The opening credit sequences to Babylon 5 have, for me, always been one of the best parts of the show.  They changed yearly and did a good job of setting the mood for the coming year's worth of episodes.


The Gathering (Series Pilot):

Londo Mollari I was there at the dawn of the third age of mankind. It began in the Earth year 2257 with the founding of the last of the Babylon stations, located deep in neutral space. It was a port of call for refugees, smugglers, businessman, diplomats, and travellers from a hundred worlds. It could be a dangerous place, but we accepted the risk because Babylon 5 was our last, best hope for peace. Under the leadership of its final commander Babylon 5 was a dream given form. A dream of a galaxy without war when species from different worlds could live side by side in mutual respect. A dream that was endangered as never before by the arrival of one man on a mission of destruction. Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. This is its story.

The music in the pilot, including this opening, was done by Steward Copeland, whereas the rest of the series' music was composed by Christopher Franke and performed by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.  As such, the music here has a much different feel and isn't really worth discussing as part of a progression.  As for the monologue...in many ways, the story of B5 is about the rise and fall of Londo Mollari, and so it is very appropriate that he opens the series.


Season 1:

Jeffrey Sinclair It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, ten years after the Earth-Minbari war. The Babylon project was dream given form. Its goal: To prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call; home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanders. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last best hope for peace. This is the story of last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.

Michael O'Hare (who plays Sinclair) has an outstanding speaking voice, and his delivery on the "all alone in the night" line always gives me chills.  The whole sequence, and especially that one line, lends a tremendous feeling of isolation--as if Babylon 5 is truly a frontier outpost at the end of the universe, mostly cut off from the rest of civilization.  The music tells much the same story--hopeful, peaceful, but very subdued and quiet.


Season 2:

John Sheridan The Babylon Project was our last best hope for peace. A self-contained world five miles long, located in neutral territory. A place of commerce and diplomacy for a quarter of a million humans and aliens.  A shining beacon in space, all alone in the night. It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind... the year the Great War came upon us all. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2259. The name of the place is Babylon 5.

The monologue is close in content and delivery to the Season 1 opener, just with Sheridan taking over for Sinclair.  The visual shots used during the monologue are also similar.  The musical score is close to the Season 1 theme, but much stronger--heavier percussions, almost regal in delivery.  It represents the growing influence of Babylon 5 in the global scheme of things as well as possibly signifying the heightened power of both the Earth Alliance and the Centauri Republic.


Season 3:

Susan Ivanova:  The Babylon project was our last best hope for peace.  It failed.  But in the year of the Shadow War, it became something greater--our last best hope for victory. The year is 2260, the place...Babylon 5.

And now, a marked change in the opener for the first time.  The extreme sadness in Ivanova's voice denotes how everything is basically going to hell, with the start of the Shadow War and the growing situation back home with President Clark (which would lead to B5 seceding from the Earth Alliance by midseason, in Severed Dreams).  The theme music has been completely changed, heavy on bass and deep percussions to highlight the growing darkness.


Season 4:

Lennier: It was the year of fire.
Zack Allan: The year of destruction.
G'kar: The year we took back what was ours.
Lyta Alexander: It was the year of rebirth.
Vir Cotto: The year of great sadness.
Marcus Cole: The year of pain.
Delenn: And a year of joy.
Londo Mollari: It was a new age.
Stephen Franklin: It was the end of history.
Susan Ivanova: It was the year everything changed.
Michael Garibaldi: The year is 2261.
John Sheridan: The place...Babylon 5.

This is the first multi-voice opening, which in and of itself signifies the growing cooperation between the different races on the show.  This is the "fourth act" of the show, where most of the action happens.  As such, 2261 is depicted as being "the year where a lot of shit went down."  The music is a partial return to the basic Season 1/2 theme, but HEAVY on drums and fanfare--almost like a military victory march, which is exactly what it represents: the triumph of good over evil.  It reminded me a lot of the Star Wars end theme, when Leia gives the medals to Luke and Han.  Anyway, this is by far my favorite theme out of the five.


Season 5:

Kosh: And so it begins. (Chrysalis)
Minbari assassin: There is a hole in your mind. (The Gathering (pilot))
Jeffrey Sinclair: What do you want? (And the Sky Full of Stars)
G'kar: No one here is exactly what he appears. (Mind War)
Jeffrey Sinclair: Nothing's the same anymore. (Chrysalis)
General Hague: Commander Sinclair is being reassigned. (Points of Departure)
Londo Mollari: Why don't you eliminate the entire Narn homeworld while you're at it? (Revelations)
Elric: I see a great hand reaching out of the stars... (The Geometry of Shadows)
Sebastian: Who are you? (Comes the Inquisitor)
ISN Reporter: President Clark has signed a decree today declaring martial law. (Messages From Earth)
John Sheridan: These orders have forced us to declare independence. (Severed Dreams)
Alfred Bester: Weapons supplies... (Ship of Tears)
John Sheridan: Unless your people get off their encounter-suited butts and do something... (Interludes and Examinations)
Zathras: You're the one who was. (War without End, Part II)
Kosh: If you go to Z'ha'dum you will die. (In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum)
Lorien: Why are you here? (The Hour of the Wolf)
Lorien: Do you have anything worth living for? (What Ever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?)
Delenn: I think of my beautiful city in flames...  (Rumors, Bargains, and Lies)
John Sheridan: Giants in the playground... (The Long Night)
John Sheridan: Now get the hell out of our galaxy! (Into the Fire)
John Sheridan: We are here to place President Clark under arrest. (Endgame)

Not much to say about the dialogue, it's pretty much just a recap of the last four seasons (and a damn good one at that).  The episodes the lines are taken from are in parentheses.  The music is completely different from past seasons, much less intense than the Season 3/4 themes.  It's kind of regal in nature (similar to Season 2's theme), representing the rise of the Interstellar Alliance.  A good opening, but I got sick of it really quickly.


You can download all the themes (as well as a shitload of other B5 sounds) at the Down Below Sound Archive at http://b5.sdvc.uwyo.edu/bab5/

Return to the Babylon 5 Episode Guide.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.