Friday Review: TV Re-watch: Babylon 5

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Now that the re-watch of 24 is done, we have started on Babylon 5. It seems appropriate, since the pilot movie first aired in 1993, making this the twentieth anniversary year. As a fan of sci-fi, I watched the show from the beginning and I still enjoy watching it now. It was intelligent, well-written, and one of the best science fiction shows on TV.

For those not familiar, it is the story of the Babylon 5 deep space station, built by Earth as a trade and diplomatic center point for Earth and the various alien races that have been encountered. It is staffed by Earth Force officers, and is home to ambassadors from most of the alien races. Diplomatic treaties, trade agreements, and cargo and shipping transfers are all handled on the station. It is also the fifth Babylon station to be constructed. The first three were destroyed before coming online, and the fourth mysteriously disappeared. Babylon 5 is functioning, and is the setting for the political intrigue, personal interactions, and military maneuverings that make up the stories told.

One of the things I love about the show is that it is intelligent. In a TV world where sci-fi has often been treated as a kid’s genre or less than serious entertainment, Babylon 5 was written for adults, with themes, stories and characters that pull you in and grab your attention. Sure, there are battles and gun fights, a fair amount of amusing vignettes, and some things certainly worked better than others, but for the most part, it was well done, start to finish.

The show was conceived as a five-year story, with a definite beginning, middle, and end, and it held to that structure. It was a bit disappointing to know that, at the end of Season 5, there would be no more, but at the same time, the show ended where it should have. It didn’t drag on past its time, with increasingly silly and stupid plot lines and stories, like too many other shows. And I think that is part of the reason I still enjoy it.

If you are a sci-fi fan and have not (are there any?) caught up with this one yet, you should. And if you are not particularly a fan, but enjoy intelligent programming geared to adults, maybe you should try it, too. The space aspect is there, but it is not the main focus of the show. It is about relationships, politics, and the whole human (and alien) spectrum. It’s just plain good television.