Crusade is a spin-off TV show from J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5. Its plot is set in AD 2267, five years after the events of Babylon 5, and just after the movie A Call to Arms. A race called the Drakh have released a nanovirus plague on Earth, which will destroy all life on Earth within five years if it is not stopped. To that end, thedestroyer Excalibur has been sent out to look for anything that could help the search for a cure.
Like Babylon 5, Crusade was intended to have a five-year story arc, although as Straczynski notes in the DVD commentary for A Call To Arms, it was intended to resolve the Drakh plague after a season or two and move onto other arcs. However, conflicts arose between the producers and executives at TNT, and production was cancelled before the first episode was broadcast.
TNT's research had indicated that the audience for Babylon 5 did not watch other TNT programming, and likewise TNT's main audience was not watching the show, making another related program unattractive to the network's management. Straczynski believes that the network's "interference" with the production was an attempt to get out of their contract by allowing them to argue that he failed to deliver the series they wanted.
Thirteen episodes were made and broadcast by TNT, with at least four more scripted. The Sci-Fi Channel attempted to pick up the show and continue production, but was unable to find room in its budget. Cast and crew have indicated that the asking price TNT gave to Sci-Fi was purposely set too high so that the executives at TNT would not risk embarrassment if Crusade had gone on to do well on another network.
In 2267, six years after the end of the Shadow War, the Drakh, a former ally of the Shadows, attempt to destroy the Earth with a leftover Shadow Planet Killer. Interstellar Alliance president John Sheridan takes command of the Excalibur and Victory and leads the EarthForce and ISA fleets to victory. During the battle, the Drakh released a viral weapon into Earth's atmosphere, infecting every living thing on the planet. In five years the virus will become active and kill everything. The Victory was destroyed in the battle, but the Excalibur survived. Command is turned over to Captain Matthew Gideon who is given a mission: explore the galaxy to find either a cure or an ally capable of producing one ("War Zone").
At some point between 2262 and 2267 (most likely in 2264, and just before "To Live and Die in Starlight" which took place in 2265, a civil war broke out on Earth between the Psi Corps and a group of rogue telepaths, with mundanes (non-telepaths) caught in the middle. As a result of the war, the Psi Corps (which all telepaths had been forced by law to join) was disbanded and the laws were rewritten; telepaths were given limited rights and allowed back into society, including the military (e.g. Lt. Matheson in Crusade). Few telepaths have advanced very far because of how recent the war was and due to the common fear of telepaths. Telepaths are still banned from scanning others' thoughts without consent and are required to be "deep scanned" by powerful telepaths on a regular basis to ensure that they are not violating any laws ("The Well of Forever").
After the Earth Alliance Civil War in 2261, Earth joined the Interstellar Alliance. As promised by John Sheridan, Mars was granted independence since ISA laws required members to free any colony where the majority of colonists want independence ("Rising Star"). There is still resentment between the two sides ("Ruling from the Tomb"). Earth controls most of the information systems and resources in the solar system and Earth based corporations control much of the Mars economy ("Objects in Motion"). As a result there is some hostility among Mars-born humans towards Terrans and many in EarthForce do not feel obligated to risk their lives to help Earth fight the plague.
The "correct" order of episodes is somewhat unclear, and the episodes contain conflicting evidence as to the in-universe chronological order. Series creator J. Michael Straczynski revised TNT's ordering for re-broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel in April 2001, and the episodes have been repeated in this order a number of occasions since then. "War Zone," an episode made halfway through the production as an opener, has been pushed near the end. In particular, these episodes ignore a discontinuity in uniforms — in the TNT order, the crew start out with the revised uniforms in production, and then in "Appearances and Other Deceits" were forced to change to the "new" uniforms used earlier in production.
The fourteenth episode would have featured a return to the older uniforms that the crew prefer. A third order was formally endorsed by Straczynski as the "true" chronological sequence of in-universe events for the filmed episodes, as it appeared in The Official Babylon 5 Chronology (published in the pages of The Official Babylon 5 Magazine in 1999-2000) and the book "Across Time and Space: The Chronologies of Babylon 5". Here Jones explains the running order was done to take into account Straczynski's desire to have the grey bellhop uniform stories incorporated within the black explorer uniform stories and the internal story continuity had the series continued.
This also accounted for the various on-air dates given and the changes made to dialogue in "Each Night I Dream Of Home". This particular ordering supersedes Straczynski's own "preferred" sequence from a strictly chronological and causal standpoint. The original broadcast order as set by TNT was used for the DVD releases.
As a result of TNT showing the episodes out of their intended sequence, there are several continuity problems, including:
The crew received new uniforms in episode 8 ("Appearances and Other Deceits"), replacing the black uniforms, they have been wearing, with grey ones. While this doesn't pose a continuity problem in itself, it is noteworthy, that the "new" uniforms were the ones first used in production. After the first five episodes were produced using grey uniforms, there was a hiatus and the cast received new black uniforms. However, as the series resumed production, among the following episodes was the pilot War Zone, a coming-together-episode, which took place before the previously produced grey-uniform episodes.
In order to provide an explanation, why the crew first wears black uniforms in the pilot, then switches for five episodes to grey uniforms and then switches back to the black uniforms, two bookending episodes were written. The first was Appearances and other Deceits, which was the last episode produced and the eighth shown. In episode 14 (intended as "To The Ends of the Earth") the grey uniforms would have been destroyed and the crew would have gone back to the black uniforms.
The complete series was released as a four disc set in 2004, almost five years after the series ended and a few months after the final season and movie set of Babylon 5 was released. Crusade was also included in Babylon 5: The Complete Universe, a set of all B5 shows and movies released in the UK on October 24, 2005. It was not included in Babylon 5: The Complete Television Series, which was a set released in the US.
The episodes are in the original broadcast order. The set does not include the pilot movie, A Call to Arms, which was released earlier as part of the movie set. Unlike Babylon 5, Crusade was not presented in widescreen on DVD. Initially the set included a commentary with Straczynski, however he got it removed from subsequent pressings when he learned that parts of it had been replaced with an entirely different interview to cover up his harsh criticism of TNT.
Season 1 Episodes [complete series]
1.01 War Zone (108)
1.02 The Long Road (107)
1.03 Appearances and Other Deceits (113)
1.04 The Memory of War (102)
1.05 The Needs of Earth (101)
1.06 Racing the Night (103)
1.07 Visitors From Down the Street (104)
1.08 Each Night I Dream of Home (105)
1.09 The Path of Sorrows (109)
1.10 Ruling From the Tomb (111)
1.11 Patterns of the Soul (110)
1.12 The Well of Forever (106)
1.13 The Rules of the Game (112)
According to Straczynski this is the chronological order, the best view to watch Crusade. The sequence it was produced you can find behind the