CRUSADE: THE COMPLETE SERIES
As a direct sequel to the BABYLON 5 television series, CRUSADE showed infinite promise. With J. Michael Straczynski once again in the driver’s seat CRUSADE was going to offer the same kind of mix interesting character, philosophy and science fiction action that made its forebearer one of the best genre shows out there. Unfortunately, CRUSADE fell victim to the kind of network TV politics that kept most programming as homogenized drivel during the 1990s. Of course, series creator J. Michael Straczynski refused to compromise his vision of what the show should be, and the network decided to pull the plug on the show before it even had a chance to prove itself.
Of course, a little back-story from BABYLON 5 is needed to explain the new series… the end of The Shadow War marked the departure of the Vorlons and the Shadows from known space. However, The Drakh, former servants of the Shadows did not like having their former masters being driven away and decided to enact revenge on the people of Earth by unleashing a plague that would wipe out the population in five years time. So, the basic premise of CRUSADE follows the adventures of the spaceship Excalibur, as it begins its epic five-year quest to save the people of Earth from a certain death. The cast of CRUSADE features Gary Cole as Excalibur Captain Matthew Gideon, Daniel Dae Kim as first officer John Matheson, David Allen Brooks as archeologist and linguist Max Eilerson, Peter Woodward as the Technomage known as Galen, Marjean Holden as Dr. Sarah Chambers, Carrie Dobro as the Excalibur's resident thief Dureena Nafeel and Tracy Scoggins as Captain Elizabeth Lochley, Commander of Babylon 5.
CRUSADE: THE COMPLETE SERIES ($60) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features all thirteen episodes that were aired before the show was unceremoniously dumped by the network for its lack of foresight. The thirteen featured episodes are as follows: War Zone, The Long Road, The Well Of Forever, The Path Of Sorrows, Patterns Of The Soul, Ruling From The Tomb, The Rules Of The Game, Appearances And Other Deceits, Racing The Night, The Memory Of War, The Needs Of Earth, Visitors From Down The Street and Each Night I Dream Of Home.
Warner Home Video has made all the episodes that comprise CRUSADE: THE COMPLETE SERIES available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The picture quality is good for a modestly budgeted television series with a significant amount of special effects work. Things generally appear fairly sharp and nicely defined, although there is some softness scattered about, especially in shots involving process work and special effects. Colors appear nicely saturated, without any significant fuzziness. Blacks are accurate, whites are crisp and contrast is respectable for a television level production. The film elements from which the shows have been transferred appear clean, although there is some graininess in places. Even with four episodes on a dual layer disc, digital compression artifacts are always nicely camouflaged.
All the episodes that comprise CRUSADE: THE COMPLETE SERIES have had their soundtracks upgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 channel format. The sound quality is good for a television series. As expected, the forward soundstage dominates, with the rear channels providing the usual compliment of ambient fill, although the rear channels do have a stronger presence during the space battles, as opposed to the talky stretches of the drama. Channel separation is what you would expect from a television series. Dialogue is crisp and is always totally understandable. No other language tracks are provided, but English, French and Spanish subtitles have been included.
The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode/scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Audio commentaries with various members of the cast and crew are provided for the following two episodes: The Well Of Forever and Racing The Night. The Making Of Crusade is a fifteen-minute featurette that looks at the creation of a good television series that met an untimely end. Forging Excalibur provides a five-minute glimpse of the spaceship that was home to the characters of the short-lived series.
CRUSADE was a good series that met an untimely end. Warner has done a good job with the show’s presentation on DVD. Hopefully, the DVD will renew interest in the concept and perhaps we will see a couple of television movies that will tie up the story threads of CRUSADE. If you are a B5 fan, you’ll want to all CRUSADE: THE COMPLETE SERIES to your collection.
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