This is something I’ve heard whispers of for a couple of months but in the past couple of weeks it has been confirmed by JMS himself: Babylon 5 is back (and not in pog form).
In a newsgroup posting JMS says “we’re looking at 3 half-hour episodes/stories for the first DVD, with additional features and the like in the other half hour. Each story will be worked around a given established character, the specifics of which are still TBD contingent upon availabilities and other issues.”
Yes, it is direct to DVD. This is certainly a brave move by Warner Brothers and very interesting that they should choose B5 for this experiment. It makes sense – B5 has made a fortune in DVD sales, even all these years after the series ended. There is undoubtedly still a market for it, the fans are still there. A general viewing audience? Probably not enough to sustain a new TV series but a targeted DVD release? I think so, I hope so. So do they. B5 was a revolutionary series in a number of ways, obviously it’s use of CGI effects, it’s story arc (and lack of reset button), it’s being filmed in 16:9. It also came in under budget each and every season, despite it’s minuscule budget compared to Trek (for example) – this alone is all but unheard of. That last fact, I am sure, had as much to do with the decision to try this with B5 than anything else. JMS was a safe pair of hands producer with a flair for story. There is only one other series I can see this working with right now. Somebody bung Whedon some money too!
My biggest hope with this is that JMS has full reign again. I rather liked Crusade. In fact I can’t help but look back at the first half of B5 season one and compare it with Crusade. Crusade was, for me, better. It hadn’t quite found it’s feet but it was more consistent and showed more promise than was immediately evident with B5 episodes 1-13. Of course we all know how B5 improved in leaps and bounds, particularly into seasons 2 and 3. That being the case, what goodness did we have in store for us in Crusade? It makes me sad to even think about it. I blame the Apocalypse Box… Crusade wasn’t perfect by any means and it certainly suffered (fatally, in the end) from studio interference. That was nothing compared to the mess that was Legend of the Rangers. Not all the Sci-Fi channel’s fault but I, at least, put most of the blame for Legend of the Rangers with them. Leave JMS to do his thing, WB!