This is the fandom war I remember The first in the world.
OK, I’m not going there. Not tonight. Babylon 5 doesn’t deserve that. Not least of which because this is a show that when I look at it I don’t so much see something actively offensive as much as I do a case of heroic ambition tragically misplaced and misguided. Let’s not beat around the bush and deal with the obvious straight upfront, shall we? Babylon 5 isn’t very good. Phil has actually already articulated the reasons why very well in a piece for TARDIS Eruditorum some years ago, so I’m not going to make much of an effort to restate the arguments. Just go read that essay instead. There’s way more interesting stuff to talk about in regards to Babylon 5 from a Star Trek: The Next Generation/Star Trek: Deep Space Nine context than tritely comparing their respective quality.
During the mid-90s, you couldn’t go anywhere in sci-fi circles without publicly stating your position on the biggest, most controversial sore point since they announced a new Star Trek with a balding English thespian instead of Captain Kirk: Which was better, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (and Star Trek more generally), or Babylon 5? Forget the Star Wars vs. Star Trek divide-Although I had my annoyances with the franchise, they were mostly personal. This was the real schism that caused people to grab for the torches and pitchforks back in the day. Although the fandoms didn’t really get along, I was not trained to hate Star Wars the way Star Trek loyalists resented Babylon 5 opening up the genre TV market, or the way Babylon 5 fans seemingly resented everybody. It was a civil war the likes of which were unprecedented in the world. After all, it’s not like anything else important was going on in 1994: Not like there was an international espionage scandal or an AIDS pandemic or genocide in Rwanda or anything like that.
I mean, apparently. So I was told. Set firmly outside fandom circles as I was, I could only observe the proceedings from a distance. And anyway, I was preoccupied with other things in 1994 entertainment-wise: I was hurriedly trying to catch up with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reruns (really, Starlog episode synopses), trying to figure out what the hell Stargate was supposed to be about, really digging Batman the Animated Series and that Spider-Man show on FOX, mourning the end of Garfield and Friends, Disney’s Marsupilami and The Little Mermaid (and yeah, Star Trek: The Next Generation too) and getting really intrigued by this mysterious thing called Project A-ko I kept seeing ads for in my Malibu DS9 comics. I was starting to finally get deeper into video games too: I rode the crest of the last real Sonic the Hedgehog wave as me and my cousin lived out the remaining days of the SEGA Genesis just as Donkey Kong Country mania swept the nation.
But did I watch Bablyon 5?…