|Crusade - The Complete Series
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Platform: DVD MOVIE Publisher: WARNER BROTHERS Packaging: RETAIL BOX Rating: NOT RATED Another Thrilling Reach Into Tomorrow From The Creator of Babylon 5! 2267 A.D. The battle is won the war may be lost. After fending off the fierce attack of Drakh combatants Earth faces an unseen yet even greater foe. The Drakhs have left behind a microbial biogenetic plague that will destroy all life of the planet in five years if a cure isn't found.From Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski comes an exciting 13-part adventure about the race to find that cure - an urgent and hazardous quest that sends an Earthforce expedition across the reaches of space to explore technologies more advanced than Earth's. The race is on. The perils are many. And savvy real-tomorrow issues and potential technologies underlie every episode thanks to production input from forward-looking thinkers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The future begins - or ends - here! Features:Audio Commentary on 2 Key EpisodesProbing Documentary: The Making Of CrusadeForging Excalibur: Learn about the starship from the inside outProduct Details:Video:Widescreen 1.85:1 Color (Anamorphic)Standard 1.33:1 ColorFormat: DVD NTSCAudio: ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC]Subtitles: English Spanish FrenchYear: 2004Running Time: 576 minutesStudio: Warner Home Video
The first and only spin-off of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski's short-lived sci-fi series Crusade had its roots in the B5 television movie A Call to Arms, in which Earth was battling a Drakh invasion at the end of the Shadow Wars. When Crusade begins, the Drakh have released a deadly virus that threatens to wipe out all 10 billion humans living on Earth unless a cure can be found in five years. To take on this monumental task, Captain Matthew Gideon (Gary Cole) is assigned command of the state-of-the-art Destroyer-class ship Excalibur. His crew includes telepath John Matheson (Daniel Dae Kim); pompous but brilliant archaeologist-linguist Max Eilerson (David Allen Brooks); Dureena, a member of the Thieves' Guild and the last surviving member of her species (Carrie Dobro); medical officer Sarah Chambers (Marjean Holden); and technomage Galen (Peter Woodward).
While Babylon 5 had five years to develop into a powerful saga, Crusade had its plug pulled after a mere 13 episodes (which were reordered for TNT's broadcast), and the series never really got its footing. Galen often took center stage, then disappeared for several episodes. Matheson was underutilized (other than to provide fans with clues about what happened in the Psi-Wars after B5 ended), and tough-guy Gideon bounced back and forth between his desire to save the human race and his own moral code. There were some good action scenes and intriguing concepts (developed in conjunction with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory). Special effects sometimes were impressive and sometimes showed budget constraints, and we never really saw the power and scope of the mile-and-a-half-long ship, other than the cool bullet cars used to traverse its length. But it did have its moments. If B5 was the spiritual companion to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with its space-station setting and long story arc, Crusade was more like a traditional Star Trek setting, with mostly stand-alone episodes involving first contact with various species (even if, due to the nature of the Excalibur's quest, such species were usually extinct). And there were occasional tantalizing hints of a broader conspiracy that might have allowed the series to soar. Regardless, B5 fans will welcome even a brief opportunity to revisit this universe, especially when the Excalibur visits the station in "The Rules of the Game." John Sheridan's ex-wife Captain Elizabeth Lochley (Tracy Scoggins) even earned a spot in the opening credits for her appearance in a few episodes. --David Horiuchi
- Another Thrilling Reach Into Tomorrow From The Creator of Babylon 5! 2267 A.
I got this for my husband and ended up liking this one myself. Still like Babylon 5 better....more info
- Crusde DVD Review
It is a shame this series did not continue. This is well worth the purchase even if you were not into the original Babylon 5 series, you can still pick it up from these DVDs....more info
This is a great series. They should have kept it going. Great characters and story. They used more of a type of virtual reality effects which some do not like. I happen to love science fiction and enjoy all types of visual effects....more info
- A Show That Deserved More
I was deeply dissapointed back in 1999 when TNT suddendly pulled the plug on this series. A proper epilogue for B5, that was truly meant to complete the plots and promises left behind. The visual effects ranged from acceptable to outstanding (the graphic detail of an alien city with Gideon flying in a scooter is simply GREAT), pushing the envelope in Lightwave generated effects at the time. The music was emotive and evocative, and would be a nice addition to any CD collection. Sadly, this series was never allowed to get its footing, and was cut short, way too short for my liking....more info
- Ever See Strazynski with BOTH hands tied behind his back...
