Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Sleeping in Light": The tenth anniversary of BABYLON 5's series finale

Ten years ago tonight, the Babylon Project came to a magnificent end as "Sleeping in Light", the series finale of Babylon 5 - considered by many to be the greatest television show of the Nineties - was broadcast on TNT.

I have not written nearly enough about Babylon 5 on this blog. J. Michael Straczynski's soaring, spanning epic about the Babylon 5 space station and the people within it, I can confidently attest, had the most profound impact on my personal philosophy of any work of televised fiction. From the first time I heard about it in an issue of Starlog in the summer of 1992, I knew this would be one to watch for. And it did not disappoint: the shot of the Vorlon fleet coming through the jumpgate in the pilot movie should have been fair warning to everyone that science-fiction television would never be the same.

But the effects, even those from episodes like "The Coming of Shadows" and "Severed Dreams", weren't the reason we stayed faithful to Babylon 5. It was because this was a show about very real characters, as rife with strengths and weaknesses as anyone in our own world. We could identify with the people of Babylon 5. Personally, I think the show's greatest gift was that it demonstrated something that has not been said nearly enough in either fiction or non-fiction: that it's okay to grow and change into something more than what we think we are. That we do not have to be what the world expects us to be.

Has there been anything so profound that has been taught as well on television as Babylon 5 did? If there is, I don't know of it.

Five years of storytelling came to its triumphant conclusion with "Sleeping in Light", an episode set twenty years after the rest of the series. And I don't know of any better way to celebrate this anniversary than with the final five minutes of the episode. If you're new to Babylon 5 and don't know what's going on here, I think that maybe you should watch this, 'cuz it'll ratchet up the "wanna know more" that oughtta leave you wondering what all happened that brought the story to so triumphant a conclusion...

Happy anniversary, Mr. Straczynski and Babylon 5. You fulfilled your mission well. And hopefully there will yet be many more stories to tell from that five-mile long space station burning bright, all alone in the night...

7 comments:

qemuel said...

I had no idea that you were a fellow Babylon 5 kid! Excellent!

"It's like I always say, you get more with a kind word and a two-by-four than with just a kind word."

Good ol' Marcus...

Anonymous said...

You are such a geek, Chris. ;)

I liked B5, too. I especially liked the way it acknowledged the role of faith in the future, as opposed to the secular humanism of Mr. Roddenberry's vision.

Todd W said...

Absolutely. Best. TV. Show. Ever!

At the very least, the best sci-fi TV show ever and some of the best writing ever on TV. One of the best series finales ever. The scene you posted here from the finale has some of the best music I've heard on TV. G'Kar and Londo, who are sadly missing from the series finale, are two of the best characters ever on TV.

Odd & sad to see Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin) in that clip knowing that he, Andreas Katsulas (Ambassador G'Kar), Tim Choate (Zathras), and Paul Winfield (General Richard Franklin) have all passed away in real life since the finale. Did you ever see the memorial videos that a fan did for Rick and Andreas? They're very good.

I think it's been about four years since I watched Babylon 5 from beginning to end on DVD, and I've been wanting to do so again soon. Perhaps the 10th anniversary of the finale marks a good time to start reviewing this endearing series again. Thanks for pointing out the anniversary.

Trust me, I know how hard it is narrow down, but do you have any favorite episodes? It's not necessarily the "best," but one of my most favorite episodes is "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place." The scene that cuts back and forth between the gospel singer on B5 and Lord Refa's fate among the Narns is the scene in which I first realized that the show was better than Star Trek. Considering how embarrassingly obsessed I was with Trek in high school and first half of college, that was a big step for me. "...Rock Cried Out..." was responsible for maturing my tastes & expectations in sci-fi, TV, and fiction in general.

Chris Knight said...

Todd, there were a number of nice tribute videos to Katsulas and Biggs, and if the videos you're talking about came from the direction I think you're talking about then it pains me to inform you that they came from what turned out to be the severely troubled mind of a person who has had some issues with me for several years now, and from what I've been told still harbors a ridiculous obsession with "getting" me. The person in question is very much a nutcase. That's all I'll say about that...

I think my all-time favorite Babylon 5 episode was "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place". It was the PERFECT blend of everything that made Babylon 5 so good: characters with depth, thought-provoking philosophy, religion treated with respect, a very clever plot, terrific effects, and JMS's wonderfully perverse sense of humor. I loved it! :-)

Todd W said...

Wow, interesting to see we're on the same wavelength with Rock Cried Out. I agree with all the reasons you listed for liking this episode and the series in general.

The guy who did the videos is John E. Hudgens at www.zteamproductions.com.

Chris Knight said...

Yup. That's what I thought.

You've got mail.

Anonymous said...

