Monday, July 1, 2013

Musical Monday - Babylon 5 Opening Credits

And we finally come to the top of my list of the top ten science fiction television shows, and it should be a surprise to no one that Babylon 5 sits firmly ensconced in the number one position. The show was, and remains, the best science fiction show ever created, and in my opinion, is the best television show of any kind that has ever been put on the air.

Babylon 5 was conceived of, and mostly executed as, a five year story. With some hiccups along the way due to cast changes and network intransigence, the show played out like a five book series, with the first season setting the stage, the second season developing the plot, the third and fourth seasons dealing with the meat of the story, and the final season serving as an epilogue and tying up loose ends. Well, okay, the fifth season was actually mostly very slowly tying up loose ends and stretching a limited amount of plot sufficiently to fill twenty-two episodes, but that is because most of the main story had to be wrapped up prematurely in season four due to the demands of some fairly ignorant network executives.

Even though the show was conceived and executed as a long story that ran through from the pilot episode to the end of the final movie, the show still evolved and changed as it progressed, just as series of novels would evolve and change as the story went on. And the credits that opened the program evolved and changed as well, most notably in the opening monologue. For the first season Michael O'Hare as Jeffrey Sinclair provided the voice over, for the second season Bruce Boxleitner as John Sheridan narrated the opening.

In the third season the monologue changed significantly, both in phrasing - "our last, best hope for peace" became "our last, best hope for victory" - and in the identity of the speaker - instead of the Babylon 5 station commander, now the voice over was provided by Claudia Christian as Susan Ivanova, the second in command. This opening is probably the first one that sticks in the minds of most fans, because season three is when the series really took off and the story became intense and riveting. Season four saw a still more radical departure as the opening monologue was replaced by a group of short statements about the year the season depicted, all provided by different characters. And this opening fit the fever pitch reached by the plot in season four perfectly. Season five also saw a collection of lines from different characters as the voice-over, but these were all quotes relating to the events of the previous four seasons, looking backwards, which was also perfectly in sync with the theme of the season.

Each opening sequence was perfect for the season it introduced, and all of them are included here. Babylon 5 was the greatest science fiction show ever put on television, and these title sequences are the perfect illustration of what made the series great.

Previous Musical Monday: Farscape Opening Credits
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins by Leonard Nimoy

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