Monday, May 10, 2021

‘Babylon 5 Remastered’ Now Available To Buy Or Stream On HBO Max

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In order to maintain the visual quality and the fidelity between the filmed sequences and the heavy effects sequences, the new version is only available in 4: 3. This is the same format in which the program was broadcast on originally, rather than the big screen DVD releases. But it avoids the image inconsistency issue that plagued these DVD versions when they were launched.

Engadget covered extensively the interesting and tortured journey which Babylon 5 took to reach home video. Rather than repeating ourselves here, we recommend that you read this 2018 report explaining the story in depth. I have also pointed out the visual differences between large screen DVD releases and digital viewing of the show in its original resolution 4: 3.

The package available for purchase starting today includes all five seasons of the show, all recently restored. In addition, the pilot film of the show, The meeting, was added as a bonus, without any remastering. Specifically, this is the re-edited and re-rated 1998 version that aired to promote the show’s switch from PTEN to TNT, rather than the 1993 original. (Naturally, the quality will probably be fine. lower since the film materials for this episode were destroyed by the Northridge earthquake in 1994).

A note of caution, for anyone who can expect Babylon 5 remaster to be as complete as some we have seen in recent years. Although the majority of the show is shot on film, it remains stuck in its low budget, low resolution effects sequences. The one episode I was able to preview (unfortunately not at full resolution) might look good on my 4K TV, but it’s not drastically different from what’s currently available.

Warner Bros. says the remastering process took about six years and was a “labor of love” for everyone involved. The studio was reluctant to talk about the listings for a “remastered” version of the show which appeared on Amazon and iTunes late last year. The apparent error warned the fan community that something was in the works. The studio also declined to comment on whether this would lead to a Blu-ray release, although given the show’s release on HBO Max, it seems pretty unlikely.

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