Honestly I was recommended by B5 fans to watch In the Beginning
first, and while it spoiled me, it also basically gave me a reason to keep watching through the first year. So there is something to just watching that (or a selective viewing of the first season boiled down the 'essential' episodes, which is the approach that the AV Club's recent Babylon 5 reviews have suggested).
I know, right? To me a show's first season being generally the weakest is a *good* thing. It means it got better as it went along and didn't deteriorate with each subsequent season.
, sure. But that a show gets better can be reason to stick with it during a rocky first year that doesn't excuse the first year from being in many respects really terrible.
You want a show to get better, but you'd prefer it (ideally) to also not get really bad. TNG's been mentioned, and I love that show too, and that show had a pretty dreadful first year, and just because the series really put itself back together in its third year on TV doesn't mean it had to be as bad as it started out as.