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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 14, 2011
Fascinating, sometimes maddening mix of wonderful and silly,
intelligent and dumb, insightful and obvious.

At it's best it's the 'Wire' of science fiction, challenging
'Battlestar Galactica' for intelligence and emotional depth. At it's
worst, it's like an OK episode of 'Lost in Space'.

Generally far more intelligent than most TV sci-fi (or recent sci-fi
films for that matter), with stories based more on ideas than laser
battles. In that, it's a little reminiscent of the original 'Star Trek'
series.

The most interesting thing; this was an early case of a series having a
pre-planned multi-year arc, so throughout there are sometimes seemingly
throwaway details that suddenly return to be finally explained as
having great importance a season or two or three later. On the other
hand, because this preceded the acceptance of truly serial cable shows,
each episode is more self contained than more recent shows in a
sometimes annoyingly neat way.

The show is also full of allusions; Shakespeare, the Bible, Buddhism,
King Arthur, the Koran. Certainly the writing is grounded in pretty
heady stuff. Of course, sometimes it's dealt with in a pretty heavy
handed way.

The setting is a space station that's sort of an intergalactic United
Nations. In season 1, some of the acting is so stiff, that it brings
the series down. Also, the effects, production design, etc. all reflect
a budget that's clearly way too low, giving it all an amateurish air.
None-the-less, I found myself caught up in a number of the episodes,
both emotionally and intellectually. One even brought tears to my eyes.
And the layering in of deep mysteries only slowly solved gives it a
sense of deeper meaning and arc.

One running problem of the series, the villains tended to be a little
'Snidely Whiplash', complete with black costumes and deep scary voices.
It got a little better as the series went along, but I wish the 'bad
guys' were a little less cartoony.

