Babylon 5: The Lost Tales

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Babylon 5: The Lost Tales[1]
DVD cover image from The Lost Tales – Voices in the Dark
DVD cover image from The Lost Tales – Voices in the Dark
Directed by J. Michael Straczynski
Produced by Sara (Samm) Barnes
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Starring Bruce Boxleitner
Tracy Scoggins
Peter Woodward
Alan Scarfe
Bruce Ramsay
Keegan MacIntosh
Teryl Rothery
Music by Christopher Franke
Cinematography Karl Herrmann
Edited by Stein Myhrstad
Production
  company
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
Distributed by Warner Home Video
Release date(s) July 31, 2007 (2007-07-31)
Running time 72 minutes (36 min per episode)
Country US, Canada
Budget $2,000,000 USD[2]

Babylon 5: The Lost Tales is an anthology show set in the Babylon 5 universe. It was announced by J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5, at the San Diego Comic Con in July 2006. Straczynski has described the stories as ones he had for the Babylon 5 television series, but never had the time to produce.

Production[edit]

The project consists of one direct-to-DVD production containing two stories.[3] On July 13, 2008, Straczynski announced he had no plans to further develop the series.[4] Each story is worked around a single established character.[5] The production uses cast members from the original television show.[5] The show is shot in high-definition video with digital HD cameras.[6] The visual effects are handled by Atmosphere Visual Effects, who previously worked on other science fiction shows such as the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis.[7] The music is composed by Christopher Franke, who also did the music for the original Babylon 5 series.[6]

The show was shot in Vancouver, Canada.[6] Concurrently with the DVD release, an HD version was released exclusively on the Xbox Live Video Marketplace.[8] Douglas Netter and Straczynski executive produced the DVD.[9]

Concept[edit]

Straczynski is a fan of The Twilight Zone and the work of Rod Serling, saying of himself, "Rod is one of my icons, so believe me, I know his work far, far better than most people."[10] The idea of doing his own science fiction anthology show is something that he has discussed in the past as a possibility[11] and he first proposed the idea of a Tales from Babylon 5 anthology as the sixth season of the original show in 1997. He described it as, "an anthology series, to all intents and purposes, using our characters almost like a repertory group."[12]

Straczynski has stated that Warner Brothers initially asked him if he wanted to make a Babylon 5 feature film (while most Babylon 5 related rights are held at the studio level, Straczynski owns the Babylon 5 movie rights[13]). He declined, most importantly because he could not see the structure of a Babylon 5 movie in 2006 after both Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs died in the years prior, and he couldn't see himself doing something big after these deaths, though he has stated he might feel up to it "in a year or two". As an alternative to a big project, he suggested the idea of doing a bunch of character focused short films, structured in an anthology format. In addition, he asked to be guaranteed complete creative freedom in writing, which he has stated he received from the studio.[14]

While the show was envisioned as an anthology, Straczynski stated that he would like to have thematic links in episodes on each disk:[15]

Ideally, I'd like to rotate through the whole cast, preferably in a thematic fashion. One episode would concern itself with issues of command, and thus feature Sheridan, Lochley and Garibaldi; another would concern Psi Corps, and we'd have Lyta, Bester, and someone else; another would be a strong Minbari theme, so we'd have Delenn, Lennier and Sheridan (in his role as head of the Interstellar Alliance); a Centauri sequence with Londo, Vir and someone else; and we'd mix it up a bit.

In addition to having connections on the thematic level, the first two episodes for Voices in the Dark have stronger connections in the form of intersecting key plot and thematic points, and are intended to overlap and complement each other while telling separate but simultaneous stories.[16]

Voices in the Dark[edit]

Voices in the Dark is the title of the first Lost Tales DVD that was published.[9] On July 24, 2006, Straczynski stated they were looking at a first DVD containing three half-hour episodes, with the project and its budgets greenlit.[17] This was later brought back to two stories, both lengthened to make up for the one lost story.[18] These would add up to around 75–90 minutes in total of story material. He also stated that there will be additional material, adding up to a two hour DVD.[19] Straczynski wrote, produced, and directed them.[3] The DVD was released on July 31, 2007 in the USA and on September 3, 2007 in the United Kingdom.[20]

Straczynski had started writing the first of the Lost Tales scripts by August 26, 2006. He stated that the exact nature of the stories is dependent on who exactly can be signed on, since original cast members are being used.[17] In November he stated that the first three scripts were to feature the characters of John Sheridan, Elizabeth Lochley, Galen, and Michael Garibaldi. He also stated that the increasing scale and ambition of the project necessitated delaying the story featuring Garibaldi (which was the most ambitious in terms of special effects and sets) to the planned second DVD, expanding the other two stories in length.[18]

The initial production schedule given at Comic Con for the first DVD was to start shooting in September 2006, do post-production in the fourth quarter of 2006, and release them in the second quarter of 2007.[3] Due to certain members of crew and others not being available, this schedule got pushed back, first to October, and then to November. Production began on November 13, 2006.[9] The DVD had been fully delivered to the studio by 2007-04-15.[21]