John Hudgens is a psycho. Had he not leeched off people who were bona fide successful he would be nowhere. He is a patroling ninny on Wikipedia as TheRealFennshysa and MikeWazowski which using puppets is illegal. You are right Chris he is a very troubled mind.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Sleeping in Light": The tenth anniversary of BABYLON 5's series finale

Ten years ago tonight, the Babylon Project came to a magnificent end as "Sleeping in Light", the series finale of Babylon 5 - considered by many to be the greatest television show of the Nineties - was broadcast on TNT.

I have not written nearly enough about Babylon 5 on this blog. J. Michael Straczynski's soaring, spanning epic about the Babylon 5 space station and the people within it, I can confidently attest, had the most profound impact on my personal philosophy of any work of televised fiction. From the first time I heard about it in an issue of Starlog in the summer of 1992, I knew this would be one to watch for. And it did not disappoint: the shot of the Vorlon fleet coming through the jumpgate in the pilot movie should have been fair warning to everyone that science-fiction television would never be the same.

But the effects, even those from episodes like "The Coming of Shadows" and "Severed Dreams", weren't the reason we stayed faithful to Babylon 5. It was because this was a show about very real characters, as rife with strengths and weaknesses as anyone in our own world. We could identify with the people of Babylon 5. Personally, I think the show's greatest gift was that it demonstrated something that has not been said nearly enough in either fiction or non-fiction: that it's okay to grow and change into something more than what we think we are. That we do not have to be what the world expects us to be.

Has there been anything so profound that has been taught as well on television as Babylon 5 did? If there is, I don't know of it.

Five years of storytelling came to its triumphant conclusion with "Sleeping in Light", an episode set twenty years after the rest of the series. And I don't know of any better way to celebrate this anniversary than with the final five minutes of the episode. If you're new to Babylon 5 and don't know what's going on here, I think that maybe you should watch this, 'cuz it'll ratchet up the "wanna know more" that oughtta leave you wondering what all happened that brought the story to so triumphant a conclusion...

Happy anniversary, Mr. Straczynski and Babylon 5. You fulfilled your mission well. And hopefully there will yet be many more stories to tell from that five-mile long space station burning bright, all alone in the night...

7 comments:

qemuel said...

I had no idea that you were a fellow Babylon 5 kid! Excellent!

"It's like I always say, you get more with a kind word and a two-by-four than with just a kind word."

Good ol' Marcus...

Anonymous said...

You are such a geek, Chris. ;)

I liked B5, too. I especially liked the way it acknowledged the role of faith in the future, as opposed to the secular humanism of Mr. Roddenberry's vision.

Todd W said...

Absolutely. Best. TV. Show. Ever!

At the very least, the best sci-fi TV show ever and some of the best writing ever on TV. One of the best series finales ever. The scene you posted here from the finale has some of the best music I've heard on TV. G'Kar and Londo, who are sadly missing from the series finale, are two of the best characters ever on TV.

Odd & sad to see Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin) in that clip knowing that he, Andreas Katsulas (Ambassador G'Kar), Tim Choate (Zathras), and Paul Winfield (General Richard Franklin) have all passed away in real life since the finale. Did you ever see the memorial videos that a fan did for Rick and Andreas? They're very good.

I think it's been about four years since I watched Babylon 5 from beginning to end on DVD, and I've been wanting to do so again soon. Perhaps the 10th anniversary of the finale marks a good time to start reviewing this endearing series again. Thanks for pointing out the anniversary.

Trust me, I know how hard it is narrow down, but do you have any favorite episodes? It's not necessarily the "best," but one of my most favorite episodes is "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place." The scene that cuts back and forth between the gospel singer on B5 and Lord Refa's fate among the Narns is the scene in which I first realized that the show was better than Star Trek. Considering how embarrassingly obsessed I was with Trek in high school and first half of college, that was a big step for me. "...Rock Cried Out..." was responsible for maturing my tastes & expectations in sci-fi, TV, and fiction in general.

Chris Knight said...

Todd, there were a number of nice tribute videos to Katsulas and Biggs, and if the videos you're talking about came from the direction I think you're talking about then it pains me to inform you that they came from what turned out to be the severely troubled mind of a person who has had some issues with me for several years now, and from what I've been told still harbors a ridiculous obsession with "getting" me. The person in question is very much a nutcase. That's all I'll say about that...

I think my all-time favorite Babylon 5 episode was "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place". It was the PERFECT blend of everything that made Babylon 5 so good: characters with depth, thought-provoking philosophy, religion treated with respect, a very clever plot, terrific effects, and JMS's wonderfully perverse sense of humor. I loved it! :-)

Todd W said...

Wow, interesting to see we're on the same wavelength with Rock Cried Out. I agree with all the reasons you listed for liking this episode and the series in general.

The guy who did the videos is John E. Hudgens at www.zteamproductions.com.

Chris Knight said...

Yup. That's what I thought.

You've got mail.

Anonymous said...

John Hudgens is a psycho. Had he not leeched off people who were bona fide successful he would be nowhere. He is a patroling ninny on Wikipedia as TheRealFennshysa and MikeWazowski which using puppets is illegal. You are right Chris he is a very troubled mind.