Saturday, August 04, 2007

Babylon 5: The Lost Tales

Returning after a near 10-year hiatus, J. Michael Straczynski once again opens the doors to the Babylon 5 universe which first made its appearance in 1993 and became a weekly show. Through all the difficulties, such as actors walking off the job and network executives pulling the plug, the show soldiered on and eventually garnered a large and loyal fan base. Yet from the beginning, Straczynski made it clear that the show was not meant to last more than five years and so in 1998, we said a tearful goodbye.

Taking place 10 years after the events of the last episode of Babylon 5, The Lost Tales is actually two stories in one. The first concerns a demon-like creature which has taken possession of a crew member. Devoid of action, the story instead relies completely on dialogue and features Commander Lochley and a priest who is called in to exercise the demon. The interplay between the characters was a poignant reminder of a show far ahead of its time, one which used technology where necessary to enhance a story but never forgot what made a good story in the first place.

The second episode centers on President Sheridan, leader of the Interstellar Alliance. His leisurely journey to Babylon 5 for the 10-year anniversary celebration of the founding of that alliance is interrupted when Galen, a technomage from his past, gives him an awful choice: either kill a boy who has entrusted his life to Sheridan or watch Earth be destroyed by that boy's future fleet of warships.

In addition to the two episodes, there are also interviews with Boxleitner, Scoggins and Straczynski himself. Memorials to deceased actors Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs, who played Citizen G'Kar and Doctor Franklin respectively, are touching and reveal just how well the cast got along with each other.

My only complaint would have to be a technical one. During the second episode when Galen is talking to Sheridan in his dream, a boom mike suddenly appears at the top of the screen and stays for about five seconds before disappearing. Seeing the fourth wall so egregiously broken was a bit shocking, especially given Straczynski's penchant for perfection.

Overall, I would say that casual fans of the show probably won't get much out of this DVD. But for those who would consider themselves hard core, myself included, it's like stepping into a pool and finding the water warm and inviting. I just hope we get more than a toe-dipping with the next installment.

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