Tuesday, February 14, 2012

B5 Season 5

++ long-overdue reviews pending -- when my computer is back in operation! ++

Broadcast from January to November 1998, the fifth and final season of Babylon 5 was titled "The Wheel of Fire." The voice-over narration during the opening credits consists of a vague selection of outtakes from various episodes' dialog. And the overall dramatic shape of the entire season is one long anticlimax. This, I assume, is an artifact of the show nearly being canceled at the end of Year 4, when its parent network PTEN went under and the creative team raced to tie up their planned five-year storyline a year early. To everyone's surprise, the show was picked up by TNT for its final season, and suddenly they had a new problem: how to unpick the threads they had tied up, and splice in the stitches they had dropped in rushing the show to a premature end, to give the show's now-mangled story concept the full treatment it deserved.

One result of all this uncertainty and barely-controlled behind-the-scenes chaos was the shelving of the series finale "Sleeping in Light," originally filmed at the end of Year 4, until the end of Year 5, and its replacement with "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars," filmed later. Somewhere in between, main cast member Claudia Christian (Ivanova) departed from the show, with the bizarre result that she is absent from the Season 4 finale and all of Season 5, only to return in the series finale. Perhaps even weirder is the fact that her replacement, Tracy Scoggins as station commander Elizabeth Lochley (pictured at left), neither appears nor is mentioned in the series finale—although she goes on to play a lead role in the short-lived spinoff series Crusade. Mostly, however, the fifth year of B5 is strange because, in spite of its eventful storyline on an episode-by-episode level, it has the overall tone of one long, deliberately paced epilogue to a story that is already, for all real intents and purposes, over.

No Compromises

The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari

The Paragon of Animals

A View from the Gallery

Learning Curve

Strange Relations

Secrets of the Soul

Day of the Dead

In the Kingdom of the Blind

A Tragedy of Telepaths

Phoenix Rising

The Ragged Edge

The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father

Meditations on the Abyss

Darkness Ascending

And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder

Movements of Fire and Shadow

The Fall of Centauri Prime

The Wheel of Fire

Objects in Motion

Objects at Rest

Sleeping in Light

For more on spaceship-based TV series, see my reviews of Star Trek: TOS seasons one, two, and three; of TNG seasons one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven; of DS9 seasons one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven; of Voyager seasons one, two, three, four, and five; and of Enterprise seasons one and two; of Farscape seasons one, two, three, and four; of Firefly; and of Babylon 5 seasons one, two, three, and four.

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