The Patriot Resource TV Series

Babylon 5


Comments:
Babylon 5 appeared just as Star Trek: The Next Generation was growing stale. Unlike Star Trek, which basically hit the reset button at the end of each episode, Babylon 5 was conceived as a 5-year long story arc, which is now commonplace on American television. Babylon 5 progressed through episodes and seasons like chapters in a novel, so traumas to characters did not just disappear by the next episode, but were permanent. Each episode built on a greater story arc.

The BIG question was whether Babylon 5 would continue to generate ratings that would stave off cancellation and complete the story. Babylon 5 was part of the syndicated Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN) package, which meant that it didn't have a standard timeslot. However, unlike other PTEN shows, Babylon 5 was renewed year after year. Then, during it's fourth season, it was announced that PTEN would dissolve. Now, Babylon 5 still had the ratings, but no home. Creator J. Michael Straczynski reshuffled his story to tie up major plots by the end of the fourth season and even filmed the series finale. As a consequence, some threads that would have been added late in the season to carry over to the fifth season, were dropped.

Then, news came that TNT would pick up Babylon 5's fifth season. The final episode of the fourth season was actually the first episode filmed during the fifth season and set up some of those plot threads that had been pulled out of the fourth season. The reshuffling of the story was clear in how uneven the first third of the fifth season was, but the storytelling picked up and ended in satifactory fashion. There were even a few minor threads intentionally left dangling that could be used to launch one or more new series.

Rewatching the series lets one look out for the hints of foreshadowing that were intentional. Though the first season was bumpy, the threads laid out allowed the story to crank up in the second season and never slow down. In some mythic way, the show actually has whispers of the The Lord of the Rings in its storytelling. As a testiment to how successful the show turned out, it spawned four TV movies, a spinoff series (Crusade), a second spinoff pilot (Legend of the Rangers) and a theatrical film (The Memory of Shadows) that was announced, but was unable to make it out of development.





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