Babylon 5: In the Beginning [1998]

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
While the series pilot Babylon 5: The Gathering establishes the characters and introduces the conflicts that will become central to the series, it also draws upon a rich history that is continually alluded to but never fully explained. Babylon 5: In the Beginning, produced in the hiatus between the fourth and fifth seasons of the series, packs all that history--and more--into a prequel stuffed to the hatches with the epic doings of Earth, Minbar, Narn, and Centauri in the days before the Babylon stations were built. Told in almost fairy-tale fashion by Londo Molari to a pair of children, the movie explicates the ill-fated first meeting between representatives of Earth and Minbar, the devastating war, the sudden surrender, and the universe-altering secret of Jeffrey Sinclair. It also gives the early histories of characters who will become central to the series, in particular Londo and G'Kar. Ostensibly created to catch recent converts up with the series as it made its transition to a new network, the movie is infused with the epic sweep and storytelling confidence producer-writer Michael J. Straczynski and his cast and crew had developed by the fourth season. It's an elegant, compelling addition to the Babylon 5 universe and a dramatic highlight of the series. As an introduction, though, it gives away the mystery that pervades the shadowy history slowly revealed through the first three seasons--it's actually better seen from the vantage point of the fifth season. --Sean Axmaker

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