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Old March 29 2009, 05:30 PM   #1
species5618
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Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

So I've decided to finally watch Babylon 5 for the first time ever, and a friend has provided me with all 5 seasons, the movies, even the short-lived Crusade.

She's not 100 percent sure of the proper order to watch it all in (There are certain movies meant to be seen in between seasons, I'm told) so I'm appealing to the B5 fans here on the board to set me straight. The show seems generally highly-regarded by people around here, so I'm going to give it a go.

Thanks in advance for your responses.
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Old March 29 2009, 06:26 PM   #2
David cgc
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

Okay, here's the deal. Most of what you need to worry about is that the episodes on the DVDs were put on in airdate order, not production order, so there are a couple of tiny continuity issues that crop of (people using devices two episodes before they're shown getting them, referring to things that happened three episodes ago as "yesterday," that sort of thing). Check against this list for when you need to watch episodes in an order different than that of the DVD. This is probably the one thing everyone will agree on.

Now, the parts people won't agree on is what to do with the movies and Crusade. It is my opinion that you can watch the prequel movie, "In the Beginning," whenever you damn well please. If I'm trying to convince someone to try the show, I usually start with it because it's a bit less slow and moody than the pilot and first season, so it gives you a taste of what the show is going to become that isn't immediately apparent from starting with the stuff that was made first. Since you're committed, though, I don't think that'll be necessary, so you may as well wait. The general opinion is to watch it between seasons 4 and 5, which is when it originally aired.

The movie "Thirdspace" is set in the middle of the fourth season (it's in the correct spot in the list I linked to). I'd just watch it where it goes chronologically but, again, some people insist it should go between season 4 and 5, where it originally aired. It's the Babylon 5 equivalent of those endless debates on when you should play "Razor" if you're showing someone Battlestar Galactica for the first time.

River of Souls goes between the second to last and last episodes of the series. Well, technically, because the last episode is a bit of a retrospective or coda, just about all the spinoffs go between the second to last and last episodes, as well. However, I'd watch Babylon 5 as a unit, finishing with the final episode, and then moving on to the spinoffs, rather than saving the finale to be the very last thing you see (which makes chronological sense).

Crusade begins with the movie "A Call to Arms" as a sort of pilot to it, and then moves into the series proper. Because of a lot of entertaining production issues, it is logically impossible to watch the episodes of Crusade in any order without there being some kind of continuity error. The list I linked to above has one that preserves continuity between characters and events, while ignoring a production redesign (primarily, new uniforms) that happened midway through the show. The only addendum I have to that is to simply not watch the episode "Warzone." At all. Because it sucks. It's probably the single most terrible thing to come out of the Babylon 5 franchise, and I'm taking that novel where Ivanova shaved her head into account.

Finally, Legends of the Rangers and The Lost Tales are both orphaned exercises in nostalgia that never went anywhere. They're kind of fun (Lost Tales is far and away the better of the two, in my opinion), but can safely be watched last.
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Old March 29 2009, 08:29 PM   #3
RoJoHen
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

David cgc wrote: View Post
Okay, here's the deal. Most of what you need to worry about is that the episodes on the DVDs were put on in airdate order, not production order, so there are a couple of tiny continuity issues that crop of (people using devices two episodes before they're shown getting them, referring to things that happened three episodes ago as "yesterday," that sort of thing). Check against this list for when you need to watch episodes in an order different than that of the DVD. This is probably the one thing everyone will agree on.
I've watched the series straight through on the DVDs several and didn't notice a single continuity error.


I'd watch the pilot first, though it's not even that necessary. Everything else can wait until you're finished with the whole series. I find that it interrupts the flow of things if you watch them in the middle.
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Old March 29 2009, 08:35 PM   #4
sidious618
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

Just watch the series straight through then watch the movies. That's the way I did it and it was an orgasmic experience.
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Old March 29 2009, 08:40 PM   #5
Harvey
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

I don't think "Warzone" is as bad as some make it out to be. It's better than "Visitors from Down the Street," an unfunny and shallow X-Files parody that comes in the middle of what's supposed to be a mission of upmost importance.

As for when to watch things, I would follow the Lurker's Guide order for episodes, inserting "Thirdspace" into season four where it belongs, and inserting "In the Beginning" between "Objects at Rest" and the series finale, "Sleeping in Light."

