Why J Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5 TV Reboot Should Have Diehard Fans On Board

The Season 1 cast standing in Michael O'Hare's office in Babylon 5

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Reboots of classic TV series have been all the rage in recent years, in the hope that pop culture lightning could strike twice. The CW is definitely no stranger to this concept, thanks to refreshed versions of CBS’s Walker, Texas Ranger and The WB’s own Charmed hitting the airwaves. But when it comes to the Babylon 5 reboot in development, with original series creator J. Michael Straczynski on board, the early details should be enough for diehard JMS fans to be on board.

Confirmed by The CW to be in the works, this new version of Babylon 5 will be shepherded by the man who gave it life in its original syndicated form back in 1993. In good news for fans of the original, there are a lot of Babylon 5 references included in the reboot's official announcement. Breaking down the official synopsis, the first portion feels practically ripped from the original introduction to the series:

In a from-the-ground-up reboot of the original series, 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.

To really grapple with just why this reboot is good news, let's talk about the early synopsis for the new show and why it should mean good things for the fanbase.

Bruce Boxleitner laughing in uniform in Babylon 5.

The Babylon 5 Reboot Looks To Be Kicking Off With A Familiar Face

Keeping the focus on Captain John Sheridan, introduced in Season 2 of the original incarnation by the iconic Bruce Boxleitner, is a good start to maintaining the old guard while shepherding in something new. Also, reading old terms like “Earthforce” definitely should prime die hard fans of the original Babylon 5 to expect the original show's DNA to shine through. Though they’d be the first to tell you, there could be some pretty big differences in store for this new dawning of the third age of humankind.

Most notably, it sounds like Babylon 5 is diving straight into the serialized goods with this new synopsis. While the first season, subtitled “Signs and Portents,” did lay down a lot of world-building in a loose, non-connected format, it was really in Season 2 that the overall story started to really cook. Unfortunately, for fans of Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, played by the late Michael O’Hare, his role in this new narrative doesn’t look assured. Which leads to another positive aspect of Babylon 5’s return.

Bruce Boxleitner looks puzzled at Michael O'Hare in Babylon 5.

An Old Babylon 5 Strategy Could Lead To New Stories

As he crafted and masterminded the original run of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski’s sci-fi epic had to deviate from its intended plans from time to time. Commander Sinclair’s replacement by Captain Sheridan was one such instance, though far from the only scenario that would require quick-thinking on Straczynski’s part. Preemptively building what he called “trap-doors” throughout the series, the story could change without having to alter the entire plan. It’s here that the greatest promise for this Babylon 5 reboot lies.

Starting the development of the reboot from a Season 2 standpoint should allow Captain John Sheridan’s story to be front and center from day one. Seeing as he was the commander of the station most fans would be familiar with, it’s also a good move to reinforce the attention of legacy fans. Now, with the possibility of using alternate scenarios that were scrapped due to those trap-doors, a new tale can emerge. (Even if it sounds like an older era of Babylon 5 history might be in the cards for this next adventure.)

A battle during the Earth-Minbari war in Babylon 5.

Babylon 5's Reboot May Be Expanding On A Previous Historical Era

Saving the best for last, J. Michael Straczynski is still very much a strong voice in the second coming of Babylon 5. In this new era, Babylon 5 seems to be aiming for familiar ground, but a new execution. The greatest evidence to back that assumption is one line in the synopsis above, which probably triggered many B5 fans to feel a very familiar fear. When it comes to John Sheridan’s story in the new Babylon 5, the rest of the official synopsis is very important to what may lie ahead. In the hands of J. Michael Straczynski, the following could mean something huge:

His arrival triggers a destiny beyond anything he could have imagined, as an exploratory Earth company accidentally triggers a conflict with a civilization a million years ahead of us, putting Sheridan and the rest of the B5 crew in the line of fire as the last, best hope for the survival of the human race.

While some Babylon 5 fans might be inspired to think that The Shadows are coming to town, this logline actually sounds like it could be signaling the Earth-Minbari War and how it will play out. Relegated in the past to flashbacks (and the TV movie prequel In The Beginning), we might not even see Captain Sheridan when the series starts. Already, even with familiar characters and thematic linchpins present, it doesn’t sound like this revamp will be a mere retelling of past feats for justice. Perhaps in the new Babylon 5 the war between Humans and Minbari will be the first major conflict.

Lee Pace in Foundation and Timothée Chalamet in Dune, pictured side by side

How Dune, LOTR And More Make Babylon 5's Comeback Relevant

Among the influences that J. Michael Straczynski claimed to fuel his creation of Babylon 5 are sci-fi landmarks that have been appearing in the TV and movie sphere in recent years. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, and especially J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga are all felt throughout the fabric of that original series. Seeing as those projects are either releasing or in the works for the years to come, it feels like the right time for Babylon 5 to be reborn.

The competition only serves to help Straczynski evolve his work into something for a new era of fans to enjoy. For a series that even J. Michael Straczynski himself said was dead in the water, these first steps to a reversal of fate are the best thing that could happen for this classic property. Babylon 5 is in development and while it may not make it to series, at the moment, fans have something to very much look forward to, indeed.

Should you want to retrace those roots, HBO Max is the place to be, as they are currently streaming the classic series of Babylon 5. A subscription is the doorway to all the possibilities, whether you’ve seen the epic battle before, or are a newcomer to the fold. So check out the latest promotional offer that’ll help you get on-board this historic station.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.