Yesterday, news broke that The CW is developing a new generation of Babylon 5, with original series creator J. Michael Straczynski attached. The sci-fi series, which is widely regarded as one of the best of the last 30 years, has spawned constant demands for a sequel or revival from hardcore fans, but instead of picking up where the other one left off, this new Babylon 5 will introduce an all new cast. At present, the series has not been picked up, and Straczynski is working on writing the pilot, which means there are a lot more questions out there, than answers.
Straczynski took to social media last night to give some insight into the pilot. He also explained why they elected to go with a reboot rather than a sequel.
Here's what he had to say in a lengthy Twitter thread:
"To answer all the questions, yes, it's true, Babylon 5 is in active development as a series for the CW. We have some serious fans over at the network, and they're eager to see this show happen. I'm hip deep into writing the pilot now, and will be running the series upon pickup.
"The network understands the uniqueness of Babylon 5 and is giving me a great deal of latitude with the http://storytelling.As noted in the announcement, this is a reboot from the ground up rather than a continuation, for several reasons. Heraclitus wrote, 'You cannot step in the same river twice, for the river has changed, and you have changed.' In the years since B5, I've done a ton of other TV shows and movies, adding an equal number of tools to my toolbox, all of which I can bring to bear on one singular question: If I were creating Babylon 5 today, for the first time, knowing what I now know as a writer, what would it look like? How would it use all the storytelling tools and technological resources available in 2021 that were not on hand then?
"How can it be used to reflect the world in which we live, and the questions we are asking and confronting every day? Fans regularly point out how prescient the show was and is of our current world; it would be fun to take a shot at looking further down the road. So we will not be retelling the same story in the same way because of what Heraclitus said about the river. There would be no fun and no surprises. Better to go the way of Westworld or Battlestar Galactica where you take the original elements that are evergreens and put them in a blender with a ton of new, challenging ideas, to create something fresh yet familiar. To those asking why not just do a continuation, for a network series like this, it can't be done because over half our cast are still stubbornly on the other side of the Rim. How do you telling continuing story of our original Londo without the original Vir? Or G'Kar? How do you tell Sheridan's story without Delenn? Or the story of B5 without Franklin? Garibaldi? Zack?
"The original Babylon 5 was ridiculously innovative: the first to use CGI to create ships and characters, and among the very first to shoot widescreen with a vigorous 5.1 mix. Most of all, for the first time, Babylon 5 introduced viewers accustomed to episodic television to the concept of a five-year arc with a pre-planned beginning, middle and end...creating a brand new paradigm for television storytelling that has subsequently become the norm. That tradition for innovation will continue in this new iteration, and I hope to create additional new forms of storytelling that will further push the television medium to the edge of what's possible.
"Let me conclude by just saying how supportive and enthusiastic everyone at The CW has been and is being with this project. They understand the unique position Babylon 5 occupies both in television and with its legions of fans, and are doing everything they can to ensure the maximum in creative freedom, a new story that will bring in new viewers while honoring all that has come before.
Warner Bros. TV first developed Babylon 5 as a television movie to boost the then-nascent and now-defunct Prime Time Entertainment Network. Debuting in 1993, the film, known now as Babylon 5: The Gathering, led to a series order, though some cast shakeups came during the interim.
The original Babylon 5 starred Michael O'Hare, Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Jerry Doyle, and Mira Furlan and ran for five seasons, jumping from PTEN to TNT when the former shut down in 1997. Even after the original 110-episode run, the series spawned spinoffs and TV movies set in the same universe, including Crusade on TNT. It also proved a popular multimedia franchise, leading to tie-in novels and comics.