As I've said here before, I'm not much of a television watcher. A show has to be very good before I invest my valuable time in sitting down to enjoy it on a regular basis. And it takes nothing less than storytelling of the highest caliber to keep me captivated and coming. That's why I love Lost so much. And ten years before that, there was Babylon 5.
This was the standout science-fiction show of the Nineties. And easily one of the best shows of that era, period. Babylon 5 broke bold new ground and in my sincere opinion set the pace for all the good shows that have followed. I don't know if there had been this kind of thing attempted before with American television that Babylon 5 pulled off: a broad, sweeping epic boasting a definite arc with a beginning, middle and end. The show was programmed to last for five years, tell its tale and then bow out, without becoming bogged-down as a "franchise".
What was it about? Babylon 5 was set (for the most part) aboard a space station in the 23rd century, at a meeting-point in space between several interstellar superpowers (including a coalition of Earth-aligned planets) and several other minor races. Babylon 5 was five miles long, armed to the teeth, and always seeming to attract the wrong kind of attention. This was a show with terrific settings and special effects but above all else this was a show about characters. These were real three-dimensional people who grew and changed dramatically over the course of five years worth of plot. It was the first sci-fi show I ever saw that treated the subject of religion seriously, and without scoffing at it (my favorite episode is the one with the Baptist preacher... and if you know which one I'm talking about, guess what my favorite scene in that episode was :-). It had drama, heartbreak, horror and insane humor. And I don't know if I can keep singing its praises without being here typing all afternoon.
Well anyhoo, in spite of how much I loved this show, until last night I'd never had the complete series on DVD. And I've been such a big Babylon 5 fan that I taped it's complete run in broadcast not once but twice: first off of TNT when the show moved there from syndication and then when Sci-Fi Channel started running it in widescreen.
So the first Christmas that Lisa and I were married (2002) I wound up getting Season 1 on DVD as a gift. The following year I got Season 2. The year after that I received Season 3 and the Movie Collection, which has the 2-hour pilot episode and the four Babylon 5 made-for-TV movies. But all of this time, for one reason or another I never wound up getting seasons 4 and 5.
Well right now, Best Buy has all the Babylon 5 DVD season box sets on sale for $19.95 each, whereas they usually street for about $60. So last night I went to the Best Buy in Burlington and drove back home with Season 4 and Season 5 in my happy possession :-) Here's the entire set that I now own...
I also own the original DVD release of "The Gathering" and "In The Beginning", but since those are already in the Movie Collection I didn't put that here in this photo. Prominently absent are the DVDs of Crusade, the Babylon 5 spin-off series. Why don't I own those? Mostly out of frustration: I was really looking forward to Crusade... and then TNT had to botch it up beyond belief (the Wikipedia entry for Crusade barely even begins to describe the hell that this show went through). Because of TNT's machinations, Crusade became two wildly different shows mashed together with all kinds of continuity problems sticking out like sore thumbs. I would love to see this part of the Babylon 5 saga continued and resolved someday, but TNT put too bad a taste in my mouth to even try to enjoy Crusade as it became in its hands.
I also don't own (yet) the "Legend of the Rangers" DVD. I watched that when it first broadcast and it was... odd. Even for Babylon 5. But maybe I'll give it a shot again. That movie has the distinction of being the only thing of Babylon 5 that I watched while visiting Lisa's apartment at University of Georgia when we were dating.
And there is one new, made-for-DVD Babylon 5 movie called "The Lost Tales" that just came out. I'm probably going to get that soon, too.
But in the meantime, I'm relishing having the complete set of the core Babylon 5 series in my possession, where I can enjoy it - like any good book - in the years to come and where it can be waiting for my own children to discover and enjoy someday.
Now, since I finally have them all, I'm wondering what to make for dinner tonight as I start watching them anew. I figure that I've got two choices: bagna cauda (you will understand this if you've watched Babylon 5) or Red Baron's pepperoni pizza (two other people will understand that one :-).