So I don’t think it’s any secret that I pretty much spent the 1990s watching whatever sci-fi television was readily available to me. But one that I’ve never given much thought to was Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski’s five-year tale of a space station caught in the middle of intergalactic war. Maybe a part of it was the fact that my heart at that point belonged to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and there were only so many space station shows to which I could pledge eternal fealty? I dunno, to be honest. I just know that it’s weird, because I have been rewatching Babylon 5 this week, Frank, and Babylon 5? Actually kind of awesome.
The basic deal was this: Babylon 5 was a space station created as a port of call for a Mos Eisley cantina’s worth of alien races as well as a neutral seat of politics for various planetary federations — ostensibly doing what the United Nations did after World War II to prevent another interstellar war.
Instead, though, it ended up becoming an independent political force that led a war against a totally ancient first evil called the Shadows (you know they were evil because their space ships looked like giant spiders, and yes, it’s a first evil with space ships, just go with it), not to mention an Earth gone completely fascist and no shortage of inter-species fighting. It’s an incredibly dense four seasons of narrative, covering the political situations on at least four different planets simultaneously with the on-station intrigue, while also managing to find time for some incredibly endearing characters, romance, time travel, religious symbolism, telepaths and the occasional Looney Tunes clip. Read the rest of this entry