Babylon 5 (TV Series 1994–1998) Poster


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Intense, breathtaking, incredible . . .
LiamABC23 March 2005
Well, what to say? For starters, I'm a die-hard Classic Star Trek fan, who had until recently been aware of B5 without ever having seen it. Then, about four months ago, my best friend lent me his B5 DVDs of season 1. And I have to admit, I'm impressed.

To be fair, it took a little while - I was a little wary at first, but it quickly grew on me. Once I got a feel for what was going on, and how the characters worked, yes. It grabbed me. I especially liked Jeffrey Sinclair as a leader-type - someone more thoughtful than your bog-standard action-hero.

Then, after a long wait, my friend lent me seasons 2-4. Again, I was a little wary at first; it had been a while since I'd seen season 1, and I knew that Sinclair had been replaced by John Sheridan. Out of the two leaders, I prefer Sinclair, and for the first few episodes of season 2, I was unconvinced. Then, about a third of the way in, the pace quickened up - considerably. And while I still prefer Sinclair as a leader, by about episode 8 of season 2, I found that I didn't have the time to miss him, things were moving that quickly, there were so many plots unravelling . . .

And therein lies the hook. The amount of detail is extraordinary, the way all the characters and plots became intertwined is amazing. The series is so intense - I was watching up to eight or nine episodes a day, for a week solid! And might I say again, I was a Star Trek fan who had never seen B5 before in my life! As many people before me have said, this show isn't a nice neat everything-gets-resolved-in-the-space-of-one-episode type. Details get carried over. There are long story-arcs. There are things happening all the time. Everything has a reason. You see an insignificant detail in season 1, suddenly it is explained in season 3 as being very relevant for reasons you didn't even know about back in the first season.

If there is one stumbling block for B5, I would have to say that some of the computer-generated images (CGI) are not always up to standard. This is especially true of planet surfaces, in particular Mars. But that's quibbling. The key to good science-fiction is believability. The characters have to act as if the basic premise of the series is perfectly normal to them. That's what makes it work. That's why in the original series of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry made a point of not explaining the workings of anything. For example, Captain Kirk picks up a phaser and fires it without stopping to explain what it was or what it did - after all, in a contemporary series, nobody goes out of their way to say how a gun. We know how it works - so by watching Kirk fire his phaser, we understand implicitly that it is a weapon. The same principle applies in B5 - although to a lesser degree.

Moving on to the acting - this show was blessed with some wonderful people. In particular, Mira Furlan as Delenn is worth watching; she is possessed of a presence and an aura most actors can only dream of. She is one of those people that when she is speaking, becomes the absolute centre of attention without really trying. Also, as stated above, I am a fan of Cmdr Sinclair - and I think Michael O'Hare's portrayal of him is wonderfully underplayed. It would have been so easy just to play him as an action-hero, but no. I really do miss that character. Another favourite would have to be Stephen Furst as Vir - DS9 fans just think Rom, and you're halfway there. Not to mention the "odd couple" of Peter Jurasik (Londo) and Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar) - wonderful.

Actually, that's another point - the aliens. The aliens in B5 are more real than the aliens in Star Trek. Their agendas are much better fleshed out. We understand the whys and wherefores much more than the stereotypes of so many Star Trek races (and remember I'm a longterm Star Trek fan). To use Trek parallels, the Minbari are like the Vulcans and Bajorans combined in temperament, the Centauri are probably most comparable to the Cardassians, and the Narns, well, I'd say Klingons, but that's selling them short. Klingon-Bajoran, perhaps. Any hardcore B5 fans offended by those descriptions - sorry, I'm just using them as guidelines to the uninitiated Trek fans. These B5 races are much more real, less stereotyped. (Although the less said about the Drazi, the better!) To summarise, then - I think this is the best sci-fi since Original Star Trek. Watch this show! Star Trek fans will not be disappointed!
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Great Maker!
epsilon314 November 2002
Babylon 5 is the greatest science fiction show in the history of television.

A bold statement I know, especially when one considers the original series of Star Trek which is certainly the genre's most celebrated. It's true to say that Star Trek has had a much greater cultural impact and has lasted longer than any other SF show, but when watching it again, it has dated. I'm not questioning the brilliance of some early episodes - they're still well written and thought provoking - season 1 of the old series is still fantastic. However, Babylon 5 is the Star Trek for today in that it deals with issues in a modern context. Whereas ST was a bunch of cleverly disguised morality plays about 1960's issues like communism, nuclear war and racial prejudice, B5 deals with social control, economics, war, governmental corruption, social psychology and spirituality. Although the issues discussed in Star Trek haven't gone away, they're not foremost in the psyche of mr average anymore.

Alongside the fact that B5 discusses issues at the forefront, it has many other virtues. The main one is that the story continues from episode to episode - even now when I re-watch season one (just released on DVD) I can see events taking shape that will lead to major plotlines in future years. I'm not just talking about Data gradually becoming more human or Worf tussling with the dying Kilingon Empire every 7 or 8 episodes ... I'm talking about characters and plots that can be seen to be evolving each week without an obvious good guys vs bad guys scenario.

I can't remember how many times I've watched a B5 episode and had a flashback to an earlier one - the sudden realisation of the importance of an event that seemed insignificant is very satisfying. Even in the 5th series, you'll be thinking back to an episode in series 1 and feeling smug that you got it.

'Ahhhh! That's what it meant!' You'll be saying that a lot.

