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One of the greatest science-fiction shows of all time is coming back next year.
Straczynski, better known as ‘JMS’ to his fans, took to Twitter to casually drop information about the project, saying that it has already been produced and will debut at the 2023 San Diego Comic Con. “It’s the closest thing to the original B5 in tone of anything we’ve done since. As if no time has passed at all,” he wrote on Twitter (opens in new tab).
Related: Best sci-fi TV shows of all time
Babylon 5 told the story of the eponymous space station, which was a diplomatic outpost orbiting a planet around the star Epsilon Eridani. Over the course of five seasons, the station’s crew and alien ambassadors become embroiled in an interstellar war with an ancient species, the Shadows, while combating conspiracies and the rise of fascism on Earth. Straczynski wrote 92 of the show’s 110 episodes (as well as six TV movies, the straight-to-DVD project The Lost Tales, and 10 of the 13 episodes of the ill-fated sequel series, Crusade). Babylon 5 was hailed for its novel-like approach to storytelling, with its five-year arc plotted ahead of production.
This new project is a separate project to The CW’s reboot of Babylon 5, which is still stuck in development hell (more on that shortly). For now, it remains a closely guarded secret, and there have been precious few clues as to its nature.
Back in March 2021, Straczynski put out a request on Twitter (opens in new tab) for anyone who worked on the special effects for original show and who might still have some of the CGI files to get in touch with him as they were needed. Rumors then began among fans in the know of an animated Babylon 5 movie, or series of movies, being produced by Warner Bros. However, with no official word, other formats, including audio dramas and even live action, cannot be ruled out. However, animation would fit the bill in terms of needing the CGI files and in getting around the fact that the cast has aged.
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Speaking of the cast, Straczynski had joyous news, stating on Twitter that all the surviving actors from the main cast will be included. These include Bruce Boxleitner (John Sheridan), Claudia Christian (Susan Ivanova), Peter Jurasik (Londo Mollari), Bill Mumy (Lennier), Tracy Scoggins (Elizabeth Lochley) and Patricia Tallman (Lyta Alexander). Straczynski was keen to emphasize that “all means all” (opens in new tab), so that technically should also include main-cast members Andrea Thompson, who played telepath Talia Winters before departing in the season two episode ‘Divided Loyalties’, Jason Carter, whose character Marcus Cole died at the end of season four, and Julie Caitlin Brown, who played Ambassador G’Kar’s aide, Na’Toth, in seasons 1 and 5.
Regarding the possible plot of this new project, we are speculating now, but the much hyped Telepath War, which takes place two or three years after the end of the show’s fifth season, would be a prime candidate for a story we’ve heard about but not seen. This might be a way to bring Talia Winters back, as well as way to include Walter Koenig’s fan-favorite villain, the Psi Cop Bester. Straczynski has said that patrons on his Patreon will get details about this new project ahead of everybody else.
Meanwhile, the reboot project continues to kick its heels in a holding position while awaiting the go-ahead to film a pilot. The reboot series was initially announced to go into production this year, but the sale of The CW to the Nexstar Media Group (opens in new tab) placed its development on hold. There were fears that the reboot would be cancelled, but instead The CW’s president, Mark Pedowitz, postponed the reboot until after the dust had settled on The CW’s change of ownership. Pedowitz is a fan of Babylon 5, and contacted Straczynski directly (opens in new tab) to assure him that the reboot was safe for now and that The CW’s option for the pilot script would be moved into 2023 instead.
Some fans had expressed alarm that the reboot would appear on The CW, which is known for producing shows aimed at younger audiences. However, Straczynski has assured fans that the reboot will not be made for teen audiences. A recent survey of The CW’s audience found that the average viewer of the network is actually aged 58 (opens in new tab), with younger viewers preferring to stream TV rather than watching it on broadcast. As such, shows such as Babylon 5, which originally aired between 1993–98, will appeal more to older viewers who watched it the first time around, increasing its appeal to The CW.
And for anyone who hasn’t seen the original show yet but would like to get up to speed on the best science-fiction show of all time, Warner Bros have remastered all five seasons (though sadly not the TV movies or the sequel series, “Crusade”), and they’re available for streaming on HBO Max in the US, Amazon’s Freeview in the UK, and via download sites such as Apple TV. No word on a Blu-ray release yet, but if anyone in Warner Bros’ home entertainment department is reading this, we’d love to get our hands on one!