Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on the Babylon 5 space station: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict in the late 2250s and early 2260s. With its prominent use of pre-planned story arcs, the series was often described as a "novel for television."
The pilot movie premiered on February 22, 1993. The regular series aired from January 26, 1994 and ran for five full seasons, winning two Hugos for Best Dramatic Presentation and two Emmy awards - for makeup and visual effects. The show spawned six television movies and a spin-off series, Crusade, which aired in 1999 and ran for thirteen episodes. A straight-to-DVD release containing two short films about selected characters from the series was released on July 31, 2007.
|"Once I had the locale, I began to populate it with characters, and sketch out directions that might be interesting. I dragged out my notes on religion, philosophy, history, sociology, psychology, science (the ones that didn't make my head explode), and started stitching together a crazy quilt pattern that eventually formed a picture. Once I had that picture in my head, once I knew what the major theme was, the rest fell into place. All at once, I saw the full five year story in a flash, and I frantically began scribbling down notes."|
|— J. Michael Straczynski, 1995|
The series consists of a coherent five-year story arc taking place over five seasons of 22 episodes each. Unlike most television shows at the time, Babylon 5 was conceived as a "novel for television, with a defined beginning, middle, and end; in essence, each episode would be a single "chapter" of this "novel". Many of the tie-in novels, comic books, and short stories were also developed to play a significant canonical part in the overall story.
The cost of the series totalled around $90 million for 110 episodes.
Though conceived as a whole, it was necessary to adjust the plotline to accommodate external influences. Each of the characters in the series was written with a "trap door" into their background so that, in the event of an actor's unexpected departure from the series, the character could be written out with minimal impact on the storyline. In the words of Straczynski, "As a writer, doing a long-term story, it'd be dangerous and short-sighted for me to construct the story without trap doors for every single character. [...] That was one of the big risks going into a long-term storyline which I considered long in advance. The character of Talia Winters was to have undergone a transformation into a Psi-Corps secret agent, having been revealed as a "sleeper," whose true personality was buried subconsciously, and who acted as a spy, observing the events on the station and the actions of her command staff. When Winters' portrayer Andrea Thompson left the series, this revelation was used to drop the character from the series.
|"First thing I did was to flip out the stand-alones, which traditionally have taken up the first 6 or so episodes of each season; between two years, that's 12 episodes, over half a season right there. Then you would usually get a fair number of additional stand-alones scattered across the course of the season. So figure another 3-4 per season, say 8, that's 20 out of 44. So now you're left with basically 24 episodes to fill out the main arc of the story."|
|— J. Michael Straczynski, 1996|
Foundation Imaging provided the special effects for the pilot movie (for which it won an Emmy) and the first three seasons of the show. When a further deal was unable to be reached with Foundation, the effects for seasons four and five were provided in-house by Netter Digital, using similar technology and a number of former Foundation employees. The Emmy-winning alien make-up was provided by Optic Nerve Studios.
The Babylon 5 space station is a modified version of an O'Neill Cylinder, rotating to provide artificial gravity. The center of the cylinder is a hollowed-out circular section, between a half and one-mile across, and includes fields, hydroponic gardens, and a transport tube which runs from one end of the station to the other. The station features a number of independent, interconnected sectors, each designed with a different look in order to give the show a non-claustrophobic feel. Living areas are designed to accommodate the various alien species featured in the show, with different atmospheres and alternate levels of gravity. Human visitors to the alien sectors are often shown using breathing equipment and taking other measures in order to tolerate these conditions. As the series begins, the station is still under construction, with only certain parts fully-completed. Depending upon the level and sector, sectors can be either in daylight or night. On the outermost levels, the viewports are in panels on the floor, providing a view into space beneath the characters' feet.
The station is situated in the Epsilon Eridani binary star system, located at the fifth Lagrangian point between the fictional planet Epsilon III and its moon. Within the show, the station's three predecessors (the original Babylon station, Babylon 2 and Babylon 3) were all sabotaged or accidentally destroyed before their completion. The fourth station, Babylon 4, vanished twenty-four hours after it became fully operational.
At the beginning of the series, five dominant civilizations are represented. The dominant species are the Humans, Minbari, Narn, Centauri, and the Vorlons. "The Shadows" and their various allies are malevolent species who appear later in the series. Several dozen less powerful races form the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, including the Drazi, Brakiri, Vree, Markab, and pak'ma'ra.