Well even with no freedom, I think he did a good job with this series. But I just have to comment that what "I" think made the show hard to swallow for me was 1. The hokey premise 2. The 50's style spaceship and DEFINITELY 3. The freaked out musical score.
I mean, I'd be trying to enjoy the show and I was listening to "Music" farting and belching in the background! I am serious! That alone (and the silly ship model) gave me the feeling that Mr. S. didn't even take this show seriously himself.
It was EXACTLY like that case with Enterprise, where SO MANY people complained about the opening music (I wanted to as well, but didn't even voice my opinion) and these producers, etc. get high on their own ego and say to the fans "This is what you'll get, it's my show" and unfortunately (OR NOT) spinoffs really are, to some degree, a bigger beast than the individuals involved, they need a certain amount of finesse to be successful and part of that finesse is often sharing some of the same ambiance of the original series.
Sorry to rant, but, when the orchestrations in B5 are so well placed and ADD to the feeling of a scene, people just get upset and frustrated and disillusioned when they see a falic symbol farting through space, and endure music that Detracts from the emotion...so the show had to go. Sorry.
But, yeah I really did love the feeling of the "potential" of the show. I hate to have to rate it so low, but I'll defintely buy it....more info
- Space sci-fi for the fun of it.
Having enjoyed the Babylon series I looked forward to following the sequel. Sadly, the series was cancelled and also sadly, the series was not quite up to par with Babylon 5. It is good though and my youngest son and I enjoy watching an episode together on a slow night.
- Crusade Series
The show wasn't the greatest show of all time. But, it's another stop on your quest to get everything that is Babylon 5. The extra's are pretty good and it's a must buy for any collector....more info
- the crusade
If you are a fan of the whole series of Babylon5 movies, you will like the feel of this series.It gives you all of tech & magic that Babylon 5 gives you accept the series was cut short of really getting into some heavy stories. I got this only because I am a big fan of the B5 series....more info
Terrible, awful, the acting (what acting!?!) was amaturish, the plot, cartoon-like. What a waste, a terrible waste. Save your money, your time, your energy. Buy the Jetsons - you'll at least have a plot to follow....more info
- Never had the time to develop I could have liked it more.
While it was interesting to see a fresh approach to the Babylon 5 Universe something is off here the ships are there the universe is there but in most respects it is the heart and soul the chemistry of the cast that is missing.
Maybe if it was an entirely different series without the B-5 slant I could be kinder to it but its not and I can't. If it were about a random group of people in a spaceship finding a cure for a plague maybe but as it stands let me give you the rundown.
First the good
Dureena Nafeel (Carrie Dobro) a thief who does everything see can to get the job done. I always liked her she can work her way out of a tight spot and think her way out of any given situation.
Max Eilerson (David Allen Brooks):in spite of being an overbearing jerk Eilerson does have his moments when those moments come he does show that there is a real person under that brash sarcastic exterior.
Galen (Peter Woodward a technomage the last time we saw these people was in Babylon 5 season two when they were fleeing the approaching shadows Galen interfered on our behalf and as a consequence was banished. I'll be perfectly honest he was the best part of the show those episodes where something interesting happened were usually about some element of technomageism he carried the show on his own.
Middle of the road
Lieutenant John Matheson (Daniel Dae Kim) there is one particularly good moment with this character when it shows his involvement with a particular raid during the telepath war but most of the time he has Lt. Uhura syndrome he runs ships communications and JMS shows that he is tolerant of other races.
Captain Matthew Gideon (Gary Cole) my problem is he can never decide on which type of captain he wants to be brash and arrogant or diplomatic and sensitive. Pick a mood for the sake of your crew captain
Dr. Sarah Chambers (Marjean Holden): ship's medical officer. Think all the self righteousness of Steven Franklin without the sense of humor.
. Captain Elizabeth Lochley (Tracy Scoggins)-Whoever came up with this bright idea needs to be punched in a very uncomfortable place it makes no sense take the most unpopular part of season 5 and give her a few guest spots on the new show and just to confuse everyone set her up as Gideon's love interest and make her disappear. Mindless.
