Babylon 5

Episode 5

The Lost Tales : Voices in the Dark

Aired Monday 7:00 PM Jul 31, 2007 on
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Lost Tales : Voices in the Dark

Babylon 5: The Lost Tales begins with "Voices in the Dark." This is the first in a set of direct to DVD installments to the Babylon 5 franchise. In "Voices in the Dark," two parallel stories occur in a seventy-two hour period. First, Interstellar Alliance President, John Sheridan, proceeds to Babylon 5 from the headquarters on Minbar for a celebration marking the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Interstellar Alliance. In the second, B5's Colonel Lochley summons a priest from Earth space to handle strange goings on Babylon 5.


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  • At 72 minutes, it's longer than the average Babylon 5 episode (44 minutes), but contained less. Felt thin, very thin.

    Not the B5 Episode or Movie You're Used to Seeing.

    Most reviewers seem to be expressing extreme disappointment with Babylon 5: The Lost Tales - Voices in the Dark. These reviewers *expected* Babylon 5 as if the show had never shut down in 1998. They expected something of that level, and that is the problem, *expectations*. Well folks, a lot of the stuff needed to make something like that (the sets, CGI, wardrobe and props, etc.) *no longer exists* at Warner Brothers. It is *gone* (destroyed, lost or sold off, respectively). Combine that with JMS wanting only to do some small short stories in an anthology format, *not* long arcs right now, *and* Warner Brothers *obsessive, compulsive timidity* (always in "test-the-waters" mode) when it comes to allocating money to *any* new Babylon 5 project, especially a new material Direct-to-DVD venture, and this is what you get.

    Given all of the above, I do not think JMS and Co. did a bad job. Not great, but not bad either. However, what B5 needs is a huge shot in the arm, something to revitalize that universe, and this low budget DVD of two 36 minute B-stories, with Warner Brothers still not deciding whether there will be more, isn't it.

    ps. Almost forgot. When Galen said "....a thousand vast war machines are warping into normal space, each of them armed with terrible engines of destruction, capable of devastation never seen before, until right now." (BTW, it should have been "jumping out of hyperspace" not "warping".), evidently both he and JMS forgot about the Shadow and especially Vorlon Planetkillers. (sigh)moreless
  • Good to see B5 again.

    It is good to have something from the B5 universe that doesn't stink (eg: Rangers spin-off). However, it did left much to be desired.

    I don't know. Maybe trying to replay a character part you played so long ago is not easy for actors. I found most of the recurring performances unconvincing. Galen was well played, but for the rest, it definitively could use some brush-up.

    My main complain was the time lost explaining while the other characters weren't there. If that was really necessary, make a sequence at the end of the dvd, telling us where the were. But don't stop the storytelling to do that.

    About that I missed the most, it was a sense of purpose. The whole B5 original arch was a single story with many branches. Some events were hinted at the epilogues, like the telepath war, the Drak war (Crusader?), and one that devastated earth "500 years ago". The rest was smalltalk, and unfortunately, that is what we are getting.

    Don't get me wrong. I've bough the DVD, and will by the next one (if it ever sees the light of the day), but mostly because I still hope for some good stuff that is not smalltalk. Maybe we will get it.

    For those who are reading this and feeling depressed, there is some good stuff on this DVD. The effects were well made. The StarFury sequence on the second episode was very nicely done. There are some minor inconsistencies (humans getting Vorlon technology they left behind?!?!), but they don't spoil the fun.

    If you are a B5 fan, you should get this DVD. If you are not, better go look for something else to watch.moreless
  • two very different storylines one quite spooky ,complex and deep the other is derivative and woefully predictable

    okay it probably unfair to lump these two together in a single review but here goes

    lockley (now a colonel but still in a blue uniform?)

    asks a catholic priest to journey to B5 to help out with a little possesion problem.

    i love some of the ideas in this ep.

