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In Hollywood, $equel is a word that is definitely spelled with a dollar sign. Although initially reluctant to release BABYLON 5 on DVD in any way shape or form, Warner Home Video discovered they had a runaway hit when the series came to DVD in season sets. Of course, once Warner had mined their entire BABYLON 5 universe of all previously produced material, the only way to continue to cash in on the popular franchise was through the production of some sort of $equel. Fortunately for all concerned, series creator and driving force J. Michael Straczynski still has a few more stories to tell and BABYLON 5: THE LOST TALES ($25) has been commissioned as a series of direct-to-DVD movies.

Set ten years after the main events of the television series, and ten years before the decommissioning of the Babylon 5 station, THE LOST TALES take place during a previously undocumented period in the universe created by Straczynski. The first installment, VOICES IN THE DARK, allows Straczynski the opportunity to tell two separate short form tales with a limited number of BABYLON 5 characters. As Iíve come to expect from Straczynski, the stories are character-driven and rich, despite their self-contained nature and brevity. OVER HERE features Colonel Elizabeth Lochley (Tracy Scoggins) in a story about not losing oneís faith in an increasingly secular society. Even with all the strange happenings on Babylon 5, Colonel Lochley finds herself unprepared to deal with a case of demonic possession on the station. With mankind walking amongst the stars for nearly a century, faith has been replaced with science, which leaves Lochley in need of an increasingly rare commodity- a Catholic priest to deal with a demon who offers this man of God an interesting proposition. OVER THERE finds President John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) returning to Babylon 5 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance. However Sheridanís trip is interrupted by the appearance of a Galen (Peter Woodward), a Technomage, who presents the President with a disturbing vision of the future- one in which the Earth is destroyed by a hostile alien force. Of course, Galen offers Sheridan an opportunity to change the future- that is, if he is willing take but a single life. The cast of BABYLON 5: THE LOST TALES also features Teryl Rothery, Alan Scarfe, Bruce Ramsay and Keegan MacIntosh.

Warner Home Video has made BABYLON 5: THE LOST TALES available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Being a brand new direct-to-DVD movie shot with high definition equipment, it should come as no surprise that this is the absolute best looking BABYLON 5 production ever. The effects work looks great and makes one wish Warner would pony up the cash to redo all the effects work for a high definition release of the original series. Image sharpness and detail get top marks for a non-theatrical production. Sure some mildly soft shots do crop up, but they donít detract from the viewing experience. Colors are rather well saturated, with appealing looking flesh tones. Blacks are deep and the whites are clean. Contrast is generally smooth, and is better than what one normally gets at the television level. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed.

BABYLON 5: THE LOST TALES comes with a good quality Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The track is well mixed and makes good use of the outlying channels for the effects laden sequences. The sound is a lot more compact during the talky stretches. As expected, the forward soundstage remains dominant. Fidelity is terrific for a non-theatrical production, especially in the music department. The bass channel gets the job done. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English subtitles are present.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice extra features. Interviews feature J. Michael Straczynski, Bruce Boxleitner, Tracy Scoggins, and Peter Woodward. Memorials are included for BABYLON 5 actors Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs, who have since passed beyond the rim. The Straczynski Diaries is a multi-part program featuring J. Michael Straczynski that documents the various phases of production. Finally, Fireside Chats are provided to profile the people of the BABYLON 5 universe.

BABYLON 5: THE LOST TALES offers fans an opportunity to revisit the universe they have grown to love. With J. Michael Straczynski in the driverís seat, it remains faithful to his unique vision. Not surprisingly, Warnerís DVD looks and sounds great. Hereís to future editions. Recommended.



Babylon 5 - The Lost Tales (2007)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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