The characters are wonderfully fleshed out by some great actors. They're complex beings who have to deal with temptations and failings as well as triumphs and successes. Sometimes things go deeply wrong and (get this Trek Fans) IT'S NOT SORTED OUT BY THE END OF THE EPISODE!! That's right - people change realistically - everything's not reset each week! Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge Trek fan myself, but it's always irked me that everything is just so hunky dory (don't people have arguments on the enterprise?)

It's very satisfying to see a character that you've come to know and love wrestle with their morals and sometimes make the wrong choices (just like we all do.) In the end, we all knew the various crewmembers of the Enterprise would do the right thing. You can't say the same for the characters on B5 - they're fallible and thus much more interesting.

There's many other great things about the show, but for me, the story and the characters are the most important. Sure, I know it doesn't look as expensive as Star Trek and yes I know it's hard to get into because it's not a whole load of 'one shot' episodes! If you like Star Trek and consider yourself intelligent - step up to the next level and watch B5!

I guarantee that if you stick with it for a while, you'll be glad you did because the payoffs are enormous. If My girlfriend can like it - anyone can....
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Take it from me; it's brilliant. Full Stop.
baartwyk21 July 2004
B5 is in all respects a revolutionary piece of work. It was the first SF TV-series that actually had all the episodes and story-arcs in place before shooting(as opposed to StarTrek and the likes). Although I have always been a Trekkie I consider Babylon-5 to be much better. This is SF on TV as you would read it in a good book. The actors do a fine job(especially Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasic) and although almost all of the aliens are of humanoid shape they manage to behave quite alien sometimes.

This is required watching for every self-respecting ScienceFiction-fan. In that respect it is on a par with StarWars and StarTrek.

B-5 just goes deeper that the Paramount-format or the eternal battle of good versus evil. In B-5 there are hardly any absolute evil creatures, all the characters have their dark side, just like you and me.

It was a miracle that Warner Bros was so supportive of JMS. You can tell by the result that this was somewhat of a lovebaby. I wonder how many years it will be before something better will be made, I fear it will take years and years to top this series.
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The High-Water Mark of Science Fiction/Fantasy!
RadioactiveRat14 January 2005
WOW is the word which best describes this program! It is an epic story of legends in a world that is believable interpretation of the future two and a half centuries from now. It is set in a world where humans are now a space faring race, capable of crossing the galaxy in months using a technology called a Jumpgate. The people of Earth have at this point come together in corporation to form a world government known as EarthGov. The humans aren't alone; they occupy the universe with mysterious races like the Vorlons, Shadows, and Minbarie. The leading heroes, Jeffery Sinclair and John Sheridan are captains in EarthForce, but they soon prove to be much more. I dare not enter into the plot since it is redundant on account of it being available at this site and elsewhere. All I will say about the plot is that over its five years, it is an extremely wealthy arc of sadness, joy, comedy, and horror! It is also not without substance, full of philosophy about life, existence, war, and hope. Each episode represents a coherent story, but incomplete since each builds upon the rest. The series is essentially an extended mini-series. Like Star Trek before it, most if not all episodes are constructed with a moral or lesson attached to it. Each episode also addresses some aspect of real human experience. The quest for power, revenge, love, and corporate power to mention a few. I believe that the episodes "Z'HA'DUM", "War Without End 1 & 2", "Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi?", and "Endgame" are some of the best of the series. It is also the only television series that I am aware of that was made better than most Hollywood movies! Watch it, or I will get you.
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working towards genius
cwa9925 October 2004
Babylon 5 is one of the TV shows we all wish we had come across sooner. as a massive star trek fan i saw the first few episodes of b5 in its initial run and immediately thought it was below par. at the urging of a friend i came back to it a few years later.... wow! to say i was impressed was an understatement, i immediately began to re-watch the whole series and saw he genius of the story arc and character development. in addition to this the use of aliens that looks alien, use different gasses to breath, are more advanced technologically and (shock) actually speak a language other than English was a joy! the battle scenes were wonderful, well beyond anything i had seen before and as for londo and g'kar, if there are 2 finer characters in all of television then that TV show is doing well. funny, awe inspiring, intelligent and emotional b5 has it all, the only drawback being that sometimes the walls are a little flimsy, sometimes the effects are a little below par, but willing suspension of disbelief is necessary in sci-fi, and b5 is no exception. is b5 a work of genius? definitely, without question yes, but could parts of it be better? those niggly little things that gnaw at us i'm afraid would have brought b5 up a notch, but it remains , without question, one of the finest shows, not just sci-fi, but shows that i have ever seen!
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The best writing on television to date
Asteri-Atypical3 January 2001
One of the few examples of what television CAN be.

While I could offer many accolades for this series, I will reduce it to the statement that we have never seen better or more intelligent writing on television. Period.

I'm lost lost in blind fandom. Rather, I've come to loathe the lack of intelligence used in most television programs today (largely because of the networks' catering to the lowest common denominator). This is one of the few exceptions.

It is a true shame we cannot see intelligent writing like this elsewhere in this age of miraculous special effects.
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10 reasons to watch Babylon 5
dafalias10 June 2006
1. The story It is probably the biggest, most complex story that was put on film so far - well over 60 hours of good TV. This had been tried never before and makes shows like Lost or Battlestar Galactica successful today.

2. It is non boring Besides elements of Season 4 being built up as early as Season 1, even in small details, the storyline has a lot of interesting twists, that makes you yearn for more and stay interested even over the course of five years. But nowadays you don't have to. You can get the box set and have yourself been swallowed up in a matter of weeks.

