Babylon 5, a look back at a great Sci-fi television series.
Like most adults around my age television consumed a big part of my leisure time when I was a kid. Thinking back before the internet and computer networking I spent a great deal of time watching sci-fi shows on whatever channel my TV would catch. Of course the area I grow up in, at that particular time, had a very limited number of broadcasting stations. Cable TV had a better, but still limited selection as well. More to the point, one fall night I remember flipping throw the channels and finding a television show named "Babylon 5". I had never heard of it so I decided to give it a viewing. Luckily I happen to start the viewing at the beginning of the episode which was still in it's first season. After that first experience I was hooked. Because I was already a Trekkie, space age sci-fi was nothing new to me. If anything, I believe that being a Trekkie for years prior gave me a good base line for comparison.
My first impression of Babylon 5 was that it had its own flair, drama, suspense, mystery, action, and great computer generated graphics. Compared to todays standards it would be considered "old video gameish style graphics", but considering the time period in which the show was made the graphics were awesome.
The characters of this show are truly unique. Of course most of the characters were of some type of humanoid likeness. But each race has its own charisma. I would say that each race reminds me of some nationality that makes up todays world population. Religious fanatics, power driven bureaucrats, shady third world races, all wrapped around some kind of diplomatic alliance that couldn't be farther from the truth.
Two particulars that stand out about this show are the very believable politics and not so farfetched technology.
Seriously close to real world politics, this show bares an AWESOME likeness to current local and global politics complete with questionable politicians.
The technology showcased in the series is not too unthinkable and easily acceptable because of its basis on advanced physics and not so much on quantum physics (NOT Knocking Star Trek), but still leaving a chance for imagination. One can ask "What's the different?" my answer is "Watch the series".
Fast forwarding to current times, after watching all the seasons and "made for television" Babylon 5 movies, produced by TNT, I have to say this television series is truly an original and should rank up there with "Star Wars", "Star Trek", and "Stargate".
Babylon 5 is in the Genies Book of World Records for being the first TV Show to feature 3D "CG" models. Guinness World Records 2010 "The Book of the Decade" Art & Media Special Effects page 210. This show first premiered on February 22, 1993 - 1998.
Babylon 5 Station
Key Characters Review....
Commander Jeffrey Sinclair
Babylon 5 Station Commander in season 1. Played by Michael O'Hare. Cmdr. Sinclair was the key in ending the Earth-Minbari war which almost wiped out humanity. Captured by the Minbari during the war Minbari leaders discover, like themselves, humans have a soul. Later in the story Sinclair becomes a Mimbair leader of the past named Valen. Chosen by the Minbari to run Babylon 5, they plan to observe him to figure out his role in Mimbair history.
Captain John Sheridan
Captain John Sheridan - Babylon 5 Station Commander, seasons 2-4, Played by Bruce Boxleitner. Sinclair's replacement as commander to Babylon 5, Sheridan was the only Earth Captain in the Earth-Minbari War to ever defeat a Minbari war cruiser. The Minbari protest his appointment as commander to Babylon 5. Over time He develops a close personal relationship with the Minbari Ambassador Delenn. Later Sheridan plays a pivotal role restoring balance to all life in the galaxy.
Michael Garibaldi - Chief of Station Security, seasons 1-4. Played by Jerry Doyle. His job keeps him in the middle of almost every happening on the station, both personal and professional. Always trying to do the right thing, Mr. Garibaldi past engages himself into a life changing internal struggle.
Commander Susan Ivanova
Susan Ivanova - Lieutenant Commander of Babylon 5, seasons 1-4. Played by Claudia Christian. Commander Ivanova is in charge of Babylon 5's Operations and CNC (Command and Communications). Secretly a latent telepath, Susan Ivanova has a deep hatred for the Psi Corp, the result of her telepathic mother becoming a victim of the Psi Corps strict rules.
Dr. Stephen Franklin
Dr. Stephen Franklin - Chief Medical Officer. Played by Richard Biggs. The son of a military general well known for his many successful campaigns envolving the elimination of alien threats, Dr. Franklin passionately fights to save lives regardless if the life is alien or human.
Captain Elizabeth Lochley - Babylon 5 Station Commander, season 5. Played by Tracy Scoggins. Personally picked by Sheridan to replace his command as station Commander. Captain Lochley was on the side of Earth Force during Sheridan's war to unseat President Clark. As a result, her appointment is resented by many on Babylon 5, especially Garibaldi. The big mystery is why did Sheridan picked her to replace him.
Talia Winters - Registered Commercial Telepath. Played by Andrea Thompson. Loyal to the Psi Corp, Talia is regarded as an outcast to the rest of the command staff of Babylon 5. Their is an on going conflict between Telepaths and "mundanes" (non-telepathic people), that reaches far beyond Babylon 5. Talia's unquestioning faith in the Psi Corp makes her even more of a threat.
Lyta Alexander - Rogue Telepath. Played by Patricia Tallman. One of the very few telepaths to ever break with the Psi Corp, Lyta is drawn to the Vorlons, an extremely advanced private race with a touch of a god complex. She becomes the only person, human or alien, to ever visit the Vorlon home world and return, but at a cost.
Marcus Cole - Ranger. Played by Jason Carter. A reluctant hero, Marcus joined the Rangers and their fight against the darkness for all the wrong reasons. He helps to bridge a gab between life and honor between Humans and Minbari. Unexpectedly, he finds happiness and faith in someone he falls in love with.
Zack Allan - Security Officer. Chief of Station Security, season 5. Played by Jeff Conaway. An acquaintance of Garibaldi, Zach is in need of a break and someone to take a chance with him. He is hired as station security personal. Later he becomes Garibaldi's right hand man.