While the original pilot movie featured some aliens which were puppets and animatronics, the decision was made early on in the show's production to portray most alien species as humanoid in appearance. Barring isolated appearances, fully computer-generated aliens were discounted as an idea due to the "massive rendering power" required. Long-term use of puppets and animatronics was also discounted due to the technological limitations in providing convincing interaction with the human actors ("if you want any real emotion from the character, you're going to have to have an actor inside.")
The Gaim, pak'ma'ra, and Vorlons do not speak directly in English; in the case of the pak'ma'ra, either because they refuse to learn any language other than their own, or because they are incapable of making human sounds. Members of these races instead make use of real-time translation devices.
The principal human characters speak with an American English accent, with the exception of Marcus Cole, who speaks with a distinct British accent. Susan Ivanova, born in Russia, speaks with an American accent, as her character was raised and schooled outside Russia. Her father speaks with a distinct Russian accent, as does her brother. Various other minor human characters speak English with recognizable regional accents. Ambassador Delenn and Londo Mollari, both alien characters, speak with distinct accents similar to Slavic. Delenn speaks with actress Mira Furlan's normal Croatian accent; most other Minbari have native-speaker accents for English (e.g. American English for Lennier, British English for Neroon). Londo's accent was developed independently by actor Peter Jurasik and was imitated by William Forward, who played Lord Refa. Straczynski has described Londo's accent as being that of the "old school" of the Centauri Imperial Court. Narns tend to speak in native-speaker (generally British) accents as well; Andreas Katsulas adopted a dramatic British accent to portray G'Kar.
The show employed internet marketing to create a buzz among online readers far in advance of the airing of the pilot episode, with Straczynski participating in online communities on USENET (in the rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated newsgroup), and the GEnie and Compuserve systems before the Web came together as it exists today. The station's location, in "grid epsilon" at coordinates of 470/18/22, was a reference to GEnie ("grid epsilon" = "GE") and the original forum's address on the system's bulletin boards. Also during this time, Warner Bros. executive Jim Moloshok created and distributed electronic trading cards to help advertise the series. In 1995, Warner Bros. started the Official Babylon 5 Website on the now defunct Pathfinder portal. In September 1995, they hired a fan to take over the site and move it to its own domain name, and to oversee the Keyword B5 area on America Online.
The pilot movie debuted in the United States with strong viewing figures, achieving a 9.7 in the Nielsen national syndication rankings. The series proper debuted with a 6.8 rating/10 share. Figures dipped in its second week, and while it posted a solid 5.0 rating/8 share, with an increase in several major markets, ratings for the first season continued to fall, to a low of 3.4 during reruns. Ratings continued to remain low-to-middling throughout the first four seasons, but Babylon 5 scored well with the demographics required to attract the leading national sponsors and saved up to $300,000 per episode by shooting off the studio lot, therefore remaining profitable for the network. However, the fifth season, shown on cable network TNT, garnered "disappointing" ratings. In the United Kingdom, Babylon 5 was one of the better-rated U.S. television shows on Channel 4, and achieved high audience Appreciation Indexes, with season four's "Endgame" achieving the rare feat of beating the prime-time soap operas for first position.
In addition, several other actors have filled more than one minor role on the series. Kim Strauss played the Drazi Ambassador in four episodes, as well as nine other characters in ten more episodes. Some actors had difficulty dealing with the application of prosthetics required to play some of the alien characters. The producers therefore used the same group of people (as many as twelve) in various mid-level speaking roles, taking full head and body casts from each. The group came to be unofficially known by the production as the "Babylon 5 Alien Rep Group.
It is gradually revealed that Ambassador Delenn is a member of the mysterious and powerful Grey Council, the ruling body of the Minbari. Towards the end of 2258, she begins the transformation into a Minbari-human hybrid, ostensibly to build a bridge between the humans and Minbari. The year ends with the assassination of Earth Alliance President Luis Santiago, and rising tension between the Narn and Centauri, after a Narn outpost is completely destroyed by an unknown third party.
