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Can someone tell me what order should the Babylon 5 movies be watched, so as to get the best out of them as a whole while watching the series?

I know that release date isn't the best way to do this as they sometimes have to release movies earlier than they'd like to fit in with channel scheduling etc.

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enter image description here http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/countries/master/eplist.html

That list provides the chronological order of the storyline for the episodes as well as the movies, as indicated by JMS. (Some episodes vary slightly with the release dates and the chronological ordering intended)

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"If you want to watch everything chronologically" is there another suggested way of watching them (besides release date)? or is chronologically the way to go? –  AidanO Jan 30 '12 at 14:50
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I would submit that watching In the Beginning before the series acts as a bit of a spoiler. The way the series was written, they give you bits and pieces of background story slowly. There's something to be said for leaving a bit of mystery while watching the start of the series. Watching In the Beginning after season 4 fills in the backstories without spoiling major plot points. –  NorbyTheGeek Jan 30 '12 at 15:12
    
@NorbyTheGeek I agree watching In the Beginning may be best after season 4 –  NominSim Jan 30 '12 at 15:30
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@NominSim - Have taken the liberty of turning your answer into a diagram, as I have with a few other answers like this. Please revert if need be, or ask me for any changes and I'll ba happy to make them (or you can copy the Google document and play with it yourself). The original document is here. –  neilfein Aug 1 '12 at 22:29
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Great chart! You need to add the novels as well as they wrap up some of the story lines very well (eg. Londo, techno-mages). –  Yo Ho Stir Demon Feb 6 '13 at 13:57
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This is too big for a comment, so I'm posting it as another answer:

If you plan on watching the Crusade spinoff, don't watch it in airdate order. I strongly, strongly suggest chronological order - it resolves most of the inconsistencies TNT created when they started interfering with the series, and the character development makes a hell of a lot more sense:

  • 1x01 - War Zone
  • 1x02 - The Long Road
  • 1x06 - Ruling from the Tomb
  • 1x08 - Appearances and Other Deceits
  • 1x10 - The Memory of War
  • 1x11 - The Needs of Earth
  • 1x09 - Racing the Night
  • 1x12 - Visitors from Down the Street
  • 1x13 - Each Night I Dream of Home
  • 1x04 - The Path of Sorrows
  • 1x05 - Patterns of the Soul
  • 1x03 - The Well of Forever
  • 1x07 - The Rules of the Game

Basically, 5 episodes of Crusade were produced with minimal meddling. Then filming went on hiatus while the budget was increased and better sets/etc were made - and TNT's meddling went crazy.

For example, episodes numbered 1x09 - 1x13 use the original, low-budget uniforms. After the budget was increased, TNT mandated that the high-budget new uniforms be aired first - so they became episodes 1x01 - 1x08. Appearances and Other Deceits had an in-universe designer create the old uniforms as a new design, then one of the unfilmed episodes would have a laundry accident that "returned" them to the new, high-budget uniforms seen in the others. Since that episode was never filmed, we can imagine it happens between Each Night I Dream of Home and The Path of Sorrows, when the chronological ordering switches the uniforms back.

Other much more spoilery advantages to this order include:

* The nanotech shield. In airdate order, it was used before Dr. Chambers invents it. In this order, it makes sense.
* The Apocalypse Box's warning about Galen (in The Memory of War) foreshadows a small distrust between Gideon and Galen that grows throughout the episodes (when in this order), all the way through The Well of Forever. Word of God is that it would have gotten far worse through the remainder of the season.
* Gideon and Lochley's familiarity with each other.

Among others.

(To be perfectly honest, I almost suggest skipping Crusade altogether. Episode 1x14 was planned to be its version of Signs and Portents, launching the true storyline of the series... So what did manage to get filmed largely feels like a teaser to something that will never happen. Very frustrating.)

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Best movie order is as follows:

  1. Watch "The Gathering" pilot movie
  2. Watch all of Seasons 1, 2 and 3.
  3. Watch Season 4 up to Episode 8
  4. Watch B5 Movie "Thirdspace"
  5. Watch Season 4 Episode 9 with Delenn as she goes into the dreaming. This is good background material for the next movie
  6. Watch "In The Beginning" immediately after Season 4 Episode 9 and before Episode 10. This is the best time to watch the movie as you don't get spoilers and it ties in really well with episode 9 in Season 4.
  7. Watch the rest of Season 4
  8. Watch Season 5 right up to the episode BEFORE "Objects In Motion"
  9. Watch "Legend Of the Rangers" A lot of people slag this movie, but for G'Kar alone it is worth watching and infinitely better than Star Trek V.
  10. Watch "A Call To Arms" which sets up the spin off show Crusade.
  11. Watch the 13 episode series Crusade next.
  12. Watch "The Lost Tales" the 2007 I think it was, direct to DVD movie.
  13. Watch the Season 5 episode "Objects in Motion".
  14. Watch the movie "River of Souls" as this takes place in the year 2263 between "Objects in Motion" and "Objects at Rest" in Season 5 and makes the most sense to watch here.
  15. Watch "Objects at Rest" and the grande finale "Sleeping In Light" Watching these 2 episodes back to back has the best emotional impact.

