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December 19, 2006 9:04 AM   Subscribe

I have never seen "Babylon 5," but intend to watch the series via Netflix. However, I'd like to watch the DVDs in chronological order. I believe through a bit of research that I've sorted the discs into chronological order, but would appreciate any die-hard Babylon 5 fans' corrections. The order I'll be putting them in is in the "[more inside]" (Similarly, if said fans see any major problems in watching them in this order, I'd appreciate a non-spoiler heads-up.)

The order I've currently got them queued in is:
  1. Babylon 5: The Gathering
  2. Babylon 5: Season 1: Disc 1
  3. Babylon 5: Season 1: Disc 2
  4. Babylon 5: Season 1: Disc 3
  5. Babylon 5: Season 1: Disc 4
  6. Babylon 5: Season 1: Disc 5
  7. Babylon 5: Season 1: Disc 6
  8. Babylon 5: Season 2: Disc 1
  9. Babylon 5: Season 2: Disc 2
  10. Babylon 5: Season 2: Disc 3
  11. Babylon 5: Season 2: Disc 4
  12. Babylon 5: Season 2: Disc 5
  13. Babylon 5: Season 2: Disc 6
  14. Babylon 5: Season 3: Disc 1
  15. Babylon 5: Season 3: Disc 2
  16. Babylon 5: Season 3: Disc 3
  17. Babylon 5: Season 3: Disc 4
  18. Babylon 5: Season 3: Disc 5
  19. Babylon 5: Season 3: Disc 6
  20. Babylon 5: Thirdspace
  21. Babylon 5: Season 4: Disc 1
  22. Babylon 5: Season 4: Disc 2
  23. Babylon 5: Season 4: Disc 3
  24. Babylon 5: Season 4: Disc 4
  25. Babylon 5: Season 4: Disc 5
  26. Babylon 5: Season 4: Disc 6
  27. Babylon 5: In the Beginning
  28. Babylon 5: Season 5: Disc 1
  29. Babylon 5: Season 5: Disc 2
  30. Babylon 5: Season 5: Disc 3
  31. Babylon 5: Season 5: Disc 4
  32. Babylon 5: Season 5: Disc 5
  33. Babylon 5: Season 5: Disc 6
  34. Babylon 5: The River of Souls
  35. Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers
  36. Babylon 5: A Call to Arms
  37. Crusade: The Complete Series: Disc 1
  38. Crusade: The Complete Series: Disc 2
  39. Crusade: The Complete Series: Disc 3
  40. Crusade: The Complete Series: Disc 4
posted by WCityMike to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
if said fans see any major problems in watching them in this order, I'd appreciate a non-spoiler heads-up.)

There's really no way around it, Season One just isn't that good. It's worth watching for the background information, but there are going to be times where you are going to be gritting your teeth and wondering how the show ever got to the second season.

The second, third, and fourth seasons rock, though, and make it worth sitting through the first.

As for "Chronological Order", it depends if you mean by their production order or the timeline of the Bab5 universe. If the latter then "In The Beginning" should come first.
posted by tkolar at 9:15 AM on December 19, 2006

Your order looks good, although I would just flat out skip The Legend of the Rangers. It's truly awful, and adds nothing. Also, do not under any circumstances watch In the Beginning before the end of the fourth season. It reveals major plot points that would spoil the suspense of the first four seasons (well, the second through fourth seasons anyway). I will reiterate that Season One ranges from Ok to awful, but it also contains important plot points that are necessary for the rest of the series. It actually becomes better to watch the second time around, when you can spot all of the subtle clues along the way.
posted by Lokheed at 9:23 AM on December 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you're looking to recreate the broadcast order, I think Thirdspace came in the middle of season 5, and The Legend of the Rangers should be after A Call to Arms.
posted by chrismear at 9:31 AM on December 19, 2006

Response by poster: Just to clarify: by chronological, I meant Babylon 5 timeline-chronological, as opposed to airdate order. Although I think if I remember correctly (I queued these in this order a long time ago), I read someone's warning about the In the Beginning plot points and thus plunked that where it was.
posted by WCityMike at 9:41 AM on December 19, 2006

