Babylon 5: The Lost Tales - Voices in the Dark
On an immense space station built by the Earth Alliance, the crew of Babylon 5 is charged with maintaining the peace among the various alien races by providing a sanctuary where grievances and negotiations can be worked out among duly appointed ambassadors. Babylon 5: The Lost Tales picks up the dramatic series in 2271A.D, ten years after John Sheridan is appointed President of the Interstellar Alliance. The Lost Tales follows Sheridan as he prepares for a fateful Babylon 5 reunion that could prevent Earth's impending doom. Unfortunately, he is also forced to compromise his own principals in doing so. At the same time, Commander Lochley confronts an unexpected interloper on the way station - a being whose presence makes the B5 freeport the crossroads between heaven and hell.
Cast & Crew List
Babylon 5: The Lost Tales - Voices in the Dark (2007) IMDB Listing
|J. Michael Straczynski
... President John Sheridan
... Colonel Elizabeth Lochley
... Prince Regent Dius Vintari
... Simon Burke
... Miss Chambers
... Father Cassidy
Back in late July, we at the Patriot Resource were excited to receive a copy of the Lost Tales DVD and thus be able to post one of the first reviews. Then more pressing offline matters came up. Now nearly two months later, we're finally able to post our review. However, everyone else has had their say already, so there's nothing on a critical level that we can add. So we're going to give our fan boy opinion.
Since Babylon 5: Crusade was cancelled in 1999, we've been waiting for new Babylon 5 material. The Legends of the Rangers was so bad that we don't consider it part of the Babylon 5 universe. After a feature film never made it past the development stage, word finally came of a direct-to-DVD film. The Lost Tales is the result. Written and directed by creator J. Michael Stracyznski (JMS), the film is basically two three-person plays. Thanks to a small budget, Voices in the Dark (hopefully the first volume of The Lost Tales is short on action and long on two-person scenes.
The first story "Over Here," features Colonel Elizabeth Lochley, a Catholic priest and a maintenance worker. It returns to a familiar B5 theme of religion and faith. Of course, it has a science fiction twist at the end. Sitting through this episode the first time, it was underwhelming, which was likely due in large part to our anticipation and expectations. As stated above, it was a series of mostly two-person scenes in an "intimate" set. A second viewing faired better once our expectations had been tempered.
We preferred the second story "Over There," which featured President Sheridan, Galen the technomage from Crusade and a Centauri prince who could have been a young Londo. Again, this episode featured a series of two-person scenes between the three characters. Though this episode was also a personal story, it wasn't nearly so claustrophobic. It also was driven by choices that had larger ramifications for the B5 universe which is another familiar theme and the one that gave Babylon 5 an epic feel. We also enjoyed the writing far better in this episode.
We found it interesting of the six featured characters, only one (Sheridan) had been a lengthy series regular. Lockley had been brought in when Ivanova had to be replaced for the final season and Galen was from the cancelled Crusade. We do note that a third story featuring Garibaldi was dropped/postponed in pre-production. Though there were relatively few effects shots, what was done was a great improvement over what we were used to with the series. The Babylon 5 station was seen in far greater detail than had been possible when the series was airing. What was also nice was the tribute to Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs, both of whom had passed away since the end of the series, by way of how their characters were mentioned.
Aside from the somber and plodding pacing of the first episode, we were content with this as an adequate revisit to the Babylon 5 universe. Hopefully, the DVD performs well enough that Warner Bros. greenlights additional installments with more money and thus the possibility of more action. Our inner fan boy did have two nit-picks. One was the rather lengthy and mostly unnecessary explanation as to why the other regular characters (Delenn, Garibaldi, Londo, etc.) weren't around. Though the two episodes were tied around a visit by President Sheridan to Babylon 5, only his arrival was depicted so the other characters could have been plausibly kept off-screen by just having them meet him there. Secondly, a new method of transportation just suddenly popped in to serve as little more as a setup for a bit of humor. Now, JMS might be using a seemingly throw-away reference to set up a subsequent storyline, but for now we found it too much like Star Trek technobabble that all too often served to conveniently solve the conflict of the story..
The DVD includes a number of production featurettes, some of which were available online leading up to the DVD's release. Interestingly, some of the featurettes that were (and still are) available online, were excluded from the DVD. Unfortunately, many of the features are short on substance and long on sock puppets. However, with over an hour's worth of special features, there is some insightful material to be found. Our personal favorites were the memorials to Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs.
Babylon 5: The Lost Tales - Voices in the Dark DVD Special Features:
— Interview: Joe Straczynski & Bruce Boxleitner [5:15]
— Interview: Meet Tracy Scoggins [4:55]
— Interview: Jos Straczynski & Peter Woodward [6:40]
— Memorial: Andreas Katsulas [7:15]
— Memorial: Richard Biggs [6:30]
— The Straczynski Diaries: Joe's Role [1:35]
— The Straczynski Diaries: Babylon 5 Set Construction [2:10]
— The Straczynski Diaries: Sock Puppets/Director's Cut [3:20]
— The Straczynski Diaries: Joe Straczyski in a Sea of Green [2:45]
— The Straczynski Diaries: The Destruction of New York [3:35]
— The Straczynski Diaries: Babylon 5 Visual Effects [6:10]
— Fireside Chats [18:30]
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