3. The casting Casting was done very thoroughly, obviously; as every character had been designed in detail long time before casting, including all changes and developments, actors could be found that filled these roles perfectly. And they were. For example, Richard Biggs was the most ethic and believable TV doctor I have ever seen.

4. The acting The characters Londo Mollari and G'Kar seem to be the most popular, they are also filled by outstanding actors, but all the others, including guest roles were no less than great. Stephen Furst is a brilliant comedian and Bruce Boxleitner is just a joy to watch, he is so 100% in every scene.

5. The music Only two words: Christopher Franke. The score of B5 has the magnitude and the quality of a movie score and adds to the scope of the show greatly. Look out for a Special on Season 4 Box set called "No Surrender, No Retreat Suite". First watch Season 4. Then listen to the suite WITHOUT the pictures. And at last, enjoy the music with the pictures. You will conclude that the music itself captures all emotions of Season 4, the combination with the pictures just makes it a masterpiece.

6. The special effects Babylon 5 was a "poor show" as JMS put it. They had nowhere near the budget of a Star Trek series. But still its scope was intended to be big, with space battles unseen on TV to this point. Although most of the ground shots did not work, as a lot of virtual sets, the space scenes reached a remarkable level of perfection by the end of the series, and the battles were big indeed, with very interesting angles and camera movements only doable by cgi. Another aspect that B5 pioneered in.

7. The character development SciFi is not stupid. It is not about blowing up spaceships with laser guns either. Well, sometimes it is. But not B5. It is a character driven show with most interesting development to each character. They all developed, but still were truthful to themselves. Time is taken to explore each single character in detail and entertaining it is.

8. The humor There was Stephen Furst of course, who literally can turn any line into an enjoyable piece of comedy, but there were other actors with great comedic skills as well, Claudia Christian, Bruce Boxleitner, Patricia Tallman, Peter Jurasik to name a few. Although the story line was very exciting, the element of humor was never forgotten; this made Star Trek TOS successful and it definitely did not hurt B5.

9. The philosophy J. Michael Straczynski has said that his intention was never to make a moral or philosophical statement, but just to tell a story. But as the story involves a lot of these elements, at least it makes you think. And, although being a declared atheist, JMS handles things like religion or prophesy extremely respectfully and he gave the best summary of the essence of Christianity in the episode "Passing Through Getsemane" I have ever heard, equally brilliantly delivered by Oscar Nominee Brad Dourif.

10. The harmony of the complete work of art I believe that there are three classic types of art: Picture - painting, its 3D-representation sculpture and photography Music Literature, written and its physical representation acting.

Film puts all of them together, makes the pictures move and includes many more like effects, stage and crop design, costume design, camera, editing and makeup. I consider film the most complete work of art because it HAS to be the team work of a number of distinct artists. If each and every one of them is great, then the whole is great. And I think B5 is just that, besides or maybe because of the extremely tight budget they had. For example, when B5 went to TNT for Season 5 the actors suffered serious cutbacks in salary. Bruce Boxleitner no doubt had plenty of offers in his drawers, but nonetheless he stayed and finished the work. So did almost all the others, and I think You can tell this kind of attitude in the show.
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Best science fiction television ever
steve.schonberger28 October 1999
Even though the final season was rather slow, and glossed over a lot of plot lines that probably would have been more interesting, it was still better than most science fiction, and any on television other than the earlier seasons. Other than the final season and scattered weak episodes, the series is the best television science fiction, and near the best dramatic television, and competes with the best movie science fiction.

The action in the series is mostly about the Shadow war, but the real key is the intrigue between the characters, and the personal growth of the characters. Londo is one of the best dramatic characters in any series. He starts as an ambitious schemer who drinks too much, but develops a conscience as he learns the consequences of his ambitions, and finally ends up as a tragic character who reached even beyond his early ambitions, but at a cost that he regrets deeply.

Maybe some day there will be a better science fiction series. But for now this is the level of story-telling television science fiction should try to reach.
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A Diamond In A Pile Of Manure
Big Movie Fan14 September 2002
The early to mid-90's was very average in my opinion for science fiction shows. Babylon 5 was a breath of fresh air.

Unlike some sci-fi shows, Babylon 5 was an ongoing epic. What happened in one episode impacted on another episode and so on. It was set on Babylon 5 (a space station)where five solar systems who have been at war try to make peace. The representatives of these races are all based on Babylon 5 trying to create lasting peace (not unlike the real life League of Nations/United Nations).

As I said, what happened in one episode impacted on another. There was no jetting off to planets, creating a mess and then jetting off again. There was action, political intrigue and plenty of excitement which made this show stand out in 1994.

J. Michael Straczynski did a great job with Babylon 5. It's actually a very good allegory of life on Earth in the 20th century. There have been two major wars this century. The League of Nations was set up following World War 1 but they soon became defunct and the United Nations were set up following World War 2 to try and bring peace to the world. Of course it's hard to find peace with so many different governments pulling in different directions. That is why I liked Babylon 5. It was realistic; there were no quick solutions for peace and there were setbacks along the way just like we have in real life.