The Shadows, an ancient and extremely powerful race who have recently emerged from hibernation, are revealed to be the cause of a variety of mysterious and disturbing events, including the attack on the Narn outpost at the end of 2258. Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari unknowingly enlists their aid through his association with the mysterious Mr. Morden in the ongoing conflict with the Narn. The elderly and ailing Centauri emperor, long an advocate of reconciliation with the Narn, dies suddenly while visiting Babylon 5. A number of conspirators, including Londo Mollari and Refa, take control of Centauri government by assassinating their opponents and placing the late emperor's unstable nephew on the throne. Their first act is to start open aggression against the Narn. After full-scale war breaks out, the Centauri eventually conquer Narn in a brutal attack involving mass drivers, outlawed weapons of mass destruction. Towards the end of the year, the Clark administration begins to show increasingly totalitarian characteristics, clamping down on dissent and restricting freedom of speech. The Vorlons are revealed to be the basis of legends about angels on various worlds, including Earth, and are the ancient enemies of the Shadows. They enlist the aid of Sheridan and the Babylon 5 command staff in the struggle against the Shadows.
Becoming concerned over the Shadows' growing influence amongst his people, Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari attempts to sever ties with them. Mr. Morden, the Shadows' human representative, tricks him into restoring the partnership by engineering the murder of Mollari's mistress. Open warfare breaks out between the Shadows and the alliance led by Babylon 5 and the Minbari. It is learned that genetic manipulation by the Vorlons is the source of human telepathy, as it is later discovered that Shadow ships are vulnerable to telepathic attacks. Displeased at the Vorlons' lack of direct action against the Shadows, Captain John Sheridan browbeats Vorlon ambassador Kosh Naranek into launching an attack against their mutual enemy. Kosh's deeds lead to his subsequent assassination by the Shadows.
Upon returning to the station, former commander Jeffrey Sinclair enlists the aid of Captain Sheridan, Delenn, Ivanova and Marcus and convinces them to travel back in time 1,000 years with the stolen Babylon 4 space station, intending to use it as a base of operations against the Shadows in the first Minbari-Shadow war. Undergoing the same transformation as Delenn at the end of Season 1, Sinclair transforms into a Minbari and is subsequently revealed to be the actual Valen of Minbari legend, rather than a reincarnation. Spurred by the reappearance of his assumed-dead wife (who now works for the Shadows), Sheridan travels to Z'ha'dum, the Shadow homeworld, in an attempt by them to recruit him. However he instead destroys their largest city in a kamikaze nuclear attack, and is last seen jumping into a miles-deep pit to escape the explosion. Garibaldi, during a fight with Shadow vessels, goes missing.
After Sherdian's return, Garibaldi returns in rather dubious circumstances and starts acting more paranoid and suspicious of other alien races than normal. He leaves his post as security chief and works on his own as a "provider of information". Garibaldi was actually abducted by the Psi-Corps at the end of Season 3 and re-programmed by Bester to provide information to him at the right time.
Centauri Emperor Cartagia forges a relationship with the Shadows. Londo Mollari engineers the assassination of Cartagia and repudiates his agreement with the Shadows. He kills Mr. Morden and destroys the Shadow vessels based on the Centauri homeworld, thus saving his planet from destruction by the Vorlons. Aided by the other ancient races, and several younger ones, Sheridan lures both the Vorlons and the Shadows into an immense battle, during which the Vorlons and Shadows reveal that they have been left as guardians of the younger races, but due to philosophical differences, ended up using them as pawns in their endless wars throughout the ages. The younger races reject their continued interference, and the Vorlons and Shadows, along with the remaining First Ones, agree to depart the galaxy forever.
Minbar is gripped by a brief civil war. Garibaldi betrays Sheridan and arranges his capture. Garibaldi later reveals to Bester about a virus that is dangerous to only telepaths, which the Psi-Corps then destroys. Bester releases Garibaldi of his programming, and allows him to remember everything he has done since being kidnapped. Garibaldi helps to free Sheridan and return him to the campaign to free Earth. An alliance led by Babylon 5 frees Earth from totalitarian rule by President Clark in a short but bloody war. This culminates in Clark's suicide and the restoration of peaceful government. Mars is granted full independence, and Sheridan agrees to step down as commander of Babylon 5. The League of Non-Aligned Worlds is dissolved and reformed into the Interstellar Alliance, with Sheridan elected as its first President and continuing his command of the Rangers, who are to act as a galactic equivalent of United Nations peacekeepers.