I wish the series was even more consistently great, but - in the end - it was
more than good enough.
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on May 25, 2004
When it first came out, I was put off by the cheesy early episodes. But this series has wonderful character actors and a long story arc that builds and unfolds and interconnects. The best science fiction on television.
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on November 6, 2002
Just picked it up last night, and am very impressed. I am in B5 heaven, after putting up with poor quality video and audio from the broadcasts, now we are treated to a digital widescreen transfer, and remixed 5.1 digital sound. Faith manages!
One negative note... whoever edited the included booklet should be fired.. I counted 3 glaring spelling errors on a quick skim through...
If you want to hook someone on the series, show them Chrysalis, the season 1 finale. It's head and shoulders above the rest from first season, no question. Do NOT show them Infection or TKO. The best episodes from season 1 are: Mind War, And The Sky Full Of Stars, Signs and Portents (this one still gives me shivers... "I want us to reach out and command the stars!"), A Voice In The Wilderness I/II, Babylon Squared, and Chrysalis. Parliament of Dreams and Survivors are pretty good too.
This season is easily the weakest of the series, but that doesn't mean it's bad.. just that there are a few lame episodes, probably born out of early studio pressure to make the series more "mass-appealing" and "Star Trekky". (ie, disposable, recycled plots, and cheesy action) But it's a crucial chapter of the overall Babylon saga, introducing an unforgettable cast of characters.. the sly, vengeful patriot G'Kar, the disheveled outcast politician Londo Mollari, the cynical and tough Lt. Susan Ivanova, the questionable past Security Chief Garibaldi, the guarded but resourceful Delenn, the ruthless Psi-Cop Bester, the impenetrable and enigmatic Kosh.. and so many more. It's so incredible to see the characters grow, change, and even die over the five year span. Season 1 is good. Season 2 is great. Seasons 3 & 4 are pure solid gold.. absolutely breathtaking. Season 5 doesn't quite capture the highs of 3 & 4, but it's right up there, a worthy conclusion, and the most powerfully moving final episode I've ever seen.
ARGH! I want Season 2 NOW!
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on December 25, 2002
Well, maybe not but this is a terrific box set anyhow. Launched during a time when it was believed that Trek defined science fiction on television, Babylon 5 made other series such as Farscape possible with its 5 year story arc. Season one is hampered with setting up all of the characters and conflicts that were to follow in future episodes. It also features strong character development and, without setting the stage, there wouldn't be anything left follow.
Although the writing is a bit stiffer here than on future episodes (Michael O'Hare gets the bulk of the awkward dialog as his character isn't clearly defined early on), there are a number of episodes that sparkle with the quality of writing seen later in the series. The appearence of the shadows by episode 16 sets the stage for the major conflict during the third and fourth season when the Shadow war breaks out.
All the cast dose a great job with the strongest performances by Andreas Katsulas, Peter Jurasik, Andrea Thompson and Jerry Doyle. Why Thompson gave up her acting for television news reporting is beyond me (maybe she saw something in her future she didn't like for example NYPD Blue) Perhaps it's because the line between truth and fiction was finally crossed.
The DVD features commentary by J. Michael Straczynski on three of the key episodes during the first season (something that should have been done with the Star Trek box sets). Alternately funny and informative, Straczynski's comments provide an interesting backdrop to the action unfolding in the respective episodes. There's also two documentaries with the first made during the first season and the second a look back with interviews with Straczynski, producer Copeland and Jerry Doyle (among others)providing a candid assessment of the obstacles they can into bringing the show to the screen.
The packaging is less awkward than the Trek accordian fold out box set with a 12 page booklet giving a credits for individual episodes and a brief synopsis of the plot. Warner has done a great job of packaging Babylon 5 season one. The DVD, on the other hand, is a mixed bag.
The good stuff first. The sound is terrific and has been remixed for Dolby Digital 5.1. The mix is crisp, clear and sounds really really good. The live action portion of the show has numerous analog artifacts including scratches and imperfections in the print. While it isn't horrible, it can be a bit distracting given the quality of progressive scan DVD players and a big screen television. This could have been cleaned up more in digital post-production during the transfer (look at the marvelous job done with the last three Star Trek: TNG box sets for an example of how it should be done). There isn't much in the way of problems due to digital compression despite the fact that these are all on single layer discs. The optical effects look sharp and the fact that they are digitally created is a bit more obivious 8 years on. There's occasional picture crawl when you see ships in the distance or an interior show with any sort of grating. Again, it's not a problem just a distraction.
All in all, I'm happy to have Babylon 5 finally available on DVD. I just hope that Warner takes a bit more care with the next set of transfers. Again, the picture quality is quite good--it's just noticable that these are digital transfers from an imperfect analog source. While some folks claim that season one isn't their fav, without it the ground work for the remaining four seasons wouldn't have been possible. Looked at in retrospect, it's amazing at the quality of the writing given that this was the first season. It's also amazing that from the very first episode there is a reference to episodes in seasons 2, 3, 4 & 5. I'd highly recommend this box set.
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Unfortunately, The Gathering which serves as the pilot for Babylon 5 is NOT included in this First Season Boxed set, which I guess is fair, as The Gathering did originally air over a year before Babylon 5 found a home on TV.

The Gathering pilot, while not essential viewing to understand the plot, it does held to fill in the blanks and it is recommended to watch it before watching Babylon 5 Season I especially on the first viewing of the show.

The first season features interesting plot developments and introduces the key players to the Babylon 5 Story: G'Kar, Londo Mollari, Delenn, Susan Ivanova, Garibaldi and Jeffery Sinclair.

Considering the show is in it's second decade the special effects on the most part hold up fairly well, but unfortunately this is NOT true on composite shots and sometimes you can clearly see flaws in the original source film.

Babylon 5 is best viewed as a novel for Television and as such the first season can be viewed as the Introduction.
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on February 9, 2013
I am not going to repeat everything about the bad quality picture and the artifacts. that's already been covered. My biggest complaint is the english subtitling. For certain reasons i have to turn it on sometimes even though i can still hear it and i noticed instantly that different words were used then what was spoken and half the dialogue was cut out in some of the the scenes. It was like the ones typing it out were too lazy to type out the harder to spell words or just didn't feel like typing out everything said. i can understand small changes but these changes were so huge it made me angry that those who sometimes have to read the dialogue didn't get the full experience of what was being said.