Overall-Not a bad show there are just times where the cast doesn't fire on all cylinders bringing down the rest of the show.
- Brilliant Vision Cut Short
For those of us that can never get enough of the Babylon 5 universe, Crusade provided another season (1/2 a season) of the incredible story arcs and character development that we'd learned to expect from J.M.S.
As with the Firefly universe reawakened in the movie Serenity by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), you either love it or you have never seen it . . .
The cast/crew interviews on this DVD set are worth the purchase in-and-of themselves. A definite must-have for the J. Michael Straczynski fan....more info
- Good Science Fiction
This series embodies intelligent creativity, in both acting and story line; I would recommend this series to anyone looking for thinking Science Fiction. I found it entertaining as well as thought provoking, as the series touched of on a variety of different social as well as philosophical subjects; this is basically some of the best science fiction available....more info
- Big Disappointment!!
I am a big fan of the B5 series and this spinoff, "Crusade".
I was very disappointed to find that the "Crusade" DVD set was done in "pan-and-scan" 1.33:1, not in the widescreen 1.85:1 format the series was originally in. Unlike the DVD sets for B5 which all are in widescreen, enhanced for Hi-Def sets and are delightful on a 70" widescreen, the picture quality of the "Crusade" DVD set leaves a lot to be desired.
I wish I knew why these are not widescreen and enhanced. Hopefully the widescreen set will be produced for the fans.
For a glimpse of the original widescreen, watch the openning credits. ...more info
- Not enough
Alright, I'm not going to get into specifics and details like some others on here. I will say the score wasn't what i expected, but not terrible.
My biggest complaint about the show was that there were not nearly enough episodes. You just start to get into the overall storylines with various members of the crew. I wanted to see more about Galen and what he was all about, but it never happened.
I feel that if the network had continued with the show, it would have had a great run. Maybe not as stellar as the original B5, but good in its own right. For its short run, though, I highly recommend it....more info
- Awesome and too bad it was canceled
This is a really great few episodes with an awesome combination of actors, storyline, and overarching stories for each character.
Its really too bad it got canceled even before an episode was aired to see if people would like it. when it was aired it was put out of order and with long pauses between episodes....more info
- TNT should have left JMS do what he wanted
This would have been a great series if TNT had allowed it to continue. JMS is definitely one of the best writers/producers working now. While the story is a bit fragmented, it was intended to be the leadin to the real story (listen to JMS's commentary). The music wasn't as good as it could have been (I think I would have done a better job), but Christopher Franke is a hard act to follow. It was a most beautiful superposition of D&D into a scifi setting - you have the thief, the wizard, the warrior getting info from a not always forthright magic item, the quest... need I say more? Most recommended. Bad TNT for pulling the plug and not allowing this to be sold to, say, scifi channel so it could conitnue....more info
- Who do you serve?
The Drakh have struck Earth. These allies of the Shadows have poisoned the planet with a Shadow plague that will wipe out all life once the virus has fully adapted to Human DNA in five years time. The Excalibur, one of a new battleship design commissioned by Alliance President John Sheridan is pressed into commission to serve as a mobile platform for seeking out information about the plague and how it may be cured.
I really wish this show had gotten the chance to get off the ground properly, there is so much here that begs to be explained. As with Babylon 5 this show obviously has a five year life built in (though regretably it didn't even make it through one of those years). If you go digging around you'll even be able to find out a bit more of what JMS had in mind for the show.
In many ways this series reminds me somewhat of traditional Star Trek, whereas Babylon 5 is more similar to Deep Space Nine. However, of course both shows are quite different, quite good, and not copies of each other. Okay, with that caveat out of the way I can continue. We have one ship visiting many ports, discovering new races and cultures, and going someplace new--very Star Trekian. Now I don't believe this is bad, or truly derivative--I just mention what I see as similar. One thing that definately jars this is JMS's habit of not including every main character in each episode as Star Trek producers are usually wont to do. Like Babylon 5 (where there was only one episode in the entire run to feature each then listed main character) you can go several episodes without seeing certain characters. I like this (and would have liked it more if the series had run for years and it hadn't severely limited our exposure to some characters) it just takes some getting used to. If you like Star Trek look at this as more good sci-fi--if you don't like Star Trek know this is quite different stuff.
