Babylon 5: The Road Home (2023)
August 16, 2023 8:55 AM - Subscribe

[Trailer:] Full length animated movie (1 hour 19 minutes) which serves as a functional new episode of the original Babylon 5 show. Features John Sheridan being transported through multiple timelines and alternate realities in a quest to find his way back home.

The final episode of the original series aired on 25 Nov 1998.

Now 28 years later a new episode has been released. Babylon 5: The Road Home (not spin-off or fork, or backdoor pilot*) featuring all off the surviving** original main cast, voice acting their characters.

Over 5 seasons and 110 episodes, (plus 6 made for TV movies), Babylon 5 aired through most of the 1990's and was a groundbreaking and innovative in many ways that we might now take for granted.

Creator and main show runner J M Straczynski has always maintained that he has more Babylon 5 stories to tell, and the main roadblock to telling them was that rights holders - Warner Brothers - had no interest in reviving the brand.

The entire TV series (minus made for TV movies and any spin off materials) was released on DVD in 2002, but most fans agree that the visuals are 'murky' and low light, and was incorrectly cropped at 4:3 - when the series was filmed in 16:9, also that the special effects rendering was sub-optimal.

Mastering problems
While the series was in pre-production, studios were looking at ways for their existing shows to make the transition from the then-standard 4:3 aspect ratio to the widescreen formats that would accompany the next generation of televisions. After visiting Warner Bros., which was stretching the horizontal interval for an episode of Lois & Clark, producer John Copeland convinced them to allow Babylon 5 to be shot on Super 35mm film stock. "The idea being that we would telecine to 4:3 for the original broadcast of the series. But what it also gave us was a negative that had been shot for the new 16×9 widescreen-format televisions that we knew were on the horizon.
- Wikipedia

HBO MAX and Itunes digital releases appear to be upscaled and differently digitally re-rendered, but there is no concrete information on what was done, how and also whether an episode is close cropped at 4:3 or has the original 16:9 ratio appears to be a coin toss.

A entirely 'new' HD Bu-ray collection of all 110 episodes of the original series is due for release in late 2023, but until it is released the image quality, cropping (or not), and special effects rendering quality remain unknown.

The 2023 Blu-ray apparently includes no extras nor commentaries as the entire release was done without J M Straczynski involvement.

[* .. is it actually a stealth pilot ??]

[** sadly several key members of the cast have passed away since the original series ended:
  • Michael O' Hare : Jeffrey Sinclair - in 2012
  • Mira Furlan : Delenn - 2021
  • Richard Biggs : Doctor Stephen Franklin - 2004
  • Stephen Furst : Vir Cotto - 2017
  • Tim Choate : Zathras - 2004
  • Jeff Conway : Zack Allan - 2011
  • Jerry Doyle : Michael Garibaldi - 2016
  • Andreas Katsulas : Ambassador G'kar - 2006
posted by Faintdreams (11 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I pre ordered this to ensure that I could see it day of release, and having watched it I was surprised at my own very emotional reaction.

I loved it.

I forgot how much I loved these characters and this show.

Was it perfect?

No. Nothing is, some of the animation was - to put it charitably - not expensive, but I overlooked the production values of the original show, so I can overlook some of the production value of this animated series.

I also think that the Voice cast replacing original actors all managed to capture the spirit of the characters without necessarily being exact voice mimics.

I shall be rewatching this often and am hopeful that the upcoming blu-ray release is decent (fingers crossed) so I can rewatch the original series with the Boyf who has never seen it. I don't have the heart to subject him to the original DVD release version.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:03 AM on August 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

The 2023 Blu-ray apparently includes no extras nor commentaries as the entire release was done without J M Straczynski involvement.

Oof! I hadn't heard that - that's too bad. I do think one of the drawbacks of anybody getting into this show is that the easily accessible versions of the episodes are of poor quality (and in the wrong or poor viewing order). I rewatched it about 4 or 5 years ago using the episode ordering from one of the fan sites and it was a good viewing experience overall but the series would benefit from a clean up (it should look better than Canadian television from the 70s for instance).
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:13 PM on August 16, 2023

I had NO IDEA this was coming! What a wonderful surprise, can't wait to watch it. Thanks, Faintdreams!
posted by Frayed Knot at 1:12 PM on August 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

I had preordered this as well and watched it last night. I really enjoyed it! I appreciated that it took place near the end of Season 5. We just finished rewatching the series again a couple weeks back, and this does a good job fitting right in with the rest of the show. Maybe in the next viewing we'll watch it between the last two episodes of Season 5.

It gets extra points from me for having more Zathras than anticipated!

I also just recently purchased the full DVD set (knowing full well the quality wasn't going to be great) before hearing about the upcoming BluRay release. Hopefully it gets remastered well and we can finally get a decent quality copy of the series, but it's too bad there won't be additional content with them.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:28 PM on August 16, 2023

Hopefully it gets remastered well

Maybe they could splurge and upgrade their Amiga Video Toaster to a SGI Octane.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:43 PM on August 16, 2023 [6 favorites]

Fan service. So much fan service. I’m not even mad, though.
posted by Alterscape at 12:14 AM on August 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

Well, who else is going to look for this and buy it but fans? Why not have fan service?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:03 PM on August 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

Oooooooooh, I hadn't realized this was out, thank you!

I must admit I teared up a little seeing Stephen for the first time, since Richard Biggs has been gone for so long. I agree the voice actors captured the spirit of the characters whose actors are no longer with us.

My memory of the end of season 5 is a little hazy: was David along for the ride here? He's gotta be a tough cookie.
posted by wiskunde at 5:51 PM on August 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

Here for and happy with the fan service. This was a show that meant so much to me as it was being broadcast and I felt I could never really go back, it wouldn't feel the same - so a 25-years-later animated nostalgia-fest is fine with me.
posted by Molesome at 5:22 AM on August 21, 2023

For what it's worth, I was observing the fan service, not critiquing it. I was hoping for something new in the world of B5, and I guess the bit at the end is new, but even so, it was wonderful to spend a bit more time with those characters.
posted by Alterscape at 7:16 AM on August 25, 2023

Just got around to watching this on HBO Max and yeah I really liked this! I was a huge fan back in the day when the show was on TV, and been watching the DVDs now and then. REALLY loved the jumpgate animations! And Zathrii. The story was a bit minimal, but all the heart of the show was still there.
posted by fridgebuzz at 1:07 PM on March 20

« Older Only Murders in the Building: ...   |  Movie: The Legend & Butter... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments