Babylon 5 Season 4

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Babylon 5: The Complete Fourth Season

Talk all you need about special results, spaceships and alien costumes, however above all, the enduring mark of serious sci-fi is ideas. It's especially true for sci-fi TV displays, which like to bludgeon audience with Major Themes: Being Human (Spock, Data, The Doctor, various clones); Cultural Diversity (aliens, we love you); What Is Real? (time shuttle; holodecks; form shifters); Privacy and Individual Rights (telepaths); Religion (The Force); and of course, The Meaning of Life (Yoda). But Babylon 5 wielded the biggest, bluntest software of all, and it smashed via season 4 to create an outsized beast of grandiosity. Everything about this set screams of self-conscious ambition.

The Show

Ultimately, Babylon 5 was all in regards to the concepts of its writer and govt manufacturer J. Michael Straczynski, who wrote the screenplays for almost all of the shows, including every episode of the closing two seasons. His ambition ruled Babylon 5 all over its run: "I'm pretty rigorous in my scripts most of the time. I don't tend to allow for a lot of improvisation or a lot of changing around."

The content no doubt drips with vainness -- operatic tune; exaggerated, appearing; didactic dialogues about Really Important Topics; sweeping pictures of fight -- and in its desperate attempt to be taken critically, Babylon 5 ends up stagey and affected.

Why display consequences when his characters can let us know (and tell us and let us know and let us know) about them? Who wishes naturalistic dialogue when there is preaching to be carried out? What's the use of small gestures when gesticulation can chew up the digital camera? Why cap the large showdown between Shadows and Vorlons with a thrilling fight when you'll be able to end with a long-winded Sheridan speech?

Viewers would possibly have concept the Shadow warfare - which powered the show for a lot of Babylon 5's first 3 years -- would take an entire season to finish, but it was resolved by way of the 6th display, Into the Fire, making the next 16 episodes really feel a little like one lengthy denouement.


By the time Babylon 5 in any case delivers an enormous space fight in episode 20, Endgame, it is laborious to care. It did not assist that Straczynski combined mindless area struggle cliches like all-weapons-and-shields-are-down-so-let's-ram-them with one suave thought involving telepaths and ships.

Yet the maddening and accidentally comedian elements of Babylon 5 continuously labored.

Sometimes the outsized, over-the-top appearing and discussion approaches brilliance. The devious, sneering Ambassador Londo Mollari might be one of the crucial greatest TV sci-fi characters of all time, and his actor, Peter Jurasik, will get to bluster and blow their own horns his outlandish accent to complete impact in season four. Mira Furlan's breathless portrayal of Ambassador Delenn and Jerry Doyle's smartass, grumpy cop tackle Chief Garibaldi are weirdly compelling.

And for all his wordiness, Straczynski can write exceptional scenes. Season 4's ultimate episode, The (*5*) of Falling Stars, offered a microcosm of the show's very best and worst traits. Set up as a far-future historian's glance back on the effect of Babylon 5 on Earth historical past, the script insists on extolling the greatness of Sheridan and his cohorts - you can't get more heavy-handed than Delenn evident at a trio of educational strawmen and wheezing that Sheridan (*4*)


On the other hand, (*5*) features a wonderful vignette that -- in a nod to the vintage novel Canticle for Leibowitz -- features an older monk protecting the Babylon 5 "myth" in opposition to the questions of his more youthful colleague; it's a touching, eloquent defense of spiritual trust, and particularly unexpected coming from a skeptic like Straczynski.

Lots to dislike, however even more to love. The concepts and their build-up make Babylon 5 value observing, particularly in its climactic season. If handiest the payoff had been higher.

Score: Nine out of 10


The Video

Sadly, the video quality can make the observing somewhat hard on the eyes. Considering this can be a science-fiction display with some somewhat sophisticated 3-d graphics, it should not have been asking an excessive amount of to wash up the video for DVD distribution.

Instead, the continuing insistence on portray Babylon 5 as an Epic For Our Time will have in reality made picture high quality worse on DVDs. The dwell action sequences had been shot in 16:Nine format with high-definition television displays in mind, but to economize, the special effects had been created for 4:Three viewing. Thus, all CGI effects are, in effect, blown-up at the DVDs, which present the display 16:9, in line with Straczynski's original vision.

The end outcome? For any scene with special effects, together with composite pictures that blend live-action and CGI, the similar problems noted in IGN's previous overview exist right here: graininess, jagged edges and virtual mistakes, even on non-HD tv units. If you do not have a high-definition tv, check out staring at this on a PC's DVD player -- chances are you'll find yourself questioning in case you are watching a DivX downloaded from the Internet or a real DVD.

The quality on the trailers is even worse.

Score: 4 out of 10


Audio and Languages

Babylon 5 does a workmanlike task with its 5.1 sound. Muscular surround sound methods can sing their own praises with the bombastic "No Surrender, No Retreat" musical suite -- you can definitely know in case your subwoofer works, and your rear audio system , whilst not used as broadly as in a high quality theatrical unencumber, get more of a workout than from most TV presentations.

As a ways as the show itself, careful listeners will pick out up a couple of incidental noises, in addition to echo effects of computer voices -- take a look at the overall collection in (*5*) for a good sample. However, as is often the case with TV shows, Babylon 5's fight sounds -- which rear audio system should be carrying more than any other observe -- are in most cases front-loaded.

The set has subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Happily, the subtitles stay throughout the audio commentaries.

Score: 7 out of 10

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Packaging and Extras

The 6-disc set is available in a thin Amaray holders. It features a pamphlet with brief synopses of each episode.

Audio commentaries include one for episode 4, Falling Toward Apotheosis, with actors Jurasik, Doyle, Bruce Boxleitner (who played Sheridan) and Patricia Tallman (telepath Lyta Alexander). Apparently it used to be recorded by the use of far flung, since probably the most actors indicate they're in numerous places. It's additionally entirely useless for any person searching for perception into the display - the gang spends most of its time cracking jokes about the shape of Doyle's head, followed via Boxleitner's ability (or lack thereof) to remember strains, and the Londo hairpiece that Jurasik wore.


Perhaps the actors kept it breezy, figuring out that Straczynski would greater than make up for it with his excessively considerate audio supplement to two episodes, The Face of the Enemy and the aforementioned (*5*). The former additionally comprises comments from director Michael Vejar. Straczynski also sits down for a separate interview that serves as an advent to and assessment of all the display.

Disc Six features a short documentary concerning the display's composer, Christopher Franke, a performance of the "No Surrender, No Retreat" orchestral suite, a gag reel and a Universe of Babylon 5 feature with tidbits about quite a lot of Babylon 5 elements.

Preview trailers are incorporated for each and every episode. Warner Brothers will have to have left them out -- what's the point of trailers for episodes that can already be watched at will? - and used the additional space for higher video quality.

Score: 7 of 10

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