Star Trek: The Next Generation became a long-running hit in syndication during the late 80’s, proving that there was still an audience for space-operas. Plenty of rival shows sprang up in the early 90’s both in syndication and on the networks to fill this new demand for science-fiction programming. Babylon 5 was one the many shows telecast during this time, and viewers and critics quickly singled it out from the rest of the pack for its originality.
The series was set in the year 2258, following a war between the planet Earth and an alien planet called Minbar. The major setting of the story was ‘Babylon 5,’ a gigantic remote station in a neutral area of outer space. It served as a place for the ambassadors of several different interstellar races to meet and settle their differences. However, the events of the story took place against a backdrop of great social unrest, and the corruption running rampant through the Earth’s government soon led to interplanetary warfare.
The dramatic focus of the show was divided between the people who lived and worked on the station and a diverse group of aliens from other planets. Commander Sinclair was the initial leader of the station, but was replaced in the second season by Captain Sheridan. Other crew members included Commander Ivanova, Dr. Franklin and security chief Garibaldi. Ambassadors from other planets included Londo from Centauri, G’Kar from Narn, and a Minbari named Delenn.
The key difference between Babylon 5 and many other sci-fi shows was that it was designed as one continuous story that unfolded over several seasons, as opposed to a series of stand-alone episodes. From the outset, creator/producer J. Michael Straczynski knew what would happen in every episode and applied the act structure that is normally used in a single episode of a series as the model for the entire series run. This gave him the ability to deploy literary devices like foreshadowing to strengthen the cohesion of the overall storyline and thus make the show unusually rich in its storytelling.
Babylon 5 also stood apart from other sci-fi shows because it placed major importance on having character interaction and tension drive the show instead of clever plot devices. This made the show easier to take seriously, since the emotions and fears that drove the characters could be understood by one and all.
True to its initial plan, Babylon 5 ended after its fifth season in 1998. It continues to be popular with sci-fi fanatics through reruns and videotapes. The series also spawned several two-hour television films, including Babylon 5: In The Beginning, Babylon 5: Thirdspace, and Babylon 5: A Call To Arms. The latter film set up the premise for the short lived sequel Crusade.
Syndicated – Warner – Babylonian / x50 minute episodes / Broadcast 1994-1998
Creator and Executive Producer: Michael J. Straczynski / Executive Producer: Douglas Netter / Music: Christopher Franke
Bruce Boxleitner as John Sheridan
Claudia Christian as Susan Ivanova (1994-97, 1998)
Jerry Doyle as Michael Garibaldi
Mira Furlan as Delenn
Michael O’Hare as Jeffrey Sinclair (1994)
Richard Biggs as Doctor Stephen Franklin
Tracy Scoggins as Captain Elizabeth Lochley (1998)
Bill Mumy as Lennier
Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto
Jeff Conaway as Zack Allan (1994-98)
Patricia Tallman as Lyta Alexander (1995-98)
Jason Carter as Marcus Cole
Andrea Thompson as Talia Winters (1994-95)
Julie Caitlin Brown as Na’Toth(#1) (1994, 1998)
Robert Rusler as Lt. Warren Keffer (1995-96)