Ambassador from the planet Minbar. Played by Mira Furlan. Openly, Delenn is an ambassador from the planet Minbar. Secretly she is head of the Grey Council and one of the most powerful leaders of the Minbari race. Along with the Vorlon ambassador Kosh, Delenn is the only person who knows what is behind all the hostilities between the warring planets of the League of Non Aligned Worlds. For the longest time she carries this knowledge alone as she secretly builds an organization of ships and Rangers in preparation for the coming darkness. In time her relationship with Captain Sheridan grows and they are force to come face to face with their own fears. Finding strength in each other they shares command of this secret force and lead the largest force ever assembled in the history of the galaxy against the Shadows.
Lennier - Ambassadorial aide to Delenn. Played by Bill Mumy. Lennier is totally devoted to and secretly, hopelessly in love with Delenn. As personal aide to Delenn, Lennier becomes privy to all her secrets, good and bad, and stands by her through it all. When Delenn and Sheridan finally marry, Lennier's unrequited love for her gets the best of him and in a moment of weakness makes a decision he cannot forgive himself for.
G'Kar - Ambassador from the planet Narn. Played by Andreas Katsulas. G'Kar transforms from a revengeful, war mongering bully on the brink of self destruction to an enlightened peacemaker and eventual savior of the planet Narn. Always at odds with his nemesis Londo Mollari of the planet Centauri Prime, G'Kar had to make the impossible journey from hatred of his world's invading oppressors (the Centauri), to pitying them for following his race down the same path to destruction. This is my favorite character of the show.
Londo Mollari - Ambassador from the planet Centauri Prime. Played by Peter Jurasik. The Centauri lived for their Republic first before their personal life. The position of ambassador appointed to Londo was regarded by the Royal Court as a joke. The were glad to give it to Londo to get rid of him. With his pride wounded, all of Londo's decisions subsequently were designed to regain his pride and reputation, even if it cost millions of lives..
Vir Cotto - Ambassadorial aide to Londo Mollari. Played by Stephen Furst. The character of Vir was certainly a difficult one. A true devoted Centauri but at the same time a compassionate individual - not a quality you would want to brag about as a Centauri. Always the moral compass to the amoral Londa Mollari, Vir always had faith in Londo despite his many selfish decisions and always believed that in the end Londo would do right by his people. Despite his good judgment and due to his association with Londo, Vir finds himself in many situations where he must make choices no one should ever have to make.
During the airing of Babylon 5 many guess star roles pop up. Here are some guest stars on the show that are well known. Tristan Rogers (Robert Scarpio from ABC's General Hospital) had a brief one time appearance during the first season. Walter Koenig (Mr. Pavel Chekov from the original Star Trek series and movies). Koenig had a important plot character that guess stars multiple times throw out the series.
(left)Tristan Roger & (right)Walter Koenig
Season 1 has more independent episodes than the following seasons. This maybe in part to all of the introductions to the main characters and the parts each partakes in the story as a whole. Imagine the entire Babylon 5 story is one big block of ice. Take an ice pick and chisel away on the block. All the pieces that come flying off are the episodes to season 1. Why do I use that analogy? What and why the mystery that surrounds Commander Sinclair? How deep is the PSI corps corrupted influence going in the higher levels of whose government? What really happen to the Babylon 4 station? Who is this creepy evil looking man named Morgan? These are just some of the pieces of the puzzle that play out in later series. Not to forget the day-to-day operations and mysteries that comes with Babylon 5. The writer of this story as a whole did an excellent job of bringing complex layers together.
Season 2 begins with a changing of the guard. Commander Sinclair is immediately reassigned to Minbar as an ambassador for Earth. Taking his place is Captain John Sheridan, a battleship captain who aspires to be a exploration ship captain. From this point in the story the plot evolves and thicken. The corruption in "Earther" government is confirmed; the fall of 2 races, and the line between light and darkness is drawn. London's 1888 murderer Jack the ripper? A glimpse at a Vorlon. Who are the Rangers?
The universe comes to a crossroad. Evidence of Earth Gov's corruption surfaces bringing forth a rebellion. The war against the "Shadows" begins. How does the Great War of a thousand years past affect the Great War now? What is a "White Star"? Who is "Ranger 1"?
The first races are gone and the galaxy should be a place of peace and equality. Trouble shakes the foundation of the peace process in Babylon 5. Captain Sheridan is forced to address the civil war conflict that has been intensifying as attentions were turned toward the "Shadows War". The Minbari Religious cast and Worrier cast are on the verge of their own civil war. The decides made during the "Earth-Minbari War" and preparation actions for the "Shadows War" come back full circle. It is in this season is where character evolution begins to became visible.
The League of None Aligned Worlds has been dissolved. A new Alliance has been formed with Captain Sheridan as the newly appointed Alliance President. An evil Shadows ally brings disarray to all members of the Alliance. What I like best about this season is it brings closure to the Babylon 5 station and story characters.
Interesting to me in the fifth season, their is a episode named 'Day of the Dead'. This is an episode named for a religious holiday practiced by a race named the "Ba'Curi". A comet passes by the station with these mysterious energies emanating from it. The Ba'Curi outline a part of the station and invokes another energy and the holiday begins. If you are in this zone then one person will visit you from the dead that you know. The living doesn't get to choose who they see. What will this dead visitor tell you? Will if be wisdom or will it be warning? This holiday last for hours and outside disruptions are not likely.
The complete Babylon 5 production was a collaborated effect from PTEN (Prime Time Entertainment Network), Babylonian Productions, the TNT Cable Network, and Warner Brothers distribution. Also, PTEN and Warner Brothers produced Kung Fu The Legend Continues, (an article coming soon), another good series that to the best of my knowledge is not available for any digital media purchase.