I would sincerely like to hear from viewers who have purchsed or viewed both series.
My Quick Point: much more excitement and enjoyment for me from Babylon 5.
I viewed only season 1 and miniseries of Battlestar Galactica whereas I am halfway through the 5th and final season of Babylon 5.
I just wasn't as engrossed in Battlestar as I'd hoped to be and with the high pricing of a split set for season 2 (when I hit Best Buy sale, they only had half the set for the $19) and and Season 3 not yet out... I'm not sure that viewing Season 2 and 3 would change my views from my viewing of season 1 and would like to hear your thoughts on that. Not sure I want to expend the cost of 2 more seasons if I would still be only somewhat interested in the series of Battlestar Galactica.
I was much more wrapped into the storylines of Babylon 5 and personlly believe it should stand up against any praise of Battlestar Galactica as as worthy. I have been manic in finishing off the full 5 seasons of Babylon 5 and have the Babylon Movie Collection and Lost Tales already on order to be shipped. So I'm a huge fan of the Babylon 5 series. It is the most engrossing, exciting sci-fi series I have ever viewed.
I'm also a huge fan of Babylon 5, and have it at home for years now. I also love Battlestar, but they are quite different. Battlestar for me is darker, more raw, and simplistic. Babylon 5 is much more interspecies-relationship oriented, and therefore more complicated. That's what I love - the interplay between the characters in Babylon 5 is just phenomenal. Battlestar is in my opinion more action-oriented, and less colorful. If I would have to choose, I'd probably choose Bab over Battle, but it's tough, as they are really very distinct from another.
I'll take them both: if you look at the history of science fiction tv series, the start is, for most people, Star Trek.
In ST:TO and ST:TNG, for the most part, the main crew gets along well together. In DS9, we started to see crew conflict and tension like we hadn't seen before. This continued into Voyager.
It's my opinion that this was one of the things that JMS was trying with Babylon 5: a show where the main characters do not always get along, and are not all archetypal heroes. He was also trying to get the public to buy into a 5 year story arc, which, unfortunately, was chopped into 4 years. How many modern people were willing to hold on for the next episode, or the one five or six episodes down the line, to find out that the "throw away" plot device, or character, came back? (think Talia Winters' thoughts being recorded by the veeker, and then that being referenced when her sleeper personality was awakened)
We're getting the crew conflict and tension in BSG (I've only just finished 2.0) at a much higher level, sooner, than we saw it in B5 (the closest I think I've seen in B5 to what I've seen so far in BSG is Talia's awakening, and the betrayal of Sheriden by Garibaldi).
I don't think a comparison of quality of storylines and overall writing can be made - they are both enjoyable, at the same edge of my seat, cliffhanger-esque level. I find myself more viscerally engaged by the action and military scenes of BSG, but the intrigue and political machinations (and hell, the parallels to political/social life in the USA in 2000-2008) of B5 make me think really hard about plots, and plots within plots.