Babylon 5-The Gathering (1993)
|Category||Science Fiction||Listing-Cast & Crew|
|Year Of Production||1993|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Richard Compton|
Warner Home Video
Steven R. Barnett
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In the early 1990s, J. Michael Straczynski conceived of a science fiction series that would break the mould of traditional sci-fi and tell realistic stories on the edge of space that would in turn create its own mythos. The pilot of this series, The Gathering, was however a rather uninspiring piece.
Set a full year before the beginning of the first season, the movie-length pilot revolves around an assassination attempt on the mysterious Ambassador Koch of the Vorlon race. However, it seems that the station captain, Captain Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) is the prime suspect.
While not a fabulous piece of television, it does serve to set the rest of the series up. To that end, it introduces us to the majority of the long term cast, including the reptilian N’arn Ambassador G’Kar (Andreas Katsulas), the Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik), the Minbari Ambassador Delenn (Mira Furlan), chief of security Michael Garibaldi (Jerry Doyle) and commercial telepath Lyta Alexander (Patricia Tallman).
When viewed in context of the greater whole, this is pretty good. As a one off, it does not grab your attention. But every great series has to start somewhere, and it has certainly been this reviewer’s experience that it’s hard to get any new show with its own mythos off the ground. From these meagre beginnings, Babylon 5 did exceptionally well.
Transferred in its original 1.33:1, Full Frame, not 16x9 enhanced aspect ratio, this PAL transfer is much clearer than the original NTSC R4 release, but not noticeably different from the PAL R4 re-release. This is also the only Babylon 5 episode that was not originally filmed in 1.78:1.
The picture quality is the same as the R4 PAL re-release so I will not waste words on detail. The picture quality is good, the colour is well saturated although a touch washed out, there is a bit of grain, particularly in low light scenes, and the special effects overlay scenes are of a noticeably lesser quality.
There is little in the way of transfer artefacts, with only some minor aliasing and moire in the background. Again, this is a significant reduction compared to the original R4 NTSC version. There are no MPEG artefacts.
There are quite a lot of film artefacts, some of them quite noticeable. Several large hairs in the corners of screens crop up from time to time, and there’s usually a dot of dirt on the screen somewhere if you look hard enough.
Subtitles are available in English, and English for the Hearing Impaired. They are white with a black border, clear and easy to read, and follow the dialogue pretty closely.
The disc is single layered.
Unfortunately, the only audio available is the original English 2.0 Dolby Surround track.
Dialogue is well produced, and there was no difficulty in understanding what was being said. There were some minor sync issues that were source faults, but nothing too appalling.
There is a good range here for a mere 2.0 surround track, and the remixed score by Christopher Franke comes up well, although noticeably lacking by comparison to the series.
There is a decent amount of surround information, but most of it is left-to-right.
My set up kicks bass down to the sub which gives this a really growly feel, but when I switch the mix back to normal the sub remains silent.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The main menu is static with the score in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.
A still containing a list of principal cast and crew.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R1 release of this disc in this set is the same, although it has NTSC colour formatting and R1 encoding. There is also available a dual-sided disc containing both The Gathering and In The Beginning. The R4 release probably has slightly better picture quality.
The Gathering is a rather uninspiring beginning to a first rate magnum opus of a series. Well worth watching, though, as it is a great introduction to the mythos.
The video is good considering the limits of the source.
The sound is only available in 2.0 Dolby Surround. Maybe one day we will get a 5.1 Dolby Digital remix.
There are sadly no real extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-676A, SACD & DVD-A, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko 28" (16x9). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||Digital Accoustics Emerald 703G - Centre, Front Left & Right, Rear Left & Right Satellites, Subwoofer|