December 29, 2004
Rated: NR Runtime: 576 min Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Oh, but what could have been. Back when Babylon 5 was in its heyday, I never missed an episode and, thanks to the magical wonders of VHS technology, I usually watched each one 3-4 times back-to-back. That show’s creator, J. Michael Straczynski, is famous for extreme levels of detail in his works so when a new follow-up series set in the B5 universe was announced, I was practically giddy with anticipation.
The first episode of Crusade aired in June of 1999 and I could see that this would turn out to be a worthy successor to B5. Sure, the cast & crew hadn’t yet found their stride, but that is the case with every new series. Alas, it was not to be. Thirteen episodes into the first season, the bigwigs at TNT & Straczynski got into a pissing contest on the direction of the show. At some point during all this, TNT decided to just can the entire show.
All we have now are these 13 episodes which, in the final analysis, ain’t much. After watching them all again, I feel like I’m standing on Coast Guard cutter off Miami Beach watching my cruise ship sink after having just embarked on a great vacation cruise around the world. It was over before it got started and, by the time the credits on the final episode roll, nothing significant has happened. Hence the three stars. I have no doubt that, had Crusade gone its full five year course, I would be slapping a four or (more likely) five star rating on this set.
So what exactly DO you get? And, if it’s so short and meaningless, how can it get even three stars? To put it simply, it’s just that damn well made. Straczynski consulted with engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and others in order to give a more real sense to the technology of the series. All of the sets were designed virtually and then tweaked hundreds of times before the first nail was hammered into the first board. The all-CGI space scenes were made even better than the ones in B5.
So what about the storyline? Sure, the shadow war was over and all seemed well, but there was to be no “happily ever after” for Earth. The former toadies of the Shadows, the Drakh, are quite PO’d that earth has taken their masters (and benefactors) from them so they decide to retaliate by dropping a wicked nasty biological plague agent into the upper atmosphere of Earth.
Scientists soon realize this is an adaptive agent. This is the good news. The agent won’t kill you immediately. The bad news is that it will adapt & evolve into a lethal form over time. Specifically, the best minds predict everyone on earth will die in five years. Earth is immediately quarantined and their only hope is to gather the best non-contaminated crew they can muster, put them on the baddest of the bad-ass new Earth ships, the Excalibur, and send them into space looking for a cure.
Arthurian parallels are everywhere. Captain Arthur..er.. I mean Gideon and his Crew of the Round Table join forces with Merlin the Magician…er, I mean Galen the Technomage and set out to find a cure.
If you’re a big Straczynski / Babylon 5 buff, this is a must have item if for no other reason that the fact that it exists. If not, you’ll probably like it ok anyway, but you will be disappointed by the fact that nothing get accomplished and none of the burning questions get answered. Maybe someday, though. Maybe someday.
Popularity: 18% [?]
Seen it? How many stars do you give it?