Across the bridge which spans U.S. Highway 75 Central Expressway connecting the Southeast corner of Anna, Texas with the Southern City Limits my wife and I have met our mirror selves. As one would expect therefore, they have a DVD collection as extensive as ours with one distinct difference: Its *all* sci-fi. Identifying a hole in their collection, we loaned them Stargate: Atlantis and they loaned us the expansive Babylon 5 anthonlogy in which we immersed ourselves in their rich universe over the past three weeks. This is my report.
Anytime you surround yourself so completely within a cosmos you do not emerge unchanged. Given the 110 episodes, seven movies, and half season of a spin-off series in such a short period of time, my subconscious was inundated with images and machinations of various races at the political level, and it permeated every aspect of my sedate month-long hermitage.
At first, I was put off by its uncanny similarity to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the jarring computer graphics which made my molars ache. I'm not kidding - the graphics were so tangibly painful, it distracted me from the story - which was just as well, as the first several episodes were as goofy as the first season of Torchwood and we all know how *that* turned out. Soon enough though, the plot took root and the characters began coming to life in a very real way.
Despite the errant future-gadgetry which forked an altogether different direction in real life (they're still passing around the equivalent to floppy discs in the 23rd century for data retrieval) the political storylines are just as relevant to the current administration despite its age, and the socioeconomic challenges the various races encountered are also just as present today. Part of what made this series so watchable was its timelessness. Only the special effects were dated, not the story.
Had I to do it all over, this is how I would've watched the collection to maintain consistency within the timeline while bypassing spoilers:
- "The Gathering"
- Season 1-3
- Season 4, Episodes 1-6
- Season 4, Episodes 7-22
- "In the Beginning"
- Season 5, Episodes 1-21
- "River of Souls"
- "A Call to Arms"
- Crusade (Spin-off series)
- "The Lost Tales"
- Season 5, Episode 22
A comprehensive detailing of the score can be found here, "And so it begins..." (Liner notes contain spoilers). From the entry: "Babylon 5 may be the television series best represented on CD, with no less than thirty-one discs devoted to it."
If you like the rinse-wash-repeat everyplot of say...House, MD this series might not be for you. Each episode was unique, each distinct story arc seamlessly presented, and nothing rushed - its like curling up with a novel, every episode just another chapter in a larger book.