This is pure nerdy indulgence, to talk about a 1990s science fiction show – but Babylon 5 is amazing, and is being released on Blu-Ray at long last.

(c) Warner Bros

One of the first, if not the actual first, attempts at a long running story set within a science fiction setting, with most episodes each stand-alone, but incrementally adding to the story arc being laid out.

The first series is a bit OK but underpins the rest of the story, and it really gets into its stride in the second series, and just keeps getting more intense until the story conclusion at the end of the fourth series. Fifth is a bit OK, and was more an attempt to create a second long arc storyline, but stumbled in trying.

However, the first four series of Babylon 5 = awesomeness.

It’s set in a space station – the fifth of the Babylon space stations, as a sort of intergalactic United Nations set up to bring different species together. Being an American TV show the idea that the future UN would be funded by the government is out of the question, so it’s also a trading outpost as well, which allows them to introduce lots of characters and sub-plots.

That would make for a decent set of stories, but behind it all is a battle between two ancient species that runs alongside an alarmingly prophetic storyline about an Earth government conspiracy.

The special effects were, at the time, lauded, but will look dated today — as they do for all old TV shows, but this is very much a plot-based science fiction show, with occasional bang bangs.

Although the humans are obviously, ahem, human, and most of the aliens do have a tendency towards humanoid forms, there are some for the time very radical attempts at aliens that are, well, alien to us. Insect based aliens were not something you saw on telly in the 1990s.

The music is also very good, and the way they slowed the music down to give it more gravitas for the pivotal battle in Series Three is still unbeaten in my opinion.

According to the series creator, J. Michael Straczynski, the Blu-Ray version is based on the 4:3 remaster done for HBO-Max, which matches the original broadcast, but putting it onto Blu-Ray increases the bitrate so it should look even better than when broadcast.

The release is for the complete series – that’s the pilot episode and all five main series — not the films or spin-offs. They had thought to add the commentaries, but apparently that wasn’t feasible. However, what matters is putting out a remastered version on Blu-Ray at long long last.

You can pre-order the Blu-Ray Babylon 5 from here for delivery in December, just in time for a massive Christmas binge watch.


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  1. Matthew says:

    Hi Ian. Great write up… ink a massive fan of all the b5 material. I’ve always wanted a version that will do the series some justice… the dvds were atrocious. Very happy at the news of a blu-ray release. The link you’ve posted at the end of your article points to Amazon’s us site. Do you know if this release will be region zoned?

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    S5 was less good because the network cancelled (or threatened to) the series and Straczynski, who had always planned 5 seasons, was forced to accelerate the story to get the main conflict done. Then when a reprieve was granted he had little to offer. I loved the series at the time – no point in spoiling it for those who haven’t – but wouldn’t go back to it I think.

    “The name of the place….Babylon 5”

    • MilesT says:

      Wasn’t the filming of one of the later series also affected by a serious earthquake in California, or am I mis-remembering that (mike have been a strike)?

      I always liked how some of the darker alien storylines in the later series/spinoffs were rather Cthulhu-esque

      Certainly paved the way for other long story arc ensemble cast sci-fi (e.g. Farscape, Andromeda)

  3. Robert says:

    Yea, B5 on blu-ray. Well, that’s my Xmas present to me sorted!

  4. Stephen Ede-Borrett says:

    And Straczynski is working on a new B5! Last time I looked there was no information as to whether this was a follow-up, a reboot, or a remake but its Straczynski again so hey, it is going to be good.

    • MilesT says:

      Sadly no Harlan Ellison (died 2018)–I think he takes a lot of credit for the good story arcs on B5

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