    The theological debate ,the idea that the priest can stop the decay of faith by allowing him to remain possessed or do his duty and countinue to watch his relgion wane.

    the final revalation about the demons true intentions were inspired.

    one or two bugs

    they seem to expect that the age of space and science has lead to a decay of faith.

    not sure i accept that ,im think there are a multitude of reasons for this.

    the idea that heaven is space ??

    dont buy it for a second

    lockley contacting others in earth force in case the demons try the same trick again .That would be an interesting conversation

    okay the second instalment

    galen appears to sheridan and shows him a devasting attack on a planet(er is this a call to arms or babylon 5?)

    he tells he can prevent it by killing the 3rd in line to the centuri throne.A young man with a fasination with alien technology.

    as the time of the assasination draws near sheridan wimps out(shock horror)and instead invites the future devastor of worlds to live with him in tuzenor in the hopes of changing his destiny.

    galen appears hints that it was his plan all along and goes again .the end

    Nice to see sheridan again

    and thats all the positive things i can think of quantum space??

    made from vorlon technlogy??

    then how come they only used hyperspace in the show

    if they had this technology in this era

    why didnt they use it in the "sleeping in light" ep set 15 years later

    the virtual set of new york looked really fake

    though the clips of the battle were quite good

    all in all totally pointless and unoriginal

    if i could give this a seperate mark id give it a generous 3 out of tenmoreless
  • Another enjoyable instalment from the pen of J Michael Straczynski. Buy it and we may be lucky enough to get some more.

    The first thing: don't believe the box when it says 'an original movie'. This is not a movie but rather two separate episodes of around half an hour each.

    I was really excited about 'The lost tales' and couldn't wait to go out and buy it. But then I heard from friends who watched it before me that it wasn't so hot, so I went in with lowered expectations accordingly.

    But in fact I found it really enjoyable. Admittedly the firstmost scene is a bit shaky, the low camera angle and darkened room really gives the production a 'low budget' feeling from the get-go. But in fact this is the nadir over with right at the beginning: almost every subsequent scene is better. Admittedly all the live action scenes are very obviously stagebound (and the casting is a bit thin with only about two people other than the stars appearing, even virtually no extras), but countering that the SFX are excellent; better than the original series, as technology has improved over the past decade. And anyway the real reason to watch this is not the filming of course, but the writing and the characters. About five minutes in and already we were back in the familiar JMS rhythm - thoughtful stories, moral dilemmas and characters making progress on their individual life journey, all with liberal sprinklings of humor. Speaking of characters, this dvd (hopefully the first of many) brings back two B5 characters, Sheridan and Lochley, and one from Crusade (Galen) and they pick up right where they left off. It also introduces two new intriguing characters - an Earth priest in the first segment, and a Centauri prince in the second. The interplay between the priest and Colonel Lochley was particularly fine and reminded me strongly of Lochley's characterisation from such S5 episodes as Day of the Dead and Tragedy of Telepaths.

    Overall I give this release 8/10 and would encourage everyone to go buy it so that we can have some more.

    The extra features: I enjoyed the interviews - nice to see Bruce and Tracy and they clearly had a great time during filming. The JMS diaries are OK, although the sock puppet joke gets old quickly. But it's worth sticking to it for the SFX segment.moreless
  • A bold new beginning for the Babylon 5 saga. With one eye on the past and the other firmly on the future.

    It is hard to believe that Babylon 5 aired its final episode almost 10 years ago. 5 years I could accept, but 10 is a very long stretch. However that drought is now over. With the failure of Crusade and the debacle of The Legend of the Rangers, it seemed as though Babylon 5 had breathed its last. Even the possibility of the movie The Memory of Shadows ultimately failed to materialise. So when it was announced that Babylon 5 was to return as a series of DVD movies I was fairly sceptical. And yet here we are, with a bon-a-fide B5 adventure, all brand new and shiny. With friends old and new brought together, it's an exciting experience. Perhaps not on par with the return of Star Trek or Star Wars with their respective film franchises, but the welcoming of old friends and familiar characters is almost worth the price of the DVD itself. Almost, because the real meat has to come from the story.

    The DVD's are subtitled The Lost Tales. Why they are exactly considered lost in the first place is irregardless, what matters is whether or not they continue and expand the B5 story in the same manner that the series excellently managed. And the answer is a simply kind of.

    In many ways The Lost Tales is an improvement and enhancement of the series that spawned it. But it still suffers from the gravities and mystery that the series was so wonderful at conveying. The pared down cast which consists mainly of Sheridan, Lochley and Galen is an interesting trio, but perhaps a bit light when considering such popular fan characters as Londo and Garibaldi. Of course, the loss of Richard Biggs as Dr. Franklin and Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar has severely diminished the character pool. And it is the absence of some of these character more than anything else that casts a shadow over the story. In the past, Babylon 5 was seen as a truly ensemble piece, with dozens of characters moving in and out of the main story. Not to mention the masses of background characters which gave the station a real sense of galactic importance.

