Without a shadow of a doubt Babylon 5 is the best slice of science fiction since the original series of Star Trek. Equally as profound and its ramifications are still felt throughout television today. Long before the likes of Lost and Heroes were on the scene flouting their series-spanning story arcs there was B5 which laid down the template for success.
At a time when Star Trek was pretty much the yardstick by which all other science fiction was measured, and more often than not, any science fiction coming out at the same time as TNG or DS9, were crushed by the weight of Star Trek's vast universe and rich history, Babylon 5 was the first to take it on, hold its own, and ultimately beat it. The success of Babylon 5 pretty much spelled the end for modern Star Trek. Whilst Star Trek continued plodding out stories that were by and large wrapped up in a single episode, Babylon 5 was setting about crafting a story that worked both on an episodic basis, but more importantly on a much higher level, with overarching wider stories that spanned the course of the entire five year series. Basically, Babylon 5 treated viewers as adults, and credited them with having the intelligence to follow the show from one week to the next. Hence, we had consequences to actions, we had real character development, we had richly layered stories, and above all we had a story with a definite beginning, middle and end. Think Lord of the Rings on television and in space and you wouldn't be far wrong, in fact the creator, Joe Straczynski has publicly acknowledged the influence of Lord of the Rings as well as other cult genre influences such as Blake's 7.
If you want science fiction for adults, where there's no Star Trek style BIG RESET BUTTON where everything's essentially the same at the end of the episode as it was at the beginning then give Babylon 5 a try, you will not be disappointed.
This first season gets things off to somewhat of a mixed start. An important part of the first season was to establish the characters, the universe etc and to start certain story arcs. As such, there are slower episodes, often self-contained on first glance, but with undercurrents that affect the wider context of the series, which become apparent later on, and there are stories that clearly hint at what is to come.
Highlights of this season include MIND WAR, AND THE SKY FULL OF STARS, SIGNS & PORTENTS, the 2 part A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS, BABYLON SQUARED and the finale CHRYSALIS. These episodes are a very good indication of the quality and level of storytelling that's coming your way in seasons 2 and beyond.
If you've never seen Babylon 5 before, enjoy, you're in for a thrilling ride!