Everything else can be kept to its own thing, and, frankly, isn't as good, anyway. Watch "River of Souls," "Legend of the Rangers," "A Call to Arms," "Crusade" (various orders exist, but the one at the Lurker's Guide is as good as any), and finally "The Lost Tales."
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Old March 29 2009, 08:45 PM   #6
Candlelight
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

The Gathering
B5 Season 1
B5 Season 2
B5 Season 3
B5 Season 4
In The Beginning
Thirdspace
B5 Season 5
A River of Souls
A Call to Arms
Crusade
Legend of the Rangers
The Lost Tales
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Old March 29 2009, 08:57 PM   #7
Harvey
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

Candlelight wrote: View Post
The Gathering
B5 Season 1
B5 Season 2
B5 Season 3
B5 Season 4
In The Beginning
Thirdspace
B5 Season 5
A River of Souls
A Call to Arms
Crusade
Legend of the Rangers
The Lost Tales
That's the airdate order, isn't it?
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Old March 29 2009, 09:07 PM   #8
glindros
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

I'll try and repost with a longer explanation. I would go to the lurker's guide for the proper Crusade order. It really helps the flow of the story in jms' order.

I would really advise you wait till at least the end of Season 4 before watching in the Beginning. It spoils too many things that are built up during the season.
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Old March 29 2009, 09:08 PM   #9
Takeru
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

The Gathering
Seasons 1 - 5

You can watch In the Beginning anytime after season 4, everything else is crap, don't waste your time.
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Old March 29 2009, 09:09 PM   #10
Candlelight
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

Hirogen Alpha wrote: View Post
Candlelight wrote: View Post
The Gathering
B5 Season 1
B5 Season 2
B5 Season 3
B5 Season 4
In The Beginning
Thirdspace
B5 Season 5
A River of Souls
A Call to Arms
Crusade
Legend of the Rangers
The Lost Tales
That's the airdate order, isn't it?
No idea. In New Zealand we didn't get the movies until long after season five had finished, and even then they aired A Call to Arms two years after Crusade AND on a different channel.

It's my preferred order anyway. I also prefer TNTs viewing order for Crusade.

Go figure.
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Old March 29 2009, 09:16 PM   #11
chrisspringob
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

Hirogen Alpha wrote: View Post
Candlelight wrote: View Post
The Gathering
B5 Season 1
B5 Season 2
B5 Season 3
B5 Season 4
In The Beginning
Thirdspace
B5 Season 5
A River of Souls
A Call to Arms
Crusade
Legend of the Rangers
The Lost Tales
That's the airdate order, isn't it?
No, although I think it's the production order with the exception of ItB and Thirdspace being flipped. In airdate order, Thirdspace actually aired late in Season 5, and River of Souls also aired just before the end of Season 5.

Basically, they held Thirdspace until the long break between 5x17 and 5x18, and once the show came back with the final 5 episodes, they decided to air River of Souls in the same month.
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Old March 29 2009, 09:24 PM   #12
Mr Light
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

I'd go with Candlelight's order, though you could watch Thirdspace after S4 "Atonement" if you want, it would be more in the internal timeline. Not important. "In the Beginning" should be watched after S4 because it spoils the very ending of S4.
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Old March 29 2009, 09:50 PM   #13
Caretaker
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

I prefer continuity order (and technically, ItB is a character's recollection of the pre-tv series events, which is why it is farther down on my list). Of course, this doesn't take into account any adventures with actual time travel.

The Gathering
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4 (up through "The Illusion of Truth")
Thirdspace
Season 4 (starting with "Atonement") through Season 5 (ending with "Objects at Rest")
River of Souls
The Legend of the Rangers "To Live and Die in Starlight"
A Call to Arms
Crusade
The Lost Tales "Voices in the Dark"
In the Beginning
Season 5 ("Sleeping in Light")
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Old March 29 2009, 10:21 PM   #14
Jan
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

My one plea would be that the viewer NOT interrupt the emotional intensity of the final three episodes of Season Five for a first viewing. "Objects in Motion", "Objects at Rest" and "Sleeping in Light" should be watched in a row for the maximum emotional impact.

After the first viewing, do as you like but if you break up those three, IMO, you're cheating yourself.

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Old March 29 2009, 10:21 PM   #15
Harvey
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Re: Proper Babylon 5 Viewing Order?

Caretaker wrote: View Post
The Gathering
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4 (up through "The Illusion of Truth")
Thirdspace
Season 4 (starting with "Atonement") through Season 5 (ending with "Objects at Rest")
River of Souls
The Legend of the Rangers "To Live and Die in Starlight"
A Call to Arms
Crusade
The Lost Tales "Voices in the Dark"
In the Beginning
Season 5 ("Sleeping in Light")
I like that order, but I wonder if the opening of "The Lost Tales" is too much of a spoiler for Sleeping in Light?

And, subjectively, I think "River of Souls" is terrible. I feel bad placing it anywhere, because it's just going to end up being a disappointing disruption of the flow. "Call to Arms" and "Crusade" illicit similar feelings, since they're essentially unfinished. And "Legend of the Rangers," though I sort of liked it, is also pretty much unfinished, and it only has one Babylon 5 regular in it, too. That's why I prefer to keep those as separate entities.
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