In the season finale, the events of 100, 500, 1000, and one million years into the future are shown, depicting Babylon 5's lasting influence throughout history. Amongst the events shown are the political aftermath of the 2261 civil war, a subsequent nuclear war on Earth involving a new totalitarian government in the year AD 2762, the resulting fall of Earth into a pre-industrial society, the loss and restoration of humanity's knowledge of space travel, and the final evolution of mankind into energy beings similar to the Vorlons, after which Earth's sun goes nova.
Centauri Prime is consequently decimated by Narn and Drazi warships, and Londo Mollari becomes emperor, accepting a Drakh Keeper under threat of the complete nuclear destruction of the planet. Portions of the end of his reign are seen in various time-travel sequences throughout the series; one such sequence shows Mollari and former nemesis (and later friend) G'Kar dying at each other's throats in an act of mutual suicide. Vir Cotto, Mollari's loyal and more moral aide, succeeds him as emperor, free of Drakh influence. Sheridan and Delenn marry and move to Minbar, along with the headquarters of the Interstellar Alliance.
Twenty years later, on the verge of death, Sheridan takes one final trip to the now-obsolete Babylon 5 station before its decommissioning. Sheridan apparently dies, but is claimed by the First Ones, who invite him to join them on a journey beyond the rim of the galaxy. The Babylon 5 station is completely destroyed in a planned demolition shortly after Sheridan's departure, its existence no longer necessary as the Alliance has taken over its diplomatic purposes.
|"Neither the Vorlons nor the Shadows saw themselves as conquerors or adversaries...both believed they were doing what was right for us. And like any possessive parent, they'll keep on believing that until the kid is strong enough to stand up and say, 'No, this is what I want.'"|
|— J. Michael Straczynski, 1997|
The notion that the war was about "killing your parents" is echoed in the portrayal of the civil war between the human colonies and Earth. Deliberately dealing in historical and political metaphor, with particular emphasis upon McCarthyism and HUAC, the Earth Alliance becomes increasingly-authoritarian, eventually sliding into a dictatorship. The show examines the impositions on civil liberties which aid its rise, and the self-delusion of a populace which believes its moral superiority will never allow a dictatorship to come to power, until it is too late. The successful rebellion led by the Babylon 5 station results in the restoration of a democratic government, and true autonomy for Mars and the colonies.
|"What interests me, what I wanted to do with making this show, was in large measure to examine the issues and emotions and events that precede a war, precipitate a war, the effects of the war itself, the end of the war and the aftermath of the war. The war is hardware; the people are at the center of the story."|
|— J. Michael Straczynski, 1997|
The Shadow War also features prominently in the show, during which an advanced alien species attempts to sow the seeds of conflict in order to promote technological and cultural advancement. The gradual discovery of the scheme and the rebellion against it serve as the backdrop to the first three seasons, but also as a metaphor for the war within ourselves; the concurrent limiting of civil liberties and Earth's descent into a dictatorship are "shadow wars" of their own. In ending the Shadow War before the conclusion of the series, the show was able to more fully explore its aftermath, and it is this "war at home" which forms the bulk of the remaining two seasons. The struggle for independence between Mars and Earth culminates with a civil war between the human colonies (led by the Babylon 5 station) and the home planet. Choosing Mars as both the spark for the civil war, and the staging ground for its dramatic conclusion, enabled the viewer to understand the conflict more fully than had it involved an anonymous colony orbiting a distant star. The conflict, and the reasons behind it, were informed by Nazism, McCarthyism and the breakup of Yugoslavia, and the unraveling of the former Balkan country also served as partial inspiration for another civil war, which involved the alien Minbari.
