Babylon 5 : Crusade review


13 45 minute episodes


It is about five years after the end of the events recounted in the Babylon 5 TV series -- as we saw in A Call to Arms , the Drakh have just infected Earth with a nano-plague, which will activate in 5 years time. The race is on to find a cure before then, and a motley bunch of specialists join Captain Matthew Gideon [Gary Cole] on the newly commissioned starship Excalibur as part of the hunt. But their five year mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new cures and new technology, etc, etc, was cut short when the plug was deservedly pulled in the middle of season one, after 13 episodes.

Oh dear. B5 was so good, and this is so not. What went wrong?

[the Crew]

Well, what was good about B5 was the complete arc, the constant feeling there was so much more depth beyond what we were seeing, the gradual unfolding, the twists, and the interesting and developing characters. Some individual episodes weren't that hot, to be sure, but taken as a whole, it worked brilliantly.

But that's all missing here. The story is just a straightforward quest for a cure, with no feeling that there's going to be any more depth than that. And I don't think that's because 13 episodes are not enough yet to perceive an arc: the series barely qualifies even as a simple quest, because there is essentially no continuity between episodes, not even the collection of "plot coupons".

And the characters just don't work. Delenn, Londo and G'Kar were great complex characters; the avaricious archaeologist with a heart, the embittered thief with a heart, and the mysterious technomage with a heart -- especially the technomage -- aren't. I think the technomage might have been added to try to give some of that much-needed depth, but I found him just annoying and unnecessarily obscure. The best episodes were ones where he didn't appear. (And the fact that the best episode of all was so merely because it was a rather amusing spoof of The X-Files , included none of the secondary characters and had nothing to do with the quest, says it all.)

So, don't bother with Crusade . Watch a rerun of the vastly superior B5 instead.

Rating: 5

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 2 January 2001