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|Index||51 reviews in total|
The tribulations associated with the production of this show were a drama
and of themselves, and anyone who doesn't know the history should check it
out. The first episodes are not representative of the original vision Mr.
JMS had for Crusade. The last episodes were actually the first ones
and intended to launch the series.
There are actually some sad parallels to the problems Gene Roddenberry had with NBC in trying to get Star Trek made. The NBC execs thought the Star Trek pilot (The Cage) was too brainy. They wanted the regular series plots dumbed down and more action added. As they say, the one thing we learn from history is that no one seems to learn from history.
Given the success of Babylon 5 and the fact that B5 fans were greatly anticipating Crusade, it was a business fiasco for TNT's execs to presume to tamper with something they didn't understand. Unfortunately, tamper they did, and we have been forced to live with the consequences of an unfulfilled vision. Compare Crusade's "Racing the Night", the intended first episode, with "War Zone" to see the result of TNT's meddling. Notice the utterly unnecessary fight scene in "War Zone". Also, notice that the Rangers disappeared entirely from the TNT-influenced episodes.
TNT's final insult was in trying to foist this off as a "special limited series". Since when do you introduce an audience to a story and a bunch of characters, then deliberately fail to finish what you've started? Curiosity prevented me from not watching. Now I'm stuck wondering about what might have been.
I was especially intrigued by the storyline involving Gideon and the mysterious "apocalypse box". JMS never let characters get away with cheating, as Gideon was clearly doing by consulting the force controlling the box. I'd really like to know what fate was in store for Gideon as recompense for taking shortcuts to success. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to make up my own ending to this story.
If allowed to develop unobstructed, Crusade could have been a classic series. In spite of TNT's interference, there were still flashes of brilliance in the few episodes that were produced. Instead, it seems that Crusade is doomed to occupy a place in sci-fi history as a memorial to what might have been.
In talking about Crusade, one must first recognize the fact that we are
talking about a series that was cut short before it even aired. Only 13
episodes were produced of the show and of those 13 a handful do not do the
series or its predecessor, Babylon 5 justice.
True to form J. Michael Stracynski (hereby referred to as "JMS") set about to tell us a story, albeit one not as tightly plotted as Babylon 5 or as driven by multiple story arcs, but a story nonetheless. A story meant to further the Babylon 5 universe, but a story that was cut short.
Similar to what JMS did with Babylon 5, the first season episodes of Crusade set up A LOT of what was going to be dealt with later on in the series. The result is that these episodes, on a whole, are mediocre at times, because they lacked the effect of having a later episode revisit some themes set up there and bring them to fruition. Several first (and second) season episodes of Babylon 5 seemed mediocre at the time, but when revisited after watching later seasons, they became gems of foreshadowing, plot development, minor details, etc. all of which added to the show.
But, I'm dwelling on the past and like so many others, disregarding the fact that this show is a good example of quality television in and of itself. With only 13 episodes, JMS did set up a whole sub-section of the Babylon 5 universe, showed us new areas to explore, reunited us with some old friends, sowed the seeds of what was to be a very interesting plot development, and even poked fun at the X-Files (fans of that show take heart, JMS and Chris Carter are good friends and it was done more as a homage than to criticize the show).
One of JMS' strengths is in his characters. These are people who are flawed, who are crude, dishonest, have secrets in their past, but still work together and are the team I'd want looking for a cure were we to be infected with a plague like the Drahk one.
Captain Matthew Gideon is perhaps the most flawed. He's a gambler, he doesn't take anything from anyone, he's angry over the loss of a ship he served on, but most of all he's determined. For all that though, he's not one to jump into things head on, he more prefers to have an ace up his sleeve. That `ace' being, at least some of the time, his mysterious `Apocolypse Box,' which started sowing seeds of doubt.
Lieutenant Matheson is the upstanding officer on the ship, loyal to a fault. He's a telepath left with the burden of proving to the world that telepaths don't need an organization to police them, as the Psi-Corp once did. He's got the sword of Damocles above his head and a past history of violence against the Corp.
Doctor Chambers wasn't given much time to develop, but like Dr. Franklin on B5, she cares about her patients and is willing to do what it takes.
Max Eilerson is the resident archeologist, linguist, and pain in the butt. He seems to annoy just about everyone and yet, he's indispensable. Just because he's searching for a cure to save every man, woman, child, and alien on Earth doesn't mean he can't find a way to get rich out of the deal...
Which brings us to Dureena, the thief with a code of honor. Dureena is trustworthier than Eilerson, despite her background. She does provide the important role of being the one person who can pick locks, sneak in and out of places, and search alien worlds for the cure.
Finally, there's Galen, who is the most interesting. He's a Technomage, which means he uses science and technology to simulate magic. That means he's the one with the ability to save the crew and spy on them when needed. He rescued Gideon 10 years in the past, when his ship was destroyed and now cares for him as if Gideon were a stray cat he took in and yet more times than not, it seems he needs Gideon more than Gideon needs him.
