Babylon 5 +1

B5 c

Back To Babylon

There comes a time in every venture when you reach a metaphorical crossroads.   You can cut your losses and head home, or you can gird your loins and commit to the road ahead.  Of course, there are those little side roads to the left and right that take you in a new direction altogether… and so it has been with Babylon 5.  At its heart was a tale spanning five-years or, as oft remarked – a novel for television.  It was, back in the day, a work of art of undeniable beauty… so long as you try and ignore the problems around commissioning of the fifth series that led to certain low points (Byron) and a somewhat ignaminious end.  However, it was groundbreaking, emotionally charged, intelligent, fascinating and entertaining storytelling.

However, the story of Babylon 5 has been peppered with decisions to take those little side roads.  There were the comics that had their little niche but were only okay.  There were the TV movies but these tended to be hit (In The Begining) or miss (Thirdspace).  There were the series of books that enabled a much deeper exploration of certain storylines that I thoroughly enjoyed.  There was Crusade, a sequel planned to last for another five-years of televisual treats that was beleaguered by the age old conflict between network and writers and petered out out after just half-a-season.  Then we got another movie, Legend of the Rangers, that was, well, awful.  And now we have The Lost Tales.

It is an odd thing.  There is clearly a limited budget and many of the scenes take place against fairly bland backdrops, although, having said that, the CGI elements were on the whole well presented.  The acting was okay, the production certainly recreated that Babylonian feeling enough to send a tingle up any fanboy’s spine, and even the DVD extras were reasonable (although no commentary is inexcusable).  Also, there was a nice little nod to Andreas Katsulas and Rick Briggs who had travelled “beyond the rim”.  So far, so reasonable.

The hour duration was divided into two, interlocking parts: first up was a tale of Lochley (Tracey Scoggins) who was detaining a person seemingly possessed by the devil, followed by a Sheridan tale (Bruce Boxleitner) who was being persuaded by Galen (Peter Woodward) to assassinate a Centauri ambassador to prevent some future catastrophe.  The problem that I had with these tales were that they didn’t explore or enrichen the Babylon 5 mythos, they simply seem to exist as curios down a little dead-end lane.  A line in the script asked whether this was the start of something or the end.  I still can’t tell but I kind of hope it’s an end if this is the standard we can expect.

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