Babylon 5 S1: Signs and Portents (1994)

For some time I had the intent to rewatch Babylon 5, since it’s been my favorite SF TV-series since I saw it, when it first aired over a decade ago. But rewatching or rereading something you adored a decade ago means that your present self might not be as kind to it as your younger self. I wasn’t sure how good the show would hold up. And surely, some of the writing on the show looks less impressive, some of the attempts at humorous dialog seem awfully unfunny. But while now I can see it’s weaknesses much clearer, the strengths I once perceived are still there and overshadow the weaker parts by far.

What I really like about watching it a second time are all the things that I somehow missed; how much for example the look seems inspired by Blade Runner or movies/shows with a similar aesthetic. And how much the politics in the show fit into our present time with its paranoia and surveillance and erosion of freedom. I had forgotten how bad the situation had been from the start. I had remembered that all went bad with the death of Santiago, but now, after a rewatch of the first season, the whole regime on Earth looks pretty repressive and totalitarian from the very start.

Normally, even the best shows seem to need one or two season to find themselves, but Babylon 5 started strong from the get go, very few of the episodes felt like filler and only one I found annoying enough to stop watching, which is quite good. What I really like is that all episodes work as stand alone stories, yet the whole season tells one big story that itself is just a part of the whole series, a far cry from the episodic TV from earlier time and much better than those modern drama shows that tell a big story chopped into tiny episodes, but don’t manage to make those self-contained.