Well, I finally got to spend some time with my Babylon 5 Second Season – The Coming of Shadows DVD set, and since I’d like more reviews on the site I guess I need to do some of my own. Read More for the complete review. And if you haven’t picked up your copy of either season, you can now order both!!!
Well, first off, I like the packaging that the this set (and the first set) came in. 6 discs that come in a plastic case that opens like a book, with a larger cardboard sleeve. Now one problem that hasn’t been solved from the first set is loose discs. When I opened my set, discs 2 and 5 were loose – 2 wasn’t securely fastened to the hub, and 5 was completely loose sitting at the bottom of the case, and had some wide radial abrasions towards the center. There have been quite a few such problems reported on UseNet, and Disc 5 seems to be in the majority. Fortunately, in all but once case I’ve seen the disc plays fine, as did mine. Ironically, this set came directly from Warner Home Video. I mentioned the problem to my contact and he was passing the info on. I have heard of a couple “duplicate disc” issues (where for instance you get two discs 2s instead of disc 5) but those are more rare.
The screen printing on the discs is nice, but you have to look closely to see what number disc you have.
The menu screen is kind of cool. After a short animation, 4 of the characters appear with the menu – but wait! Each of the characters will fade or morph into another character.
The special features, like the first set, appear on the 1st, 4th, and 6th discs. Disc 1 has an introduction to Season 2 (although if you have not seen the episodes before, I suggest watching it afterwards as some of the images are spoilers) featuring several of the cast members plus J. Michael Straczynski and other crew members. Also featured is a commentary track on “The Geometry of Shadows” featuring Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian and Jerry Doyle. It was fun to listen to, although partly annoying when Bruce would try and point out some facts but get run over by Claudia and Jerry with jokes. It’s too bad as commentary about the Techno-Mages would have been nice. But they did talk about how great it was to work with veteran actor Michael Ansara, and even mentioned how well Kim Straus, who played the Green Drazi leader on the episode but played many countless aliens throughout the show, was able to act through the prosthetics – although they couldn’t remember his last name until the credits rolled…
Disc 4 features a commentary track by JMS on “In the Shadow of Z’Ha’Dum”, where JMS gives wonderful information about the show and the episode. He repeats this on Disc 6 in “The Fall of Night”. Although Joe has a fixation on the flaws he keeps pointing out. 🙂
Disc 6 also includes two new documentaries – “Building Babylon – Anatomy of an Episode” where they detail what it takes to produce an entire episode, and “Shadows and Dream: Honors of Babylon”, about winning the Hugo Award.
And there is one hidden, unadvertised feature(often called an “easter egg”) – the second season blooper/gag reel – including the infamous wind-up Starfury! How to get there? Well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the challenge…
So, lets apply some scores. Since this a DVD set review as opposed to a review of the show, the categories are somewhat modified from the standards, and the season is taken as a whole.
Plot/Story: Taken as a whole, Season 2 was where the story really gets moving, as we now know of the Shadows and we are in the midst of the Narn/Centauri War. Still not full-paced, but getting there. 4/5
Character: We get the introduction of Captain John Sheridan (a bit stiff at first, and as Brue even said in the commentary, smiling WAY too much), the reappearance of Lyta Alexander, more of the sinister Morden, a sudden shift in Talia Winters, and a fascinating turnabout between Londo and G’Kar, where we see G’Kar’s (and Andreas Katsulas’) oratory powers. 4/5, mainly because Sheridan just didn’t grow on me until the third season.
Special Features (replacing Visuals): Commentary tracks are expected nowadays, but these were reasonable well done. I would have liked less horsing around with the trio, but it was still fun. The gag reel, which I’ve been dying for, was great. THe data files were OK (the audio for transitions was somewhat annoying), and the other documentaries were well done if a bit fast-paced. 5/5
Nitpicks: The packaging difficulties (loose/duplicated discs) is disappointing – especially since they should have been corrected after the first season. Since the first season didn’t include the gag reel I would have liked to see it here, but maybe next time. 3/5
Overall: An excellent job for a TV show in a nice package. 4/5
Total: 20/25, or 4 out of 5 “stars” (or whatever we want to call them – anybody got any ideas?)