You'll find the serious mixed with the lighthearted. When talking about episodes I must include the JMS recomended viewing order. I defied this at first and watched the episode the case said should be first (War Zone)--and it was indeed an introduction, a very traditional pilot. However, I found out later that it was only produced later when the producers said they didn't like Racing the Night as an introduction. Furthermore, there were certain elements that didn't fit so well--such as a fistfight and crazy airing order that TNT producers insisted on--so don't blame everything wrong on JMS. Really this all reminds me of Firefly (which came later) and the trouble Joss Wheedon had with producers at Fox who disliked his excellent pilot and made him redo the second episode Train Job to serve as a new pilot. However unlike JMS Wheedon was able to make Train Job a new pilot and yet remain as a consistant second episode. Unfortunately for Crusade, the episode War Zone is somewhat of a continuity orphan, especially if you watch in the JMS order, which I would strongly suggest. I also enjoy reading the Lurker's Guide to each episode after viewing it. You'll find this at http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/lurker.html. Here is the order, the only problems you'll find with it are some out of place uniform changes (that flow in the original airing order) and a couple minor errors (such as Lockley and Gideon meeting for the first time twice ;-)).
Racing the Night
The Needs of Earth
The Memory of War
The Long Road
Visitors from Down the Street
The Well of Forever
Each Night I Dream of Home
Patterns of the Soul
The Path of Sorrows
Ruling from the Tomb
The Rules of the Game
Appearances and Other Deceits
Racing the Night is a very good pilot, introducing us to each character in a gradual manner on JMS's terms. Additionally we join the crew in the middle of their quest and only gradually find out exactly what is happening--it isn't all just thrust upon us. We not only get a pilot, but a darn good episode.
Visitors from Down the Street is definately an episode in a lighthearted vein, it being a definate mock/tribute/mimic of the X-Files. However, this time it is aliens believing that humans are interfering in their culture. :-) Try to spot as many X-Files references as you can.
Galen is a remarkable character. First introduced in the Babylon 5 movie A call to Arms he is a technomage. However, unlike the rest of his brethern he has decided not to retreat from Known Space, but to return to help the crew of the Excalibur fight for humanity. JMS has called him the traditional fantasy RPG magician of the group. Really the whole cast is a collection of eccentric, but fun characters. What little we get to see of them is quite revealing.
A note about special effects. Please keep in mind that just as on Babylon 5 effects shots are computer generated, and it is noticable. They aren't horrible, they just aren't as flawless as a big-budget blockbuster. However, if this is a problem then you shouldn't even be looking at Crusade or B-5. The stories are what make the show, the special effects just help them along.
The music and shooting style are by design very different from Babylon 5, so don't go in expecting to just see and hear more of the same.
Now there aren't many special features, only four in fact. You'll get a featurette on the production of the series, and a five minute one on the design of the Excalibur. Additionall JMS has commentary on Racing the Night, and two of the actors, the director, and writer comment on The Path of Shadows. The JMS commentary goes into more depth not on just the episode but the series, and what it might have been.
If you enjoyed Babylon 5 then I would definately suggest that you check out this partial series. You'll get some fun episodes and the chance to see what might have been. I always enjoy learning more about my favourite universes, and this is no exception! You get a whole new look at the world of Babylon 5....more info
- A good beginning
This was a series that had potential, and it was very disappointing that the plug was pulled before it could really expand on the Babylon 5 universe. Jeers to the network for canceling it prematurely. I would recommend this just to complete the Babylon 5 universe DVD collection....more info
- Potentially Better Than "Star Trek: Enterprise"
Fans of "Babylon 5" may forget how dreadful much of its first season actually was, with silly episodes including a human archaeologist transformed into an alien monster soldier and one devoted to alien boxing and a fight to the death boxing match. And yet, this series fulfilled its promise and then much more. "Crusade" would have become another splendid science fiction series, being the "Babylon 5" universe equivalent of "Star Trek: Enterprise" or "Star Trek: The Original Series" or perhaps most aptly, "Star Trek: Voyager". Unfortunately some studio executives lacked the patience for series creator's J. Michael Straczynski's vision, so the plug was pulled after thirteen episodes. Speaking of which, I have no doubt that "Crusade" could have told more exciting, dramatically impressive tales than virtually all of those which became episodes of "Star Trek: Enterprise" and "Star Trek: Voyager".