I strongly urge anyone who hasn't seen Babylon 5 to check it out.
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TV as good as it gets
LBytes6 May 2004
I just finished watched the 1st year on DVD. What a treat to see this series again, in a version mastered properly for the widescreen with surround sound to boot. I remember enough from the series to know that the 1st season was both unique and uneven in more ways than the other 4 years, and yet it lets out all the plot threads that play out over the ensuing years. I, for one, liked M. O'hare and it was too bad he couldn't have had a recurring role in subsequent seasons. Even so, this is a great series, possibly the best ever Sci Fi TV series that I've ever seen. Great CGI work that was employed for the 1st time ever, multiple engaging plots, good acting, writing, etc... it goes on and on. My only regret is that no one's figured out a good way to resurrect the B5 fictional world. I'd love to see another good series like this. If you haven't seen it lately, watch it again to remember how good it was. If you've never seen it then you don't know what you're missing.
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Most Brilliant Show Written for Television (in my opinion of course)
prw2-451-99187116 August 2012
Intro: Bablyon 5 belongs in the greatest sci-fi shows of history, in fact I will go so far that it is the greatest show ever written for television in history. This show is not for everyone however. If you search for discrepancies, focus on the antiquated CGI (an example of one of the first shows to ever use CGI on a regular basis for TV by the way), and miss the lack of Hollywood's "perfect person" actor who is little more than the same actor in every film/series, then you will probably not like the series. The series uses a brilliant script and "hidden, so called B-quality" actors and creates a TV art masterpiece. The trials and successes the characters face occur today and will continue till the day the sun goes supernova. The characters become like real people in your life for the 43 minutes you are watching the show, as if you are on the station with them. Sure, I like other characters/actors better than others (and there were a couple of characters I did not care for), but I am not going to let a few actors that I don't care for destroy the greater message/mission of the series and I hope you don't either.

Series Structure: The purpose of the series was to tell a story. Plain and simple. The series is so complex however it is like reading a classic novel. I have watched the series through at least ten times and in every episode I see something new or make a new literary connection (foreshadowing, irony, parallels...etc). The structure is 5 seasons that are linked by a greater overarching story. Season 1 is called "Signs and Portents," season 2: "The Coming of Shadows," season 3: "Point of No Return," season 4: "No Surrender, No Retreat," and lastly season 5: "The Wheel of Fire." Each season builds upon each one and can reach back to a previous one unveiling hidden meanings or explaining confusing/vague dialogue. The series is also very unique for television in that situations are not resolved by the end of the episode. What!?!? That is crazy!? I really love Star Trek, but that universe really knows how to end things on the Federation Captain's agenda. Most of TV is like this with a few exceptions (Lost,BSG...etc). B5 was a breath of fresh, exhilarating air with its sudden plot twists, unexpected turns, and that problems rarely went away at the end of any episode. Just like life problems linger, or if they are stamped out quickly, those problems have an inconvenient way of pouncing on you when you least need them. The series is also a breath of fresh air because there are actual consequences for the protagonists that plague them for the rest of the series. Again for good measure, 'what'!?!? Rarely in TV do we see protagonists do something that could have potential adverse consequences and then suffer those horrible consequences even in the name of justice and morality. The villains in the series are very well portrayed in my opinion (especially the character 'Bester'). They are like the villains in real life. They are corrupt, smart, systematic, efficient, unrelenting, hide their weaknesses well, and are awesome at using people, especially the good guys, to advance their evil schemes. The malfunctioning, imperfect technology and the state/portrayal of humanity is very believable, at least for me, in 2258 which can add to the potential realism of the series.

Series Philosophy/Metaphysics: Yes, this series is that deep. There are lots of messages and lessons to be gathered from this series, but there are several overarching themes that manifest themselves time and time again. 1)People are people and they will always be the same at heart. As humanity advances/evolves, the heart of humanity never varies from its naturally corrupt, chaotic state. I am a history buff and if you study social, political, military, and economic history since the dawn of time, people have not emotionally and spiritually evolved when it comes to the fundamentals. We long to be greater, even at others expense. We search for better things even if it means sacrificing other good things. We care more for ourselves than our neighbor by nature...and I could go on and on. The series addresses the human condition well in a potential future with potential authenticity. 2)It takes a lot of work and hardship to break the natural cycle of things. The characters demonstrate that in order to change the world, they have to change themselves first and that can be very painful. They also demonstrate how the world/universe shapes us into who we are, but we can choose to embrace that change or reject it. 3) There is always a choice. Whether you believe in black and white or that there is a gray option, you still have to choose. 4) The most well defined and potent philosophical element of all in this series: The individual can make a difference. Again, this difference cannot be made without sacrifice, and great sacrifice at that. However, the individual can break the cycle, fight the pain, overcome the impossible, if done at the right time by the right person (watch the series to see how they define'right person.') Battlestar Galactica (2000's series) is a great series and is also the antithesis of Babylon 5. In BSG, the individual can fight, struggle, suffer, and endure, yet is unable to break the cycle of his situation, so you will see that they revert back in many cases to their carnal instincts. The BSG characters don't really rise above their situation because their universe doesn't really let individuals rise up and buck the system. Whether you personally believe in the power of the individual over the system, Babylon 5 is the only series that I have even seen fluidly and flawlessly illustrate this point through television.

Conclusion: I hope you find this review helpful and I hope you watch the series.
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Statement to the best i've ever seen!
veit-esl9 December 2014
I don't know where to start actually, it can be phrased in just one sentence. Babylon 5 is even after 20 years of its first appearance the absolute best a Sci-fi series can offer to a viewer. i started watching the series in 1994 i believe and it never catched me but there was one reason why it was that way. im from Germany and the synchronisation of the dialogs where not only been flawed in many ways it took away the soul of each character and left the viewer with a sorry excuse of a translation of events and feelings. i started watching the series from scratch in 2000 and in the mothertongue ( englisch ) and its a difference of night and day. i learned my englisch thanks to this series. i just made an account because i feel that babylon 5 doesn't get enough credit for what this series really is. Its a magnificent story telling of events / Masterclass Actors and producers. I don't even know where to begin of praising this fantastic and absolute top notch Sci-fi series. In my humble opinion there is nothing in the last 20 years that can even consider themselves to be on the same level as Babylon 5.

