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Old October 29th 16, 21:16   #3
Join Date: Oct 2016
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Re: The Babylon 5 Official Viewing Order Pt. 3 (Crusade)

Caveat 3: Crusade presents a particularly thorny problem for any viewer, as the series suffered serious production problems from its outset. Most critically, after production began, TNT demanded an actual “introductory episode,” which JMS considered the made-for-television movie A Call to Arms provided. A “pilot” would therefore prove redundant. TNT disagreed. Production on the series therefore halted to film this hastily scripted pilot.

At the same time, TNT also decided to allocate additional money to build expanded sets, ordered new costumes, and generally sought to better the production quality of the show. This created a not insignificant change in tone. Moreover, TNT fought JMS on which episodes to broadcast first. They wanted a more traditional action-packed, conflict of the week approach (read: Star Trek).

This resulted in mandated changes that altered the show's trajectory after the filming of five episodes had already completed. Crusade's originally intended airing order, for the most part, would have reflected the order of production up to that time -- with the exception of "Racing the Night" (103). JMS wanted this episode to introduce the series to the viewers. In other words, JMS felt the show should open medias res with Gideon and company already months into their mission.

After the hiatus for the “pilot,” which necessarily featured the new uniforms and sets, JMS subsequently elected to air several new-uniform episodes first. "Appearances and Other Deceits" (113) transitioned viewers to the old-uniforms to be followed by the five pre-hiatus episodes. The show would then transition back to the new uniforms with the episode "To the Ends of the Earth" (114), scripted and in pre-production. TNT, however, had come to hold that the series did not meet their demographic needs and abruptly cancelled production on the back 9 episodes.

JMS attempted to locate a new network for Crusade but failed, and TNT would eventually air just the 13 existing episodes. Unfortunately, no episode featuring the transition back to the new uniforms existed, and the completed episodes thus aired in a “makeshift order,” which ignored several points of continuity by simply placing the five old-uniform episodes after the eight new-uniform episodes. This improvised order exists on the DVD release of the series.

The entire experience was, without hyperbole, a fiasco.

By this time, then, Crusade had JMS’ original "intended dramatic order,” the TNT “impacted intended order,” and finally the actual ”TNT broadcast order” -- all of which had internal chronological inconsistencies and contradictions resulting in considerable continuity problems. Consequently, the "correct" order for viewing Crusade became totally unclear. All three sequences contained conflicting evidence between episodes, notably seen with the details for two “mini-arc” trilogies that took place: a) the Gideon/Lockley meetings and b) use of the Nanite Mask.

JMS subsequently re-ordered the episodes for the Sy-Fy’s Channel’s re-broadcast of the show when they purchased the rights to Crusade in 2001. JMS disregarded the uniform changes and sequenced the episodes to begin with “general stories” to establish the show’s “scenario” before moving into “character-based” stories. He also placed "War Zone" and "Appearances and Other Deceits"—the two episodes that existed entirely due to TNT's interference—at the end of the run, effectively outside any continuity.

JMS later, after some prodding by fans, re-reordered the episodes in an attempt to incorporate both his intended dramatic presentation as well as (some of) the in-universe chronological order established by the episodes themselves, but this new sequence still ignored the “pilot” (which he never liked) and retained a glaring anachronism between two episodes of the Gideon/Lochley trilogy: “Ruling from the Tomb” and “Each Night I Dream of Home,” which he intended to fix with corrected dialogue but never completed.

B5 fans nonetheless now had five possible (albeit unsatisfactory) orders in which they could view Crusade. Soon, two additional orders would emerge. First, a “chronological order” established in Across Time and Space: The Chronologies of Babylon 5. Then, a second “all-inclusive chronological order” formed with the publications of Crusade: What the Hell Happened? and Crusade: Other Voices, where a wealth of new material revealed that none of the previously existing sequences adequately ordered the episodes into a “cohesive whole.”

The “chronological order” acknowledged the uniform changes and took into account several onscreen details -- e.g. the banner at the Mars conference ("Ruling from the Tomb”) -- but ignored others: e.g. the Gideon/Lochley trilogy from “Each Night I Dream of Home” to “Ruling From the Tomb.” The “all-inclusive chronological order,” furthermore, incorporated material not onscreen as well as accounted for scripts written but had never gone into production -- most notably, it presumes the second uniform change intended to occur in "To the Ends of the Earth" (114), though this episode does not exist, and rearranges the final episodes for further plotlines that would have emerged from it.

All of these “viewing orders” nevertheless possess continuity problems with the episodes as they exist.

Finally, fans of the show filled this need and have constructed two “continuity based orders.” These sequences focus first and foremost on all of the onscreen details: the uniform changes, dialogue, various details between episodes, and the two mini-arc trilogies, while only then taking into account JMS’ original intentions (sans his disposition toward the “pilot”).

For example, a strict internal chronological ordering requires "Ruling From the Tomb" (111), which features the first meeting of Gideon and Lochley, to occur very early (i.e. Gideon's assertion that, if a saboteur aboard his ship existed, then it would have “blown-up weeks ago") – though this remains contradicted by the conference banner. It also allows for the exit of Trace Miller, who appears only in this episode and “War Zone.” "The Long Road" (107), furthermore, takes place approximately just two months while the "The Memory of War" takes place four months
after A Call to Arms.

From here, the Gideon/Lochley meetings occur in the following order: "Ruling from the Tomb" to "Each Night I Dream of Home” to "The Rules of the Game," which also requires "Ruling from the Tomb" to precede "Appearances and Other Deceits." The continuity order of the Nanite Mask is "The Memory of War" to "Each Night I Dream of Home" followed by "Patterns of the Soul." “The Memory of War” must also precede “The Well of Forever” (i.e. if the Apocalypse Box can be taken at its word).

Unfortunately, for the viewer, both of the fan constructed continuity based orders succeed (the differences concern only six episodes, and only one of those is a “significant” switch), and the show suffers remarkably little under either sequence.

Neither one can claim definitively to be “the official viewing order.” I therefore simply present my preferred order for watching, having sat through the series several times, but I also list for consideration the alternative order that works

Last edited by Alkibiades410; November 7th 16 at 15:42.
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