1 January 2001 | david.richmond
Great potential bungled by Total Nitwit Television (TNT)
The tribulations associated with the production of this show were a drama in and of themselves, and anyone who doesn't know the history should check it out. The first episodes are not representative of the original vision Mr. JMS had for Crusade. The last episodes were actually the first ones filmed and intended to launch the series.
There are actually some sad parallels to the problems Gene Roddenberry had with NBC in trying to get Star Trek made. The NBC execs thought the Star Trek pilot (The Cage) was too brainy. They wanted the regular series plots dumbed down and more action added. As they say, the one thing we learn from history is that no one seems to learn from history.
Given the success of Babylon 5 and the fact that B5 fans were greatly anticipating Crusade, it was a business fiasco for TNT's execs to presume to tamper with something they didn't understand. Unfortunately, tamper they did, and we have been forced to live with the consequences of an unfulfilled vision. Compare Crusade's "Racing the Night", the intended first episode, with "War Zone" to see the result of TNT's meddling. Notice the utterly unnecessary fight scene in "War Zone". Also, notice that the Rangers disappeared entirely from the TNT-influenced episodes.
TNT's final insult was in trying to foist this off as a "special limited series". Since when do you introduce an audience to a story and a bunch of characters, then deliberately fail to finish what you've started? Curiosity prevented me from not watching. Now I'm stuck wondering about what might have been.
I was especially intrigued by the storyline involving Gideon and the mysterious "apocalypse box". JMS never let characters get away with cheating, as Gideon was clearly doing by consulting the force controlling the box. I'd really like to know what fate was in store for Gideon as recompense for taking shortcuts to success. Unfortunately, it looks like I'll have to make up my own ending to this story.
If allowed to develop unobstructed, Crusade could have been a classic series. In spite of TNT's interference, there were still flashes of brilliance in the few episodes that were produced. Instead, it seems that Crusade is doomed to occupy a place in sci-fi history as a memorial to what might have been.