Babylon 5: The Lost Tales was intended to be an anthology show set in the Babylon 5 universe.
It was announced by J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5, at the San Diego Comic Con in July 2006. Straczynski has described the stories as ones he had for the Babylon 5 television series, but never had the time to produce. Only one instalment, titled Voices in the Dark, was produced before the project was shelved.
It is the tenth anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance, and President Sheridan is on his way to Babylon 5 for the celebration. However, he must first deal with a threat from the future, while Lochley handles a case of demonic possession.
Voices in the Dark is set in 2271. It features two linked plotlines viewed separately one after the other but covering the same 72-hour timespan.
- Bruce Boxleitner as President John Sheridan.
- Tracy Scoggins as Colonel Elizabeth Lochley.
- Peter Woodward as Galen.
- Alan Scarfe as Father Cassidy.
- Bruce Ramsay as Simon Burke.
- Teryl Rothery as ISN reporter Ms. Chambers.
- Keegan Macintosh as Prince Vintari.
- Craig Veroni as Guard.
The project consists of one direct-to-DVD production containing two stories. On 13 July 2008, Straczynski announced he had no plans to further develop the series. Each story is built around a single established character. The production uses cast members from the original television show. The show is shot in high-definition video with digital HD cameras. The visual effects are handled by Atmosphere Visual Effects, who previously worked on other science fiction shows such as the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Atlantis. The music is composed by Christopher Franke, who also did the music for the original Babylon 5 series.
The show was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Concurrently with the DVD release, an HD version was released exclusively on the Xbox Live Video Marketplace. Douglas Netter and Straczynski executive produced the DVD.
Straczynski is a fan of The Twilight Zone and the work of Rod Serling, saying of himself, “Rod is one of my icons, so believe me, I know his work far, far better than most people.” The idea of doing his own science fiction anthology show is something that he has discussed in the past as a possibility and he first proposed the idea of a Tales from Babylon 5 anthology as the sixth season of the original show in 1997. He described it as, “an anthology series, to all intents and purposes, using our characters almost like a repertory group.”
Straczynski has stated that Warner Brothers initially asked him if he wanted to make a Babylon 5 feature film (while most Babylon 5 related rights are held at the studio level, Straczynski owns the Babylon 5 movie rights). He declined, most importantly because he could not see the structure of a Babylon 5 movie in 2006 after both Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs died in the years prior, and he could not see himself doing something big after these deaths, though he has stated he might feel up to it “in a year or two”. As an alternative to a big project, he suggested the idea of doing a bunch of character focused short films, structured in an anthology format. In addition, he asked to be guaranteed complete creative freedom in writing, which he has stated he received from the studio.
While the show was envisioned as an anthology, Straczynski stated that he would like to have thematic links in episodes on each disk:
Ideally, I’d like to rotate through the whole cast, preferably in a thematic fashion. One episode would concern itself with issues of command, and thus feature Sheridan, Lochley and Garibaldi; another would concern Psi Corps, and we’d have Lyta, Bester, and someone else; another would be a strong Minbari theme, so we’d have Delenn, Lennier and Sheridan (in his role as head of the Interstellar Alliance); a Centauri sequence with Londo, Vir and someone else; and we’d mix it up a bit.
In addition to having connections on the thematic level, the first two episodes for Voices in the Dark have stronger connections in the form of intersecting key plot and thematic points, and are intended to overlap and complement each other while telling separate but simultaneous stories.
The Voices in the Dark DVD contains a certain number of extras, including behind-the-scenes pieces. There also was supposed to be “a number of original short pieces” to be shot in February 2007. There were six “promosodes” written, featuring, among other characters, Lennier. According to Lost Tales producer Samm Barnes, they couldn’t be pulled together for this disc, but they can later pull from these unfilmed stories.
During the production of Voices in the Dark a series of behind-the-scenes video blogs were produced. Some of these were intended to be shown at conventions, specifically the New York Comic Con and Comic-Con International conventions of 2007, some were released via the Internet, and some were released on the DVD. Straczynski has compared them to Peter Jackson’s production diaries for King Kong or Bryan Singer’s video blogs for Superman Returns.
