The last Babylon 5 production, the pilot movie The Legend of the Rangers – To Live and Die in Starlight, will finally be released on DVD on March 14th (Pre-order from Amazon now). Read More for the review of the feature and DVD.
Full title: Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers – To Live and Die in Starlight
A new race, unknown to even the Minbari, threatens the stability of the Interstellar Alliance. One ship stands in the way – an old, damaged, cursed ship – the Liandra, captained by a human Ranger who is close to being thrown out of the Rangers.
The cast consists mostly of genre guest actors. Sharp-eyed Sf fans may recognize Dean Marshall (Malcolm Bridges), who played Sgt. Bates in the first season of Stargate Atlantis, Alex Zahara (Dulann) who played Ezekiel in the first season of Jeremiah, and
Enid-Raye Adams (Firell) played Gina in the second season of Jeremiah. Of course, the latter two are in Minbari makeup, so its a bit harder to see.
The rest of the main cast consists of Dylan Neal (Dawson’s Creek) as Captain David Martell; Miriam Sirois (the voice of Akane in the Ranma 1/2 anime series) as Sarah Cantrell; Warren Takeuchi (Da Vinci’s Inquest) as Kitaro Sasaki; Jennie Rebecca Hogan (daughter of Michael Hogan of Battlestar Galactica) as Na’Feel; and Gus Lynch (I Spy), as the dim Drazi Tirk.
The one crossover from Babylon 5 is the late Andreas Katsulas as G’Kar. Alas, Andreas was the only seasoned actor of the bunch. Perhaps if it had gone to series there would have been time for the cast to gel, and actually understand them more. As such, there was little
In fact, B5 fans may notice a lot of things missing – why are there no White Stars, and why
is the Valen are more human-looking ship? It is mentioned in the show, but in reality Warner
Bros., which owns Babylon 5 along with all the production materials, lost all the CGI
models from the series. Some models were recovered from the ill-fated B5 PC game, but only
the B5 station itself appears, in a cameo at the very end.
As for the story, how do you introduce a new enemy? It needs to be more powerful than your previous enemy, yet you don’t want it to just seem a continuation of the same old plot line. A very difficult task indeed – and especially since this was a pilot, you have to deal with how much you expose on the pilot versus save for the series.
Alas, JMS seemed to take what I call the “submarine story” approach here. After the initial encounter, the crew of the Liandra have to run and hide to try and get away from the pursuing Hand. And what seems a major plothole is part of it…they do a free jump to where they encountered the Hand, but there is a jumpgate near enough for them to travel to at normal speeds to get away?
I also still don’t understand why the Hand were willing to let the crew of the Liandra to survive (at least per their claim), and want their mole back. Better just to destroy the
As such, the overall quality was far less than what would normally be expected from JMS. But
then again, a lot of people had the same problems with the original B5 pilot.
Is this why the pilot didn’t make it? No. In fact, blame could be placed squarely on the
NFL, and to some extent, the events of 9/11- the pilot ended up airing against the notorious
Raiders-Patriots playoff game (the “tuck rule” game), which itself was delayed a week
because of 9/11. This seriously affected ratings on the East Coast, and while the West Coast
ratings were very good (it aired later, after the game), The SCI FI Channel had to pass
based on the combined ratings. Such is the life of television pilots.
It would have been nice to have a continuation of the B5 universe, but unfortunately it was
not to be. There was certainly a lot of room for improvement though.
As for this DVD – don’t look for anything special here. There are NO special features at
all. It’s the full length movie, and that’s it. You can get to individual “chapters” like
most, and adjust audio settings, but there is nothing else to see.
This marks the final production of the Babylon 5 universe to be released on DVD,
unless something happens in the future, but it does not look likely.
Plot/Story: Meant to be a pilot towards a series, it leaves open ends. Unfortunately, the
plot itself had a number of holes as mentioned. 2/5
Characters/Acting: The characters don’t seem well rounded out, but this _was_ a pilot. We
only get a glimpse of David’s story, and none of the others. I’ sure each had an interesting
story to be told. They also didn’t seem to work well together just yet. Some of the dialog
between David and Dulann early on was humorous, but seemed a little too quick to appear to
be off the cuff. 2/5
Effects/Visuals/Audio: The video appeared grainy, which I don’t understand for this
production. Also, the original commercial breaks are pronounced and little if any editing
was done for the DVD release. Christopher Franke was back for the music, but with a
different character than he did for Babylon 5. And audio effects-wise – when we see the Hand ships in hyperspace, it sounds like sonar pings – emphasizing the “submarine story” to me. 3/5
DVD Packaging/Extras: Completely a no-frills release. Static menus, no extras. Standard plastic case, with imaging like most of the other B5 releases, and the same image on the
disc itself. 1/5
Overall: Still, a disappointing production to end the B5 universe on. 2/5
Total: 2 out of 5. Alas, I expect better from JMS.