|"One of the things about the way events come to a head and finish…is that it's very unnerving...okay, now what? The ongoing conflict has become something you could count on, you knew the rough shape of what might be coming along. Now all that's kicked over, and you have to get on with the next aspect: making a new life."|
|— J. Michael Straczynski, 1997|
|"If you look at the long history of human society, religion - whether you describe that as organized, disorganized, or the various degrees of accepted superstition - has always been present. And it will be present 200 years from now... To totally ignore that part of the human equation would be as false and wrong-headed as ignoring the fact that people get mad, or passionate, or strive for better lives."|
|— J. Michael Straczynski, 1993|
Depictions of religion on the show, human and alien, sometimes come subtly, or are the main theme of an episode; the first season episode "The Parliament of Dreams" is a conventional "showcase" for religion, in which each species on the Babylon 5 station has an opportunity to demonstrate its beliefs, and "Passing Through Gethsemane" focuses on a specific position of Roman Catholic dogma, as well as concepts of justice, vengeance and biblical forgiveness. Other treatments have been more contentious, such as the David Gerrold-scripted "Believers", in which alien parents would rather see their son die than undergo a life-saving operation. By presenting the viewer with characters' spiritual beliefs, motivations are supplied for what might otherwise be construed as arbitrary behavior; these motivations are not necessarily based on truth, leading to misconceptions which in due course become important plot points. A typical question for Babylon 5 to present is a series of events which can initially be interpreted as having either a scientific or a spiritual explanation; while ultimately suggesting the former in most cases, occasionally the issue is left open. In others, where religious belief is an integral part of the storyline, the show attempts to balance all sides of the argument, as in "Soul Hunter", where the spiritual concept explored is that of the immortal soul, and whether after death it is destroyed, reincarnated or simply does not exist. The character arguing the latter, Doctor Stephen Franklin, is often put into the more spiritual storylines, as his scientific rationality presents a contrast with the unexplainable which creates dramatic conflict, and while the show's creator and main writer identifies as an atheist, undercurrents of religions as diverse as Buddhism have been noted as running through many of the characters' words. Passages, often the same ones, take on distinct meanings to viewers of differing faiths; the show ultimately expresses ideas which cross religious boundaries.
Numerous other references to substance abuse and drug dealing are scattered throughout the storyline, including Dust, a white powder with a black-market presence comparable to cocaine. "Dust" turns out to be a "designer drug" developed by Psi Corps and placed into the black market as an experiment to see if psychic abilities could be brought out in "mundanes" (non-psychics).
The Gathering was the pilot, depicting the arrival of the major characters to the Babylon 5 station in 2257. The made-for-TV movie In the Beginning depicts the events of the Earth-Minbari War, as revealed in the first few seasons, in chronological order and in greater detail than the main series. The made-for-TV movies Thirdspace and The River of Souls are largely stand-alone episodes.
Babylon 5: A Call to Arms set-up the premise of the Crusade series, depicting the Drakh releasing a nanovirus plague on Earth, which will destroy all life on the planet within five years if it is not stopped. To that end, the destroyer Excalibur is sent out to look for a cure.
The spin-off series Crusade ran on TNT for thirteen episodes, having been set up by the TV-movie A Call to Arms. The production team received help from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to make sure that the series depicted science and technology accurately. However, creative differences between Straczynski and TNT caused problems; the network wanted more sex and violence, and forced Straczynski to begin the first episode with a fistfight. The sex-and-violence request was later withdrawn, and TNT allocated more money to Crusade, giving the actors better uniforms and new sets mid-season. However, due to the creative differences, TNT eventually decided to cancel the series after thirteen episodes had been produced, but before any of them were aired. At the time of the cancellation, only hints of major story arcs had yet come into play, though unproduced scripts published online by Straczynski—in addition to comments made by him online, at conventions, and on the Crusade DVD commentaries—reveal that they would have become prominent features of the series, had it continued.
A made-for-TV movie titled To Live and Die in Starlight was produced by the Sci-Fi Channel. It was the proposed pilot episode of a new series titled Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers. Rescheduled after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the movie aired on January 19, 2002. However, it was scheduled against an NFL AFC Divisional Championship playoff game featuring the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders. The pilot's poor ratings contributed to the lessening of the network's interest in a series pick-up, as did the poor reception it received from fans and critics alike, particularly for its depiction of a virtual-reality weapon, but the final nail in its coffin was the dispute between Warner Bros. and Vivendi Universal (owners of the Sci-Fi Channel) over revenue-sharing for the potential weekly series.
In 2004 and early 2005, rumors widely circulated about a planned Babylon 5 movie for theatrical release. However, on February 25, 2005, a post from Straczynski announced that the project had fallen through, and was for all practical purposes dead. The proposed movie, titled The Memory of Shadows (TMOS), was written by Straczynski. Filming was to have begun in April, 2005 in the UK, with Steven Beck as the director.