It's a shame all this potential was left in the limbo good shows go when they are taken off the air. Even more so when you learn how the first season was to end. Without spoiling things (in the case of some miracle resurrecting the series), it seems that a lot more people than we thought are using the Shadow tech that the virus is based on. President Clark's Shadow enhanced ships in `Between the Darkness and the Light' was just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, it's a lot more recent use of Shadow technology than another group in the Babylon 5 universe that bases what they do on that same technology. The former group, at the end of the season though, was willing to protect their secret use of the Shadow tech at any cost.
For now though, we are left with 13 episodes, most of which do make for good television as stand-alone episodes. And yet, they could have been so much more...
I've read a lot of the comments, and I see an overwhelming trend here:
people don't know what they're talking about. Crusade is NOT a bad show.
It is an excellent show, and a worthy addition to the B5 universe. It was
originally scheduled to air after the movie "A Call To Arms", and the
episode was to be "Racing The Night". They had 5 episodes ready and were
about to film more when TNT paused production. They wanted serious
to the show: new uniforms, more violence, more sex. They forced JMS to
write a new pilot, "War Zone" with ridiculous requirements, such as a
fistfight in the opening.
He later refused to add more sex and a 'sexual explorer', so TNT canceled the show after 13 episodes were filmed. The show was canceled before it even aired. It was not canceled because it was bad, but because TNT made it bad. They did eventually air it, but totally out of order. If you ignore "War Zone" and watch the other 12, it's a great show. The show clearly has an arc, and it was about to begin when the show was canceled. Hopefully the SCI-FI channel will pick it up in the future and continue this great series.
Crusade was an excellent show and a very worth successor to Babylon 5. The premise was original and exciting, picking up where the last Babylon 5 movie (A Call to Arms) left off. But sadly Crusade was cancelled... before a single episode even aired. Why? Because series creator JMS would not put in what TNT wanted (example: lots of sex). Sadly it's true. The 13th episode was the last and no renewal is in sight. A lot of the episodes were pretty good. I curse TNT for cancelling this science fiction gem. Hopefully, some day, a SMART network will revive the show.
Beyond Babylon 5 there's another war and it begin in the edge of the heart of a group of people trying to find a cure to save earth, that's Crusade, a Babylon 5 spin off. It's not the classic story of the space explorers, it's about how hard can be our present when we have some unfinished business with our past. That's make the characters the most important thing of all, everyone with his secrets and own private war making the story more complex. In a just a few episodes Straczynsky goes far beyond B5 not only taking many unsolved mysteries from his first saga, also with good actors and amazing scripts. Forgetting Warzone as first episode and watching the real one, Racing the night, it's become clear the salvation of the people of earth it's just a piece of the whole jigsaw where only a few have a real chance to survive. It's shame what happen with TNT cos Crusade is one of the best underrated scifi shows with many things to explore.
Crusade was a bold step in another direction for the ultra successful
Babylon 5 TV series. Set up in the prologue movie 'A Call to Arms' and
taking place 5 years after B5 ends, Crusade follows the crew of the
experimental destroyer Excalibur in a search for a cure from a deadly
plague which is slowly killing the Earth, something in itself is amazing.
Not many shows would cut off mankind's homeworld for the sake of a story,
and in doing so lifted Crusade to a new level of Sci Fi.
The Excalibur is a mixture of Minbari, Vorlon and Earth technology, and resembles the Liberator from Blake's 7. The highlight of the ship has to be the Main Guns which converts all of the ship's energy into one savage laser beam, but renders the ship without power for one minute as it recharges. J. Michael Strackzynski, the show's creator, is a forward thinker, so much so that this ship was first mentioned back in Babylon 5's 5th season episode 'Movement of Fire & Shadow'.
Season One was a mixed bag. Lasting only 13 episodes due to a conflict with JMS and broadcaster TNT, there were only a handful of episodes that stood out. Out of those made, 'Racing the Night' was arguably the best. A desperate species suffering from the same plague as Earth, using any means necessary to find a cure; this episode posed more questions than people think. Had the series continued, it was promised the show would have taken on a new aspect, and the plague wouldn't have been the only thing the crew should be worried about...
All in all the show was definitely killed off before it's time. It had potential to rival or even surpass Babylon 5 in terms of excellence, but it seems we'll never know.
To compare Crusade and/or Babylon 5 to shows like "Space, Above And
or "Lost in Space" is absurd! Babylon 5 was far above any other sci-fi
series ever made. The special effects were state of the art and
spectacular. The characters were superb, the stories ingenious and
was masterfully done.