Bab 5 is kinda like a sandwich. Only the part in the middle is tasty. The first season was terrible, as was the whole Crusade lunacy. I watched from the second season to the close of the original series, then watched season 1 in reruns just to get the back story. This somehow made season one palatable.
posted by chairface at 9:46 AM on December 19, 2006

One of the most helpful reviews on Amazon said the following:
1. Watch the B5 movie "The Gathering" -- The Babylon 5 pilot movie The Gathering was originally broadcast in 1993 a full year ahead of the regular show.
2. Season 1
3. Season 2
4. Season 3
5. Watch Season 4 up to episode "The illusion of truth"
6. Watch the B5 movie "Thirdspace"
7. Season 4: continue with episodes 9-22
8. Watch Season 5 up to episode "Objects at Rest"
9. Watch the B5 movie "River of Souls"
10. Watch the B5 movie "In the Beginning" -- This is a prelude set 10 years before Babylon 5. Against the logic of the title, I would strongly recommend seeing it at this stage. Should one see it before Season 1, much of the suspense in the main series would be ruined.
11. Watch the B5 movie "A Call to Arms" -- This movie lays the groundwork for the spin-off TV series "Crusade".
12. Season 5: watch final episode "Sleeping in light"
13. Watch Crusade Series
posted by parilous at 9:54 AM on December 19, 2006 [4 favorites]

Crusade justified its entire existence with the episode "Visitors from Down the Street."
posted by kindall at 9:56 AM on December 19, 2006

This thread is informative to me, because I stopped watching Babylon 5 during its original broadcast about halfway through Season 1 (and I'm surprised I lasted that long). So I wrongly assumed that people who talked about the excellence of the series were probably suffering from fanboy delusions.

I will have to give the series another chance at some point.
posted by Prospero at 10:09 AM on December 19, 2006

Response by poster: Parilous, I may have actually structured my queue based on that comment ... it sounds vaguely familiar to me. Thanks. :)
posted by WCityMike at 10:12 AM on December 19, 2006

Prospero: I am right there with you. I watched the first few episodes of B5, found it wanting, and stopped. Eventually I started hearing about how great the show was (during Season 3, probably), and started watching. Really got hooked.

Also, for the die-hard B5 fan, check out The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5 which fills in all the little details you might have overlooked, draws connections between episodes, etc. Lots of ancillary material, like transcripts of online chats with JMS.
posted by adamrice at 10:23 AM on December 19, 2006

I watched the pilot and was so horrified I refused to go anywhere near the show till mid-season two. When I became accidentally and completely hooked.

Personally if I were you I'd just watch stuff in broadcast order. I don't think the movies would add anything to the experience being watched mid-series and may spoil some points.
posted by phearlez at 10:37 AM on December 19, 2006

Yah, really can't say enough good things about the Lurker's Guide. Steve Grimm is a god.

In other news, Za?
posted by tkolar at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2006

Prospero, to say it's excellent is exagerrating, in my opinion. Pretty much two characters, Londo and G'Kar, carry the whole series and they're only sometimes in the forefront. My wife and I watched the whole series about a year ago and we're still wondering if it was worth the time we sunk into it, though I think the awful, tacked-on, final season left a bad taste in our mouths. Were I to suggest an order to watch the series in, I'd suggest stopping at Season Four which was good and wrapped almost all the storylines up to a satisfying degree.
posted by picea at 11:22 AM on December 19, 2006

This is probably mentioned over at the Lurker's Guide, and elsewhere, but the reason that Season 5 stank (I still haven't seen it in its entirety) is because J. Michael Stracynski's original plot arc went for the full 5 seasons, culminating in the fifth season as you might expect.

However, due to some producer/network/executive related issue that I don't recall, by the time they started actually working on Season 4, they thought that the show would not be renewed for Season 5. Thus, JMS had to tighten up the story and have his original plot arc wrap up by th end of Season 4--only to find out that yes, in fact, they were getting Season 5 after all.

