Babylon 5
In the Beginning

Starring: Bruce Boxleitner and Mira Furlan
Warner Home Video
RRP 19.99
Certificate: PG
Available now

Ten years before the construction of the Babylon 5 station, the devastating Earth/Minbari war was waged. We see the roles played in this conflict by characters who would go on to shape the destiny of a galaxy - people such as John Sheridan, Delenn, Londo Mollari and G'Kar...

This TV movie (released simultaneously alongside the extended version of the pilot episode, The Gathering) marks the eagerly awaited DVD debut of Babylon 5.

Although it was produced well into the series' five-year run, this flashback story is in obvious ways an appropriate place to start. Indeed, TNT commissioned it as a prelude to their own broadcast of the series. In the Beginning is certainly more indicative of the show's overall style than the pilot, whose cast, costumes and make-up designs all proved to be subject to modification. However, any viewers who are new to B5 and who decide to watch this movie first will ultimately discover that a great many plot developments from the five-year saga, such as the reason why the war came to such an abrupt halt, are spoiled for them here.

Truth be told, none of the TV movies work as well as the best of the one-hour episodes, simply because the appeal of B5 lay largely in the suspense it carefully cultivated on a week-by-week basis. Of the movies, though, this is one of the better examples. The plot is admittedly bitty, being built upon references and revelations divulged over the course of the series, although it does contain many moving scenes that are full of tragic irony. The show's regulars look convincingly youthful as their former selves - especially Bruce Boxleitner (as Sheridan) and Peter Jurasik (as Mollari). The CG work is variable - on one hand, there are some ropy virtual sets, while on the other, the space battles are some of the best that have ever graced our TV screens.

I was most disappointed by the lack of extra features on this DVD (unless you count the subtitles and re-dubbed audio in a selection of languages, which I don't). Not a tremendously auspicious beginning.

Richard McGinlay


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