The break from the usual "resolve everything in 40 minutes" mindset was refreshingly absent in B5. You never knew when a regular was going to buy the farm, which made it much more interesting. There was a darker tone to the show at times, which may have put off devotees of the aforementioned "formula" shows. The classic battle of good and evil, coupled with an extremely adept job of portraying the slimy world of politics and corruption of governments was a delight.
I'm just sorry it is no longer being made.
To those of you who only saw it when broadcast on TNT, the broadcast "opener" was not in fact the true opening episode. The series is now being rebroadcast in the order in which it was intended by Sci-Fi Channel, and after only a week it remains far more satisfying than it was two years ago. The story detailed on all the chatrooms at the time. Basically, B5 was bought for TNT by the people who bought re-broadcast rights, but supervision for Crusade was taken over by people who supervised original series and evidently didn't like it -- they were into westerns. They wanted a new character added, a female who 'explored' other species sexually. They were responsible for the change in uniforms, and they demanded a new opener, one which gave away too much. JMS went as far as he could, then told them to stuff it. They took 13 episodes, no more, and at the time the Sci Fi channel had committed its financial future to Farscape. I liked Farscape -- now I love it -- but I LOVE Crusade. Watch the series as it is broadcast here, and write Sci-Fi asking if they can't get new episodes. Marjean Holden may be trapped in Beastmaster, but I suspect the other actors would jump at the chance to play such complex characters.
After some slow and rather uneventful episodes, this show later showed some
promise and developed into an interesting Science Fiction
Of course, it is lacking the sophisticated story arc of Babylon 5, but many episodes are fun! It is nice to watch them and you want to know what happens next. In my eyes, it is Star trek Voyager done better.
The characters are of different quality: The Captain with his mysterious Boom Tube as an advisor gets better every episode, and Technomage Galen is simply wonderful. Archeologist Eilerson does not fail to convince as an arrogant scientist. The other characters are far less interesting.
Even so, I am rather sad that TNT decided to cancel the show without ever waiting for spectators approval. Some of the 13 episodes were excellent, and I do sincerely hope that they will be able to continue someday in the future.
Alright, ready for this? I've watched B5 since before it was a series, watching the movie every time it came on th'tube. I hooked everyone I could who likes sci-fi on it and in it. When I caught a whiff of the coming of Crusade I was beside myself with joy. The Rangers concept excites me. :) Didn't hurt that I had an emotional attachment to the Rangers I had already encountered in the B5 universe. I didn't know quite what to think about the Technomage thing, having had limited and unpleasant exposure to them on B5. Lordy, was I in for a pleasant surprise on that note! Then came the news that TNT were being pig-head and flighty again. This always tends to bite them in the backside, otherwise their network would be on my tv constantly (sporting events aside; I find those just irksome, especially when they disturb my weekly viewing pleasures - that's hearlded the death of many good shows on th'tube). So we were only going to get teased with a single season of this show. Major Bummer! It's been wonderful to have a show so in depth and versitile NOT set in the blasted Star Trek universe. (Don't take that wrong, I'm a trekkie, too - but to me, B5 and Crusade hold a spot closer to my heart; Star Trek has never made me cry.) Despite the continued depressing news (no future home for a second season <or more> for Cursade) I, along with countless others, tuned in to the show. Someone else in these comments compared it to Space: Above and Beyond. To me, that's like comparing it to Earth2. It just doesn't. You could only compare it to ST & B5... and maybe Starship Troopers. Though it had a rough start (ala B5 finding it's footing), it quickly captured diehards like myself - and newbies. Yeah, I got some MORE people hooked on it. :) I would say the most popular characters in my lil'world would be Galen, Dureena and Gideon. Previously, Technomages seems to be just pompous evil lil'men with dreams of grandeur. Now I know some of them have souls, and hearts. Dureena didn't interest me at all at first, but I've come to trust and even admire th'lil'thief. :) She's uber-kewL, as the saying goes. Then there's Gideon. I've never really watched Gary Cole do anything before, at least I've not paid attention to him in particular. I will from here on out. He's the really quirky one in the cast, in my opinion. But I believe that's why his character is singled out for this mission. His unconventional manner tends to save his own hide, why not the rest of humanity along with it?! When your options are few, why not consider the seemingly impossible. The chemistry between the three of the characters and actors makes the show. I would personally like to shoot Eilerson off into space myself, though. Lt. Matheson has a lotta potential, too, being a telepath on such an unconventional crew. Possibilies are/were endless, truely, once you actually sit and consider the show. So much space in the universe, so little time. Well, now the show is over. No big fanfare saying "last chance to catch the magic that is..." ...no warning... I knew it was coming, but it was such a crushing disappointment (exclusively in TNT). If, by some chance, you get the opportunity to see taped episodes (or some network DOES pick it up, tho don't hold your breath), see if I'm not right in the things that I've said. It is a MISTAKE and crime against the sci-fi/fantasy community to kill off such a wonderful creation.
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