    Throughout The Lost Tales we are constantly reminded of events in the past as well as events occurring in other parts of the universe. We learn Garibaldi has some problems on Mars, Delenn is on Minbar with her and Sheridan's son, and Londo and Vir are on Centauri. In a way these throwaway comments serve to only heighten the anticipation of further 'Lost Tales' in the future. And the appearance of Galen only adds to the desire for some sort of conclusion to Crusade.

    However, onto the real crux of The Lost Tales, which is the story. The DVD is essentially two stories combined. The first is a rather awkward one about demonic possession and religion, with Lochley enlisting the assistance of a priest to deal with a possibly supernatural event. It is an interesting idea that ultimately fails under its own lack of ambition. Unlike many, I was interested in the idea that Lochley, and Babylon 5 as a station could see so many wondrous and strange events over the years that were alien or scientific in nature, that when something spiritual came along that it troubled them. Indeed, the story begins very promising. With Alan Scarfe playing a wonderful priest, and Tracy Scoggins doing a great turn as a deeply conflicted Lochley. But it all falls to pieces with clunky dialogue and a resolution that even Star Trek would find disappointing.

    Early on we have Lochley and the priest discussing religion in the future and the impact that space travel and alien contact has had on them. It's a weighty discussion, but ultimately falls flat. The discussion between them almost reads like a teenagers school report in which they try to be all deep and spiritual, but instead come across as narrow and shallow. I expected a lot more coming from JMS, who has written some fantastic religious characters in the past on Babylon 5, and dealt very well with the nature of religion in the future. In the Lost Tales we have a fantastic concept badly executed.

    Lochley herself appears almost ghostlike. We can certainly believe that she has be on the station for all this time. She looks tired and ragged, almost a shadow of her fiery determined self. Whether this is actually intentional or merely my perception of the character in the story I simply can't say. But either way it is unwelcome. I had my doubts about Lochley when Season 5 began, but she soon won me over and I warmed for her. Her work on Crusade even was a bonus, elevating that uneven series to some easily watch able.

    Ultimately, Lochley's section seems weak, not simply because it doesn't boast the spectacular special effects of the second part, but because it fails to create any real tension or drama. We never feel that anything is really at stake, for the station or for the people stuck in the middle of things. What is really frustrating is the lack of pace, it starts off reasonably well, with some sense of drama. Only to screech to halt as we are forced to suffer endless scenes of plodding banter. Hopefully we will get to return to Lochley again, and perhaps even see her with something to get her teeth in. In the first section alone, I was worried about the merit of even doing a DVD project such as The Lost Tales with it looking almost as if the Babylon 5 well had run dry. Thankfully I stuck around for the second section and my faith was all at once restored.

    John Sheridan is an incredibly strong, heroic and charismatic character. Galen is a frustratingly enigmatic and mysterious technomage. Aside from their brief union together in the TV Movie A Call To Arms, both Sheridan and Galen have forged separate paths. And it seems such a shame. Out of the ashes of Crusade it was almost inevitable that Galen would rise unscathed. Even during the dark days of critical torrents and fan backlash, you could always turn to Galen as a shining beacon of what Crusade could do well.

    The Technomages were a stunningly interesting device little used on Babylon 5 itself. It was as if the series was just as paranoid and secretive as the Technomages themselves. So getting an opportunity to see once such as Galen again was more than worth the price of the DVD for me. Frankly, Peter Woodward nailed the character from the moment he appeared onscreen back in A Call To Arms. So I was a little worried that he might be a bit rusty after all these years. Especially with the baggage from Crusades messy end. But he segues easily into the main B5 universe, and almost looks comfortable pestering the mind of Sheridan.

    And really, the second section stands head and shoulders above the first not simply on the scale and scope it presents, but on the calibre of its characters and actors. Sheridan looks like he has a the weight of the Galaxy on his shoulders. When he is forced to give an interview with a ISN reporter, he is both frustrated at having to do so, and also candidly honest. It continues the duality of Sheridan's struggle between his military background with his statesman role. He's uncomfortable in almost any situation save sitting in the cockpit of a Starfury.

