Babylon 5: The Lost Tales
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Babylon 5: The Lost Tales (DVD) (MFV)
Times change. Dangers remain. 10 years after he became President of theInterstellar Alliance, Sheridan prepares for a fateful Babylon 5 reunion that could prevent Earth's impending doom...if he will also compromisehis core principles. Meanwhile, commander Lochley confronts anunexpected interloper on the way station - a being whose presence makesthe B5 freeport the crossroads between heaven and hell.In Voices in theDark, Series creator J. Michael Straczynski reunites with stars BruceBoxleitner and Tracy Scoggins in two richly imagined stories set afterthe events of the original series. Richly imagined, too, isStraczynski's vision of the 23rd century (including a dazzling New YorkCity) - a vision made more spectacular via filmmaking technologyunavailable during the original series.]]>
It'd be hard for any Babylon 5 fan not to feel a surge of emotion when President Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) returns to the space station that was the setting of one of the monumental series in television history. The Lost Tales is a new direct-to-DVD series in an anthology format, the first installment of which, subtitled "Voices in the Dark," includes two stories centering on the return of Sheridan. The first involves Colonel Lochley (Tracy Scoggins) and a crewman (Bruce Ramsay) who appears to be possessed by a demon, to the bewilderment of the priest attempting an exorcism (Alan Scarfe). The second involves Sheridan himself, who upon returning to B5 is asked to pick up a delegate from the Centauri, prince Regent Vintari (Keegan MacIntosh), who's attending the 10th anniversary celebration of the Interstellar Alliance in the place of old Centauri friend Londo Molari. What Sheridan doesn't expect is a psychic visit by techno-mage Galen (Peter Woodward) urging him to kill the boy before he becomes a dictator.It's a treat to see Sheridan, Lochley, and Galen return from the original series (Woodward was also in the spin-off, Crusade), but The Lost Tales focuses on character-driven stories, and as such there's not a lot of action. The CGI effects are good, but sets are very limited and there are hardly any other cast members. (Sheridan even spends most of his time away from B5.) Creator-writer J. Michael Straczynski has said that if The Lost Tales succeeds, future stories might focus on Delenn or Garbibaldi. While that would be welcome, it might be even better to get a feature film (a la Serenity) that would presumably be on more of the epic scale that Babylon 5 deserves. Bonus features are 17 minutes of off-the-cuff interviews held on the set with Boxleitner and Straczynski, Scoggins and the crew, and Straczynski with Woodward; memorials to late cast members Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs; and Straczynski's diaries and fireside chats, in which he recounts the show's production and answers fan questions. --David Horiuchi DVD features
- Interviews with J. Michael Straczynski, Bruce Boxleitner, Tracy Scoggins, and Peter Woodward
- Memorials: Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs
- The Straczynski Diaries: a multi-part series of vignettes as filmed by J. Michael Straczynski as he documents every phase of pre-production, production and post
- Fireside Chats: profiling the people of the B5 universe
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I'm not sure what to say about the first episode. It was like a Twilight Zone or Star Trek episode missing the good part. I always appreciated B5 because it occasionally dealt with supernaturally things in an interesting, unclichéd way. "Soul Hunter," for instance. However, this was like some Trek "omg parallel universe!" episode that is never mentioned again, but with evil spirits. I think JMS would do well to read the Lurker's Guide for "Soul Hunter"- the JMS of then has some ideas that JMS of today might find useful.
The second episode was a ton better, and more what I expected and hoped for a first try of "The Lost Tales." Not wonderful, but it had all the right stuff. It didn't make any moral statements, but it made you think about the choice that Sheridan had made and the consequences of that choice.
The big upside, as far as I'm concerned, is that it has greatly increased my appreciation for B5. I've often said to folks (including the non-B5 viewer mentioned above) about B5 who haven't seen it that while the first season is a bit cheesy and rough, it's well worth sticking with it for the long-haul. A couple days ago, a month after watching "The Lost Tales," I started to watch season one again on Joost and even the first couple episodes are great, far better than I remember. I was overjoyed to find out that B5 does indeed rule, even the first episodes of the first season!
In short, even with the quality of the first episode being very low, I'd happily buy the next couple installments, if they are produced. I just hope making the first one is the warm-up that JMS needed to get back into the B5 universe.
This DVD release is a combination of two short stories. And with each one clocking around 35 minutes, I do mean short. They are only slightly tied together.
Up first, we find Colonel Lochley (Tracy Scoggins) dealing with a strange new force on the station. In fact, she's called in a priest because it appears to be a demon possession. Is that what it really is? Should they try an exorcism?
Of the two stories, I felt this one moved slower. Still, it engaged me and I was quite into the story by the time it ended. And the ending really amazed me again at JMS's storytelling abilities.
The second story centers on President Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) and techno-mage Galen (Peter Woodward). Sheridan is on his way to Babylon 5 for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the alliance. Along the way, Galen appears to him with a vision of the destruction of the earth. That destruction is still preventable. Will Sheridan do what needs to be done to save Earth?
This story felt even more like something from the Babylon 5 universe to me, and I quickly got into it. The pace was fast and the emotion real. I really liked it.
The special effects on both of these stories were outstanding. The show has always used cutting edge technology, and this DVD is no exception. In fact, what is done here puts the series to shame.
But the disc does have its flaws. You can tell by the limited sets and set dressings what a small budget they had to work with. Frankly, I missed most of the characters from the series, although I did like the references to them scattered throughout the film. And the tributes to Richard Biggs and Andreas Katsulas, both during the show and in the extras, were truly moving.
In the end, this is a disc for the series fans. It's not as good as the series, but it's really very close and highly satisfying.