Babylon 5

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Babyloń 5 was a Venedan television program created and written by J. (Jóżef) Michał Straczynski that achieved something like cult status world-wide when sold for syndication by TWW in nations outside the Republic of the Two Crowns. Its original broadcast was from 1989 until 1994.

Characters and Plot

In essence, is the story of a space station functioning like a futuristic League of Nations. An overall "arc" was set up, creating what was termed a "novel for television." Based upon Babylonian creation myths, essentially the story dealt with an ancient conflict between advocates of Chaos and Order--specifically, the so-called Blues (based upon the common conception of Extraterrestrials associated with UFOs) versus the Reptilians (another commonly held conception of aliens). Both races remained behind the scenes for virtually the entire run, and the series ended with the idea that this particular skirmish in their eons-long struggle had come to an end--at least for this epoch and in this galaxy.

The central characters were the staff of the Babylon 5 station, and the diplomatic representatives sent there from the United Earth Commonwealth, the Republic of Vega and the Digital Empire (a race of sentient machines). Straczynk made no secret that he was making historical parallels with ancient history. Earth was the equivalent of Mycenean Greece, Vega much like Babylon and the Digitals akin to ancient Egypt.

Significance

Babylon 5 broke new ground in using an overall arc for story telling, a device seen in various television programs ever since. It was also unprecedented in its efforts to explore topics and ideas generally considered too adult for science fiction. Some examples:

  • Characters who were fervent believers in both Monarchy and Republicanism, without any hint as to which side might be correct.
  • Religion treated with respect, at the same strongly hinting that the Blues/Reptilian conflict may have shaped religious beliefs in many cultures.
  • Homosexuality, albeit in a metaphorical way as it was revealed that Vegans have three genders with complex taboos regarding their relations.
  • Addiction, especially storylines involving "bliss" a fictional drug not only creates euphoria, but heightens intelligence and improves health--providing one keeps taking ever-increasing doses.
  • Crime and punishment, most obviously in an episode involving a murder trial. No one ever learns if the defendant is guilty or innocent.
  • Suicide, in the series finale most of all, when the station's commander and senior staff destroyed the station in an effort to destroy advanced technology from the Blues and Reptilians before their own government could seize it.

Sequels

The success of the original series resulted in a sometimes controversial prequel series dubbed Babyloń 4, which dealt with a fundamentally different set of characters. Its focus was on a covert cell of operatives living on the previous Babylon Station, trying to reconcile their lives public and secret. That series limped along and ended after three seasons.

Its sequels Babyloń 6 and Babyloń 7 were more successful, at least financially, returning to a somewhat more standard sets of stories and characters, as well as Kruczata.

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