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Babylon 5: Season 4 DVD


The fourth series of Babylon 5 begins on a high point with Centauri Prime in the grip of the insane Emperor Cartagia (Wortham Krimmer) and a run of six shows leading to the climax of the war against the Shadows in "Into the Fire". If this colossal narrative is resolved a little too easily and the ultimate aim of the Shadows turns out to be a tad disappointing, it's still one of the most powerful slices of space opera ever to grace the small screen. In the aftermath the sheer scale drops back a little but the pace never slows as the rest of the year plays out in one relentless cycle of conspiracy, betrayal and conflict, Babylon 5 siding with the rebel Mars colony against the totalitarian Earth regime. Meanwhile, Delenn finds herself increasingly in conflict with her own people and, paralleling her relationship with Sheridan, Garibaldi becomes involved with his ex-fiancée Lise Hampton (Denise Gentile); in addition, an intense platonic love grows between Ivanova and Marcus Cole. On an unstoppable wave fuelled by roller-coaster plot twists and spectacular action shows from "No Surrender, No Retreat"--when Sheridan avows to overthrow EarthGov--to "Rising Star"--when the aim is realised--this series of Babylon 5 achieved a consistent excellence rare in television. Yet within that run "Intersections in Real Time" stands out as a bold experiment; essentially a two-hand drama taking place entirely within one dimly lit room. Then in "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", a descendant of humanity one million years hence reviews excerpts from the history of Babylon 5. In one sequence set in 2762 a Brother is devoted to the preservation of history some time after the "Big Burn". In a homage to Walter M Miller's SF classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, Sheridan and Delenn have themselves become the stuff of legend. --Gary S DalkinOn the DVD: All 22 episodes of Season 4 of Babylon 5 are presented on six DVDs. Anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TV, the picture is significantly stronger than on the original TV broadcasts, if not up to blockbuster movie standards. The remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is punchy and richly impressive, if again not quite state-of-the-art. As with previous seasons the main extras are three commentaries. The first, by actors Bruce Boxleitner, Jerry Doyle, Peter Jurasik and Patricia Tallman, finds these leading cast members having a great time joshing around on Falling Towards Apotheosis and failing to say anything very interesting. Series creator and writer J Michael Straczynski and director Michael Vejar discuss The Face of the Enemy, the conversation tending towards a technical scene-by-scene analysis, while by far the most interesting commentary is J Michael Straczynski alone on The Deconstruction of Falling Stars. JMS covers many aspects of the show, going into depth explaining both his ideas behind the series and the practicalities of realising his vision. Celestial Sounds is an interesting but too-short five-minute look at the scoring process with composer Christopher Franke, complemented by a powerful six-minute musical suite. The package also includes a six-minute introduction, a three-minute gag reel and video data files of characters, organisations and places. An Easter egg offers a comparison between untextured and completed CGI models of Babylon 5 itself. There is an optional French soundtrack, plus English, English for Hearing Impaired, French and Netherlands subtitles. --Gary S Dalkin

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The complete fourth season of the popular science fiction drama series. In 'The Hour of the Wolf', news that Captain Sheridan died while trying to destroy Z'Ha'Dum filters back to the station, as do stories of Garibaldi's abduction by the Shadows. Morden induces Emperor Cartagia into allowing Shadow Vessels a base on the homeworld, and the new Kosh continues to surprise everyone with his difficult attitude. In 'Whatever Happened to Mr Garibaldi?', a mysterious being reveals the true origins of the Vorlons and the Shadows to Captain Sheridan (who may, or may not, be dead). G'Kar is captured during his search for Garibaldi (who is languishing in a dark cell - being interrogated by a disembodied voice). Ivanova and Marcus set out to find more of the First Ones who they believe will be instrumental in defeating the Shadows. In 'The Summoning', Marcus and Susan continue their search for the First Ones, but only discover a huge and vengeful fleet of Vorlon ships hidden in hyperspace. Meanwhile, Sheridan returns from the dead and Zach continues his search for Mr Garibaldi. In 'Falling Towards Apotheosis', The Vorlons let it be known that they intend to destroy any planet that has ever served the Shadows. This means Centauri Prime is on the hit list, but the obviously insane Emperor Cartagia is oblivious to the threat. Londo and Vir hatch a plan to unseat the Emperor, with the help of the captured G'Kar. In 'The Long Night', Sheridan has to decide whether to allow one of the Ranger's ships to perish in return for setting a trap that will save 6 billion innocent people. Meanwhile, Susan and Marcus search for more First Ones and Londo launches his own plan to remove Cartagia from the Centauri throne. In 'Into the Fire', the battle between the Vorlons, the Shadows and Sheridan's forces begins in earnest - and the mystery surrounding the ancient races is revealed. In 'Epiphanies', Bester turns up and offers to help Sheridan in return for access to Shadow technology. Garibaldi resigns his position as Chief of Security and goes freelance while Londo returns from Centauri Prime. In 'The Illusion of Truth', Sheridan allows a news-team from ISN to film the running of the station. However, when the report is broadcast he sees that it has been edited to give the impression that Sheridan has gone mad, is under the control of the Minbari and that the Babylon 5 medical staff are experimenting on human subjects. Garibaldi doesn't help by criticising Sheridan as a megalomaniac. In 'Atonement', Delenn is summoned back to the homeworld to justify her relationship with Sheridan, but finds out far more than she had bargained for as revelations emerge about her past actions. In 'Racing Mars', Garibaldi reacts badly to Sheridan's criticisms and joins forces with some Earth Force spies, agreeing to betray his captain to them. Meanwhile, Marcus and Doctor Franklin reach Mars during their mission to gain the support of the resistance. In 'Atonement', Delenn is summoned back to the homeworld to justify her relationship with Sheridan, but finds out far more than she had bargained for as revelations emerge about her past actions. In 'Racing Mars', Garibaldi reacts badly to Sheridan's criticisms and joins forces with some Earth Force spies, agreeing to betray his captain to them. Meanwhile, Marcus and Doctor Franklin reach Mars during their mission to gain the support of the resistance. In 'Lines of Communication', Delenn is ordered to eliminate the Drakh, servants of the Shadows, after they launch a series of attacks. Meanwhile, Franklin and Marcus continue to battle against the Earth forces on Mars. 'Conflicts of Interest' sees the embittered Chief Garibaldi siding with industrialist William Edgars against the Alliance in his mission to destroy all telepaths. On Mars, Franklin and Marcus convince the Resistance to join Babylon 5. In 'Rumours, Bargains and Lies', Delenn meets Neroon to avert civil war on Minbar. Meanwhile, Sheridan plans to free the Alliance from the threat of the Drakh, servants of the Shadows. 'Moments of Transition' sees Delenn forced to fight to the death to win the right to lead the Minbari. Sheridan decides to hit back after Earth cruisers destroy 10,000 civilians. In 'No Surrender, No Retreat', Sheridan moves against Earth's fascist government by taking an Alliance fleet to Proxima, where they engage Earth forces directly in combat for the first time. 'The Exercise of Vital Powers' sees Sheridan's former ally Garibaldi beginning his self-imposed exile on Mars by meeting with billionaire medical corporation owner William Edgars. In order to stop Earth Force President Clark without taking direct military action, Garibaldi agrees to betray Sheridan to Edgars. In 'The Face of the Enemy', Sheridan's offensive against the fascist Earth forces gains momentum, but he is unaware that his former security chief Garibaldi is making his own moves to overthrow the government. In allegiance with industrialist William Edgars, Gariba

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