Several sources have claimed that factions within Warner Bros. wanted to recast established Babylon 5 roles with younger and more well-known actors, causing a major controversy among fans. Straczynski has acknowledged the subject and has stated that the negotiations were problematic, but has said that he is unable to directly comment on the issue. It has been said, however, that Warner's stated principle at the time was only to do "blockbuster" movies featuring "star" names, and that the issue of re-casting the characters only arose as a result of those attempting to finance TMoS approaching WB, having been unable to raise the finance elsewhere.
A new project set in Babylon 5 universe was announced by Straczynski at San Diego Comic Con 2006. Babylon 5: The Lost Tales is a set of mini-stories featuring established characters from the series, released direct-to-DVD. Production of the first anthology of two stories, named collectively Voices in the Dark, commenced in November 2006 with Straczynski writing, producing, and directing. It was released July 31, 2007. In a Usenet post on September 5, 2007, Straczynski stated that Warner Bros. "are most pleased as sales have been several orders of magnitude beyond what they anticipated.
On July 13 2008, Straczynski revealed that he had no plans to continue The Lost Tales. He said that although the studio was interested in another disc, they wanted to budget the next installment similarly to the first. Citing his disappointment with the first release due to the low budget, Straczynski said he did not want to dilute Babylon 5's legacy with further sub-par stories. He stated that he would only return to the Babylon 5 universe if Warner Bros. wanted to do a large-budgeted cinema release.
Unique to the Babylon 5 universe among virtually all other shared media universes is the sanctioned canonicity of many of its offshoot novels and comic book stories; nearly all of the Babylon 5 novels and novelizations to date having been based on outlines written directly by J. Michael Straczynski. The later Del Rey books are considered to be more canonical than some of the earlier Dell ones, and at least two major plotline revelations were made in the DC Comics series that were directly referenced in the TV series. In all, per Straczynski's own remarks, canonical elements exist in every single book or comic published to date, and his deeper involvement in the novel-publishing program from 1996 onward has ensured a greater level of canonicity within such works.
Additionally, Straczynski himself penned a number of short stories, published in Amazing Stories magazine, expanding on several key story-points from the television series, along with a number of other established authors, with all such tales considered as "real" as the TV show itself.
Mongoose Publishing, the publisher of recent Babylon 5 role-playing game (RPG) material, announced plans to release a line of Babylon 5 novels and graphic novels, beginning in summer 2006. J. Michael Straczynski made it clear that he was not involved with this project, and considered the works to be "fan-fiction. In spring of 2007, Mongoose announced that the project was cancelled.
As of 2007, J. Michael Straczynski is still writing the manuscript for a Babylon 5 graphic novel, to be published on an as-yet-unknown date by Wildstorm Productions. The premise, characters, and plot have not been officially confirmed, but it has been reported that Straczynski originally planned to write a story that takes place before the season three two-parter "War Without End," featuring Sinclair and Sheridan, and involving Mars, Minbar, Babylon 5, and a conspiracy. It has also been reported that he has subsequently decided to tie in elements from the spinoffs Crusade and Legend of the Rangers into the book. The graphic novel will be 100 pages long. The artist has not yet been announced.
All five seasons have been released individually in the US and the UK. A complete 5-season set is also available in each of the two DVD regions, titled Babylon 5: The Complete Television Series for the U.S. and Canada, and Babylon 5: The Complete Universe for the UK. The UK version also includes all the films and the short-lived spin-off Crusade. As of 2007, all 5 television seasons and their individual episodes are also for sale at the iTunes Store.
According to director J. Michael Straczynski as of mid-2006 "The DVD sales have raised over 500 million in revenue." The financial success of the DVD box sets has led to a renewed interest in further Babylon 5 work .
