The year is 2267 A.D. The Shadow War is long
over and the Psicorps has been officially disbanded. However,
a new threat comes in the form of the Drakh Plague. After
fending off a Drakh offensive of Earth, the human homeworld
is obliged to quarantine itself. The Drakh have left behind
a microbial, biogenetic plague which, after the estimated
five years it will take to adjust to our biology, will kill
everyone on the planet. Captain Matthew Gideon (Gary Cole)
is given command of the Excalibur, the latest and fastest
exploration ship Earth has, and a mission to do whatever is
necessary to find a cure or combatant to the plague...
assembled key crew members include Lieutenant John Matheson
(Daniel Dae Kim), Gideon's First Officer and the first telepath
to be admitted in to Earthforce; Max Ellerson (Daniel Allen
Brooks), a sometimes hot-headed and selfish but expert archaeologist
and linguist; Dureena Nafeel (Carrie Dobro), an accomplished
thief and locksmith; Dr. Sarah Chambers (Marjean Holden),
the ship's medical doctor; and Galen (Peter Woodward), a powerful
Technomage who uses science to simulate magic. Also credited
among the regular cast is Captain Elizabeth Lochley (Tracy
Scoggins), the character from the latter part of Babylon
5, but with the series having it's plug pulled after only
thirteen episodes it's a case of spot the Lochley. Answers
on a postcard please. I suppose I should also mention that
Dr. Stephen Franklin (Richard Biggs), the Babylon 5
medical officer, guest stars in episode thirteen. Unlucky
for some; we'll blame him then, shall we?
is a spin-off series from the situations created in Babylon.
In fact the Babylon 5 TV movie A Call to Arms sets
the scene with the Drakh battle and the first action of the
good thing is it's not necessary to have any knowledge of
that TV movie, as this pretty much starts afresh. In theory
this show would have run a similar five-year arc as the Babylon
5 series, and it's sad that we never got to appreciate
its full potential.
I know that J. Michael Straczynski is working on an original
feature film set in the Babylon 5 universe, but perhaps
he might take the Joss Whedon path on Firefly
and attempt to rekindle the series with a movie. Let's hope
starts slow but soon gets moving. One of the most difficult
arrangements to pull off convincingly is tackled in practically
the first scene. The multiple fist-fight comes across as being
more than a little contrived, and also in the first episode
John Matheson does little more than release a half-smile every
now and then. He's a character that will gradually grow on
you, although at times you'll want to shake him in to some
sort of activity.
the second episode the show is already well into its stride,
supported by two main strengths. The first is the writing
of J. Michael Straczynski, which is as tight and plot-driven
as ever. As with Jeremiah, Straczynski's most recent
TV serial, you can instantly tell which episodes he has written
himself because the quality of output is so much better. Thankfully,
of the thirteen parts collected together in this attractive
package, all but three are written by the man himself.
The second strength is the character of Galen, brilliantly
portrayed by Peter Woodward (son of Edward). Galen has some
of the qualities of the first Kosh in Babylon 5, but
is significantly more multifaceted. He makes infuriatingly
vague comments, he comes and goes like the wind, gives the
impression of being all-powerful and all-knowing when he's
clearly not and, best of all, his quirky enthusiasm from the
smallest events hook you and reel you in. Galen turns a good
show into a great show.
of the best episodes, in my humble opinion, is The Long
Road, in which Edward Woodward plays a Technomage trying
to scare away strip minors from his adopted planet. There's
plenty of twists and turns, and the victims are not beyond
using ruthless means to get their way. It must have been quite
strange for Peter Woodward to play against his father.
include commentaries for two episodes, The Making of Crusade
documentary, and Forging Excalibur: describing
the layout and capabilities of the starship.
This set is well worth a look, as long as you don't expect
a conclusion to the Plague story; the nearest you'll get is
a hint at a new experiment in the episode Each Night I
Dream of Home. It didn't bother me. I just wished for
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