- All 13 episodes from the 1999 season
- The Making of Crusade - a behind-the-scenes featurette
- Forging Excalibur - learn about the starship from the inside out
Crusade: The Complete Series
DVD | Box Set
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In 2267 the Earth is quarantined, having been infected with a deadly plague by an attacking alien force. Scientists estimate that it will kill every inhabitant within 5 years, not nearly enough time for a cure to be developed. So the planet's only hope lies with the Excalibur, an advanced prototype starship sent out to search ancient alien ruins for their former inhabitant's secrets, hoping that somewhere out there a cure can be found.
The first and only spin-off of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski's short-lived sci-fi series Crusade had its roots in the B5 television movie A Call to Arms, in which Earth was battling a Drakh invasion at the end of the Shadow Wars. When Crusade begins, the Drakh have released a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out all 10 billion humans living on Earth unless a cure can be found in five years. To take on this monumental task, Captain Matthew Gideon (Gary Cole) is assigned command of the state-of-the-art Destroyer-class ship Excalibur. His crew includes telepath John Matheson (Daniel Dae Kim); pompous but brilliant archaeologist-linguist Max Eilerson (David Allen Brooks); Dureena, a member of the Thieves' Guild and the last surviving member of her species (Carrie Dobro); medical officer Sarah Chambers (Marjean Holden); and technomage Galen (Peter Woodward).
While Babylon 5 had five years to develop into a powerful saga, Crusade had its plug pulled after a mere 13 episodes (which were reordered for TNT's broadcast), and the series never really got its footing. Galen often took center stage, then disappeared for several episodes. Matheson was underutilized (other than to provide fans with clues about what happened in the Psi-Wars after B5 ended), and tough-guy Gideon bounced back and forth between his desire to save the human race and his own moral code. There were some good action scenes and intriguing concepts (developed in conjunction with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory). Special effects sometimes were impressive and sometimes showed budget constraints, and we never really saw the power and scope of the mile-and-a-half-long ship, other than the cool bullet cars used to traverse its length. But it did have its moments. If B5 was the spiritual companion to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with its space-station setting and long story arc, Crusade was more like a traditional Star Trek setting, with mostly stand-alone episodes involving first contact with various species (even if, due to the nature of the Excalibur's quest, such species were usually extinct). And there were occasional tantalizing hints of a broader conspiracy that might have allowed the series to soar. Regardless, B5 fans will welcome even a brief opportunity to revisit this universe, especially when the Excalibur visits the station in "The Rules of the Game." John Sheridan's ex-wife Captain Elizabeth Lochley (Tracy Scoggins) even earned a spot in the opening credits for her appearance in a few episodes. --David Horiuchi
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When Crusade aired in the summer of 1999 on TNT, I was hungry for the B5 story to continue... in pretty much any form. At the time I was uncritically admiring of the show. It was a stillborn scrap and I'd take it.
Since that time 11 years ago, so bloody much Sci-Fi on TV has aired that owes its look, feel and scripting style to the little universe that JMS created for Babylon-5. Much of the Stargate franchise, for example, feels like a B5 imitation with the dark sets and the multi year story arcs.
Crusade also had that strong feeling of a story that could and should be continued. Instead, we now have to be satisfied with an incomplete run of one season of a story that could have been. Other SF shows with strong promise have been cut off at the knees after one season: Firefly, and more recently, ABC's "Life on Mars", "Defying Gravity", and "Flash Forward".
So, Crusade, forgive me, but it has been 11 years since we last parted ways. I WANT to learn and understand and really feel for your characters. But being shafted out of your promise of a majestic story, as well as several other series' aborted liftoffs in the last decade, makes me skeptical of investing the emotional energy again. It's a merry go round. So, not this time.
The acting is very good to excellent... the scripts are not terribly tight - there is too much talk for my taste and verges on the tedious at times. The characters are generally sympathetic but a few like "Trace" come off as half-baked and awkward. There is the doctrinaire "violent extremist religion is bad, m'kay?" episode, which aired two years before 9/11 happened. The entire show has very non literalistic, metaphoric elements like a recurring "mystical search for truth" schtick that (IMO) compromise the action.
And you get to see a pre-Lumbergh Gary Cole sans red stapler wielding office nerds. He starred in "Office Space" immediately after this series was made, and the show's trivia states that he wore the prop Earthforce Academy ring while filming "Office Space."
But, it's a different flavor of B5. And if you love B5, you really should own it.
The DVD is spartan and dead to the extreme. Each disk lands you in a very static home page screen with no music or animation.
That said, if you like Babylon 5, you should watch this series. If you like J. Michael Strazcynski (that's probably spelled wrong), you should check it out as well. You'll enjoy every minute. I haven't checked out the special features yet, so I can't speak about them, but the quality of the video is excellent, and the case more than sufficient to protect your DVD's if you aren't doing something odd with them.
Most recent customer reviews
An excellent companion to B5