Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on the Babylon 5 space station: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict during the years 2257–2262. With its prominent use of planned story arcs, the series was often described as a "novel for television".
The pilot film premiered on February 22, 1993. The regular series aired from January 26, 1994 and ran for five full seasons. Due to Warner corporate structure and policy concerning syndication in general and syndication of properties produced by the defunct PTEN division in particular, the show has been syndicated only briefly and has not appeared on television since 2003. The show spawned six television films and a spin-off series, Crusade, which aired in 1999 and ran for 13 episodes. On July 31, 2007, a DVD, The Lost Tales, was released containing two short films about selected characters from the series.
Set between the years 2257 and 2262, it depicts a future where earth has sovereign states and a unifying Earthgov. Colonies within the solar system, and beyond, make up the Earth Allianceand contact has been made with other spacefaring races. The ensemble cast portray alien ambassadorial staff and humans assigned to the five mile long Babylon 5 space station, a centre for trade and diplomacy.
Described as “one of the most complex programs on television” the various story arcs drew upon the prophesies, religious zealotry, racial tensions, social pressures and political rivalries which existed within each of their cultures, to create a contextual frame for the motivations and consequences of the protagonists actions. With a strong emphasis oncharacter development set against a backdrop of conflicting ideologies on multiple levels, Straczynski wanted “to take an adult approach to SF, and attempt to do for television SF what HILL STREET BLUES did for cop shows.”
Generally viewed as having “launched the new era of television CGI visual effects", it received multiple awards during its initial run including two consecutive Hugos for best dramatic presentation, and continues to regularly feature prominently in various polls and listings highlighting top rated sci-fi shows. Not appearing on American television since 2003, it continues to be shown in international markets such as the FX Channel in the UK, the TV4-ScifFi Channel in Sweden and the FBC TV channel in Fiji.
Initially written by Straczynski, DCbegan publishing Babylon 5 comics in 1994 with stories that closely tied in with events depicted in the show. The franchise continued to expand into short stories, RPG games and novels with the Technomage trilogy of books being the last to be published in 2001, shortly after the spin-off television series, Crusade, was cancelled.
Backstory & Synopsis
At the beginning of the series, five dominant civilizations are represented. The dominant species are the Humans, Minbari, Narn, Centauri, and the Vorlons. "The Shadows" and their various allies are malevolent species who appear later in the series. Several dozen less powerful species from the League of Non-Aligned Worlds appear, including the Drazi, Brakiri, Vree, Markab, and pak'ma'ra. The station's first three predecessors (the original Babylon station, Babylon 2 and Babylon 3) were sabotaged or accidentally destroyed before their completion. The fourth station, Babylon 4, vanished 24 hours after it became fully operational.
The television series takes it name from the Babylon 5 space station, located in the Epsilon Eridani star system, at the fifth Lagrangian point between the fictional planet Epsilon III and its moon. An O'Neill Cylinder five miles long and a half mile to a mile across, living areas accommodate the various alien species, including differing atmospheres and gravity. Human visitors to the alien sectors are shown using breathing equipment and other measures to tolerate the conditions.
The five seasons of the series each correspond to one fictional sequential year in the period 2258–2262. Each season shares its name with an episode that is central to that season's plot. As the series starts, the Babylon 5 station is welcoming ambassadors from various races in the galaxy. Earth has just barely survived an accidental war with the powerful Minbari, who, despite their superior technology, mysteriously surrendered at the brink of the destruction of the human race (the Battle of the Line).
The station is an O'Neill Cylinder, five miles long and a half mile to a mile across, rotating to give artificial gravity. The center is open, and includes fields,hydroponic gardens, and a transport tube running the station length. The station has independent, interconnected sectors, designed differently to avoid claustrophobia. Living areas accommodate the various alien species, including differing atmospheres and gravity.
Human visitors to the alien sectors are shown using breathing equipment and other measures to tolerate the conditions. As the series begins, the station is under construction, with only parts completed, others lending to shadowy bowel areas. On some outer levels, the viewports are in floor panels, giving a view into space beneath the feet.
The station is in the Epsilon Eridani star system, at the fifth Lagrangian point between the fictional planet Epsilon III and its moon. The station's first three predecessors (the original Babylon station, Babylon 2 and Babylon 3) were sabotaged or accidentally destroyed before their completion. The fourth station, Babylon 4, vanished 24 hours after it became fully operational.
The Star Trek Deep Space Nine Controversy:
The pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) aired just weeks before the debut of Babylon 5. Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski indicated that Paramount was aware of his concept as early as 1989, when he attempted to sell the show to the studio, and provided them with the series bible, pilot script, artwork, lengthy character background histories, and plot synopses for the first 22 episodes. Paramount passed on Babylon 5, but later announced Deep Space Nine was in development after Warner Bros. announced its plans for Babylon 5. Straczynski has stated on numerous occasions that he thinks Paramount may have used his bible and scripts as the basis for DS9's first season.