Link to: Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Crusade Season 1 | Official Guide to Babylon 5 CD | The Column

I tried really, really hard to like this CD. Honestly. I thought 'It can't really be as bad as Neil said it was.' But it just didn't work. After the easy installation, problems started. Maybe it's just my CD, but the thing just stopped and started all the time. So, I get into the section where you choose your guide. It's been pretty well presented, I'm fairly optimistic. I choose and guide and go through the doors. Several seconds later after the CD music has abruptly stopped, then restarted, I get to the main menu.

Very nice. It'd almost make you forget the program was written in Macromedia. Even if the designers didn't know what the word content meant, they certainly know what the word presentation means. This is one slick looking program.

I decide to check out the 'Ships' section, which the CD box claims to have 30 ships in. No way. There's nowhere near 30. More likely around 20. There's no Vorlons, no Shadows, no Drakh. Mind you, there is everything else. For some reason, when I tried to play a video of the Minbari cruiser, the program froze and I had to wait for about a minute before the system gave me back control - something to do with the CD itself, not the video. The videos are all of reasonable size, good frame rate and excellent sound. There are also quite a lot of them, and most are around a half a minute in length. There's nothing wrong with the quality or quantity of the videos.

However, there's a lot wrong with the content of the CD. There isn't any. Sure, you get ship statistics, and I'm helpfully told that the White Star's Jump Gate capability is a Jump Engine. Hmm. Ah-Pucs gun section is frankly a waste of space, apart from the videos. I'm still not sure why the designers chose to include this section when each gun has no information at all, only a video. And some of the guns don't even have a video. They're just pictures. I fail to see the point in this.

The Governments section has a fair amount of text for each race, although it's not particularly interesting. If they'd put the entire of the Encyclopaedia Xenobiologica (a B5 site on the Internet whose whereabouts I'm not sure of anymore), which contains everything there is to know on Babylon 5, annotated with pictures, videos and sounds, I'd be happy. That would be a proper guide, along with some episode synopses. But there aren't any. The Babcom unit is, again, a waste of space, just like the pitiful Emergency section, whose only redeeming aspect is the inclusion of a few lines of dialogue from the last episode of Babylon 5.

Places. Lots of pretty pictures, not much information. 'Nuff said.

And you don't spell Zocalo 'Zocolo'.

I didn't even bother listening to what the guides had to say. This CD had the potential to be the ultimate reference guide for Babylon 5, something that could put Star Trek to shame.

I've drawn up a wishlist for a second, vastly improved, Babylon 5 reference CD.

A full blown encyclopaedia for every single being, ship, race, weapon and weird thing that has ever happened, is happening and will happen in Babylon 5.

Detailed episode synopses, and multiple reviews for each episode.

Several images from each episode for annotation.

Hyperlinks from synopses to the encyclopaedia.

And finally, videos from the more notable scenes in Babylon 5.

It's a lot, but it can be done. Here's a crazy idea: maybe all the fans of Babylon 5 on the Internet could manage this. I'm not sure how it'd be done, and the logistics would be incredibly complex. You'd need a board of Babylon 5 junkies to check every single piece of information that was submitted, and make sure that each submission has permission to be published. You'd have to make sure no information was leaked, and, well, the issue of getting authorisation for publishing the CD would be horrendous. It's a noble enough task, it's just that I don't know who'd be up to organising it.

Anyway, I'll stop my dreaming for now. All this talk only serves to show how much this 'Official Guide' is lacking in content. Read the review of the Extended CD, then make your decision about buying this.

Ponderings about Marcus

He's in cryogenic suspension - that doesn't mean he's actually dead. Well, not completely dead, anyway. So, you wonder exactly why JMS doesn't say Marcus is dead and be done with it? There are several possibilities:

a) He's dead, dammit, and the fact he's in cryogenic doesn't alter the fact.

b) He's still alive, but he's got no 'life force.' Just get some convicted criminal to use the healing machine and he'll be back to normal in no time.

c) He's still alive, and soon to be resurrected in Crusade when they find some nifty life force maker artefact on one of the abandoned worlds. It's possible, isn't it?