I can only urge everyone who haven't seen this fastastic top notch series to just give it a try in englisch. Its a journey where you get pulled into and you surely don't want to come out again.

I can only give this series a defnetly 10 out of 10... hell no i'd give it an fkn 20. By far my favorite series ever created in a Sci-fi environment. Even the Special effects seems now in 2014/15 a littly rusty just imagine this series was created with limited resources and not much budget in 1994 ! And now after 20 years i say Thank you with all my heart to all people who were there to created this absolute stunning masterpiece.

Thanks a lot. Veit / Berlin 9.12.2014
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Best TV show ever made
arus_royus29 March 2013
Best TV show ever made, I used to watch it as a child on TV and was mesmerized, how ever back then I missed some episodes and as such didn't always know what is going on since all the episodes are connected. So a few weeks back I thought to myself. Is this show really as good as I remembered it to be? So I bought the whole thing on DVD (remastered Widescreen edition) and was very surprised that it is in fact MUCH better than I remembered, many of the subtleties of the character and story development I could only sense as a child but not fully comprehend. And watching it again I was amazed at the depth of this great story and how you could relate to many of the situations occurring here and the terrible suspense of the story how it caught you and made you feel and bleed for the heroes. And the whole ambitious yet humble scope of this epic tale. Nothing to say of the great score of the series how the intro and credits music always perfectly captured the mood of the whole season. I can only highly recommend this great series. And as for the visuals, one gets used to them quickly and they are satisfying despite their age and the giant leap in technology. If you like a great story and characters with depth which you can feel for WATCH IT and ENJOY!!!
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One of the greatest TV series
jose-cruz5320 February 2013
This is perhaps the best American TV series of the 1990's and, since I haven't yet watched The Wire at the time of this review, I would place it as the single best US TV series I ever watched. It truly feels like something beyond a mere TV series but much more like a novel. Written exactly like a novel, with a beginning, a middle and an ending, Babylon 5 is truly something unique in US television.

Easily the best science fiction US TV series ever made (I would rate Battlestar Galactica as the second best, Star Trek works on a lower level): its level of complexity and emotional depth is easily superior to anything else. Truly a work of art, but flawed, of course, as the low budgets and the huge number of episodes produce more flawed art than films.
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nekran3 June 2013
I was watching this when I was about 10 years old. (Give or take). My older brother, who I looked up to, said it was the best modern Sci-Fi show. This meant I had to watch, and follow. I couldn't quite get it right back then. Probably, I was to young. Years passed by, and all of the sudden I got this tingly feeling in my stomach, as if I anticipated something. Then images from this phenomenal show started appearing in my mind, and I understood immediately what was amiss - I was missing Babylon 5, this show that I hadn't watched in 10 years or so. After a quick discussion with my fiancée, I ordered every season on DVD. The wait for it to be delivered was horrible! But when it finally arrived, I knew I was about to experience something great! We sat down in our sofa, watched the pilot, and didn't stop watching until it was all done. I started remembering every little thing from my earliest pre-puberty attempts at watching it, the costumes and the plots, everything.

This is, without a doubt the best (and most epic) Sci-Fi show I have ever seen. The characters are all well fleshed out and memorable, and the plot, with all its twists and turns, is perfect. It's so epic and glorious that I can scarcely describe it. The characters are all multi- faceted, they all act in ways you would never imagine they would. They all have weaknesses. They all act bad at times. It's not black and white, it's Grey. All the characters are Grey. And the stories are phenomenal. Granted, it does somewhat taper of in season 5, but it's still good.

Highly recommended show. Give it a watch, even if you aren't into Sci- fi. This is so much more than Sci-fi.
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The Greatest TV Show of All Time?
Kets4020 December 2012
What can I say about Babylon 5 that hasn't already been said? I remember clearly watching it for the first time on Channel 4 in 1994. I came to it with some trepidation, being as I was a lifelong Trekker, & Star Trek: Deep Space 9 was already on the air - did we need another show set on a space station? How would it compare to the genius that is Star Trek? How disappointed would I be? The answers to these questions were clear from the beginning. This is not a show that can be compared, with Star Trek or anything. This show is like nothing I had seen before or since. Many shows have story arcs that span the seasons, but this was different. This is not an episodic show with a loose story arc running through it; this is one story split into 5 seasons worth of episodes. It is a story about the human condition, about the holocaust, about many many big things, but, at heart, this is also one of the greatest love stories ever told.

The acting is top-notch, the writing sublime & the CGI special effects (widely known as done with Commodore Amiga computers - remember them?!) still look amazing 14 years on. The dialog (of which there is a lot - this is a very cerebral show) is naturalistic & adds to the characters; each race has a slightly different way of speaking, which would be the case if this were real.

On the downsides (if this can really be called "the downside"), the show can be very theatrical, both in it's direction & acting. This is understandable when you see the caliber of the cast; they may not be household names but each one of them is (was) an actor-extraordinaire; and that includes the guest stars (names such as Michael York & David Warner). Even Walter Koenig, as recurring villain (if such an easy term is applicable in such a complex show) Alfred Bester, shows there is much more to this actor than the ever-stereotypical Pavel Chekov of the USS Enterprise.

