Babylon 5 Season by Season: Signs and Portents Review
Signs and Portents is Jane Killick's in-depth guide to the first season of Babylon 5. This title is also the overall title of the show's first season and refers to the foreshadowing and setup that dominated Season One.
Michael O'Hare, who played Commander Jeffrey Sinclair in the first season, provides the foreword to the book. Mr. O'Hare discusses the challenges of performing in a science fiction program and the rewards of working with the talented cast, crew, and guest actors.
Ms. Killick begins with an essay entitled "Getting Babylon 5 into Orbit". This section discusses the multi-year challenge faced by J. Michael Straczynski as he worked to bring Babylon 5 to the screen. It tells how he sold the show with the help of several instrumental collaborators.
The third section of the book is an essay about the first season as a whole. Ms. Killick tracks the major backgrounds developed during Season One: Earth politics, telepathy and the Psi Corps, the agendas of the alien races, and the mystery of the Minbari surrender at the Battle of the Line. She also discusses the episodes that worked best and least.
The meat of the book is the episode guide. This section is comprised of one chapter for each episode, and each chapter includes a cast list, short synopsis, and an analysis of the episode. Dedicated Babylon 5 fans may find the synopses lacking because they are written nonlinearly and occasionally have surprising omissions. However, the analysis sections more than make up for the synopses. On these pages, Ms. Killick's informed interpretations serve as a framework for quotes from the cast and crew. Numerous actors and crew members - as well as J. Michael Straczynski himself - were interviewed for this book, and their comments have been dispersed to appropriate places throughout the episode guide. All of the comments relating to a particular episode or issue are grouped together. As a bonus, this volume includes a chapter on the two-hour pilot, "The Gathering".
With a story as complex as Babylon 5's it is hard to keep the events of five seasons straight. Babylon 5 Season by Season: Signs and Portents is an indispensable addition to any serious Babylon 5 fan's library.