These are the voyages...
er, wait, that's wrong.
It was the dawn of the third age of mankind.
( A compilation of all five title sequences for Babylon 5. Most shows make, at best, minor changes to their title sequence. Babylon 5 recorded (or stitched together, for the last two) a brand new sequence and voice-over for each season. My favorite is 3, because Ivanova is the best. The rest are ranked thusly: 4,2,1,5. )
Intended to be the first show that had a defined beginning, middle and end with novel-esque dramatic structure, Babylon 5 told the story of the titular station across 5 years; with each season encompassing a year in the life. The important distinction, for me, is this: going in, there was an outline of all five seasons. The brains behind the operation, one J. Michael Straczynski (hereafter referred to as JMS for obvious reasons), was also the primary screenwriter for the show. Famously, he wrote the entire third season. In fact, according to wiki, of the 110 episodes aired, he wrote 92
; 59 of those in an unbroken streak. Most shows could be called shared-world
, in the vein of comic books (and a niche style of book); many writers sending the same set of characters on various adventures. Babylon 5 belongs to JMS, through and through.
JMS recognized and prepared for many of the potential pitfalls of the television medium. Actors left the show and guest stars took other jobs. These had replacements (with unique personal arcs) ready and waiting. The show was almost cancelled in the fourth season; barely saved by TNT. The planned 5-year arc became condensed and both major conflicts were resolved by the end of the fourth season. This had two results: first, the fifth season meanders a bit and isn't as strong as the middle three; second, we got the fantastic Deconstruction of Falling Stars
as a new season 4 finale.
TNT, as an aside, did not do well by Babylon 5. The sequel (or spinoff, maybe) show, Crusade (and stop me if this sounds familiar) had episodes aired out of order followed by TNT pulling the plug due to low ratings and viewer confusion early in the first season.
Back to B5: The first season, with Commander Jeffrey Sinclair is widely regarded as the worst season. If you can struggle through, there's quite a bit of information in the background that sets up the future conflicts.
...selection, as of the third season.
Starting in the back row, left to right:
Vir Cotto: attaché to Londo Mollari
Londo: Centauri ambassador to Babylon 5
G'Kar: Narn ambassador to Babylon 5
Lennier: attaché to Delenn
Delenn: Minbari ambassador to Babylon 5 (why does she look different than Lennier? Watch the show!)
Marcus Cole: Human Ranger, posted to Babylon 5
Zack Allen: a security guard
Dr. Stephen Franklin: Chief Medical Doctor
Lt. Cmd. Susan Ivanova: the second-in-command.
Captain John Sheridan: the commander of Babylon 5
Chief Michael Garibaldi: security chief.
There are five major races: Humans, Narn, Minbari, Centauri and Vorlon. There are a fair number of other minor races.
About 10 years before the show begins, the Humans and Minbari had a major conflict. Roughly 2 minutes before the Humans were genocided, the Minbari stopped
. Why they stopped is the central mystery of the first season.
The Centauri used to occupy Narn. The Narn were not happy about this, and eventually made it too expensive for the Centauri to stay.
With the Earth-Minbari war on one side and the Narn / Centauri grudge match on the other, Humans decided to try the UN thing again. They built Babylon stations to serve as council chambers and attendant facilities. The first three stations blew up; the fourth vanished; number five survived. Each of the major races sent an ambassador to Babylon 5; each ambassador has one vote. The minor races form the League of Non-Aligned Worlds; together, they get one vote. The resident commander of Babylon 5 doubles as the Human ambassador; the Minbari sent Delenn; Centauri Prime gave Londo Mollari the job; G'Kar represents Narn; and Kosh (not shown) is from the Vorlon Empire.
Lennier and Vir were tapped to help out their ambassador - Lennier is happy to serve; Vir is just wondering how he ended up with a good job. G'Kar goes through a few. The Rangers aren't given an official introduction for quite some time; consider them a spy network for the good guys.
I found a map. It looks pretty fannish, though
Where Star Trek has warp speed; Stargate has the titular artifact; and Farscape has both wormholes and starburst; Babylon 5 uses hyperspace to travel the stellar distances.
To enter hyperspace, one must be able to "punch through" the barrier to it. The resulting portal resembles a wormhole:
The opposing action opens a blue wormhole.
It takes a massive amount of energy to enter or leave hyperspace. While this is fine for cruisers and certain other large ships, smaller vessels need to rely on Jump Gates.
Jump gates are reactors capable of generating and then focusing the energy needed to open a portal to hyperspace.
edit: One of the best resources is The Lurker's Guide
. Episode summaries, questions about the larger story, and a (badly formatted) section with old usenet postings that JMS posted while the show was on the air. /edit
I've seen a bit of Babylon 5 discussion popping up over the past several weeks. As B5 is one of my favorite shows, this pleases me.
Scattered conversations are one thing, though; a thread is something else.
Will it survive?