Science Fiction on the small screen offers a wide variety of interesting shows, but still it seems to lack the depth and complexity we can find in books – and it stands to reason, since the TV format must adhere to rules that don’t apply to the written word. Yet there is a show that transcends these rules because it was conceived as a five-part novel in the mind of its creator, and like a novel it doesn’t only deliver action and adventure, but also great characterization with visible growth, and a gripping narrative arc.
The show I’m talking about is Babylon 5: despite its “age” (it ran from 1994 to 1998) it still feels fresh and actual because it’s not about impressive CGI or technological marvels, but it deals instead with people, with their reactions to extraordinary circumstances, with the choices that those circumstances force on them and the consequences of their actions. I’ve often thought that it could work just as well as a theatrical production, because its strength is in the story, the thought-provoking issues it deals with and the intense dialogues spoken by the characters.
Here are some of my favorite quotes – divided by season: I hope that they will rekindle fond memories in those who watched and loved this show, and inspire the curiosity of those who have missed this complex, thoughtful and very passionate story until now.
We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. We study the mysteries of laser and circuit, crystal and scanner, holographic demons and invocation of equations. These are the tools we employ, and we know many things. […] The true secrets, the important things. Fourteen words to make someone fall in love with you forever. Seven words to make them go without pain. How to say good-bye to a friend who is dying. How to be poor. How to be rich. How to rediscover dreams when the world has stolen them.
(Elric – The Geometry of Shadows)
It has occurred to me recently that I have never chosen anything. I was born into a role that was prepared for me. I did everything I was asked to do because it never occurred to me to choose otherwise. And now, at the end of my life, I wonder what might have been. […] So much has been lost, so much forgotten. So much pain, so much blood. And for what, I wonder? The past tempts us, the present confuses us, and the future frightens us. And our lives slip away, moment by moment, lost in that vast terrible in-between. But there is still time to seize that one last, fragile moment. To choose something better, to make a difference, as you say.
(Emperor Turhan – The Coming of Shadows)
No one else would ever build a place like this. Humans share one unique quality, they build communities. If the Narns or the Centauri or any other race built a station like this, it would be used only by their own people. But everywhere Humans go, they create communities out of diverse and sometimes hostile populations. It is a great gift and a terrible responsibility. One that can not be abandoned.
(Delenn – And Now For a Word)
No dictator, no invader can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free.
(G’Kar – The Long, Twilight Struggle)