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The epic sci-fi series Babylon 5 was a unique experiment in the history of television. It was effectively a novel for television in five seasons, consisting of 110 episodes with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The first season introduces the main characters, headed this year by Commander Jeffery Sinclair (Michael O'Hare) and Security Chief Michael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle), and familiarizes the audience with the unique environment of a five-mile-long space station in the year 2257. The first episode, "Midnight on the Firing Line," plays at a breathless pace, introducing Commander Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian) and establishing the conflict between the Narn and Centauri races as represented by their ambassadors, G'Kar (Andreas Katsulas) and Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik). B5 hits warp speed with a run of exceptional episodes building to the season finale. The two-part "Voice in the Wilderness" has Mars breaking into open revolt against Earth and the discovery of a "Great Machine" on the dead world Epsilon 3. Referencing 1950s sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, the story leads to the superb time-travel-based "Babylon Squared." Season finale "Chrysalis" proves more than just the usual television cliffhanger, placing Minbari ambassador Delenn in conflict with her ruling Grey Council and forcing on her a decision that laid the groundwork for Babylon 5's eventually becoming a great love story.
Delenn's future love interest, Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) arrived on Babylon 5 in the first episode of season 2, "Points of Departure." The show marked the handing over of command of B5 to Sheridan from Commander Jeffery Sinclair, actor Michael O'Hare becoming a victim of studio politicians who wanted a bigger star in the leading role. "Revelations" explains that Sheridan's wife, Anna, died during an archaeological survey of the world Z'ha'dum, the name being just one of many references to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (the bridge at Khazad-Dum). "The Coming of Shadows" proved to be Babylon 5's finest hour to date, and in "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum," Sheridan learns that Morden was on the ship on which Anna died. Three exceptional shows conclude the season. The Narn-Centauri war escalates in "The Long, Twilight Struggle," Sheridan faces a most unusual ordeal in "Comes the Inquisitor," and in "The Fall of Night" all hope of peace is shattered as a nerve-racking assassination attempt reveals a startling secret about Ambassador Kosh. --Gary S. Dalkin