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Babylon 5: The Gathering/In the Beginning

4.2 out of 5 stars 179 customer reviews

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(Dec 04, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The long-running, Emmy-winning TV series launches onto DVD with two feature-length adventures about an outer-space weigh station. In the series pilot "The Gathering" (1993, 89 min.), an interstellar summit strives to negotiate a lasting truce, if an assassin's agenda doesn't have the opposite effect. Set primarily in the decade before the orbital station existed, the prequel "In the Beginning" (1998, 100 min.) depicts the tumultuous events of the Earth-Minbari War, which shaped interstellar events and paved the way for the construction of the universal safeport.


In spring 1993, a year before the Babylon 5 series was launched, the two-hour movie and series pilot "The Gathering" staked out the initial territory, introducing primary characters (some of whom would never appear again) and sketching the alliances and rifts in interplanetary diplomacy. The central story involves the attempted assassination of the newly arrived Vorlon, the mysterious Ambassador Kosh, at the hands of (perhaps) Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O'Hare). This is the reedited cut released on video, a stronger, more engaging film than the original, but still a broad first stab at characters that would be redefined through the course of the show's run.

"In the Beginning," produced between the fourth and fifth seasons, packs all the history alluded to in "The Gathering"--and more--into a prequel stuffed to the hatches with the epic doings of Earth, Minbar, Narn, and Centauri in the days before the Babylon stations were built. Infused with epic sweep and storytelling confidence by producer-writer Michael J. Straczynski and his cast and crew, it's an elegant, compelling addition to the Babylon 5 universe and a dramatic highlight of the series. It's not an ideal introduction, though, as it gives away the shadowy history slowly revealed through the first three seasons. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • "The Gathering": full-frame
  • "In the Beginning": anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1)
  • List of cast & crew

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael O'Hare, Tamlyn Tomita, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Blaire Baron
  • Directors: Michael Vejar, Richard Compton
  • Writers: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Producers: Douglas Netter, J. Michael Straczynski, John Copeland, Robert Latham Brown, Susan Norkin
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 4, 2001
  • Run Time: 185 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005NTNP
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,736 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Babylon 5: The Gathering/In the Beginning" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen C. Smith on October 30, 2001
Verified Purchase
Reportedly the version of the two-hour pilot movie "The Gathering" on this DVD will be "Version 2.0", if you will.
The version that aired in 1993 was considered by many to be dull and muddled. B5 creator J. Michael Straczynski later placed the blame on director Richard Compton, who he felt chose the wrong takes in an attempt to emphasize the station itself rather than the actors' performances.
"Version 2.0", released in 1999, was heavily revised by JMS and producer John Copeland. They tightened up the storyline, upgraded the effects and, most importantly, dug up from the archives alternate takes that showed stronger performances by the actors. Some scenes that slowed down the pacing have been dropped, while other scenes that emphasized the characters and the plot have been restored.
If you can get hold of the original version, compare it to "Version 2.0" and enjoy a clinic in the right (and wrong) way to edit a movie.
Like any pilot, though, the actors have yet to find their characters and the writer/creator is still finding their voices. That's the point of any pilot, so don't unnecessarily bash it just because the look of some aliens changed later in the series. A pilot is supposed to sell the show as a series, and that it did. But "The Gathering" is also important because of B5's unique structure -- a five-season "novel for television", and "The Gathering" is the opening chapter. Plot lines established in this episode resonate throughout the next five years, sometimes not even paying off until late in the series.
If "The Gathering" is Chapter 1, "In The Beginning" is the prologue.
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Babylon 5 represented some of the best television science fiction ever available. At it's worst, it was merely mediocre. At it's best, it was absolutely amazing. On the average, it was excellent.
I think this DVD represents some of the best of Babylon 5, and some of the... well, not the best. The pilot episode, while much improved with it's "special edition" release, is still less than a perfect example of what the series was able to do. But it's still better than any Star Trek series pilot ever did :) It wraps the feel and background of the series in a murder mystery that sets the pace for the action and political intrigue that was to continue for the run of the series.
"In the Beginning" is something of a spoiler for first-time B5 viewers, so beware. Many of the surprises of the series are re-revealed here, along with many new discoveries. However, it also represents Babylon 5 at its best. It's a thrilling re-telling of the backstory of the Babylon 5 universe, as told by a dying emperor, full of regrets, many years later. One of the axioms of the TV series was that "nobody is ever exactly who they seem," and in this made-for-TV movie, this hits home very squarely. It's an action-packed two hours that remains fun after repeated viewings.
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My wife and I were really impressed by the Babylon 5 series. We caught it as a Turner rerun on satellite. We followed each and every section in proper sequence, which is the ONLY way that this wonderful screenplay can be seen. We want our son to see it the same way, only with the benefit of DVD.
Thus, are you listening? We and, apparently many others, will pay for the complete boxed set of the entire story. What do you want $130, $150, $200? Do you understand that we, in the most expansive plural, want every piece of the puzzle, not some edited best of compilation...
It truly is amazing what your company is wasting VHS tapes and DVDs on, when Babylon 5 is a "sure thing". I will only buy the DVDs. And I would buy all, including sections edited out of the original, in the case of Babylon 5. I can think of no other movie or series where I would do this!
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By A Customer on August 8, 2001
The DVD release of Babylon 5 has been eagerly awaited by fans for several years.
Although I cannot yet speak for the quality of the DVD or any special features that WB may deem to add, I can offer a synopsis of the two movies included on this first disk, and comment on what special features Babylon 5 fans would WANT to see included on this and future disks.
When it was originally aired in 1993, "Babylon 5: The Gathering" was simply titled "Babylon 5". It was a movie that served as a pilot for a new science fiction series. It was also the culmination of a dream for writer/producer J. Michael Straczynski to create an epic science fiction "novel for television". The movie had the daunting task of introducing viewers to the large cast of humans and aliens populating the station, exposing their personal motivations and the political machinations of their respective worlds, planting the seeds of some of B5's trademark mysteries, and perhaps above all else, differentiating itself from that other science fiction series - Star Trek. It accomplishes this while in the midst of a fairly standard "whodunit".
The movie begins with the fifth and last Babylon station becoming fully operational. It is a port of call, located in neutral space - an orbiting cross between Casablanca and the United Nations. The five major space faring worlds have all sent their Ambassadors here to better understand each other and "create the peace". These races are the Minbari, the Narn, the Centauri, the Humans, and finally, the most mysterious and powerful of all known races, the Vorlons.
The Babylon Project was co-sponsored by the Minbari government. Several years earlier, the Minbari were at war with Earth.
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