This is not an easy show to watch. It demands from it's audience a certain level of attention & loyalty. It's certainly not for those who want a quick story with everything neatly wrapped up in 45 minutes. Season One is (understandably) the most episodic - that was the clever way they hooked those who were used to the more Star Trek way of doing things - but the story soon takes over. Even the rushed ending for Season 4 (written when they didn't know if Season 5 was going to be picked up) stands now as a good "future history" of mankind.

All in all, I would recommend this show to pretty much anyone. There is nothing bad about Babylon 5 that I can say. In fact, if somebody gives this show the time to tell it's story & still doesn't like it, then I would propose that says more about the viewer than the show. Sadly, Crusade & any other attempts at continuing this story didn't take, but Babylon 5 stands as a monument to the genius of J. Michael Straczynski.
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Story arcs
celestemekent23 May 2015
Sadly the vast majority of US TV is a 30 minute completely solved issue with no connection with anything before or after. People claim this tendency has actually dumbed down the US populace do spend their evenings watching that stuff.

Scifi in general does require their audience to think harder and open their minds to potentials. Still even the best TV Scifi follows the same sort of plot resolution even if they are continued to next week where it is solved.

Babylon 5 is not that way. You really have to pay attention to everything in B5 since connections from one episode to another far in the future is typical here. Granted there are many side plots that are resolved in a single episode but the big main themes flow clear through from first to last episode.

As anyone reading this will note this is written long after B5 was over, but I would remind you that TV series like Breaking Bad follow in this trend and that show received many Emmys for their work too. Joseph Michael Straczynski and Vince Gilligan come from a higher level of writer and director and the effort required to enjoy their work is well worth it.
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Truly Amazing
y-allatif11 October 2013
I just finished watching the show now, and I must say I am quite sad as I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is exactly my cup of tea and is probably the best in it's genre (and I have watched everything else there is). I was hooked from the first episode on and was thrilled throughout the show. This show gives you action, excitement, fun, sadness, happiness,love, anger. You will experience impressive space battles, political and personal struggles and much more. I really liked the idea of Earth falling under a totalitarian government and Babylon 5 breaking away as a consequence and in the end ridding Earth of it's dictator with the support from other alien governments, something I would not see in Star Trek for instance, which draws many parallels to our world where powers rule behind the throne that are bigger than the king. If you are thinking about watching this show I can only tell you GO FOR IT!!!
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Sci-fi at its best
warbi_20003 February 2013
This is one of the best science fiction series in TV history. I could almost give it a 10. It is on my top three sci-fi shows (not including Dr Who because, well Dr Who is Dr Who) alongside Farscape and Firefly. I like to watch this series every 5 years or so. The show's approach to the interaction between aliens is well-worked. What- the aliens all don't breathe oxygen and speak English?!? Another thing I appreciated about the show is that, just as in reality, there is really no "GOOD" even though there is evil in he form of bigotry and prejudice and, later in the series, in the form of the Shadows. It was definitely a good show and the fact that it ran for as many seasons as it did reflects that.
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Much more than a science fiction show
nettlesma10 January 2013
B5 and Star Trek are apples and oranges. I love them both but prefer apples. I tend to enjoy things for what they are, not what they are not. We tend to find what we look for. B5 is a show that accomplished a heck of a lot on a small budget. My wife was sick with cancer at the time B5 came out, and because her illness took so much of her active life from her it was nice to have a TV show we could watch together, and watch we did.

All I can say is this: No other show has ever moved me so much intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. The wonderfully interwoven arcing themes and character development of B5 is matched by its subtleties and nuance. Especially poignant to me are the way the concepts of courage, forgiveness and loss are presented.

Another great thing about the series are the side stories told in the 7 movies and the B5 novels. You can get glimpses in the mind of Kosh or find out Bester's fate. A satisfying story from beginning to end and one that will probably never be equaled.
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Babylon 5 - Lord Of The Rings in Space
XweAponX14 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The Fellowship of Babylon 5... The Two Towers of Babylon 5 (Earthdome and B5, Marsdome and Earthdome, Minbari Homeworld and Z'ha'Dumb) — And The Return of the King of Babylon 5 - It's all there:

Kosh: Gandalf (Comes back from the Dead) Sheridan: Aragorn, including the marriage to an Elvis Princess, Delenn The Hobbits: Vir, Lennier, Na'toth, etc. All the "Ambassadors Assistants" - Who start from humble Beginnings and rise up to great positions. In a Way, G'Kar could be seen as Frodo- Who has a life changing experience carrying "The Ring"- In other words, G'Kars sufferings during his tenure as Mollari's Ambassador, and even before that as he searched for Mr Garibaldi. Frodo loses a finger, G'Kar loses an eye. The Rangers are there, and even named as such.

Saruman could be Mr Morden... Sauron? Sauron could be the "Evil Kosh"- The one that came after Kosh was killed by Shadows. In B5 there is no main huge Evil Eye, unless you consider the thing the Drakk stuck on Molari's NECK, which seems to see everything. Overall, B5 Chronicles a Space Station/City in Space, heavily fortified, which withstands an all out enemy attack against all odds and survives, and through it, the birth of a New Age comes about. In the Original B5 opening credits, Sinclair talks about "The Third Age of Mankind" - And so B5 takes the universe and mankind from the 3rd age to the 4th age just like Lord of the Rings.

