  • Babylon 5 was okay (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bullfish ( 858648 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:16AM (#15784377)
    But what I really want to see revived is Space Above and Beyond. A far superior series to almost all the series mentioned above, well ahead of its time, and killed far too soon by a dumbass Fox.
    • by shudde ( 915065 )

      I absolutely worshipped Space A&B when I was a teenager, thought it was the best (albeit the shortest-lived) sci-fi show around. Recently I leeched a few of the episodes and found it dated, with simplistic themes and wooden acting. Characters I cared about in my youth now seem banal.

      As others have posted, it's probably a reflection on some of the truly brilliant sci-fi we've had in the last few years (my two cents: Farscape, Firefly, SG, BSG).

  • For Babylon 5 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaveZ ( 990332 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:36AM (#15784559)
    Babylon 5, love it or hate it. After few episodes you are addicted anyways.

    One episode doesnt give you any reason to be addicted, two gives you something, after three episodes you cant wait to see fourth, after fourth you find yourself thinking how PPG's really work, after fifth you have lost the count.

    Think about a show that has 110 episodes + pilot, where each and every episode are somehow connected. And I dont mean only those episodes that comes in a row, for example 18,19 and 20 would be connected, but I also mean episodes 8 and 75, 53 and 106... 106 and 75... 75 to each and every episode... etc... That is why I love this show, it only gets better more you watch it.

    After few episodes you can see the unavoidable faith of Babylon 5 and how the show is going to end, and that I think is the point of the story. You are given certain hints about the future, but you cant know whether it is true or not, or is it even possible.
    It is your job to find out.

    When the story continues, more hints are brought up, more moving parts inside machinery, more fire to the wheel. And most of all, you can see how the actions in the past had a consequence in the future (Or in the past...:).

    In series finale, you will realise how wrong you were time to time, and how great journey this series was. For the last minutes you can only cry for two reasons, because it is over, or just because you want to.

    Go get the DVD's, this show is definitely worth it.

  • by TheZorch ( 925979 ) <thezorch@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:11PM (#15784856) Homepage
    Yes, for its time B5 raised the bar on Sci-Fi the way Battlestar Galactica does now. The stories were well written, often interwoven with one another, and the characters were very complex. Even the villains are more than just "one dimensional" pure evil that needed to be destroyed (I beliece someone else also expressed this point).

    What hurt shows like ST: Voyager, Enterprise and so many others is that they let the exec interfere with the creative process. Fox wanted more sex on Voyager so they brought in Seven-of-Nine, though Jeri Ryan proved that she was more than just a nice set of boobs and was actually a very good actress. Oh, and don't get me started with T'Pal on Enterprise. She was a good actress also but she was cast for the role because she was top heavy. I'm not saying sex in Sci-Fi isn't bad, but its when the focus of the show is to show off some babe in a skin tight body suit I'd rather watch the Playboy channel. I want my sci-fi shows to have depth, and I'm not alone in this. Sadly, too many media execs think they know what we want even then we tell them what we want. Case in point; the fans demanded for a series featuring Sulu as the captain of the Excellceor, but they gave everyone Enterprise because that is what the execs thought was what was best for the fans rather than listening to what the fans asked for. They're doing it again with the new Star Trek movie. Yes, they are going ahead with the Starfleet Academy things where a young Kirk meets Spock at the academy.

    I also agress that Dr. Who was a great series. It is on record, with Guiness, as the longest running Sci-Fi TV series in history. Despite have an almost non-existant budget the producers of the series were still able to tell provocative stories which were sometimes totally unheard of in TV Sci-Fi. The new series does follow a similar formula though I'm disappointed a little by the fact that they dumped the serialization of the episodes.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.