Much to his credit, J. Michael Straczynski did assemble a decent cast for the crew of the experimental EarthForce/Interstellar Alliance warship Excalibur: Captain Matthew Gideon (Gary Cole), telepathic first officer John Matheson (Daniel Dae Kim), archaeologist and linguist Max Eilerson (David Allen Brooks), Dureena, a member of the Thieves' Guild and the last surviving member of her species (Carrie Dobro), medical officer Sarah Chambers (Marjean Holden) and technomage Galen (Peter Woodward). Without a doubt, the most intriguing character was Galen, though both Captain Gideon and Dureena had memorable moments too. Reoccuring visitors from "Babylon 5" included Captain Elizabeth Lochley (Tracy Scoggins), Security Chief Zack Allen (Jeff Conaway) and former Psi Cop Alfred Bester (Walter Koenig). The episodes were not aired in the order which J. Michael Straczynski intended, so viewers should be aware of unintended references to other episodes that are mentioned.
"Crusade" is set soon after the events of the Babylon 5 television movie "A Call To Arms". EarthForce Captain Gideon and his crew are ordered by the Interstellar Alliance to search for Shadow technology and other alien civilizations which may have clues for finding the cure - or discovering the actual cure itself - for the Shadow virus which is affecting Earth. If the cure isn't found in a few years, then all life on Earth will be wiped out. Series creator J. Michael Straczynski intended that this series would be less story arc-driven than "Babylon 5", offering viewers more stand-alone episodes. In short, had "Crusade" succeeded, it would have been the "Babylon 5" version of "Star Trek: The Original Series"....more info
- I wish this series would be completed
I always enjoyed the Babylon 5 programs,and I wish they would have done an ending to Crusade instead of just leaving us hard core B5 fans just a hanging.
The entire series was always well done,and the special affects were always excellent....more info
- Not bad
It is worth seeing if you have already seen all 5 seasons of Babylon 5 and the Movie series, but it is a bit disappointing that it did not conclude with them finding a cure for the plague. Did they find a cure? However, if you are a fan of Babylon 5 you will still want to see it.
- Often too painful to watch
As die-hard B5 fans, my wife and I were eager for a fix and decided to purchase the Crusade series on DVD. This was a mistake. Some of the episodes have acting and story lines that are so poor that they too painful to watch. I am not sure they could have found more second-rate actors and gathered them onto a single show. Our recommendation is to keep the wonderful B5 series in your memory and do not taint this memory the tripe named Crusade....more info
I am a big fan of the tv series Babylon 5 and I liked the series Crusade that followed and I only wish it had lasted longer. I have always been a big Sci-fi fan and I liked the fact that both shows focused on the stuggle of good versus evil and the betterment of mankind and all other beings while trying to have interesting stories that were set out in the vastness of space. Some place that I would like to explore. ...more info
- 5 for potential, 3 for workmanship
If you're a fan of Babylon 5, you're probably tempted to buy Crusade. After all, it was the short-lived follow-on to B5, put together by the B5 creator and with a few of the same cast members.
DO buy it. Just don't come to the Crusade series with the same set of expectations, because you're going to be disappointed.
Crusade is a too-perfect example of "creation by committee." The REAL main premise of Crusade works, particularly if you followed B5: the servants of the shadows had dropped a plague on the Earth, and the Crusade crew are traveling the universe to find a cure. Unfortunately, the "creative" people at TNT, which was better at putting together smack-down wrestling, insisted on making changes to the Crusade premise, characters (they wanted one alien whose main purpose was to have sex with as many races as possible), and even uniforms (which is why JMS had to come up with a hokey episode to change the uniforms).
The result is moments of brilliance, mixed with irritating situations. And, because the TNT people claimed that new watchers wouldn't have a context for the show (although they ended up showing the B5 movie that introduced the plague, right before the season premiere aired), they insisted that the scripts bring everybody up to date. So, Crusade wastes a lot of time telling you what you already know. And, since the story sort-of starts twice, it wastes a lot of time on that. If you're a B5 fan, you know that JMS tends to trust the audience to figure it out as you go along, and he doesn't do that here.
I recently re-watched the whole season. There are just enough episodes to really *introduce* each of the characters. And I have the sense that the story was just about to get underway when it was cancelled. It's as though JMS put a whole bunch of interesting questions on the table, right before the lights went out.
