Obsessive Babylon 5 viewing
admin_rock here, with a special Correctness article. A while back, we posted an article: 35 reasons to watch Babylon 5. And it is. No question. The comments thread was fun filled and interesting, and one of our regular readers “Keith”, mentioned the following:
“I share the love of the last of the Babylon stations.
My biggest and geekiest pop culture project was completed last month – I viewed/read every canonical B5 thing in chronological order. 113 episodes, 7 movies, 11 books, 6 short stories, 11 comics, 3 unshot episode scripts.
I have yet to find a publisher for the annotated viewing notes.”
This intrigued us (well, me) and Keith was kind enough to send us an excerpt, which we now provide for your reading pleasure.
Every year on summer vacation I watch a long run of a TV series, usually something I haven’t ever watched and am finally diving into. 2008 was Lost, 2009 was Heroes. I was trying to decide what to tackle in the summer of 2010 when I thought of what can only be called a mega-fest, all the parts of which were sitting on my shelves already.
123 episodes. 7 movies. 11 novels, 11 comic books, 6 short stories and 3 unshot episode scripts. The entire canon of Babylon 5.
As I always say, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing. The project was grand and much more involved than I expected. My sheet of notes was written over a dozen times. Often I would reach the end of a episode and realize it should have been later or earlier than I had it placed.
It is, most assuredly and apologetically, the geekiest thing I have ever done. But hopefully it will be discovered by at least one other person who will find it useful. If one person does make use, then my response to detractors is a simple “fuck you, who did you help today?”
My thanks to The Lurker’s Guide website and to I. Marc Carlson who wrote a fairly accurate chronology which is also available online.
The entire idea seemed crazy, but even crazier was that as I wrote corrections and notes on my sheets I kept thinking “this will be much smoother next time.”
“You put more effort into your leisure than most people do into their work. That’s impressive. And a little disturbing.” – B.J. Allan
- Bold numbers are episode numbers. As production numbers, airing order and episode guides can vary, I have used the episode numbers from the dvd boxed sets.
-Most novels cover several months or years and have been placed in the most logical order.
-When the novels duplicate events in filmed material (especially the Technomage Trilogy), the filmed version is placed first.
-There are two “in-universe” books that I have not included but which fit prior to 501. “The Babylon 5 Security Manual,” Garabaldi’s guide for new security officers, and “Dining on Babylon 5,” a cookbook published in the UK that was used on-screen in 504. I’ve never read the cookbook and it is long out of print. Anyone looking to get me a $100+ present should check eBay.
Psi-Corps vol 1 (novel)
In the Beginning – The prequel TV movie takes place prior to everything in the series. However, much of the mystery of the early seasons is lost if viewed in this order. An alternate order is to instead place it based on the Emperor Londo bridging sequences (Londo is telling the story to children in the palace). This would place it immediately after page 212 of Centauri vol 3.
Psi-Corps vol 2 (novel)
The Shadow Within (novel) – Only two of the original nine novels are generally considered canon. JMS has referred to this novel as “90% canon.” The Shadow Within ties into the Technomage Trilogy, also by the same author, and gives great insight into the characters of Anna Sheridan and Mr. Morden.
Technomage vol 1 (novel)
Comic # 1-4 – The 14 comic books produced are considered canon but are not a perfect fit into the chronology of the series. The placement is the best I could find to keep the story arc of the episodes flowing. This story arc is referenced in passing in To Dream in the City of Sorrows.
Technomage vol 2 January 2259 (novel) – The Technomage books are separated into parts by month which makes it simple to read them as they fit into the episodes. Vol 2 wraps around 203 and explains why the Technomages are on B5.
Technomage vol 2 February 2259 (novel)
Comic # 5-11 – Comics #9 and 10 have major continuity conflicts with the series but are still considered canon.
To Dream in the City of Sorrows (novel) - For smoother flow, the opening and closing framing sequence featuring Marcus is ignored. I have placed this novel after 211 given that both are is concerned with events happening on Minbar.. The framing sequence follows 319.
