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Babylon 5 - The Lost Tales by J. Michael Straczynski
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Bros. DVD  ISBN/ITEM#: B000PHX8RA
Date: 30 October 2007 List Price $24.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Given that 5 years have passed since Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight aired on January 19, 2002 opposite the National Football League's AFC Division Championship Game, Babylon 5: The Lost Tales is like visiting old friends you haven't seen for years. The faces have a few more lines, hair has turned grey or receded, and waistlines have expanded, but the rapport with your friends makes it feel like days, not years have passed.

Warner Brothers can't be accused of being poor businesspeople – for years the loyal fans have bought the DVD sets for Seasons 1-5 of "Babylon 5" and the only season of "Crusade", plus the 5 made-for-TV movies. Better news for Warner Brothers was the continued clamor for more new material in the "Babylon 5" universe.

J. Michael Straczynski explains that "The Lost Tales" is an opportunity for him to return to Babylon 5 and explore some of the smaller stories that he didn't have time for during the original five year run.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2007, JMS said that "Voices In The Dark" is the first in what he hopes is a series of direct-to-DVD movies.

The "Babylon 5: The Lost Tales: Voices In The Dark" DVD gifts the viewer with two separate stories, "Over Here" featuring Tracy Scoggins and "Over There" featuring Bruce Boxleitner and Peter Woodward.

"Voices In The Dark"
Brown Sector hasn't changed much – persistent foul smells fill the air. Voices where no one can be seen on the scanners. Security office Simon Burke returns from a vacation on Earth and is apparently possessed. Babylon 5 contacts the Vatican and Father Cassidy (ably played by Alan Scarfe) arrives on the station, whereupon Colonel Elizabeth Lochley asks him if he is qualified to perform exorcisms.

Upon first meeting Security office Burke, Father Cassidy asks him who he is. Burke replies that the Devil is in the Details and that he is Azmodeus, a humble servant. Father Cassidy discovers that he is damned if he exorcises the demon and damned if he doesn't.

"Over There"
The story begins with President John Sheridan returning to Babylon 5 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance. Teryl Rothery (Dr. Janet Fraiser from Stargate SG-1) plays the reporter sent to interview President Sheridan. When he asks her where the camera is, she points at her cleavage, saying her director said it would make sure she will get LOTS of eye contact.

As they begin transit into Quantum Space, different from Hyperspace, President Sheridan says that it's not that he only gives two interviews per year, it's that so few reporters ever come back for seconds.

Sheridan wakes suddenly, standing next to Galen the Technomage in a future version of New York City. Prince Regent Dius Vintari, third in line to the Centauri throne will come to power in the future, will decide to revive the Centauri Republic, and will set out to destroy the one power that stopped them before – Earth.

Think of it as being the opportunity to stop Adolph Hitler before he ever came to power in 1933. Galen tells Sheridan that since he (Sheridan) now knows what a monster Vintari will become, he now has to decide whether or not to kill one person to save the lives of billions.

Both stories are written and directed by J. Michael Straczynski who in one of the Fireside Chats says that now that he has directed the first of "The Lost Tales", he will step back and let other directors take the reins in the future.

The cast and crew of the original series who speak on camera say that it doesn't feel like it had been 8 years since they worked on the show and how easily everyone slipped back into familiar routines.

Special Features:

    Joe Straczynski and Bruce Boxleitner give an informal interview that clearly allows the viewers to see the easygoing relationship between them.
    Tracy Scoggins acts like a tour guide, happily escorting a behind-the scenes tour of the show, and introducing a number of key members of the crew.
    Watching Joe Straczynski and Peter Woodward can best be described as HILARIOUS.
Memorials: Beyond The Rim:
    Andreas Katsulas (1946-2006)
    JMS remembers Andreas fondly, Bruce remembers how Andreas literally lived the role of G'Kar when he was in costume and full makeup, and how Andreas always brought a distinct perspective to the scenes he was in. Tracy is nearly in tears as she remembers how Andreas immediately made her feel welcome on the set when she first arrived.

    Richard Biggs (1960-2004)
    Bruce talks about Richard and Andreas being Beyond the Rim. JMS said that at Rick's funeral, everyone from the show came, and how everyone liked Rick. Tracy chokes up when she talks about President Sheridan asking about the whereabouts of Dr. Stephen Franklin and G'Kar and her reply that they are Beyond the Rim.

    You can see by the raw feelings that Joe, Bruce, and Tracy share with the viewers that the passing of Andreas and Richard still hurts and while they are gone, they will not be forgotten.

The Straczynski Diaries:
    Joe's Role – Joe's deadpan delivery shows a delight in yanking people's chains.
Babylon 5, Set Construction

Sock Puppets/Director's Cut – a hilarious feature where you see that the cockpits of the Starfuries is made of plywood and consists of a front section and a back section.

Joe Straczynski in a Sea of Green

The Destruction of New York City – the creation of the complex CGI shots is cool to watch.

Babylon 5, Visual Effects

Fireside Chats: The Babylon 5 Universe

Why Babylon 5? – JMS explains the close connection that Babylonian history and the Babylonian Creation Myth have with the show.

On Returning to Babylon 5 The Fans of B5

    People Watching – possessing a degree in Clinical Psychology from San Diego State University, JMS likes to observe the actors and listen carefully to their words, then using their traits to make the characters they play deeper and more real.

    The Experiment – JMS also mentions the fact that when the extras are in costume and full makeup, they tend to self-segregate by species when they eat lunch. Testing a theory, he took one of the Narn extras had him play a Centauri instead. Then JMS sat back and watched how the actor went back to his old group that day and how the group showed obvious discomfort with their former comrade. The next day this extra joined the Centauri extras where he was made welcome. JMS mentions how actors and extras make great cat toys for producers, to exploit for his own amusement and to see the psychology of humans to tend to break up by groups and associate with like-minded people.

    Babylon 5 was the first show where I repeatedly heard how the cast and crew were closer than family, a fact which explains the love with which they pursue their craft and the resulting high quality of the series. I would definitely have to say that in my opinion, if you are a Babylon 5 fan, then "Babylon 5: The Lost Tales: Voices In The Dark" is worthy of addition to your DVD collection. If Warner Brothers sees that sales live up to their expectations and those of JMS, the cast, and crew, then you can expect to see more of "The Lost Tales".

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