Nonetheless, I do recommend that B5 fans get and watch the series. First, you'll enjoy seeing that JMS did have an idea of where things were headed. (And he did say in the usenet newsgroups that finding the cure to the plague was only the beginning of the story, which had a multi-year arc.) You'll enjoy a visit to a well-crafted universe you remember. You'll enjoy seeing a new batch of interesting new characters who, darnit, I want to learn what happened to. And you'll have a too-painful example of TNT corporate politics gone wrong, horribly wrong.
If you aren't a fan of Babylon 5, I'd skip Crusade. I think it *does* require knowledge of the B5 universe; otherwise you'd see the flaws and not the best-of-B5. There's plenty of B5 material -- start there, instead....more info
- Babylon 5 and beyond
Babylon 5 and Beyond
This series is a great extension to the Babylon 5 universe. The characters are well developed and the casting perfect. JMS gave us his vision of the future with engaging stories, characters and the visual effects to back them up.
I regret that the series was killed during its first season. Now there are so many unanswered questioned raised by the episodes that were produced and aired.
It would be wonderful to see a few movies to answer the questions and close out the story arcs....more info
- 3 1/2 stars - I'm fond of it, but it falls short of B5
Babylon 5 had a sort of grandeur to it, in the sweep of the story, the relationships between the characters, the social issues that were skewered or commented on, and the galactic peril that developed as its main story arc. It was hoped that Crusade could succeed Babylon 5 for another five successful years, carrying on the history of humans after the Shadow War and the formation of the planetary Alliance.
Crusade was, so to speak, murdered in its crib. It never got much of a chance to grow. It never had all the strengths of its predecessor, and it suffered a few weaknesses as well.
Briefly, what I liked about the series: Galen, the enigmatic techno-mage, who was probably the best actor and got the best speeches. Dureena, the alien thief whose sass was entertaining and whose courage got the Crusade team out of a pickle or two. As the series progressed the crew were starting to develop a sense of family and camaraderie, like the Babylon 5 team. The Excalibur was a pretty ship, and quite a few interior sets were built to show different parts of the craft.
Weaknessess: The special effects of ships in orbit and in battle were good. The special effects of planetary landscapes looked cheap. The musical score wasn't as weighty or as appropriate as the music for Babylon 5. Gary Cole's Captain Gideon is a more flawed and somewhat less heroic figure, compared to B5's Cap'n Sheridan. In a way that makes him more interesting, but he also seems to have a dangerously headstrong or capricious streak. (To say nothing of his questionable tactic of getting advice from an alien machine called an "apocalypse box" that has a tendency to give false information.) The lack of a great story arc to tie the episodes together was somewhat of a weakness. Whereas B5 dealt with interplanetary conflicts between whole races, and the war between two super-powerful ancient alien powers, Crusade's plots were narrowly focused on one spacecraft and its mission to find a cure for a planetary plague. The scale is somehow smaller.
After watching all 13 episodes, I find myself overlooking a lot of the ways that it fell short. I'm quite fond of it, and will watch it again from time to time. But it falls short of the standard set by Firefly, or even B5. ...more info
- Great TV series!
Love this series. Too bad it only lasted 13 episodes. Highly recommended for B5 fans!...more info
- I wish I could erase Crusade from my brain!
That seems harsh, but although I liked Babylon 5, the series started to go downhill in Series 5, which was a bit incoherent and felt slapped together. I understand the underlying reasons for this.
But Crusade is much worse, in my opinion. It is as bad as Andromeda, except Andromeda was allowed to linger on for years.
I consider myself a Bablyon 5, but if you are honest enough with yourself to admit the decline in quality starting in series 5, then Crusade will just make you irritated and annoyed.
Go buy The Lost Tales, those are actually nice sci fi stories with good acting and special effects - as well as familiar characters....more info
- Great series--too bad it was cancelled
This is a spin off of the Babylon 5 TV series. However, you don't really need any knowledge of the Babylon 5 series to enjoy it. To best understand this series, watch the prequel movie "A Call to Arms" first.
An alien species has infected Earth with a deadly virus. If a cure isn't found, everyone on Earth will be dead within five years with only the few humans who were on other planets, battleships or space stations at the time of infection being whose left of humanity. The new proto-type battleship "Excalibur" with Captain Mathew Gideon's (Gary Cole) goal is to explore other species and sources for a possible cure. They are to go anywhere and do whatever it takes to succeed in that goal.
