Babylon 5 creator Joe Michael Straczynski – who has a new series titled Sense8 set up at OTT service Netflix – has let it be known that he wants his 1990s sci-fi series to return to television in the United States.
The popular series aired between 1993 and 1998 (initially in first run syndication on PTEN and then on cable network TNT) and while Babylon 5 has aired in reruns in many countries around the world since completing its initial run, it has not been seen on US television in the better part of a decade. Despite that, the series is ever present in pop culture; having been mentioned (frequently) on the CBS comedy series The Big Bang Theory and just this past week on AMC’s Breaking Bad. Given that, Straczynski is urging fans to get involved, as part of a campaign dubbed Free Babylon 5 with the above image now circulating online, and contact Warner Bros. and various networks – specifically mentioning Syfy and Chiller – in the hopes of getting the series back on air in order to get more exposure and new fans. Or as JMS succinctly states: “y’all need to get organized and loud.”
Why all this push to get B5 back on US screens? Well in Straczynski’s own words: “Ain’t never gonna be sufficient heat for any new B5 as long as the original sits on a shelf gathering dust instead of viewers.” Which is not an unreasonable assumption. The strong DVD sales of the series, which is estimated to have netted Warner Bros. hundreds of millions of dollars, previously led to more interest in the series, ultimately resulting in the direct-to-DVD project Babylon 5: The Lost Tales. Could the series returning to TV screens have a similar effect?
Straczynski adds: “To the online backinh and forthing…some hard facts. Because Babylon 5 isn’t on the air in the US anywhere, it’s impossible for the show to add new viewers except one at a time, friend to friend, or if you’ve heard about it enough to want to shell out the money for the DVDs. Casual viewers can’t stumble across it while channel surfing. (As we all know, after Trek was canceled for poor ratings, it found its audience in syndication.) So in answer to the photo below, either WB has to be convinced to release the show somewhere, or a network like Syfy or Chiller or another along those lines has to be prompted to pick it up. If not, quite honestly, and without any way to add new viewers, the show will eventually slide into obscurity. This ain’t something I can do, or even directly participate in. It’s up to the fans now.”