Neil Gaiman Supports/Defends JMS's Babylon 5 Reboot Series Efforts

Yesterday, J. Michael Straczynski took to Twitter to rally the Babylon 5 fandom for an important cause. It looks like the end of the month could be decision time for JMS's "from-the-ground-up" reboot pilot for The CW. And while the decision may appear to rest solely on the shoulders of incoming new CW owners Nexstar Media Group, Warner Bros. Television is also a major player in the decision-making so both companies were seeing a whole lot of "#B5onCWin23" hashtagging going on. One of those folks throwing their support behind JMS's effort is none other than Neil Gaiman (clearly taking a break from keeping The Sandman fans' nerved calm as they await word on a second season and doing rewrites on the scripts for Amazon's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season 2). Along with being a fan, Gaiman also penned S05E08 "Day of the Dead" (directed by Doug Lefler and guest-starring magicians Penn and Teller (as Rebo and Zooty), so his opinion carries serious B5 weight. But much like he had to deal with it for The Sandman, Gaiman also found himself having to defend JMS's efforts from diehard fans of the original series who aren't supporting a new series in a new universe.

babylon 5
Image: Netflix/Warner Bros. TV

Here's a look at Gaiman offering his support for JMS's efforts to get a new take on Babylon 5 onto our screens:

And that's when a fan of the original series called into question JMS's decision to attempt a new series, implying that a new series would somehow hurt the series that they've grown to love. "Not everything needs to be remade, rebooted, revamped, or reimagined," the person wrote, making the argument that being remembered for what you were in your original form should be good enough. Up front, Gaiman stated that he understood that perspective, but JMS's situation is different because he's the one who created the show's universe. Basically, it's a work of art being further developed by the artist and (as Gaiman effectively points out) "not being reimagined by a committee":

Meanwhile, as we were writing this, JMS offered an update via Twitter, offering his thanks to everyone who showed their support for the series: "The message has been received":

JMS first revealed that the pilot had not been picked up but that Pedowitz spoke with him to confirm that the pilot was still in active development back in February of this year. JMS began his update by referencing the biggest news surrounding The CW over the past few weeks and how it would play a factor in "how  many pilots, and what sort, could be picked up during this transition." That transition? The rumored sale of the network by Warner Bros Discovery and Paramount Global (previously ViacomCBS) to Nexstar. As JMS wrote, "pre-existing deals" and prior "commitments" would then play heavily into the decision-making.

After realizing that the Babylon 5 pilot had not been picked up, JMS shared the outreach that Pedowitz did to explain the pilot's status. "I received a call from Mark Pedowitz, President of The CW. (I should mention that Mark is a great guy and a long-time fan of B5. He worked for Warners when the show was first airing and always made sure we got him copies of the episodes before they aired because he didn't want to wait to see what happened next.)," JMS revealed. "Calling the pilot 'a damned fine script,' he [Pedowitz] said he was taking the highly unusual step of rolling the project and the pilot script into next year, keeping B5 in active development while the dust settles on the sale of the CW."

Straczynski's series proposal focuses on John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner in the original series), an Earthforce officer with a mysterious background who is assigned to Babylon 5, a five-mile-long space station in neutral space, a port of call for travelers, smugglers, corporate explorers, and alien diplomats at a time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war. His arrival triggers a destiny beyond anything he could have imagined, as an exploratory Earth company accidentally triggers a conflict with a civilization a million years ahead of us, putting Sheridan and the rest of the B5 crew in the line of fire as the last, best hope for the survival of the human race.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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