It is too bad this series was cut short. It was interesting and Gary Cole made a great lead actor--not your typical stuffy military-type at all. He cheats, he lies, he speaks his mind regardless of rank, and he breaks the rules--but always for the right reasons.
The worst part is that the series just stops mid-stream/mid-season. They should have finished out the season and found a way to wrap things up. So what if it was only a one-year series? At least the viewers wouldn't have been left just hanging with no conclusions or closures. They talk about fan/viewer loyalty--how about reciprocating some of that loyalty to the viewers??? Don't get us hooked just to slam the door in our faces!! I liked the series very much and would have liked to see it continued....more info
- A record of unrealized potential
CRUSADE is the only spin off of BABYLON 5, but one that never really got off the ground. Part of the problem is that it never really developed much in the way of compelling internal arcs and part of the problem was that it never was given much time to do so. BABYLON 5 was a series that was very, very slow to develop. The first two seasons were quite static and almost dull as various plot elements were slowly dropped into place. Eventually there was a pay off, and a big one at that. But the truth is that it was just really slow to develop. CRUSADE likewise was very slow out of the gate. Would it have become as good as B5? There is no evidence of that. There seems to have been very, very little in the way of long arcs developing, though even in the case of B5 some of the arcs can be seen on reviewing early episodes, but were hard to detect on first viewings. But the brute fact is that CRUSADE was, through the 13 completed episodes, simply not very exciting.
Just because CRUSADE was not terribly good as executed doesn't mean that it wouldn't have gotten better. This was not a show without potential. It did not have the jaw-dropping brilliance that FIREFLY displayed over a comparable number of episodes (which will always ignite the debate over precisely what FOX was thinking when it cancelled that gem), but it nonetheless had potential.
A slowness to develop wasn't the only problem the show had in its short run. The use of the cast was astonishingly inconsistent. Now, B5 often would run for several episodes without opening credits characters putting in an appearance, but that was only after they all were firmly established. CRUSADE might lose a character for three straight episodes. The only character guaranteed to appear in each episode was Gary Cole. Tracy Scoggins was an opening credits character but did not finally appear on the show until several episodes into the season. Peter Woodard, who as the technomage Galen may have been the show's most compelling and fascinating character (certainly he was the only one I wanted to know more about), appeared in only about two-thirds of the episodes. He tended to be dominant in the ones in which he did appear, but that merely reemphasized his absence in the ones in which he did not. We did not even begin to scratch the surface of the main characters. For instance, it appears that Galen was probably a self-created cyborg. In the last episode in which he appeared we learned that his eyes had been replaced by ocular implants and a brief look at his bare back revealed that he had a number of mechanical implants of one kind or another.
Ultimately, this is a show that simply never came out with all guns blazing. We'll never know if it had more potential or not. There were some good individual episodes, as well as some fun ones. I enjoyed seeing Peter Woodward and his father, the Equalizer himself, Edward Woodward. And there was a fun late-series episode that was a great parody of THE X-FILES. The Excalibur finds an alien life pod in open space and picks them up. Inside are two conspiracy-minded aliens dressed very much in the style of Mulder and Scully. The female's head tentacles, which resembled hair slightly, were red like Scully's hair and she wore high-heeled shoes under her slacks in the best Scully fashion. The two accuse the humans of constantly abducting people from their planet and of being involved in a conspiracy with a mysterious man who bears more than a little resemblance to the CSM (that is Cigarette Smoking Man, for non-X-Filers), a resemblance that was cemented when he pulls out a cigarette and lights up as he departs Excalibur. All in all it was fun.
One thing that they might have done to generate more interest in the show was to have more guest appearances by members of the B5 cast. Although the show had been set up by A CALL TO ARMS, the series itself was generally devoid of B5 cast members apart from Tracy Scoggins's Captain Lochley. But I think that more of an attempt to bring in familiar faces would have helped. Apart from Scoggins, the only B5 regular to even appear on the show was Richard Biggs as Steven Franklin.
I can't really recommend this series to anyone except BABYLON 5 completists. If you feel the need to watch absolutely everything connected to B5, go for it. It seems appropriate that one of the very last scenes on the show occurred when Excalibur was taking Captain Lochley back to B5. ...more info