    When Galen does show up and demonstrates to Sheridan the stakes of future failure with the stunning destruction of New York, you know immediately that Babylon 5 is back. Planetary destruction and great wars, conflict and death, pretty much business as usual for Sheridan. And congratulations must go the special effects people who have taken the iconic imagery of B5 and updated them in a way that looks completely modern and cutting edge, but also respectful of the past. And the destruction of New York is really the key to The Lost Tales, it demonstrates that this is only the beginning. That a new chapter in the saga is beginning.

    Before I completely forget I must mention the simply wonderful Keegan MacIntosh as Prince Vintari. He portrays a distinctly Centauri diplomatic, but also manages to add something new and different to the accent. Both Molari and Vir are easily remembered as Centauri, but so many of the other characters from their planet failed to match them. Keegan MacIntosh manages to be both naive and chilling at the same time. You can see his dark future in his desire for revenge, but also redemption in his youthful exuberance.

    It is the trio of Sheridan, Galen and Vintari that give me hope for the future. Hopefully we will get to see where this story goes, and not reach yet another premature dead end. But on the strength of these two stories, it seems as though Babylon 5 has a future, but also continues to be burdened by the same shortcomings and problems that plagued it as a series. That being its ambition and failure to properly conclude a story.

    The Lost Tales: Voices In The Dark is an inauspicious start. Both stunningly evocative of the brilliant series that spanned it, and boldly ambitious with its future. But still suffering from the same character faults and difficult dialogue. JMS may be a genius with the pen, but even sometimes that is not enough. A good start to what will hopefully be many more Lost Tales and the dawn of a new age of Babylon 5 stories.moreless
Teryl Rothery

Teryl Rothery

ISN Reporter

Guest Star

Alan Scarfe

Alan Scarfe

Father Kelly

Guest Star

Keegan MacIntosh

Keegan MacIntosh

Prince Regent Dius Vintari

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Had Colonel Lochley changed branches on Earth Alliance military? During the final year of Babylon 5 and through all season of Crusade, she was Captain (O6, navy); now she is Colonel (O6, also, but Marine/Army). However, she does not use greens, as General Franklin (B5-2x10, "GROPOS") and his staff or brown like Colonel Ari Ben Zayn (1x15, "Eyes"), but blues like always - and like Major (O4) Ed Ryan (B5-3x10, "Severed Dreams") - who, by the way, was CO of the "Alexander". So, what happened? Perhaps has Earth Alliance decided to unify its military rank designations?

    • Father Kelly in his conversation with Lochley mentions "seraphim." A "seraph" or its plural "seraphim" is one of a class of celestial beings mentioned in Old Testament. They may have human form, can be referred to as "angels," and are mentioned in the book of Isaiah as winged guardians of God's throne.

      Isaiah (6:1–3):

      "... I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and His train filled the Hekhal. Above Him stood the Seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew."

    • Babylon 5: The Lost Tales introduces a new kind of Minbari cruiser.

    • Bruce Boxleitner brought all of his personalized crew coats, not donated to auction, up to the Vancouver studios to dispel rumors by a "sub-section of British fans" that he burned them. JMS referred to the rumor mongers as "bunch of whackos" and had a picture taken to " ... at minimum ... put THAT baldfaced lie to bed."

    • There was a question early in production as to whether the coat for Prince Dius Vintari of the Centauri Republic should be blue or gold. JMS wrote, "Ultimately we went with gold, despite the input of some who charged into the room shouting 'I'm thinking pastels!' for no discernible reason."

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Vintari: Anyway, Emperor Mollari thought I'd be safer with you. He said: 'I would trust Sheridan with my life!"
      Sheridan: Well, that's...
      Vintari: Then he corrected himself and said he would trust you with my life, because he had plans for next week. Then he left the room laughing!

    • Sheridan: But this can be stopped?
      Galen: No! I came all the way to show you this because nothing can be done, because I like the way your pupils dilate in the presence of total planetary Armageddon... yes, it can be stopped!

