It’s ten years since my most favourite TV show began to air and gave us a intelligent science fiction as a single continuous story line over five years. Of course, it was buried at 2pm on Saturday afternoons on TV2 – where else would you put intelligent science fiction? And pretty much in NZ at the moment there is no science fiction on TV (apart from SKY-1’s reruns of a few programs and the second season of Jeremiah).
With it being the 10th anniversary of B5 and the release of the 5th season on DVD FilmForce have a really good piece looking back at B5 and the people involved. It’s at: FilmForce: Spotlight: Babylon 5.
As creator, producer, and writer of most of the episodes, J. Michael Straczynski accomplished a miraculous feat – he managed to create a continuity-driven show that had a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. Even more amazing, he pulled off something even more precious (and rare) – intelligent science fiction for TV. Outside (most) of Star Trek, the television landscape is a virtual boneyard for failed attempts in the sci-fi genre, especially those that tried to comport themselves with a modicum of brains with their brawn.
B5 wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea – it’s pretty hard to start watching in the middle of the second and third seasons (let alone the fourth and fifth) – everything is connected to incidents and references from previous episodes. And the first season dragged in places while they spent time fleshing out people’s characters and backgrounds. Still lots of my friends, many of whom aren’t sci-fi fans, enjoyed watching it for the in depth characterisation and the intelligent sub-plots about politics, racism, faith and religion, and characters struggling with their human flaws.
Of course, now I covet the DVD collections over my perfectly adequate VHS collection. Memo to self : Must be strong 🙂