Straczynski's role as director of this initial batch of two episodes comes after only having directed the Babylon 5 series finale "Sleeping in Light" before. He stated that, with new tools available and more room for experimentation in television directing now, six years after Babylon 5, he wanted to slightly redesign how Babylon 5 is shot. "... nothing major, just the feeling of the shots and the CGI and to set a tone for the films." After the tone had been set, he intends others to take over for future installments.[22]

While the look of Babylon 5 is rethought for Voices in the Dark, there are things in the feel of the show that are to be the same, like the silhouettes and designs.[18] To do this for the CGI, Atmosphere Visual Effects had to make use of fan created 3D models. The art assets of the original show were turned over to Warner Bros to be archived, with the studio mandating that no back ups be made, a request that was honored. The archives ended up being lost however, which required the usage of fan created materials for reference.[23]

Plot outline[edit]

Babylon 5 TV seasons and films
1993–2007

In order of series chronology:
2245–48 • In the Beginning (1st film)*
2256 • Babylon 5 station commissioned
2257 • The Gathering (Pilot)
2258 • Signs and Portents (Season 1)
2259 • The Coming of Shadows (Season 2)
2260 • Point of No Return (Season 3)
2261 • No Surrender, No Retreat (Season 4)**
2261 • Thirdspace (2nd film)***
2262 • The Wheel of Fire (Season 5)
2263 • The River of Souls (3rd film)
2265 • The Legend of the Rangers (5th film)
2266 • A Call to Arms (4th film)
2267 • Crusade (spin-off series)
2271 • The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark
2278 • In the Beginning (1st film)*
2281 • Babylon 5 station decommissioned

* The framing story is set in 2278.
** The final episode of the season includes scenes of future events up to 3262 and beyond.
*** The story is set between the two wars in season 4.
The final episode of series is set in 2281.

Voices in the Dark is set in 2271. It features two linked plotlines viewed separately one after the other but covering the same 72-hour timespan: The first part called Voices in the Dark: Over Here features Colonel (formerly Captain during the series' run) Lochley on B5 awaiting Sheridan's arrival, who summons a priest from Earth space to help deal with a mysterious, seemingly supernatural problem. The second part, Voices in the Dark: Over There, follows ISA President John Sheridan on his way to B5 for a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Interstellar Alliance. During the journey he picks up the Centauri Prince Dius Vintari (third in line to the Centauri Imperial throne) on the edge of Centauri space, using a new Valen class cruiser, and receives a warning from Galen the techno-mage about coming events.[16] The story introduces the concept of quantum space.

Cast[edit]

Extras[edit]

The Voices in the Dark DVD contains a certain number of extras, including behind-the-scenes pieces. There also was supposed to be "a number of original short pieces" to be shot in February 2007.[16] There were six "promosodes" written, featuring, among other characters, Lennier. According to Lost Tales producer Samm Barnes, they couldn't be pulled together for this disc, but they can later pull from these unfilmed stories.[24]

During the production of Voices in the Dark a series of behind-the-scenes video blogs were produced. Some of these were intended to be shown at conventions, specifically the New York Comic Con and Comic-Con International conventions of 2007, some were released via the Internet, and some were released on the DVD. Straczynski has compared them to Peter Jackson's production diaries for King Kong or Bryan Singer's video blogs for Superman Returns.[25][26]

A mini-comic is included with the DVD when purchased at Best Buy, showing the adventures of G'Kar and Stephen Franklin beyond the Rim.[27]

Future installments[edit]

Straczynski initially stated that predicated on the success of Voices in the Dark a second installment could be released in early 2008 "at the earliest".[28] Peter Jurasik had stated that he was contacted by Straczynski to reprise his role as Londo Mollari for a set of alien-centric stories after the initial batch centered around humans. He stated that he said yes to him: "if you [Straczynski] wrote it, I'd do it".[29] The second installment was also set to include a story centered around the character Michael Garibaldi, initially planned for the first installment.[18] In September 2007, Straczynski stated that his preferences for a possible second disc were to definitely tell a Garibaldi-centric story, and probably a Londo-centric one.[30]

One of the big events in the Babylon 5 universe that The Lost Tales was set to explore eventually was the Telepath War.[14] Straczynski reportedly stated at the New York Comic Con in February 2007 that he already had a concept for a possible direct-to-DVD Telepath War story in mind.[28][31]

Any future installments were on hold due to the WGA Strike, 2007. Prior to the strike, Straczynski urged Warner Brothers to commission a new DVD as they were suitably impressed with the sales for the first DVD. However, Warner Bros. felt that the Writer's Guild would not go on strike and refused to speed up the bureaucratic process; in their words, "We don't want to be pressured in the process because we know there's not going to be a strike this year, we can handle the Guild".[32] At the Emerald City Comic Convention in May 2008, after the strike, Straczynski briefly updated fans on the prospects for more releases. He noted that two divisions of Warner Bros. seemed to be "discussing" wanting a feature film or more Lost Tales but had come to an agreement and hadn't gotten to the point of guaranteeing Straczynski total creative control in the case of a feature film. The budget for the first disc was two million dollars.[2]

