Babylon 5 to return?

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I really loved Babylon 5 while it was on; it was one of my favorite TV series of all time, and I own all five seasons on DVD. Even though the fifth and final season seemed a bit stretched out, the last five or six episodes of the series made up for it, so that the conclusion packed every bit of the punch that the high points of the best seasons (seasons two and three) did. So, what to make of this?

BURBANK, CA, November 13, 2006 – Warner Home Video (WHV) and Warner Bros. Television (WBTV) have announced the start of production of “Babylon 5: The Lost Tales,” a made-for-video movie that will be targeted towards the Babylon 5 loyal audience and science-fiction fans in general . The announcement was jointly made by Jeff Brown, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Non-theatrical Franchise, Warner Home Video and Gregg Maday, Senior Vice President, Movies and Miniseries, WBTV.

WHV will be the home entertainment distributor for this made-for-DVD release which will include two new Babylon 5 stories collectively entitled “Voices of the Dark” in one film plus exclusive behind the scenes content. The stories will be written and directed by executive producer and original “Babylon 5” creator J. Michael Straczynski. Executive producer Doug Netter also returns in that role. Actors from the original series that have signed on to participate in the project include Bruce Boxleitner (“President John Sheridan”), Tracy Scoggins (“Captain Elizabeth Lochley”) and Peter Woodward (“Galen”).

Babylon 5 is a top selling franchise on DVD to date with over $44 million in consumer sales. Launched in February 1993, the award winning series was a top rated show on television with more than 13.7 million viewers in its debut season. After its original planned five-year run – introducing the concept of a five year arc before other TV series began to use multi-season arcs — the show went on to enjoy 9 successful years in syndication and Cable on the Sci-Fi Channel and TNT. It also spurred the creation of five feature length movies based on the series including The Gathering, In the Beginning, Thirdspace, River of Souls and A Call to Arms, as well as the limited series Crusade. Babylon 5 has received numerous awards including two Emmys, two consecutive Hugo Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award for Dramatic Screenwriting from the Science Fiction Writers of America, five English Media ‘Cult TV’ Awards, the E Pluribus Unum Award from the American Cinema Foundation, the Sci-Fi Universe Reader Choice Award for Best TV Series and was the winner of the TV Guide Poll for Best Sci-Fi Show.

“We are very excited to be releasing this new made-for-video release filled with original content for ‘Babylon 5’, one of the most successful science fiction series of all time,” said Jeff Brown. “This popular TV show which has been off the air for a few years continues to have a strong loyal fan base that is hungry for more content. This is the first time we’re utilizing one of our popular TV franchises as a made-for-video title, and we have a strong commitment to the growth of this sector.”

“It’s great to be reunited with Joe and Doug once again,” commented Maday. “I have always been very proud to be associated with their wonderful work on Babylon 5 and I’m confident the “Lost Tales” will add to the legacy of this very special franchise.”

I’m really not sure how this will work, particularly since Andreas Katskulas (G’Kar) and Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin) have both died since the original series concluded. I could see the resurrected movies working without Biggs, but G’Kar and Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik apparently hasn’t signed on either) were the heart and soul of the original series, even more so than Sheridan and Delenn.

Given that the B5 spinoffs attempted (Crusade, for instance) have generally been rather mediocre, I don’t have high hopes for this straight-to-DVD venture.

On the other hand, B5 geek that I am, I’ll probably rent the DVDs at some point after they come out.