This, the second season of Babylon 5, picks up where the first season left off, continuing to build to a climax that’s still a few seasons away.

Cast and Crew

Bruce
Boxleitner
as John Sheridan.
Claudia
Christian
as Susan Ivanova.
Jerry Doyle as
Michael Garibaldi.
Richard Biggs as
Stephen Franklin.
Andrea
Thompson
as Talia Winters.
Mira Furlan as
Delenn.
Bill Mumy as
Lennier.
Peter Jurasik as
Londo Mollari.
Stephen Furst as
Vir.
Andreas
Katsulas
as G’Kar.
Mary Kay Adams
as Na’Toth.

Jeff Conaway as
Zack Allen.
Robert Rusler as
Warren Keffer.

The most influential member of the crew was series creator and
frequent writer J. Michael
Straczynski
.

Original Airdate

This season originally aired in 1995.

Synopsis

Babylon 5 gets a new Captain in time to prepare for war.

High Point

Episode 16, In the Shadow of Z’Ha’Dum.

Low Point

The third season won’t be available until August 12th, $DIETY damn it!

The Review

This is a breath of fresh air compared to other recent sci-fi shows.
That other franchise had its own space station show, but it took it
years to gain the focus it finally had, and even that seems to have
simply been going where this series had gone before. In this series,
a plague that threatens to wipe out an entire race has a very real
chance of wiping out an entire race. Alien cultures don’t fall at the
feet of humans and emulate their behaviour, while the humans go
unaffected by others. The long-term planning means that the show
marches steadily to its ultimate conclusion every week, not just
during the sweeps week episodes. I seriously doubt that there are any
unimportant scenes or characters. Nobody is safe. This laid the
groundwork of long term stories on television, moving beyond the
X-Files model of touching on a complicated story that’s being
made up as you go along and progressing to a model where the entire
saga is laid out before a single frame lands on screen. Mutant Enemy
seems to be the current champion of long-term planning on television,
but even that doesn’t touch this. The individual ideas were sometimes
used on other shows, but I’ve never seen this combination with this
level of complexity anywhere else. It’s not just “good guys” versus
“bad guys,” it’s “good guys” versus “evil guys” and several factions
of “self-serving guys” who could still end up on either side of the
major conflict. I give the originality a 6 out of 6.

The effects were made on a budget that barely allowed them to
produce images they wanted, and the images still looked like CGI most
of the time. It’s still distracting at the end of the season. I give
it 3 out of 6.

The story is a well crafted piece of a much larger epic. The
pieces are falling into place, the characters experience genuine
growth and changes, and the individual episodes have enough story to
stand on their own. I give it 6 out of 6. I haven’t seen anything
else written like this on television before or since.

The acting was excellent. The cast plays with subtlety and
conviction. It’s not just the regular cast, either. The guest cast
(such as the alien doctor in Confessions and Lamentations) do
an excellent job as well. Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasik don’t
even seem to be acting; if I hadn’t seen them in other material, I’d
wonder if they weren’t simply playing themselves on screen. I give it
6 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced was substantial this
time around. The first time this series aired, it conflicted with my
work schedule, so I didn’t watch it until mid-way through the second
season. I remembered watching Hunter, Prey the first time,
but it didn’t seem like anything special. On it’s own, it doesn’t
seem that special. However, with 34 episodes worth of background
material, it’s a very compelling episode with remarkable implications
for the world. This goes back to the writing; the characters are
written without the unrealistic exposition we see on so many other
shows. The past is mentioned when relevant, but if everyone in the
room knows what happened at a given time and place, then there is
little or no discussion about the details of that event. Vir,
Linnear, Morden, G’Kar, Londo, and Garibaldi all have incredible
moments on screen. (Vir’s wave to Morden still cracks me up.) I give
it 6 out of 6.

The production was, again, limited by the budget. Some of
the close ups were out of focus, as though the original shoot had used
a shot from a greater distance, and the close up was made by zooming
in on that film. Dirt and film scratches from the original masters
are frequently visible. The musical score is good, as is the
editing. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a very entertaining piece of television. If
this show had managed to pull in the viewership it deserved in its
original run, it would have had more than the budget it needed to meet
the aspirations of the crew. Those of us who missed it the first time
around should hang our heads in shame for this. Our penance is to
follow the show in its DVD release, and lament what we missed when we
had the chance to really make a difference. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Babylon 5: The Coming of Shadows receives 36 out of 42.