On July 13, 2008, Straczynski revealed that he had no plans to continue The Lost Tales. He said that although the studio was interested in another disc, they wanted to budget the next installment similarly to the first. Citing his disappointment with the first release due to the low budget, Straczynski said he did not want to dilute Babylon 5's legacy with further sub-par stories. He stated that he would only return to the Babylon 5 universe if Warner Bros. wanted to do a large-budgeted cinema release.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Straczynski, J. Michael (Writer), Straczynski, J. Michael (Director) (2007-07-31). Babylon 5: The Lost Tales – Voices in the Dark (DVD [Video Object (VOB)], Region 1) (One disc, 72 minutes) (in English [Subtitles: English]). Burbank, CA 91522: Warner Home Video. ISBN 1-4198-4706-6. OCLC 124074396. UPC 0 85391 12984 4, ASIN B000PHX8RA. Archived from the original on 2009-12-07. Retrieved 2009-12-07. "Episodes: 'Over Here' and 'Over There'" 
  2. ^ a b "Re: JMS at emerlad city comic con". 2008-05-11. 
  3. ^ a b c Schroeder, Jan (2006-08-08). "JMSNews news page". JMSNews, The J. Michael Straczynski Message Archive. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  4. ^ a b J. Michael Straczynski (2008-07-13). "from jms: update". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. Web link. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  5. ^ a b J. Michael Straczynski (2006-07-24). "Re: JMS's Spotlight at SDCC". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  6. ^ a b c J. Michael Straczynski (2006-10-03). "B5:TLT update from jms". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  7. ^ "Atmosphere Visual Effects Joins Mission to Bring “Babylon 5: The Lost Tales” Direct to Video" (Press release). DMN Newswire. 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  8. ^ "Xbox LIVE Movie and TV Roster Grows as Multiple New Partners Bring Premium Content to the Online Games and Entertainment Network" (Press release). WebWire. 2007-03-28. Retrieved 2007-05-01. 
  9. ^ a b c "Babylon 5: The Lost Tales To Begin Production November 13, 2006". Warner Home Video. 2006-11-13. 
  10. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (December 20, 1996). "Re: An Open Letter to JMS". Usenet (Google Groups). 
  11. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (June 28, 1996). "Re: If you had one question to ask JMS, what would it be?". Usenet (Google Groups). 
  12. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (September 29, 1997). "Re: ATTN JMS: Question regarding a 6th season". Usenet (Google Groups). 
  13. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (2005-02-25). "from jms re: tmos". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  14. ^ a b J. Michael Straczynski (2006-07-22). "Spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski". San Diego Comic-Con 2006. JMSNews. Retrieved 2007-01-06. 
  15. ^ Edgar, Rod; Hayes, Karen (2006). "Babylon 5 Returns!" ( – Scholar search). Dreamwatch (145). p. 10. [dead link]
  16. ^ a b c J. Michael Straczynski (2006-12-01). "J. Michael Straczynski - B5:TLT Pre-Production". Babylon5scripts.com. Archived from the original on 4 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  17. ^ a b J. Michael Straczynski (2006-08-26). "update from jms". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  18. ^ a b c d J. Michael Straczynski (2006-10-26). "Further B5:TLT update from jms". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2006-11-01. 
  19. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (2006-07-26). "Re: So what is it 3*20 min? or is there more.". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  20. ^ "The sci-fi hit returns when warner home video releases Babylon5: The Lost Tales, an original made-for-video movie on July 31, 2007!" (Press release). TV Shows on DVD. 2007-04-24. Archived from the original on 28 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-01. 
  21. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (2007-04-15). "update from jms 4/15/07". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2007-05-01. 
  22. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (2006-08-22). "JMS: Why direct B5:TLT?". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2006-08-27. 
  23. ^ Renee Dunlop (2007-03-08). "Babylon 5: Lost Tales Part One Production Focus". CGsociety.org. Archived from the original on 25 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-26. 
  24. ^ Samm Barnes (2007-08-02). Sara Barnes (SDCC 07) -- Babylon 5: The Lost Tales (Webvideo). San Diego Comic Con: IGN. 
  25. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (2006-12-13). "Re: JMS: The time has come...". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2007-03-08. 
  26. ^ P.J.Mungiole (2006-12-13). "NYCC: THE JMS PANEL". comiccon.com Pulse. Retrieved 2007-03-08. 
  27. ^ J. Michael Straczynski (2007-03-11). "Re: ATTN JMS Questions". rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated. JMSNews. Retrieved 2007-03-26. 
  28. ^ a b Warmoth, Brian (2007-02-23). "[NYCC] STRACZYNSKI ON STRACZYNSKI". wizarduniverse.com. Wizard Entertainment. 
  29. ^ "Show #39". babylonpodcast.com (Podcast). 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2006-01-06. 
  30. ^ "J. Michael Straczynski Wants Garibaldi and Londo in Next Babylon 5 The Lost Tales DVD". Starburst Magazine. trekweb.com. 2007-09-09. 
  31. ^ Tantimedh, Adi (2007-02-23). "NYCC, DAY 1: JMS SPOTLIGHT". Comic Book Resources. 
  32. ^ "Re: JMS: Fugiting Tempus". 2007-12-08. 

External links[edit]