The first two seasons of Babylon 5 are out on DVD. I borrowed the season one box set from a buddy, and Kay & I started watching.
Wow. I had forgotten how amazing this show is. It’s even better on DVD because they filmed the whole thing in widescreen (even though it would never be seen on TV that way) and remastered the soundtrack for 5.1 speaker systems. Besides these new niceties, though, the show has the following qualities I had forgotten:
- Complex characters: each has strengths, flaws, and a terrible secret
- Wonderful writing, with witty dialog
- Great costumes
- Special effects that don’t look shabby even by today’s standards. This was the first show to demonstrate that broadcast-quality effects could be done on personal computers. Ah, the Amiga days.
- A 5-year story arc, planned from the beginning.
- Dark premonitions and strange hints of the overall story sprinkled in regular episodes. Occasionally, the threads are brought together in a “wham!” episode.
- Top-notch music by the synth wizard behind Tangerine Dream.
- Surprise for people used to Star Trek: The no-name assistant does not always die.
- Bigger surprise: Sometimes an important character dies.
- A show that is not afraid to explore conflicting views of spirituality.
What’s not to like?