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SDCC ’21: The BABYLON 5 panel covers what was, what is, and the reboot that (hopefully) will be

The One That Will Be, i.e. the BABYLON 5 reboot, is still a huge question mark.

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There was a cute way the Babylon 5 panel was set up: panelists Jan Schroeder and Troy Rutter, both big fans of the show who have worked with tie-ins, divided it into “The One That Was,” “The One That Is,” and “The One That Will Be.” If you know anything about the show, you know that’s a cool way to kick things off. Unfortunately, though, the panel was mostly things we already knew, unless you’re not on J. Michael Straczynski’s Twitter. I’m not, but since I know a little bit about the television development process, I essentially know what’s up with the pending Babylon 5 reboot on the CW, which, as I said when it was announced: why would you go to the CW?

“The One That Was” segment was mostly dedicated to the history of the show, which, if you were at this panel, you probably already knew B5’s history and timeline. You might even know exactly how many episodes and movies there are. “The One That Is” brought up Schroeder’s leading of a fan campaign to bring Babylon 5 onto streaming, which did happen when it was brought onto Amazon Prime. She did bring up something interesting, which is that Warner Bros. started replacing the old versions of episodes with the remastered editions, one by one, until they eventually launched the entire remastered version on HBO Max.

“The One That Will Be” discussed the new reboot, or re-envisioning, as some are putting it. Straczynski has finished at least two drafts of the pilot, gotten what Schroeder said were “very sensible notes” from the network executives, but whether they get the go-ahead to actually shoot the pilot is still something to be decided. Even if the pilot is shot, the show as a whole still has to get greenlit, sometime next May or June. Personally, this is one of the downsides of this new Babylon 5 reboot being on the CW, which is a network: it’s an entirely different development process than one of the streaming services, where the whole thing could get greenlit all at once.

The Babylon 5 reboot going through the traditional pilot greenlighting worries me; does it even have a place on the CW? How different is it going to be? Apparently Straczynski compared it to the reboots of Westworld and Battlestar Galactica, and those two are wildly different from the original stories they came from. That isn’t a good or bad thing, but there was definitely a feeling in the panel room of wariness towards the whole thing.

We’ll see. That we know little still is not surprising, and I wouldn’t expect it to get any better until February or even March. Maybe even beyond that. We’ll have to wait for The One That Will Be.

Miss any of The Beat’s earlier SDCC ‘21 Special Edition coverage? Find it all here!

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