Friday, January 25, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Babylon 5 - Legacies and Voice in the Wilderness Part 1

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great stories by themselves that set things up for later
Cons: The CGI is obviously early and dated
The Bottom Line:
While weird packaging
Modern releases make these
Episodes still good

Legacies of War and Half a Two Parter

You’ve got to love the limitations of VHS.  When TV dramas were sold two episodes to a tape, you sometimes wound up with some pretty strange breaks.  That’s certainly the case with the season one episodes of Babylon 5 collected here - Legacies and A Voice in the Wilderness Part 1.  Fortunately, with the advent to DVD, this becomes a non-issue.

Babylon 5 is a space station located in neutral territory and designed to be a port of trade as well as a UN of sorts to help create peace among the various races.  Of course, as we learned over the five year course of the story, that peace doesn’t come without conflict and a very high price.  The first season built the story slowly while mainly introducing us to the races and characters we’d spend the rest of the show with.  As such, the episodes can be hit or miss.  But these two are both good ones.

First, we have the stand alone episode “Legacies.”  As is often the case in the season one episodes, we have two storylines happening.  In the first, the body of one of the great Minbari military leaders is being paraded around the galaxy on its way to be buried on Minbar.  However, when it arrives on Babylon 5, it mysteriously vanishes.  With not only Ambassador Delenn (Mira Furlan) but warrior Neroon (guest star John Vickery) demanding answer about this outrage, Commander Sinclair (Jeffery O’Hare) and Security Chief Michael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) have to act fast to find answers before a second war between their species breaks out.

And in the second story, a young teen girl suddenly develops telepathic abilities.  Unfortunately, it happens while both Lieutenant Commander Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian) and resident telepath Talia Winters (Andrea Thompson) are present, and the two immediately start fighting over the girl’s future.

While both stories in this episode stand on their own, they both fit very nicely into the overall story and universe building of the first season.  With the telepath story, we learn a bit more about how other species treat their telepaths.  And we see Talia and Ivanova again class over the PsiCorp.  Yet their relationship is softening, and it’s a subtle transition you can watch as the season progresses.

Meanwhile, the first Earth Minbari war ended 10 years ago, therefore 10 years before the series started, but much of why and how it ended is still shrouded in mystery.  This episode gives us a chance to see the conflict a bit more from the Minbari side of things.  Those hoping to find out why the Minbari suddenly surrendered won’t find that information here, but they will find some intriguing clues as to what really happened.  More revealing is the growing split on Minbar that resulted from the end of the war, something we hadn’t heard about before and would come into play in later seasons.

Which brings us to “A Voice in the Wilderness Part 1.”  This episode finds Delenn’s old mentor Draal (guest star Louis Turenne) coming for a visit just as the planet the station orbits starts to have earthquakes and radiate beacons from deep within the planet’s surface.  Considering this was thought to be a stable, uninhabited planet, that worries everyone.  If the planet goes, it will take the station with it.  Meanwhile, the tension on the Mars colony erupts into violence, and Garibaldi uses every means he can find to try to learn the fate of his former girlfriend.

This is a hard one to discuss without talking about part two.  As I said, in the day of DVD, this isn’t an issue because you can watch them back to back.  While this episode doesn’t stand on its own, it does a great job of keeping you entertained.  This was not a one episode story stretched into two hours but a story that needed two hours to be told well.  And considering it does set up several key plot points for later seasons, it is not to be missed.

The acting on both “Legacies” and “A Voice in the Wilderness Part 1” is good.  The actors have really settled into their characters and bring them to life well, whether it is some very serious stuff or moments of pure comedy.  There is a gag that has been set up all season that pays off here, and a hilarious scene involving Centari Ambassador Londo (Peter Jurasik) that are both laugh out loud funny.  Ivanova has some excellent lines as well.

The CGI is getting better, although you can still see how dated it is at times.  Remember, this was 1994, so I’m willing to give it a pass because of that.

Once again, I don’t recommend you track down this tape.  However, I do highly recommend both these episodes.  They start off disc 5 of the first season DVD set of Babylon 5.  That’s the way to watch them.

No comments:

Post a Comment