Oops. So, he had to whip up some filler, and that became the Season 5 we love and know (hah) today.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 12:10 PM on December 19, 2006

Yeah, the events towards the end of season 4 were originally meant to span about a third of the way into season 5. That, combined with the messy departure of Claudia Christian and the forced introduction of Tracy Scoggins as Captian Lochley definitely brought down the fifth season. The entire telepath plotline that arcs the first part of the season was a real waste.

On the other hand, once you get halfway into the fifth season (past the point where many people gave up on it) it actually gets pretty good again. Lennier's storyline is really quite good, and of course the the entire Londo / Centauri Prime plotline is excellent. Although I think the season would have been better if Claudia Christian had stuck around, I think Tracy Scoggins was better than many people give her credit for once she had some time to settle into the part. The truth is she was placed in a very ackward position, essentially replacing one of the most beloved roles in the series. Given her initial handicap, combined with the extreme amount of filler at the beginning of the season, she never really had a chance to shine.
posted by Lokheed at 12:54 PM on December 19, 2006

I'm glad you're starting this series and I think you'll love it. The earlier suggestion for the Lurker's Guide was an excellent one and, as a further resource, I'd recommend which contains an archive of Straczynski's usenet and prodigy postings while the show was being made. AFAIK, he was the first person to try to connect directly with the fanbase via the net while a show was in production.

And I'd hate to see you completely poisoned against season 1 before you see it. There are some real clunkers but there are also some very sublime moments. The first episode gets things started with quite a bang, and the last episode of the season is a wonderful cliffhanger with some deep echoes of 9/11. There are some other very good episodes in Season 1 and it has a wonderful feeling of melancholy and loss.

And even in the terrible episodes of the season, you'll find a line of dialogue which seems like a throwaway but gives you a clue to something major which happens 3 years later. Its really wonderful how the whole show ties together so well.
posted by pandaharma at 4:34 PM on December 19, 2006

All I have to say is that B5 is one of the greatest sci-fi stories ever filmed, and I have to give a huge thumbs up for someone getting into it.

Also, I'm slightly jealous. I wish I could watch the whole thing for the first time again.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:59 PM on December 19, 2006

I was a big B5 fan, but always felt it was 2-3 seasons worth of real, actual storyline with 2 seasons of filler. There are times where you will watch 2 or 3 episodes and wonder where the hell the story disappeared to.
All that said, though, it really was a grand epic.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:21 PM on December 19, 2006

No matter what anyone here says, don't skip Season Five - the episode penned by Neil Gaiman, "Day of the Dead," justifies its existence all by itself. Yes, even Tracy Skoggins' horrific acting.
posted by phearlez at 10:17 AM on December 20, 2006

I would honestly consider skipping all of the movies except In the Beginning until you've watched the entire series. I would also consider skipping River of Souls and Thirdspace completely. They're horrible and really don't add anything to the arc (fun or otherwise).
posted by Captaintripps at 12:02 PM on December 20, 2006

Babylon 5 set a lot of firsts for the SF genre, and its influence is widely felt in modern TV SF (it's clear Ron Moore is quite familiar with it), but I have to admit that in retrospect, the series is more interesting for its ambition and repeated conquering of obstacles than for the show itself. As a writer, Straczynski has his shining moments, but he also, it must be admitted, has moments where he falls flat on his face. (I was a huge fanboy back in the day and am still fond of the show, but I can see its many flaws today.)

The DVDs are somewhat disappointing because they shot the whole series in 16:9 except for the CGI (though it was broadcast in 4:3), intending to re-render the CGI when they did DVDs. The problem is, they lost the files for the CGI and ended up having to use the NTSC cropped to letterbox. As a result, the picture quality drops noticeably not just in space scenes but anytime there's a CGI element composited onto the screen, such as a virtual set or a CGI alien.

Bab 5 is kinda like a sandwich. Only the part in the middle is tasty.

This is not such a great analogy. If the bread in your sandwich isn't tasty, you're doing something wrong.
posted by kindall at 2:39 PM on December 20, 2006

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