Babylon 5. Ah you intriguing, sometimes frustrating, generally intelligent, often complex, sometimes wretched TV series. As a boy, I watched the first series on and off, missed most of the second series (Bruce Boxleitner's constant grin unnerved me) and then got completely sucked in by the third series and followed it through to the end.
As this is the type of show that terrestrial telly will not show again, and if it does will take five years to show the whole thing, the DVD set of every episode was an esssential buy. That I also got Crusade and the various TV movies was a delightful bonus.
The show's premise is that after a war in which the human race nearly got wiped out by the Minbari, after a diplomatic snafu, EarthGov created a space station (actually a series of space stations, though the previous four are defunct) that would act as a neutral ground for the many races of the galaxy so that they could come together and talk peace unto each other. But of course, people talk about peace even when they want the opposite and so life on Babylon 5 is always fraught. However there is more going on on Babylon 5 than just diplomacy. Ancient forces are rising again in the galaxy that threaten to decimate civilisation. Earth's Government falls into the hands of a tyrant and there is a human agency called the Psi Corps who routinely bully and oppress telepaths into doing their bidding.
Watching the show again, I was surprised how good it was. You know how it is, things you loved as a teenager are often not so well executed as you thought, but in the case of Babylon 5 in seasons 3 & 4 at least, there's little else that touches it. And it is still painfully relevant. Much of the story is about the hard decisions military officers are forced to make at the behest of their government and how that plays against their personal morality. It talks about governments stamping over personal liberties under the guise of dealing with terrorism. It deals with the problems of blue collar workers, inter-species relationships and substance abuse. The humour is sometimes clumsy, but often inspired, and it has a 5 year arc, so that stuff you see in the first series pays off in all the following seasons. The acting ranges from adequate to fantastic (I'm looking at you Katsulas and Jurasik) and the SFX is basic but still effective. With every season, the show re-defines itself, retaining much of what works, solving some mysteries and creating new ones (something Lost should take note of). It is epic and it is brilliant.
But that's just the main show. What about the TV movies? They're okay but not essential. In the Beginning, for example, just patches together the back story we were dripfed in the TV series, so don't watch it before you've watched the TV episodes. Crusade? Well, it has potential. Only 13 episodes were made before it was cancelled. After the main series ends, Earth is made subject to a virus that will kill everyone infected in five years. A small military force that was off-planet when the virus hit is given the job of finding a cure. But the characters just feel like reheated versions of characters from B5, emphasis is placed on the character Galen at the beginning, which means none of the other characters really develop, especially nominal main star Capt Gideon, and there's never, considering that the fate of billions of people is at stake, a real sense of pressure or urgency. I don't think that five years of searching for a cure would have worked but it's possible that the creator never planned for the search to go on that long anyway.
If you've never seen B5, you might want to test the waters with a season box set first (the best are 3&4, though you may find yourself slightly in at the deep end, season 1 is fab but isn't a real taster of where the show ends up going, season 2 probably occupies the middle ground between the extremes), but if you're someone who has seen and enjoyed it, I think you owe it to yourself to buy this set. Although bear in mind that it's a pig to find somewhere to keep it.
on 6 September 2007
This is the best money i have ever spent.
This product is not available to buy in stores in Australia so the internet was the way to get what i can't buy here.
excellent value for money. 87 english pounds = approx $240 australian
you get--- all 5 series (22 or 23 episodes in each)
6 Movies -- The Gathering / In The Beginning / Thirdspace
The River Of Souls / A Call To Arms
The Legend of The Rangers (this movie never been shown on Australian TV)
And also -- The Crusades complete series (never been on stralian TV and is also not abailable for sale here either).
To all those who love science fiction and especially this show i
recommend this product to be bought as you will not be disappointed.
on 24 October 2005
The first four series of B5 are immense. The fifth one is so-so (unless you have a telepath leaning). With undertones of all legends from King Arthur through to Tolkein and co, this series is simply essential viewing for anyone with half a brain.
Going where Star Trek couldn't, it deals in the realms of prophecy, revenge and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit (and integrally the human soul).
A must see for anyone with any inclination towards the Sci-Fi genre.
on 11 January 2006
5 series plus crusade series and the movies it is the universe. All the series are in 5.1 digital but three of the movies are only 2.0. But that is a minor thing This is a great purchase
on 9 December 2006
J Michael Straczynski wrote an epic for the modern day when he created Babylon 5. The serial story arc runs through the entire five years in real time with the occasional glimpse into what the future holds for our characters. Each character's journey is gripping, emotional and believable and you cannot fail to be engaged with every one of them. JMS gifts us people with real lives, flawed heroes with the capacity for greatness. Ordinary men and women who battle their own demons to be better than they think they are. The excellent scripts are backed to the hilt by outstanding performances by the cast. Babylon 5 is a fairy tale for the space age and this collection is a must for anyone who watched (or missed) it on tv. I'd forgotten how good it was!
on 18 November 2007
Ok, first of all...the DVD's are present here exactly as if you had bought them separately (in large box-set format). The advantage to buying them as a complete set is obvious once you're in possession of it- not only do you get everything that `Babylon 5' has to offer on DVD (excluding the most recent addition- 'The Lost Tales'), but you also get a beautiful and durable presentation box in which to store this massive compilation. The disadvantages to this set are (1) that you don't get the new 'Lost Tales' DVD with `The Complete Universe' and (2) that this set is somewhat larger than it's rival (and not to be confused with) `The Complete Collection', but with more Lost Tales likely to be released in the near future, it's probable that the smaller version will become obsolete at some point in the future as well, so out of the two it would be this set that I would personally recommend.
