Words simply cannot express the joy. J Michael Straczynski's epic sci-fi saga "Babylon 5" has finally received a long overdue upgrade to HD-of-sorts and is now available as a digital download from Amazon (opens in new tab) and iTunes (opens in new tab)where available globally, and on HBO Max.
The new "Babylon 5 (opens in new tab)" update is not quite as comprehensive as the overhaul that "Star Trek: The Next Generation (opens in new tab)" received, but it's far better than the DVD quality we've been forced to watch until now. And it's probably the best we'll get.
According to Warner Brothers, "Babylon 5 Remastered" has been scanned from the original camera negative. The film sequences were scanned in 4K and then "finished," or downscaled, back to HD, with a dirt and scratch clean-up, as well as color correction. The show's CGI and composite sequences, meanwhile, have been digitally upscaled to HD with only some minor tweaks where absolutely necessary. Tragically, the remaster retains a 4:3 aspect ratio — not 16:9 — even though the show was filmed for widescreen and released on DVD in widescreen.
"Babylon 5" first aired in February 1993 and over the course of five and a half years, it changed television sci-fi forever. We're not going to mince words here, it's brilliant. You will laugh, you'll definitely cry and you will absolutely be forever enlightened as you follow a mind-blowing story that unfolds across time and space.
An incredible cast delivered phenomenal performances and included, Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar), Peter Jurasik (Londo), Mira Furlan (Delenn), Jerry Doyle (Michael Garibaldi), Bruce Boxleitner (Captain John Sheridan), Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin), Claudia Christian (Commander Susan Ivanova), Stephen Furst (Vir Cotto), Bill Mumy (Lennier), Andrea Thompson (Talia Winters), Patricia Tallman (Lyta Alexander), Jeff Conaway (Zack Allan) and Michael O'Hare (Commander Jeffrey Sinclair). Tragically, an unprecedented number of these incredibly talented stars of sci-fi are no longer with us and only last week Mira Furlan joined that list.
The first season sets the foundations and then it slowly, steadily gathers momentum until the beginning of the fourth, when you quite literally will not be able to stop watching. There are five seasons in total, however Straczynski believed he would only get four, so the enthralling saga more or less concludes by the end of Season 4. The fifth is mostly a series of standalone episodes that are still thoroughly enjoyable and, quite frankly, will give you a chance to catch your breath.
"Babylon 5" is one of the best science fiction shows ever written for television and happily sits atop its throne in the Sci-Fi Hall of Fame along with Ron D Moore's "Battlestar Galactica," "The Expanse" and "Star Trek: The Original Series."
According to Engadget (opens in new tab), the remastering process took around six years to complete and was a "labor of love" for all involved. However, the studio declined to comment about if this would lead to a Blu-ray release, but this seems unlikely. Check with your service provider because if you already subscribe to HBO (opens in new tab), then it's quite possible HBO Max is free to watch.
Meanwhile, the streaming channel has reportedly hit its subscriber goal two years ahead of schedule. The Verge reports (opens in new tab) that HBO Max has nearly 40 million U.S. subscribers as disclosed by AT&T in its first quarter earnings report on Wednesday. No doubt the decision to stream "Wonder Woman 1984" played a big part in this and the release of "Babylon 5" is only going to benefit it further.