"The Gathering" was an ambitious project for 1994, and especially for Television, and Syndicated TV at that. So, the special Effects were actually very good for 1994, but the main money of the show was used in the Sets and Costumes and Prosthetic Makeup - Which, in my Opinion, gave Trek a run for its money. I always thought Trek Aliens were WAY too Human, in B5 we have a huge Insect, running things in Brown Sector. Didn't look a BIT human. And the PakMara, who could eat ANYTHING, except for fish, and although human-Oid, had those Tentacle-Mouths. Then there were an assortment of Fin-Heads, Lizard Skins, Wrinkle-Faces, and some BEM's that always walk around in Encounter Suits. And KOSH. In B-5, they took special pains to keep away form the "Homo Sapiens Only Club" that Trek had become, and the idea that there would be poor people in the lower decks, wearing mostly rags, was superior to DS9 and more realistic.

But mainly, If you look at B5 versus Deep Space Nine, and I know some say that Deep Space 9 was stolen by Rick Berman from JMS, I find as a Station, B5 MUCH superior. It's a Cylinder, that rotates for Gravity, and there is a Green Belt, to help generate Oxygen. Ivanova uses a small space to cultivate Coffee beans. Ivanova vs Kira: They'd kick each others asses, and then be best friends after. There SHOULD have been a B5/Trek crossover, it would have worked, to see Worf walking through the Zocalo. Who KNows? There never was a DS9 Feature Film, and that story was left in the lurch, just as B5 was when Crusade was canceled.

Trek had the best looking space ships and some good realistic looking battles, but B5 was over the top of that... If B5 could have had as good quality in that department at the beginning. As you watch each season of B5, the generated computer graphics get better in quality. Season 5 had the best Look, and although some say that the 5th season, was poorly written, I enjoyed it. It was a denouement. And just like Lord of the Rings, when you have a massive, multi character and multi plot story like that, and after it has its main confrontation and several other aftershock confrontations, the story has to be gracefully put to sleep, which is why Lord of the Rings, as Jack Nicholson was quoted saying, had "Too Many Endings."

The entire 5th season of B5 was it's ending, and as I did not like the Telepath arc very much either, it was a part of the story that begged some answers. I didn't mind that much, but what I did mind was the way Lita was treated at the very end... But as JMS has said, he was showing a brand new form of prejudice.

I've just watched "In The Beginning," "The gathering" and then all five seasons of B5. I wish some of Deep Space 9 could have been told in the same way... As I have always thought DS9 was the best Trek ever, but B5 shows us another Alternate Future, which postulates, "If Mankind could not get his act together in the last 6,000 years of Civilisation, then it is kind of preposterous to think that 200 years from now, we can get rid of Prejudice, Extremism, and basic idiocy" - And as Gene Roddenberry's future is clean, JMS's future shows us the seamy underbelly of Space, which is to me much more realistic- And also why I loved DS9 after Michael Pillar quit and it became more like B5.

Maybe the Shadows are right, without conflict there is no story.
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just one more person who wants to say thanks for this experience...
Rei_Lilith17 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There are enough compliments for the show here already, I know. I'm watching it all over again for the second time right now. I spent such wonderful hours with a friend who showed B5 to me and we watched everything together on DVD (his second, my first time). Now I'm the one showing it to another, and it is such a pleasure to come back to B5. It was crazy, when we started again with the first season, I thought: Oh my God, what had happened to the characters during these five years? It's amazing to go back where it all started and travel and change and learn with them again. To see Sinclair again, in the Earth-Minbari War, then Commander of B5, then travelling into the past, Londo and the decisions he makes, knowing where they will finally lead him, the developing in his relationship with G'Kar, everything! We're in the first third of the last season right now, everything has calmed down a bit, and I'm already having this feeling again that I will have to say goodbye in a short time...I don't think this will be the last time for me to get back to B5, but I really wished that I could somehow erase my memory and start for a first time even if it's also a great feeling coming back, as I said. B5 is not just one other TV series, it's special. I'm no SF-nerd or former Star Trek fan, but this show has given me something to take with me. I will remember Lennier and Delenn telling a human about the beliefs of the Minbari, that we are all a part of the universe, just trying to understand and explore itself. And in B5 you get things like that ALL THE TIME. It's not about SF, or Space Stations, or people in strange costumes, it's about everything that matters in life: Finding out who you are, what you want, and what it is you're living for. You who haven't watched it yet or not entirely: I envy you! Thank you Mr. Strazcinsky, for giving me such a wonderful time and so many things to cry, laugh and think about.
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Great Even For A None Sci-Fi fan
mal karma9 January 2003
It's a shame I couldn't get this one from the begginig. This is THE Sci-Fi show (if you don't count The X Files as Sci-Fi). It is way better than Star Trek: it didn't have the technological chit chat; human race was weak and corrompted, yet optimistic and full of potential; realistic to the bone, in 200 and so years that could be our world; an evolving story and characters that made you believe they were real; not as many races as in ST (actually it is better this way) but that differenced each other in something else than the ears; a philosophical, political, chaotic universe. Great acting and writing, many but many characters that carried on a story that was about nothing else than life and death.
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A show that makes you care
mergatroid-114 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I've read most of the reviews here, and the pattern fits what I have seen over the years. 90% of people who watch it love it, and 5% hate it, 5% are "unimpressed".

From what I've read so far, those who hate it didn't watch all the shows and likely missed the best ones, or they really didn't understand what they were watching.

