Wednesday, September 29, 2021

I was revisiting Babylon 5 on HBO Max when I learned that the whole thing was being rebooted and there was much rejoicing.

I love Babylon 5. It's a show that seems incredibly prescient in today's world. Way before its time, it tried to tell one overarching story in five seasons rather than make a series that had individual stories that unfolded one episode at a time. This model of making a series is now normal in 2021. However, the show hasn't aged all that well visually even if the special effects and sets were considered good for the time period in which it was made. I was alive in the early nineties, and I remember thinking that stuff being made then was soo much better than the entertainment options of the seventies and sixties. It's kind of shocking to look back on all that now, and things were terrible and I actually liked them. Was I insane or just completely ignorant? The truth is neither of these things of course. I just had no idea what kind of technology would arise within the next thirty years.

So, am I happy about the reboot? Absolutely. There have been some discussions online (since the announcement dropped yesterday) that have complained about the CW being the station upon which it will be aired. I don't see a problem with this at all. I love the CW. I watch all the DC Universe stuff from The Flash to Batwoman to Superman & Lois and Stargirl and Supergirl, and I have enjoyed them all. My favorite indulgence is the Legends of Tomorrow. I even enjoyed The 100 until the point where I just fell behind and decided not to catch up as they kept killing off characters I liked. I've also enjoyed the Berlanti-related productions of Titans and Doom Patrol that air on HBO Max. So the choice of the studio doesn't bother me at all.

Furthermore, J. Michael Straczynski is helming everything. He's busy writing the pilot episode, and he's going to be heavily involved with the writing going forward. He's also serving as the showrunner and producer. It's going to be his baby. Sure, the characters will all need to be recast, but that's entirely okay. As a fan of Babylon 5, I know that (behind the scenes), J. Michael Straczynski didn't get to do the show the way he wanted to the first time around. He thought he only had four seasons to tell his story, and he compressed a lot of the Shadow and Vorlon war to fit in with that timeline. But it became such a big success that they renewed it unexpectedly for another season or two, and he had to scramble to come up with stories to tell and they were never as good as the Shadow and Vorlon war.

Going into this thing, he's got complete control. His seasons will probably be shorter as is the norm these days, but that will force him to compress for content and not drag things out like the Nancy Drew series ends up doing a lot. And I imagine he will have the same kind of special effects team as the Expanse gets with Amazon, and that has me completely excited. If you've at all checked out Babylon 5 on HBO Max, the Shadow look absolutely terrible. It's shocking how stupid they look. I cannot wait to see what this menace looks like in a rebooted Babylon 5. I have high expectations to be sure.

Another thing that Babylon 5 really had going for it were the numerous compelling subplots. The shining example of this was Londo and G'Kar. These were two politicians from opposite sides of a war that started out hating each other, and both of their characters and their respective relationship developed over time.

There is (of course) the question that gets asked most often: "Why not make a new thing entirely?" As being a creator of sorts (I write and run D&D games for people), I know that creating a new world is really hard. I created one in my youth that I still use for new D&D players thirty years later. And it's better, it has evolved as I have evolved, and I know its history. People compliment me all the time by saying, "I love playing D&D with you, because your characters and your world seem so real." I'm sure that J. Michael Straczynski has plenty of ideas. He's way more creative than me. But Babylon 5 is an idea that he's had for decades, and I bet it has evolved in ways that building something new (from scratch) simply wouldn't be as good or as satisfying (in the same way it would be for me were I to attempt to do the same thing). I remember when Berke Breathed retired Bloom County because he didn't want it to be Garfield. And then he started writing Outland, which then (over the course of time) slowly became Bloom County again. That's because he loved the ideas and characters he came up with in Bloom County and decided to incorporate those ideas into his new project. Well, then he scrapped Outland and now he's back to publishing Bloom County. So...he never should have stopped writing Bloom County, because that's what he enjoyed.

And finally, J. Michael Straczynski is excited. I think that right there is enough for me to be excited about this reboot. So, I think I'm going to put away rewatching the show and await the new reboot with eagerness.


  1. I'm going to have to look into this.

  2. Of course I wrote a long comment and stupid Blogger ate it. Main points: I don't like the CW for this. It's a teeny-bopper network and I'd much rather have it on a grown up streamer service. I hope unlike the Battlestar Galactica reboot I watched recently it doesn't go off the rails the last two seasons but still tells a somewhat new story. And the effects that look great now will look like garbage 40 years from now--probably. So don't stress about it.

  3. Hopefully it'll be good. I do too like the CW shows. The reboots seem to be coming fast and furious lately, though.