Good News for Babylon 5 Fans

The wait is over. I don’t know if I will skip the first season and stick with 2,3,4 the DVDs are expensive.

I’ve been pondering exactly this same question since I first saw a commercial for the DVD set earlier this week. I’ll get Seasons 2-4 definitely, but don’t know about the first or the fifth. There are a few episodes toward the end of the first season that I really like–Signs and Portents, for example, and Babylon Squared–and a handful of others that are okay, but the rest of it I consider skippable. I have tapes, but they’re getting old.

I wish they’d sell the DVDs on an episode-by-episode or cluster of episodes basis, the way Farscape is sold, so I could get the ones I want and not be stuck with ones I wouldn’t watch.

Episode by episode is the worst way to release a television series; box sets are the only useful method. Do you want one box per season or 11 seperate disks? No matter how expensive the box set is most people who buy it will be at least somewhat interested in most of the material there and it’s less expensive than smaller releases. And for the stores it’s one SKU to stock instead of the 11 (or 12, or 13 depending on the series) meaning that the show will be more easily available.

Just think about this, if you buy Signs and Portants, Babylon Squared, and Chrysalis they’re far enough away from eachother in the season that each would be on a seperate disk. You’re now spending $60-$80 for those episodes compared to the $75 for all 22.

News on the sales of the set:

And a word from JMS on the reaction from the studio:

Ok. I’ll admit it. Other than the pilot (which I hated, for some reason. I no longer remember why), I’ve never seen an episode of B5.

However, I’ve hear it’s great. I’m gonna get the set (at least through season 4). . What I need to know is how to watch 'em.

Should I start with the 2 hour pilot and then watch “In the Begining?” before watching season 1 or what?

I know that season 2-4 are what blew everyone away, but how good is season 1? Should I get 'em?


Fenris, personally I like the entire series. I would recommend watching the pilot (“The Gathering”) and then proceeding into the first season.

Although much of the storyline of “In the Beginning” preceeds the TV storyline, it is best watched after seeing the first three (?) seasons, in order to fully appreciate it. Someone else here may know when ITB was released relative to TV series; or I can check my tapes when I get home.

I will admit that the first season of B5 unfolds slowly, but it’s still worth seeing because the slow build pays off. It’s also necessary: a storyline which spans 4 or 5 television seasons is bound to require some exposition and character development before it really gets going.

Fenris: good idea.

In The Beginning was made very late in the series, and is by far the best Babylon 5 movie yet. However, even though it covers events that take place ten years before the series starts, these events were shrouded in mystery through season 1 and even through seasons 3 or 4. The series works best when you don’t know what to expect, but save ItB for later: you’ll enjoy it when you finally get to it.

As for the pilot, skip it. The “Special Edition”, the only one you’ll be able to get, adds a few things that you probably won’t even notice, but on the off chance you do, it would prematurely give away one of the big mysteries of the series. You didn’t like it anyway, so just wait until after season 3

As for whether to buy Season 1 - I’d say buy it if you have the money. There are a lot of key episodes in there - “Midnight On The Firing Line”, “Mind War”, “And The Sky Full Of Stars”, “Signs And Portents”, “Babylon Squared”, “The Quality Of Mercy”, and “Chrysalis” - which set up key events that pay off even into Season 5. Also the ending episode of S1 literally changes everything about the series, and a big part of S2 is dealing with those changes.

In fact, I’d advise getting Season 1 even over getting Season 2. And don’t disregard year 5; issues with the actual production of the show affected the storyline around then, so the season seems more like an epilogue than anything else, but it’s a damn good epilogue.

Jerevan: All B5 movies (except Legend of The Rangers) were made for TNT, so they all came at or after the switchover from syndication (PTEN) to cable (TNT) between years 4 and 5.

In The Beginning was made during/following year 4, as was the “Special Edition” of The Gathering, when there really was no point in being mysterious about certain things any longer.

Although you’re right about when he can watch it: most, if not all, of the events discussed in those two movies had been resolved by the end of year 3, so if he’s dying to see them, he needn’t wait until after year 4.
Also, on something else brought up in this thread: while I don’t think B5 was released episode-by-episode, there were a few “bundles” of 3 or 4 eps on DVD containing key episodes in certain arc stories. It’s not the same as having the entire season, but since the trend is “If I have to buy them individually, I’ll only pay for my favorites”, it’s not a bad way to do it.

As rough as season one is (and it is very rough) most of the episodes contain some gem that sets up something later in the series. I recall not being terribly impressed by the pilot and then picking up on the show half way through the first season. I was mildly interested initially (the first real episode I saw was Infection which is generally agreed upon as the worst episode) but the gentle unveiling of the plot slowly drew me in until I reached Signs and Portents and I knew that it was my favorite show. As a whole season one is great and worth the money (which really isn’t that much for a complete TV season) and you’ll enjoy the development of that back story…