There are some movies and TV shows that immediately grab me; they tend to be the ones I then become mildly obsessed with. One of those is Babylon 5. The others are Twin Peaks, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Expanse. I’ll talk about each of them shortly. There are plenty of other shows and movies I like, and can get excited about, but I don’t obsess over them at the same level. I can talk about these five shows and movies endlessly.
At this point, I love Babylon 5 not just because it’s a good show, but also because I’ve loved it for decades and it feels very familiar: watching Babylon 5 is like hanging out with a dear old friend. I’m sometimes vaguely envious of people who’ve never watched it, because I’d love to know what it looks like to new eyes all these years later, but having such a dear old friend is an amazing thing.
There are many reasons to love Babylon 5. The story is [unfortunately] still relevant; it’s got corruption, censorship, oppression, fascism, genocide, civil wars. It also has cool space battles, good lines, compelling characters (including the ones that appear in only one or two episodes), and some excellent guest stars.
In addition, Babylon 5’s mix of main arc and standalone episode content exactly fits my preferences. I love that there is a clear main story, which is woven into everything, but there is still room for the story to wander, for the audience to get to know the characters, and for some lighter content. That is not to say I can’t enjoy a tight storyline, or a show that only does self-contained episodes. In fact, when it comes to the X-Files, I’m way more into the monster-of-the week episodes than anything to do with the main story. But, nonetheless, Babylon 5’s combo of main arc and randomness or character stuff is perfect for me.
I think the show’s real brilliance (though there’s so many good things to say about it) lies in the fact that the main story is mixed into everything, especially in the earlier seasons. This is something you really can’t appreciate on your first watch. Therefore, I sometimes worry, when I watch with someone who is new to it, that they won’t be able to understand the true brilliance of the show unless they watch it again, and who’s got time for that? That said, I’ve yet to introduce someone to it who ended up not liking it.
It’s interesting watching with new people. These days, they’re generally rather older than I was when I first watched it, so it hits differently. There are many things I felt differently about when I was much younger. For example, ten years since the end of the Minbari war seemed like a really long time. Now it seems like no time at all, so it makes a lot more sense that people are still really hung up on it, especially the Minbari, who live longer. In addition to the perspective that comes with age, people also just have a lot more TV-watching experience. They understand how stories work. They’re more likely to pick up on things I wouldn’t have noticed when I was young and new to B5.
Anyway, there’s likely going to be a LOT of B5 content on this blog. The notes in the second pic are but a small sample. I have written a lot on the topic. Stay tuned! 🙂