Babylon 5

I watched the movie/premier of this and absoultely HATED IT. Amy and I (and David and I and Dan and I and Terri and I) watched the occastional season 1 ep and HATED IT. But then, we saw the season 2 premier and realized we could maybe get to like it. They are showing season 4 here in Australia and Iíve seen all of those, but enjoy it anyway!. Oh, and then they introduced a cute guy, but I was already watching so, nyeah!

Ivanova's Babylon 5 Mantra

"Humans and aliens wrapped in 2,500,000 tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place but it's our last, best hope for peace. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5."

It takes a brave show to try to crack the strnglehold the Star Trek dynasty has on TV sci-fi. Many have tried, few have measured up. Babylon 5 is one of the better challengers.

Babylon 5 is a five-mile-long space station located deep in neutral space and serves as an intergalactic version of the UN. It's called Babylon 5 because it's the fifth and last of the Babylon stations. the first three were destroyed by sabotage and the fourth just disappeared off the map. "So why build a fifth?" its commander is asked. "Just plain old himan stubbornness," is the reply.

The station's primary function is to host critical talks aimed at establishing lasting peace in a galaxy that as seen many yearsof conflict between the five major solar systems: Earth Alliance, Minbari Federation, Narn Regime, Centauri Republic and Vorlon Empire.

Ambassadors and diplomats from each government are present, including Earth's representative Jeffrey Sinclair, who also acts as Babylon 5's reluctant commander.

And while there may be no stranger breed of creature than politicians, the presence of some 250,000 inhabitants means their squabbles are just the tip of an iceberg. The station is a port of call for refugees, smugglers, businessmen and travelers from a hundred worlds. Here, alien cultures clash in a dark domain of suspicion and betrayal--clearly defined in the pilot story, in which the delicate new peace is threatened by a shape-shifting hit man who tries to assassinate the newly arrived Vorlon ambassador and pin the blame on Sinclair.

Sinclair is former fighter pilot, haunted by his experiences in the Earth-Minbari war ten years previously. He's happy to leave most of the day-today running of the station to his ambitious and hot-headed second in comman, Susan Ivanova. Michael Garibaldi is the station's sardonic security chief, and the human contingent of stars is completed by the dedicated medical officer, Dr. Stephen Franklin, and a telepath, Talia Winters.

The principal alien ambassadors are Delenn, a bald but elegant Minbari (whose secret mission is to guard agains Sinclair remembering the truth about 24 "lost" hours of his war experience against the Minbari); Londo Mollari, a drinking, gambling, womanising Centaruan in a silly suit and a clown-like haircut; G'Kar, a calculating, reptilian Narn with the morals of a snake; and the mysterious Vorlon, Kosh, who remains hidden inside a bizarre costume that acts as a mobile life-support system called an exoskeleton. Also along for the ride is sixties sci-fi "veteran" Bull Mumy, aka Will Robinson of Lost in Space, as a Minbari attache, while his Lost in Space mom, June Lockhart, also makes a guest appearance. Andreas Katsulas, who plays G'Kar, had earlier played Romulan commander Tomalak in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The aliens look impressive--and so do the special effects, even if it does seem at times as if you're watching two different series. For exterior sequences are realized not by models, but in a super-slick computer generated spacescape, including a dramatic Star Gate [Jump Gate!], a portal in space where ships emerge from hyperspace. It's the nearest thing to a wormhole this side of Deep Space Nine.

In the beginning, it was easy to get hung up on the similarities between B5 and its Trek rival. But Straczynski has always maintained that his project dates back to 1998, and as the series has progressed, it's clear that his vision of the future is much darker.

In many ways, Babylon 5 is still SFTV's best-kept secret. While The X-Files has exploded the Star Trek dynasty's grip on the hearts and minds of teh media, B5 has quietly turned itself into a proper epic, with a structured beginning, middle and end. Its dark corners, troubled minds and sinister plots have brought the scale of a novel to television. Indeed, Stravzynski has admitted being inspired by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings in his theme of good vs. evil and light vs. dark. Straczynski's story arc is scheduled to run for five years, and the series' survival beyond the ratings-sensitibe first season has allowed him the freedom to explore that arc to the full. Characters come and go--principally Sinclair, who was replaced as commander of Babylon 5 by Captain John Sheridan, played by Bruce Boxleitner, previously best-known for his role in The Scarecrow and Mrs. King. But Sinclair remained in the backfround, on Minbar, returning in Season Three as an important figure in the battle aginst the Shadows.

And while the Trek characters generally remain constant, B5's regulars grow and change--literally in the case of Delenn, whose transformation into a human/Minbari hybrid advanced the whole plot cycle. And as the narn-Centauri conflict escalated, the calculating G'Kar became a real figure of pathos, a tragic hero, while the clownish Londo became a scheming billain. And Vir quietly gained in stature, becoming a Centauri at odds with is people's aggressive streak.

And though the dialogue is frequently corny (sample: "General Hague is coming and Hell is coming with him!"), Babylon 5 is rarely boring, which is more than can be said for Star Trek: Voyager in its early seasons.

---------------------------The Sci-Fi Chaannel Encyclopedia of TV SCIENCE FICTION
---------------------------Warner Books, 1997 by Roger Fulton & John Betancourt

If you have any questions or comments you think I could help with!