The ‘Babylon 5’ Reboot Is Still Happening, Apparently
Good or bad news for fans of the ’90s cult science fiction series Babylon 5: a reboot of the show is still in development at The CW. In February, we explored in depth everything we knew about the “from the ground up” reboot, which had been announced in September 2021 but hit delays after its pilot was not greenlit for the 2022-23 TV season. Prolific Babylon 5 creator and writer J. Michael Straczynski assured his audience then that while the delay was disappointing, the project was far from dead. More like caught in a sort of limbo between the past and the future, which is very Babylon 5 of it, actually.
President of The CW Mark Pedowitz is a longtime fan of the series himself, and in February he told Strazcynzski “he was taking the highly unusual step of rolling the project and the pilot script into next year, keeping B5 in active development while the dust settles on the sale of the CW.” Now, more than three months later, Pedowitz confirmed the ongoing and active development of the B5 reboot at The CW in a call with reporters ahead of the network’s upfronts presentation to advertisers, per Comicbook.com.
“It is very much in active development, I personally spoke with Straczynski back when we picked up the pilot,” Pedowitz said. “I’m a huge fan of Babylon 5, on a personal basis, I’ve seen every episode of the series. I’ve known Joe for a long, long time. I’d love to bring back that story in some shape or form, I think it’s perfect for the CW.”
I say this is both good and/or bad news for a few reasons. As a big fan of Babylon 5, I’d also love to see the story return, as Pedowitz put it, “in some shape or form.” I’d love to see Straczynski at work on Babylon 5 with a nice budget, newfangled special effects, and the enthusiastic support of a network after the property rights were tied up in Warner Bros. clutches for decades. However, Pedowitz still doesn’t seem committed to a timeline, or even perhaps a final shape or form for B5’s return yet. This is also a strange moment in the world of network TV and streaming, with mergers, sales, and worries about subscribers and expansion causing some contraction in our freewheeling new golden age of television.
And of course, those of us who are devoted to the old Babylon 5 have some doubts about it having a home on The CW, which has often been the place for soapier dramas and more teen-oriented fare. However, I’d rather for new B5 to be under the purview of a network president who’s also a fanboy than, say, at Netflix, where it might get a season or two before being unceremoniously killed off. (This has been your Sense8 reference for the day.)
It’s also hard to imagine the original story retold, since this would be a total reboot and not a sequel series. Though Straczynski has stated he has no desire to tell the same story twice, what we know now about the reboot gives it the same basic shape as B5 in the Sheridan years. As I wrote in February:
Indeed, the summary of the proposed reboot sounds very familiar: “John Sheridan, an Earthforce officer with a mysterious background, is assigned to Babylon 5, a five-mile-long space station in neutral space, a port of call for travelers, smugglers, corporate explorers and alien diplomats at a time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war.” This is essentially the same plot as the old series, though “a mysterious background” makes me wonder if this new Sheridan also has some of the history created for Sinclair.
All concerns aside, I still think it’s good news that Pedowitz has personally confirmed that Babylon 5 remains in active development, in theory for 2023. I hope we receive more information and can start speculating the ways in which the original cast members who are still with us can make cameos or longer-form appearances. Is there any reason why Peter Jurasik can’t play some other Centauri of the Mollari line? There is not!
(via Comicbook.com, image: Warner Bros.)
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