Babylon 5

For the last couple of weeks I have been re-watching Babylon 5; a sci-fi show from the late 90’s that I still feel is probably the best television series ever made. And I finished the series this evening.

Babylon 5 isn’t an alien of the week sort of thing, it was written to be a 5-year arc. So there are things in the early episodes of season 1 that wrap up in season 5, and the audience is rewarded for paying attention.

This means that over the course of 110 episodes you really get invested in the story, the characters, and all of their side stories. And the characters are great as they have real motivations and tangible, impactful flaws… And this means that by the time you reach the last two episodes of season 5, it’s a real tearjerker to wrap everything up.

I caught Babylon 5 ‘live’ starting with season 2, back in 1994. I had been hearing about the show from co-workers, but hadn’t owned a television since I left the Navy in 1990 – so I bought a Sony “Trinitron” set in October of ’94 specifically to catch the start of season 2 in November.

Luckily season 1 was in reruns so I was able to catch up pretty quick.

One of the most interesting things for me was the visual effects, which were early CGI and all done on Amigas. As I had been playing with rendering on Amigas for years at that point, to see the stuff I toyed with in actual use was fascinating. Unfortunately the CGI space shots and the regular camera footage were shot in different aspect ratios, so things looked a little odd on occasion.

But it was all still very, very epic. And a lot of my graphics work for websites and software UIs through the late 90’s was heavily influenced by the CGI in Babylon 5…

I started my re-watch based on news that the creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, was working on revisiting the universe he’d created back in the 90’s in the form of a new TV series.

While I’m jazzed that Babylon 5 could be redone in some fashion, I worry that a show like Babylon 5 simply cannot exist in the modern era… That and a lot of the original series was helped along by Harlan Ellison, and he’s been dead for years.

So, while I’m hopeful it is a guarded hope because it’s {current year}.