    • Father Kelly: I'm afraid there aren't many priests in this section of space, or any sector to tell the uncomfortable truth. We're something of a vanishing breed out here.
      Lochley: I'm sorry.
      Father Kelly: Don't be. A decline in faith and influence of the Church was to be expected once humans penetrated heaven and found there was no angels, no fire eternal, no not even a delinquent seraphim left behind by the general evacuation, just infinite space. For two hundred years mankind has walked among the stars on legs of fire and steel failing to encounter the wonders of the burning bush.
      Lochley: True, but still there are a lot of scientists who believe in God.
      Father Kelly: Oh sure, physicists have tried to soften the blow with quantum mechanic consolation prizes. Noting the mystery is yet to be resolved in tiny sub-atomic particles whose actions hint of the presence of intelligence, but where in those infinitesimal spaces can be found the God who stopped the sun in the sky over Jericho, parted the Red Sea, birthed the universe, and shaped the molecules of dust until their name was man and woman. Once we got into space, the deck was stacked and the clock was ticking, but that doesn't scare me. I think the Church still has a few surprises up our sleeve.
      Lochley: Well, if it's surprises you are looking for, you've come to the right place.

    • Col. Lochley: I hope you don't mind that we are meeting here in my quarters. I felt it best to keep this away from the crew.
      Father Kelly: The clergy specializes in private conversations in small quiet places.

    • Col. Lochley: Oh yes, we are getting ready for the big celebration party for the tenth anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance. President Sheridan, himself, is coming in from Minbar to be here for it. So things are a bit crazier than usual. Which is saying something.

    • Col. Lochley : Personal log, Colonel Elizabeth Lochley, Commanding Officer Babylon 5, in the nine years since I took over day to day operations on B5, I requisitioned some pretty odd things strange foods, alien booze, exotic dancers for a Centauri business meeting, but this ... this is a new enigma even for me.

    • G'Kar's voice: (intro. before title: B5 station explodes, time on screen counts backwards) I believe that when we leave a place part of it comes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen for a while. You will hear the echo of all our conversations, every thought and word we exchanged. Long after we have gone, our voices will linger in these walls.

  • NOTES (13)

    • The Babylon 5 : The Lost Tales offices for JMS and Doug Netter were located directly next door to the Battlestar Galactica offices at the Vancouver Film Studios.

    • Babylon 5: The Lost Tales came in under budget and finished a full day ahead of schedule.

    • New technology simplified production of Babylon 5: The Lost Tales. JMS noted, "For instance, in B5 halls we used to have wooden strips painted green or blue or red to signal various sectors. Here we ran these really lovely light panels that can change colors and at the same time add a light source and warm up the halls."

    • J. M. Straczynski started writing the first of the Lost Tales scripts by August 2006. The stories were formed partly by which actors were available, since original cast members are being used.

    • An initial production schedule was given at Comic Con convention. The first Babylon 5: The Lost Tales DVD was planned to start shooting in September of 2006, with post-production in the fourth quarter of 2006, and release in the second quarter of 2007. However, members of cast and crew were not available necessitating changes. Shooting got rescheduled to October, then to November, and finally began on November 13, 2006. Production was completed on April 15, 2007 an the DVD was presented to the studio.

    • To maintain the look of Babylon 5, Babylon 5: The Lost Tales required the usage of fan created materials for reference." The CGI people at Atmosphere Visual Effects used the fan created 3D models. It has been noted, that the original materials were turned over to Warner Bros to be archived and were subsequently lost.

    • Originally the DVD was to have three stories. By October 2006, it was decided to "postpone one of the three stories to the next DVD, and lengthen the other two to make up the difference. Given that the Garibaldi story was the most complicated visually and technically, also the most difficult from a CGI perspective, that's the one that got pushed until, potentially, next time." (JMS quoted)

    • The DVD extras include a number of behind-the-scenes pieces were shot specifically for inclusion on the DVD. In addition, a number of original short pieces were filmed six months prior to release which feature glimpses into the future of Babylon 5 and her characters.

    • This first DVD in The Lost Tales series required approximately two hundred EFX shots using the latest CGI technology. The same CGI was used to create virtual sets "a la Sin City, but on an even more detailed basis, in many cases integrating them with practical sets based on the original blueprint designs for Babylon 5." (JMS)

    • JMS placed a separate set-piece just before the main title sequence to "tie back visually to our series finale, 'Sleeping in Light,' in kind of a tribute to the end of that volume and the starting of this one."

    • Several prop.s, including an original Starfury, were shipped to the Vancouver studios from holding stages in LA. After refinishing and a new paint job they found new life in Babylon 5: The Lost Tales.

    • The Babylon 5 set was reconstructed "directly from the specs shown in the original B5 blueprints, hand-delivered to the set by JMS."

    • The digital effects for Lost Tales required a green screen on Stage J of the Vancouver Film Studios that covered nearly two thirds of the massive fifteen thousand square foot stage.