|DVD Name||Region 1||Region 2|
|Babylon 5: The Complete First Season||November 5 2002||October 28 2002|
|Babylon 5: The Complete Second Season||April 29 2003||May 26 2003|
|Babylon 5: The Complete Third Season||August 12 2003||November 10 2003|
|Babylon 5: The Complete Fourth Season||January 6 2004||April 19 2004|
|Babylon 5: The Complete Fifth Season||April 13 2004||January 17 2005|
|Babylon 5: The Complete Television Series||August 17 2004||N/A|
|Babylon 5: The Complete Universe||N/A||October 24 2005|
|Babylon 5: The Complete Collection (Amazon.co.uk Exclusive)||N/A||November 5 2007|
The Babylon 5 TV movies were distributed differently in the U.S. and UK. Initially a DVD containing the two movies The Gathering and In the Beginning were released on both region 1 (North America) and region 2 (UK) DVD. Then, in the U.S., the first five movies which aired while Babylon 5 was still on the air were released in one boxset, with the TV movie Legend of the Rangers getting its own separate release on both region 1 and region 2 DVD. In the UK, a film boxset was released, but instead of containing the five movies like the U.S. version, it contained the three movies which hadn't been released yet (Thirdspace, River of Souls, and A Call to Arms). The Gathering was released as a low-priced promotional R1 DVD in 2004, intended as a 'trial' of the series proper; Warner Bros. issued several such DVDs but discontinued the line shortly thereafter due to lack of interest.
|DVD name||Region 1||Region 2|
|Babylon 5: The Gathering/In the Beginning||December 4 2001||N/A|
|Babylon 5: The Gathering||N/A||April 8 2002|
|Babylon 5: In the Beginning||N/A||April 8 2002|
|Babylon 5: The Movie Collection||August 17 2004||N/A|
|Babylon 5: Movie Box Set||N/A||February 21 2005|
|Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers||March 14 2006||October 24 2005|
|Babylon 5: The Lost Tales||July 31 2007||September 3 2007|
This has resulted in several consistent flaws throughout the Babylon 5 widescreen release. In particular, quality drops significantly whenever a scene cuts from purely live-action to a shot combining live-action and CGI. This is particularly noticeable on the PAL DVDs, since CGI shots had to be converted from NTSC, as well as being blown up to fit a widescreen television. In addition, while the live-action film was originally widescreen, shots were composed for 4:3, resulting in a conspicuous tendency for actors to clump up in the middle of the screen.
The Babylon 5 Component Game system was also released in 1997 by 'Component Game Systems'. It was a complex political and military based game, using a number of individually purchased expansions or components, which could take up to 5 hours to play. Component Game Systems came out with a number of component game systems that used the same semi-collectible approach, and was derived from the unpublished Galactic Empires board game, based on the CCG of the same name --Companion Games (Galactic Empires' publisher) became Component Game Systems in the process. The basic idea is that each player need only buy his part of the game, representing in this case a specific political entity from the Babylon 5 universe. Players sit down at the same table and combine their components to have a game. 'Component Game Systems' folded in 1999 after having released only the first two 'years' (2258 and 2259) worth of Babylon related components for the game, and even their domain name (www.c-g-s.com) has been recycled by some unrelated group.
The Babylon 5 Wars wargame was first published by Agents of Gaming in 1998. The game was developed in close contact with the creators of the show, and most of the published material is considered canon. Agents of Gaming later published Babylon 5 Fleet Action, which focused on battles of a larger scale. In 2004, Babylon 5: A Call to Arms was released by Mongoose Publishing. The game is similar in many ways to Babylon 5 Wars but has a more streamlined rules set and games take a lot less time to complete.
Precedence Entertainment produced the Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game between 1997 and 2000. In its original form, the game allowed for 2-4 players with each one playing one of the ambassadors to the B5 council: Sinclair, Delenn, G'Kar or Londo. Later expansions increased the maximum number of players that could play at once and expanded the players' options. Players could represent the League of Non-Aligned Worlds or could play alternative ambassadors such as Bester for the Psi Corps or Lord Refa for the Centauri. The game was discontinued after Precedence lost the license from Warner Brothers in 2000.
There are no officially licensed Babylon 5 video games on the market, though in 1998 a video game based on Babylon 5, named Into the Fire, was being developed by Yosemite Entertainment, an internal division of Sierra Entertainment. Work on this game ended on September 21, 1999, when, as part of a corporate reorganization, Sierra cancelled it and laid off its development staff when the game was only a few months away from release. This game was to have cast the player as the pilot of a Starfury fighter craft, giving the player an opportunity to "move up through the ranks," and eventually take command of capital ships and even fleets. Christopher Franke composed and recorded new music for the game, and live action footage was filmed with the primary actors from the series.
A number of unauthorized Babylon 5 modifications have been created for other computer games, as well as at least one (unlicensed) independent project to develop standalone games.