‘Babylon 5 Remastered’ now available to buy, or stream on HBO Max
Tue, January 26, 2021, 3:01 AM
Nearly thirty years after its first broadcast and close to twenty since
its troubled DVD release, Babylon 5 is finally getting a polish. From
today, Warner Bros. is launching Babylon 5 Remastered both as a digital
download (from iTunes and Amazon where available globally) and on HBO
Max. It might not be the perfect version of the show that its creators
had intended, but it’s likely the best we’re gonna get.
A Warner Bros. spokesperson told Engadget that Babylon 5 Remastered has
been scanned from the original camera negative. The film sequences were
scanned in 4K and then “finished,” or downscaled, back to HD, with a
dirt and scratch clean-up, as well as color correction. The show’s CGI
and composite sequences, meanwhile, have been digitally upscaled to HD
with only some minor tweaks where absolutely necessary.
In order to maintain visual quality and fidelity between the show’s
filmed and effects-heavy sequences, the new version is only available in
4:3. That’s the same format that the show was originally broadcast in,
rather than the widescreen DVD releases. But it does avoid the issue of
image inconsistency that have plagued those DVD releases when they
Engadget has extensively covered the interesting, and tortured, journey
that Babylon 5 took to reach home video. Rather than repeat ourselves
here, we’d recommend you read this report from 2018 explaining the story
I’ve also reported on the visual differences between the widescreen DVD
releases and watching the show digitally in its original 4:3 resolution.
The package that’s available to buy from today includes all five seasons
of the show, all newly restored. In addition, the show’s pilot movie,
The Gathering, has been thrown in as a bonus extra, without any
remastering. Specifically, this is the 1998 re-edited and re-scored
version that aired to promote the show’s move from PTEN to TNT, rather
than the 1993 original. (Naturally, the quality is likely to be far
lower since the film materials for that episode were destroyed by the
Northridge Earthquake in 1994).
A note of caution, for anyone who may be expecting Babylon 5’s remaster
to be as extensive as some we have seen in recent years. Despite the
majority of the show being shot on film, it remains hamstrung by its low
budget and low-res effects sequences. The one episode I was able to
preview (sadly not at full resolution) may have looked fine on my 4K TV,
but it's by no means radically different from what is currently
Warner Bros. says that the remastering process has taken around six
years to complete and was a “labor of love” for all involved. The studio
was reluctant to talk about the listings for a “Remastered” version of
the show that popped up on Amazon and iTunes late last year. The
apparent error tipped off the fan community that something was in the
works. The studio also declined to comment about if this would lead to a
Blu-ray release, although given the show’s release on HBO Max, that
seems pretty unlikely.
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