Crusade (1999)

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I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The movie that set up the whole Earth-is-infected-with-a-Drakh-plague storyline wasn’t exactly overwhelming and the reactions I’ve read over the years ranged from atrocious to aborted brilliance. I find myself somewhere in the middle. I think Crusade lacks most of the things that made the original Babylon 5 series such a unique experience. Babylon 5 gave you the feeling of seeing history in the making, even if it was a fictional history of the future. Even the pretentious elements of the series worked in its favor. Not so with Crusade, which is a completely different animal.

Basically, it follows the template set by Star Trek, a ship goes out exploring a new world or culture each episode. Each plot is contained to a single episode and even the bigger storyline that runs through the series was less well developed than the bigger storylines in Babylon 5. It felt all like been there, done that. Generic and boring. When you catch yourself each time you watch an episode, not really following what happens but counting probabilities of what happens next based on your knowledge of similar plot structures from Star Trek and all the other spaceship-based series, something is seriously wrong. I think such a series can work, but to make it work you’ll have to do more than merely follow the same pattern of earlier shows.

Another problem I had with the show was the characters. I never really warmed up to them and one of the most important characters, Galen, annoyed me each time when he popped up. They really fucked that one up. The dude who played the technomage back in Babylon 5 had all the right attributes that made him look sagely, mysterious and yet powerful. The actor of Galen was merely annoying, unable to pull off the Gandalf-routine. When he was pretentious, which was most of the time, unlike G’Kar or other characters on Babylon 5, it really felt awful and laughable. His words in the intro sequence of Crusade really made it quite unbearable.

Like I said, I don’t think Crusade is completely awful. It sure felt so after watching two or three episodes, but at the end, the show had a little bit grown on me and I think given more time it could have gotten better. But considering that I loved Babylon 5 from the first minute, densely packing interesting plot developments, Crusades content felt mightily thin. I would like to say it’s a loss the series got canceled this early, but it’s not really one.