I am first to admit some of the acting wasn't that great, the overacting was plentiful and i look at the show with an eye that has been spoiled by 2013 CGI. What was on the show was cool for it's time so i just step back and enjoy the fun of it.i was not a fan of the actor who played sinclair thinking that sometimes his acting was quite wooden and somewhat forced although he did improve later in the season.I look forward to season 2 with boxleitner of who i have been a fan since i was a wee one and scarecrow and mrs. king was on.
This is coming from a non sci-fi person, i did enjoy watching it on t.v and i am still enjoying rewatching it on dvd.so there has to be good stuff in it to keep my interest.
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on April 22, 2013
I had forgotten how much I liked this series. I remembered that It was good but after getting all 5 seasons and watching them all, I have to say I'm very glad to have watched it again, all these years later. Well worth the price. I know I will watch all five seasons again a couple of time over the years.

The regular characters are well defined, you really get to like and dislike some of them. For all the weird costumes and hairstyles, and what not, the acting gets you beyond laughing at them and brings you right along to caring about them.

Very good Sci-Fi series. A great addition to my collection.
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on September 22, 2013
Very 90's. Original, well plotted, great characters... It passes the test of time so much better than his counterpart at the times, Star Trek the next generation. Lots of things to like... except for the slapstick humor, which is not my cup of tea, but besides that, it is a very good SF series.

And the delivery was impeccable, as was the service. Thanks again, guys!
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on September 29, 2002
I consider myself a real expert on the Babylon 5 universe and story. I have watched this series for over 7 years and even if i alrealdy know the story, i still love watching the episodes.
I own the whole collection in videos : it's good but the ultimate thing is the DVD. Finally, this series got what it deserved : a real DVD quality.
As for the story, greatly inspired from the Lord of the Rings, Babylon 5 is a real epic story with complex characters such as Londo, G'Kar, ........ Even if there is an obvious hero (sheridan who only appears in the 2nd season), Babylon 5 is not about him : it is about a place, Babylon 5 (a sort of United Nations of the stars), and how it changed everybody.
JMS (the author) has become a real master of the science fiction genre. Each episode should be watched several times in order to understand the whole thing. And yet again, that won't be enough if you do not read the books.
A conclusion : if you are a fan, you already know that you should buy it. If you are new at this, go for it and BUY IT !!!
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on November 4, 2002
I've been trying to collect the entire Babylon 5 series since 1997, when it was only available on tapes, through a subscription to a club. Warner was impressed by the sales and began releasing them commercially on tape and laserdisc, only to stop almost halfway through when DVD rumors caused sales to plummet. Now, at last, my dream given form... an entire season of my favorite televison series, in a full-season box! Will I live long enough to see the other four seasons issued? One can hope...
This DVD box offers more than any of the previous releases. These are brand-new transfers; for the first time the widescreen prints are available (a big plus to owners of widescreen TVs, like me). The sound has been remixed in Dolby Digital 5.1, with a subwoofer channel that had me leaping across the room to turn it down before my windows shattered. Superb picture and video... and I haven't got to the extras yet.
Since Babylon 5 is more of a novel-for-television than a series, you really need to watch every episode in order to fully appreciate the story. The first season has rough edges, as the show's producers and writers figured out what worked and what didn't work. The best part of these shows is the performance of Michael O'Hare as Commander Sinclair. O'Hare's persona doesn't seem to work that well as a an action hero (which may have something to do with why he was replaced), but as O'Hare finds his way around the character he develops Sinclair into a profoundly spiritual leader, with a depth and breadth that's virtually without parallel in American television. This is a process that fits in well with later events in the story... and this is what makes B5 so unique: the characters change.
I like Star Trek and the X-Files, but I like Babylon 5 better because the characters actually develop and change in response to their experiences. This makes the story more realistic and dramatic and less like ordinary TV. Compare G'Kar in the first episodes of the opening season with G'Kar in Season 3, and Season 4, and Season 5... and you'll see a real masterpiece of acting, as the character becomes so much more than one could imagine after watching the first few episodes.
So, start here, and be prepared to watch each episode more than once, as the best shows are packed with rich details that yield greater meaning when you know how things turn out in the end... B5 is never predictable. It will surprise you.
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