It may be that you, like me, already own most of the B5 DVD's that are available, but I would definitely recommend this set even if you're already in possession of most of the season sets within it. I myself re-sold all my old DVD's and made back almost half of what this set cost me to buy brand new, which just goes to show you how good value this set is. Still...it's expensive. But for me it was definitely worth the money and in my opinion, I doubt this set will become much cheaper in the future. More likely it will only increase in value and then become rare and difficult to obtain, which was a risk I wasn't willing to take.
To write separate reviews for the entire content of this set that could do justice to this universe created by J Michael Straczynski would take more page-space than Amazon would be willing to allow me, but suffice is to say- the Universe of Babylon 5 is an epic story and one that will forever haunt my imagination and my heart.
on 26 November 2005
Take a back seat Star Trek because here's a Sci Fi series that gives you a run for your money and wins hands down! At long last TV gives us a series set in a believable universe that doesn't rely on single unrelated episodes but tells a story spanning 5 years and when on TV lasted for 5 years/series. Set mainly on board a space station orbiting a distant planet, the first series is used to introduce the main characters and places. This is perhaps the series closest to Star Treck as on first sight each is a single episode, but wait a minute, some of the episodes ask questions but don't provide answers. You may even be left a little confused. But series 2 sees a new comander and some new characters such as Bester a Psi Cop played by the very same actor as Star Trecks Mr Chekov and the story starts to expand with a new race of ancients called the shadows and it seems as if a big war may be round the corner. Then hang on a minute, questions from earlier start to be answered, such as what was all that to do with Babylon 4 about?
The Characters a well written and acted, all are believable. Whole alien races have complete histories and are completely believable. Humans and Aliens alike are not all black and white, in fact one of the main characters who you at first take to be a baddy among the good guys turns out to be the most heroic and loyal characters who was looking out for his own kind as well as warning the othersw while an apparent good guy is more complex and a very tragic character heading towrds a big downfall through cicumstances beyond his control.
This can be viewed as a simple sci fi series which in essence it is, but it is also far more than that; it is intelligent, thoughtful, complex with twists and turns to the plot in almost every episode. Nothing and no one are what they at first appear.
The writing is intelligent, the acting very good (but occassionally a bit stiff) and the special effects are excellent. The costumes, buildings, sets and ships are designed to be exceedingly believable and the ongoing story is fantastic. A slow start but things really speed up part way through series 2 and crescendo in series 4 while slowing again in series 5 as characters disband and the poignant final 2 episodes of series 5 are so sad!
Like sci fi? get this. Looking for many hours of excelent entertainment, get this. Want intelligent sci fi? Get this. Its a surefire winner.
on 1 July 2007
I managed to bag this huge boxset for £63 on amazon earlier this year, and still have`nt finished watching all of it yet. I saw a few episodes of it back in the 90`s and a friend loves it, so when I saw it for such a bargain price I took the plunge.
I currently halve way through season 4, and after a few dodgy epsiodes in season 1 its been a joy to watch. The storyines are huge not only in scope but in length. Some of the story arcs last for a good 50-60 episdodes and as the characters are always the same you get a nice sense of continuity.
Whether i`d pay £150 - £200 for the boxset i`m not sure, but if your a fan of sci-fi and want something different to the usual run of the mill stuff churned out then you can`t go wrong with this set, and lets face it you get a huge amount of material for you money, its not often you buy a series boxset and get all the movies and spin-off series thrown in as well.
Well, this is a not a box-set to purchase without consideration - it's expensive. However, just look at what's inside. B5 is better than most of the genre - many would argue that it's the best. The 5 seasons are beautifully planned, written, produced, acted, directed, etc. The way loose ends from season 1 are tied up in the final series is superb. I have to say, however, that the final episode of season 4 is mostly pointless & boring (my wife fell asleep) and the season should have finished with the preceding story. The extras are possibly a bit sparse, but what you do get is pretty good. The movies are okay but a bit variable in quality. Presumably, "Legend of the Rangers" was intended as a pilot for a spin-off series - thankfully it wasn't taken up as it is pretty dire and not worthy to be in the same company as the main series. I thought "Crusade" was a much better spin-off and it's a shame that the tv companies chose not to give it the 5 seasons that they gave B5. I want to know what happened in the end!
To conclude then, if you were a Babylon 5 fan when it was first shown and you've got the necessary cash, buy this set - you won't regret it. If you aren't sure if you were a Babylon 5 fan then buying this set may well turn out to be a great intuitive move. Don't bother with Star Trek Deep Space 9 (which was B5's very similar contemporary) - B5 is far superior.
on 11 June 2007
Not a lot to add to the previous reviews. The show itself would get 10 stars is that were an option. The dvds however, get only a 3 (and I'm being generous). The video quality has not been improved for this boxed set, and there are still glitches and grain visible in the action scenes. Another important thing to note is the addition of RCE on several of the discs (An added dvd encryption that works against region free dvd drives. google to learn more), so if you have a region free dvd, some of the discs may not play.