This series was about the future and the people who make it. The acting in the first season, I found a little stiff. However the actors were just settling in, and I have seen the same settling in period on every science fiction show on TV over the last 40ish years. This all settled by the end of the season, and the show really hit it's stride starting in season 2.

This is the only scifi I have even seen that could make my eyes water. The only that made me really care about the characters. Star Trek (I'm a fan) hasn't done it. Spock died and it didn't really bother me. Data bites the dust and, well we could see the way they could work that out didn't we (B4). They marry and unmarry? Yawn..... I mean, they came close a few times, but never really emotionally bothered me.

Star Wars failed miserably at this aspect. It's a great scifi movie series. And I love them (saw in theater 10 times when it came out), but I didn't really care about the characters. Main characters die or are injured or captured throughout the movie series and it didn't really bother me at all.

Now B5 owes a lot to those two shows. They broke the ground that B5 followed in, and in this case the student finally out did the teacher.

When B5 came out, I didn't have any local stations carrying it. Some times I could pick it up if I wrapped tin foil over our antenna, but not on cable. So, I did see a few shows, but it wasn't for years I was finally able to see them all the way through three times on the Space channel. I remember I couldn't stop thinking about them all day at work, and I would go straight home to make dinner and watch B5. Best show I had ever seen. I loved the Star Trek series, all of them, but this show blew me away. The characters were awesome. After the first season they really jelled and became their characters. When they betrayed each other you cared about it. When they died, it made a difference.

I have the DVDs now, and I watched them several times over, always picking out things I had missed. I have all the B5 videos, and movies and give them all a 10 out of 10.

The only other scifi series that I've come this close to really caring about was a short ran series called Space Above and Beyond. Great series and actors.
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The finest sci-fi saga on television.
grendelkhan18 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Babylon 5 proved to be the greatest sci-fi saga ever on television. Unlike the episodic nature of Star Trek, this is a complete saga, with a beginning, middle and end. It was such a treat to watch the series unfold, and see how even the smallest event could have repercussions down the road. It followed in the tradition of great science fiction sagas; like the Foundation series, the Lensmen saga, and the Lord of the Rings. But, it was not about special effects and strange aliens; it was about the characters, their relationships, and their growth through the events of the story. Characters came and went, but they were rarely throw-aways.

The writing was first rate, most of it coming from series creator Joe Straczynski. He wrote most of the episodes for the first two seasons, and all but one episode for the final three seasons. His dialogue is superb, even if he was forced to use "hell" far too much. Network restrictions forced some taming of language, but it was a minor distraction.

The alien races were all distinct. On Star Trek, you had a tendency to make the aliens, and their ships, look pretty much the same. On B5, each race had a distinct look, mode of dress, and design aesthetic. Mimbari ships did not look like Centauri or Narn ships; and nothing looked like the Vorlon or Shadow vessels. There were degrees of technology, with some races more advanced than others. There were cultural and religious differences, as well as political clashes.

The series bore a closer resemblance to reality. Star Trek is a more utopian view of the future, which is fine, and reflects a certain viewpoint. B5 takes the view that mankind will grow in the future, but never fully escapes his prejudices and fears. Earth may achieve racial unity, but when outsiders appear, fear brings up man's worst traits. But, there are those who rise above and try to bring a better universe. B5 is about dealing with our fears and weaknesses and striving to move beyond them. Star Trek presented an idea of infinite diversity in infinite combinations, and B5 presents a similar message; but in a different fashion.

Despite it's much smaller budget, B5 was able to present a fully realized universe. Through ingenuous use of virtual sets, to CGI space scenes, they were able to present a complete world. The CGI is rarely distracting and always in service of the story.

The cast was outstanding, with Mira Furlan, Andreas Katsulas, and Peter Jurasik as special standouts. These actors bring tremendous gifts to their characters, and their work is stunning. Katsulas brings tremendous power to the speaches of G'Kar, and deep thought to the complex character. Furlan evokes wisdom and compassion, as well as a fiery passion when pushed too far. Jurasik fills Londo with humor and pathos, strength and weakness, light and darkness. Londo is the tragic figure of the show.

The other actors more than hold their own with these powerhouses, with Bill Mumy and Stephen Furst given a chance to move beyond their cult status (Lost in Space and Animal House, respectively). Mumy's Lenier is a thoughtful and inquisitive figure, who is torn between duty and love. Furst's Vir begins as a scared, bumbling figure, who grows into a tower of strength by the end of the saga. It's these secondary characters who set Babylon 5 apart from other sci-fi shows.

Mild Spoilers- The show is filled with memorable moments; in visuals, dialogue, performance, comedy, drama, and romance. My personal favorites are the first appearance of the Shadows, any scene with Bester, the techno-mages, the arrival of Delenn's fleet, when the station is attacked by Earth; the battle with Shadow forces, Sheridan's interrogation and torture, the final battle to free Earth, the goodbyes, and the warmth of the final episode. I was especially moved in "Objects at Rest", when Sheridan salutes the station, while Capt. Lockley salutes his ship. The music and the performances evoke great emotion. "Sleeping in Light" is the perfect bitter-sweet finale. It brings a smile, and reduces you to tears at the same time. It is a fitting farewell to all involved. Babylon 5 was that special series that grew beyond its humble beginnings. It was dismissed as a Star Trek rip-off by some, ignored by many. No one believed that you could tell a five year story on television. In the words of Joe Straczynski, "Faith manages."
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