A mini-comic was included with the DVD when purchased at Best Buy, showing the adventures of G’Kar and Stephen Franklin beyond the Rim.
Straczynski initially stated that predicated on the success of Voices in the Dark a second instalment could be released in early 2008 “at the earliest”. Peter Jurasik had stated that he was contacted by Straczynski to reprise his role as Londo Mollari for a set of alien-centric stories after the initial batch centred on humans. He stated that he said yes to him: “if you [Straczynski] wrote it, I’d do it”. The second instalment was also set to include a story centred on the character Michael Garibaldi, initially planned for the first instalment. In September 2007, Straczynski stated that his preferences for a possible second disc were to definitely tell a Garibaldi-centric story, and probably a Londo-centric one.
One of the big events in the Babylon 5 universe that The Lost Tales was set to explore eventually was the Telepath War. Straczynski reportedly stated at the New York Comic Con in February 2007 that he already had a concept for a possible direct-to-DVD Telepath War story in mind.
Any future installments were on hold due to the WGA Strike, 2007. Prior to the strike, Straczynski urged Warner Brothers to commission a new DVD as they were suitably impressed with the sales for the first DVD. However, Warner Bros. felt that the Writer’s Guild would not go on strike and refused to speed up the bureaucratic process; in their words, “We don’t want to be pressured in the process because we know there’s not going to be a strike this year, we can handle the Guild”. At the Emerald City Comic Convention in May 2008, after the strike, Straczynski briefly updated fans on the prospects for more releases. He noted that two divisions of Warner Bros. seemed to be “discussing” wanting a feature film or more Lost Tales but had come to an agreement and had not gotten to the point of guaranteeing Straczynski total creative control in the case of a feature film. The budget for the first disc was two million dollars.
On 13 July 2008, Straczynski revealed that he had no plans to continue The Lost Tales. He said that although the studio was interested in another disc, they wanted to budget the next instalment similarly to the first. Citing his disappointment with the first release due to the low budget, Straczynski said he did not want to dilute Babylon 5’s legacy with further sub-par stories. He stated that he would only return to the Babylon 5 universe if Warner Bros. wanted to do a large-budgeted cinema release.
- Colonel Lochley tells Sheridan that G’Kar and Dr. Franklin are exploring “beyond the rim”.
- This is a nod to the fact that both Andreas Katsulas and Richard Biggs passed away before ‘The Lost Tales’ was made.
- Nearly all of the props and costumes from the original series had been lost or stolen.
- The only ones to remain were a StarFury cockpit and Tracy Scoggins’ EarthForce uniform.
- There was a third storyline in the original script involving Michael Garibaldi, Jerry Doyle’s character from “Babylon 5 (1993).”
- Eventually it was decided that there should be only two segments, and since his was the most complicated visually and technically, it was postponed for a next time.
- When Sheridan flashes back to his first conversation with Ventari, a different take is used: Ventari’s lines are slightly different.
Production & Filming Details
- J. Michael Straczynski.
- Sara Barnes … (documentaries).
- Sara Barnes … producer.
- Ben Brafman … co-producer.
- Douglas Netter … executive producer.
- J. Michael Straczynski … executive producer.
- Lisa Towers … line producer.
- J. Michael Stracynski.
- Christopher Franke.
- Karl Herrmann.
- Stein Myhrstad.
- Lost Tales Films.
- NS Pictures.
- Warner Bros. Entertainment.
- Mainostelevisio (MTV3) (2011) (Finland) (TV).
- Warner Home Video (2007) (Canada) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2007) (Spain) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2007) (Netherlands) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2007) (Finland) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2007) (Germany) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2007) (UK) (DVD).
- Warner Home Video (2007) (USA) (DVD).
- Release Date: 31 July 2007 (Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival, US).
- Rating: 12.
- Running Time: 75 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.