Friday, June 1, 2012

Remembering Babylon 5

Babylon 5 seems to have had a somewhat lower profile in its "afterlife" than might have been expected once upon a time, the show only infrequently discussed or referenced these past few years.

I can think of a number of reasons why this has been the case. One is that it appeared at a time when space opera was fairly plentiful on television (as many as a half dozen such shows in their first runs, compared with zero today). Another is that the franchise has had a fairly low profile since its run ended over a decade ago, as its spin-off Crusade lasted a mere thirteen episode season, the last tie-in novel appeared back in 2001, the 2002 pilot for another spin-off, The Legend of the Rangers, failed to spark enough enthusiasm for a series of its own, the straight-to-DVD The Lost Tales came to a halt after a single installment, and the one reported cinematic project (The Memory of Shadows) never entered production - while the reruns have been absent from American TV for years to the best of my knowledge. Meanwhile, J. Michael Stracyznski's next TV project, Jeremiah, didn't quite set the world on fire, after which Straczynski left TV-land for comics (working on series from The Fantastic Four to Wonder Woman) and feature films (where his recent credits include Chameleon, Ninja Assassin, Thor and Underworld: Awakening). And in the years since, much of the attention devoted to the genre has instead gravitated toward the more recent Farscape, Firefly, and of course, the grossly overrated Battlestar Galactica, widely hailed as the definitive anti-Trek.

Still, B5 was consistently the best space opera of science fiction television's recent "golden age," to say nothing of a crucial innovator (no one has handled story arcs quite like that show did), and its achievements are not quite forgotten - io9 recently looking back at the show's most game-changing episodes.

The Anti-Humanism of Battlestar Galactica
Stargate as Star Trek
On Star Trek Bashing
The Cancellation of Terra Nova
Watching Jeremiah
Stargate: Universe (A Reaction)

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