Mo matter what "Sleeping In Light" should be watched absolutely LAST.

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Just a LITTLE correction to the answers above...

In "Thirdspace", Zack is seen fully wearing and sporting an alternative B5 uniform just like Sheridan and the rest. This, however, is not a formally accepted fact until S4 E09 (the beginning scene).

I would thus respectfully suggest that for the sake of consistency that instead of watching "Thirdspace" after S4 E08 to instead watch it after S4 E09.

I know, trivial detail but...

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If we start excluding trivial details, I don't think the site will be long for this world. –  Paul D. Waite Feb 6 '13 at 12:36
    
The Lurker's Guide makes a good argument that Zack wasn't receiving his uniform in that scene, he was getting it refitted after the fistfights in Thirdspace. Otherwise the entire movie would take place between scenes in 4x09. –  Izkata Feb 6 '13 at 13:08
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As Ruben said, Zack doesn't get his alternative B5 uniform till 'S4E9 - Atonement' so Thirdspace should slot in after that.

Also, If you're trying to be as chronologically accurate as possible (Though I do agree that 'In the Beginning' should be saved till late in S4 to avoid spoilers) you should save 'S5E22 - Sleeping in Light' till after all of the films and episodes as it takes place much later chronologically.

EDIT:

I'm actually doing a re-watch of B5 right now and I realised that theoretically Thirdspace has to slot in later than I previously thought.

Most people say between E8 & E9 but as stated above, because of Zack's uniform it can't be before E9. However, after watching through a bit more I realised that Dr Franklin is away from B5 from E9 through E12 and only gets back on station in E13. So though it's later on in the season, assuming Zack's uniform wasn't just a continuity error, Thirdspace should slot in somewhere after E13 - 'Conflicts of Interest' but before the campaign to remove Clarke.

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The Lurker's Guide makes a good argument that Zack wasn't receiving his uniform in that scene, he was getting it refitted after the fistfights in Thirdspace. Otherwise the entire movie would take place between scenes in 4x09. –  Izkata Feb 6 '13 at 13:08
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I'm watching based on the printed list and not the graphic (the graphic is wrong on several key points).

A call To Arms is happening 6 years after the Shadow War, so it would be 2267. It should be one of the last movies watched.

The Legend of the Rangers talks about the Anniversary of the Alliance. There is also another problem in that the ship they're on lost it's crew 20 years prior, and there were Human Rangers on board. This totally messes with the Timeline, and G'kar should be dead by this time. Horrible continuity besides being a very cheesy show. I had remembered it being kind of good until watching it again last night and lost it when watching the weapons officer doing the 30 second scream while shadow boxing in VR. It's bad.

For the sake of continuity it should be considered "alternate universe" since none of the rangers act ranger-like.

My take right now would be watching season 5 until Objects at rest. Watch River of Souls, A Call To Arms, Crusade, Lost Tales, and then the final episode. After all that, then Legend of the Rangers, despite how bad it is.

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Also, this timeline has one BIG flaw. Lost Tales takes place on the Anniversary of the Interstellar Alliance. I haven't watched it in awhile so I don't remember if it was the 5th or 10th anniversary - but either way its much later. So it must be the last movie watched before Season 5 "Sleeping in Light.

Objects at Rest is still within the same "real time" year as the rest of Season 5 so it should be watched before - But Sleeping in Light is 20 years after Sheridan came back from Z'Ha'Dum.

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The Lost Tales were framed as stories being told after Sleeping in Light happened, about events from before it. It could fit in either place, but I think it fits best after Sleeping in Light given how it opens. –  Izkata Jun 2 '13 at 7:02
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You can do no harm to yourself starting with "In The Beginning." Aside from the obviously harmless title, the movie was made to introduce new viewers to the show when it was picked up by TNT at the beginning of the fifth season. TNT showed seasons 1-4 in progression once a day for five days a week, with a new fifth season episode at a different time slot once a week. There are thousands of people who watched the show, enjoyed it, and became hooked by it while watching it in this nonlinear fashion, including yours truly.

Rather than be spoiled by something, you will have an even greater insight into the genius of Babylon 5 storytelling. It's the belief that one viewing order is better than another that may spoil the show!

Also don't forget about the novels, several of which are considered canon, especially The Shadow Within and To Dream in the City of Sorrows, which are seamlessly interwoven with the show. Please feel free to pick them up and put them down as you feel to achieve their maximum effect!

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