Thursday, 23 July 2015


From February 1993: The long-running US magazine CINEFANTASTIQUE celebrates BABYLON FIVE's inaugural outing with a cover and extensive feature dedicated to the making of THE GATHERING, the feature-length pilot that (after some extensive retooling) spawned the series.

I first saw the B5 pilot on VHS, courtesy of a rental (but not ex-rental) tape that had somehow worked its way onto the shelves of HMV's (now gone) London flagship store.  I seem to remember it wasn't cheap either (although not astronomical)... you could probably buy several seasons today for the same price I paid for one tape.  Sometimes you have to love the digital age...

I remember being somewhat underwhelmed at the time.  The plot was undeniably interesting and promised great things if the series did go ahead.  But the production standards were a little on the shoddy side (the lighting scheme in the command centre gave the impression that someone had hooked up some disco lights just off camera) and the scripting and performances seemed stilted and loaded with clumsy exposition.  

But it was undeniably compelling and did hint that greater things might come of it.  Thankfully the series (which, despite being very much an authored piece, still managed to be uneven) launched with more confidence (and a tweaked cast) and managed to deliver an epic premise on a minute budget. 

The opener was tarted up, courtesy of a few thousand dollars from the TNT kitty, in 1998.  The edit was revised, accompanied by a new score and new visual effects.  It's this version that was released on DVD, making the original hard to find. 

CINEFANTASTIQUE made highly-detailed season retrospectives their enviable USP throughout the telefantasy boom on the late Star Age. 


  1. I have this one but not the later double issue, would love to see some scans from that.

    1. Howdy. I have the cover of the stellar double-issue (if only the regular B5 mag had been that good) scanned and ready to post but not any of the interior pages.

      BTW: I noticed that the current issue of SFX is trumpeting another new look/ relaunch next issue. Hopefully it will be slightly more noticeable than the last one.

  2. uh oh I don't like the sound of this....a reboot / re-launch is never a good thing in my experience and I've never seen a re-design that improved any magazine. I barely glanced at the new issue so I completely missed this news but I 'll be getting it later today. I did notice some nice tributes to Christopher Lee.

  3. Browsing through the latest PREVIEWS catalog, I noticed that the entry for ACE has been dropped and there is also a listing for a new mag based on the upcoming HEROES REBORN tv show. Titan published an official mag based on the original HEROES.

  4. SFX are also launching ANOTHER quarterly entitled CRIME SCENE which will cover Sherlock holmes among other shows. The terry pratchett booklet was a really nice freebie but I do wish SFX would polybag these items as they are so easy to lose.

    1. Oh interesting. It sounds a little like ETV, VI's brief sojourn into the world of crime, police and other 'uniform' shows from the Nineties. I will look out for that... although one has to ponder whether the readership is large enough. When is it due?

      I forgot to mention that about a week or so ago I picked-up a one-shot (although a second volume is previewed... but no indication of the contents) bookazine in WHS called something like THE ART OF FILM, dedicated entirely to STAR WARS. It's really nicely put together and packed full of illustrations and artist interviews from across the SW pantheon. It's a tenner but worth it.

      I was also at the Olympia Film and Comic Con a week ago (it was packed to the rafters!) and the publisher of the DOCTOR WHO figurines series was previewing a new DC hardback series in the stylee of the two Marvel series. It's due to have a national launch in August or September (the guy wasn't sure... or maybe it's a publishing secret). The first volume (selling at the traditional lure-em-in discount) was BATMAN: HUSH. That makes for 4 x hardbacks (2 Marvels and Judge Dredd) a month. And there were test runs of DOCTOR WHO (dedicated to the show itself rather than comics) and BUFFY (the Dark Horse stuff) in select areas too.


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