Technomage vol 3 August 2260 (novel)
Technomage vol 3 November 2260 (novel)
Technomage vol 3 December 2260 (novel)
Technomage vol 3 January 2261 (novel)
In Valen’s Name (comic mini-series)
Hidden Agendas (short story) – Susan Ivanova’s first visit to B5 following the events of 421, written by JMS. The short stories and unshot episode scripts appeared in various publications and websites and are no longer (legally) available. I cannot supply them to you. JMS has requested they not be distributed and has occasionally mentioned the possibility of publication, though that seems increasingly unlikely as time goes on.
Centauri vol 1 Prologue (novel)
The Shadow of His Thoughts (short story) – Written by JMS. A story of Emperor Londo shortly following the coronation.
Centauri vol 1 2262-2264 (novel) – The first of the Centauri Trilogy is split into years and I have separated out the parts as I did with the Technomage Trilogy. There is a continuity error which has Sheridan & Garabali still working on B5 months after the events of 521.
Genius Loci (short story) – Written by JMS. A story of G’Kar and Lyta adventuring following the events of 520. It is unclear how long G’Kar and Lyta travelled together but it was less than three years.
River of Souls
The Nautilus Coil (short story) – Lyta and Garabaldi travel to Vorlon space. Written by J. Gregory Keyes, this is a companion to the Psi-Corps Trilogy and the last story to detail events leading to the Telepath War. The story of the war itself has never been told.
The Legend of the Rangers
Centauri vol 1 2265-2267 (novel)
Centauri vol 2 pgs 1-65 (novel) – The structure of separating the parts by year wasn’t used in this or the third volume so page numbers have been used.
A Call to Arms
Crusade 101-112 – Given the odd production order of Crusade, and the lack of a canonical viewing order, I felt it simplest to view in the order used on the dvds. This leaves a continuity conflict between episodes 105 and 110 , but ends the series on what I consider the best episode, 113, which features Stephen Franklin. Three unshot scripts were released on the internet and are no longer available. Five more episodes were discussed but never written (“Tried and True” by Fiona Avery, an Apocolypse Box episode by JMS, and a 3-part story in which Dureena gets a sword).
Crusade Unproduced To the Ends of the Earth – Written by JMS. Gideon gets a lead on the Shadow hybrid that destroyed the Cerberus. This script explains the uniform change which happens between Crusade 112 and 113.
Crusade Unproduced Value Judgements – Written by Fiona Avery, this unshot script features a fugitive Alfred Bester.
Crusade Unproduced The End of the Line – The unshot season finale written by JMS. The episode would have revealed secrets of the Technomages that were instead used as material for the Technomage Trilogy, where much of the story of Galen saw the light of day. The episode ends with a cliffhanger.
Centauri vol 2 pgs 66 to end (novel) – The events in the remainder of the novel take place parallel to and following Crusade.
True Seeker (short story) – Written by Fiona Avery. Featuring Na’Toth and Alisa Beldon, a telepath who appeared in 117, the story takes place on Narn.
Psi-Corps vol 3 pgs 1-245 (novel) – The story of the cure for the Drakh plague was never told. The events of this book are 4 years after those of Crusade and take place on Earth after the plague.
Centauri vol 3 (novel) – As noted above, the sequences of In The Beginning featuring Emperor Londo take place immediately following page 212 of this novel. The young woman taking care of the children in the film is revealed in the novel to be Senna, a main character in the Centauri Trilogy.
522 (Sleeping in Light)
Psi-Corps vol 3 pgs 246 to end (novel)
Space, Time and the Incurable Romantic (short story) – Written by JMS and featuring a happy ending for two tragic characters from the series.
422 (The Deconstruction of Falling Stars) – This episode features a short sequence at the beginning that places it shortly after 421 but I would rather end on an episode than a short story.
Thanks, Keith. If anyone knows of a publisher who might be interested in an expanded version of this, let us know and we’ll hook them up with Keith.
I’m not full on obsessive, haven’t read the comic books, nor the short stories, but pretty much everything else. I also paid far more than necessary for copies of “The Babylon File” (vol 1 and 2), and Jane Killick’s episode guides. I’ve linked them below to Amazon, in case anyone wants to pick them up.