Following is an actual letter sent to the Netflix Head of Content. Contact information follows the letter.
Dear Ted Sarandos, I am writing to you on behalf of the fan campaign #FreeBabylon5, with the aim of getting the classic science fiction series Babylon 5 added to the Netflix catalogue of TV shows available for streaming. Why now? What’s changed? In a recent episode of Breaking Bad, one of your most popular streaming titles, there was a reference to the series.
The joke, of course, is that Breaking Bad’s leading man, Bryan Cranston, got his first big break as an actor on Babylon 5. This little pop-culture reference has gone on to create a bit of a buzz on the internet amongst science fiction fans. In addition, there are now scores of Breaking Bad fans who are curious to discover what Babylon 5 was all about.
With all this new interest, everyone has been asking the question; ‘where can I watch Babylon 5?’. The answer of course, should be Netflix. What is Babylon 5? Why should Netflix be interested? - Unlike most serialised science fiction shows, Babylon 5 was envisioned as a ‘novel for television’ boasting an impressive tightly woven series long story arc. The series charts the rise and fall of empires, intergalactic wars, and a struggle against a powerful ancient race. It features a strong cast of characters and blends ‘episode of the week’ stories with a larger ongoing plot.
During its tenure, Babylon 5 won two consecutive Hugo awards for ‘best dramatic presentation’ and a handful of Emmys. In addition Babylon 5 was named ‘the 2nd most successful genre series of the 1990s after The X-Files’. - The series is ideal for ‘binge watching’ because of its epic scope, and would sit nicely alongside your other science fiction TV titles. - The show has a passionate and dedicated fan base who would likely subscribe to Netflix because of its presence. J. Michael Straczynski – You’re already developing Netflix exclusive content with him! The creator of Babylon 5, Joe Michael Straczynski is now a high profile Hollywood script writer.
He has written scripts for films like Thor, World War Z and The Changeling. He is set to write and produce the Netflix exclusive series Sense8 alongside the Wachowskis (The Matrix, V for Vendetta). When Sense8 debuts on Netflix in 2014, I feel sure new fans will be eager to see Straczynski’s previous work. It would therefore make sense to have Babylon 5 available in full to stream on Netflix. I urge you to add Babylon 5 to your streaming catalogue and look forward to hearing from you.
Sent to Channel 4 in the UK:
Dear Channel 4 Television,
In a recent episode of Breaking Bad, a TV show currently taking the US by storm, some of the characters had a discussion about an earlier TV show called Babylon 5. The joke, of course, is that Breaking Bad’s leading man, Bryan Cranston, got one of his first big breaks as an actor on Babylon 5, guest-starring in an episode called The Long Night, as Captain Ericsson of the ship White Star 14.
Funnily enough, this simple pop-culture reference has created quite a buzz on the internet. A lot of people who never saw Babylon 5have been reading all about the series online, and have discovered that B5fans have been celebrating the show’s 20thanniversary this year. B5was conceived as a self-contained, five year long epic story, and during its initial run from 1993 to 1998, it was broadcast on Channel 4.
The series received accolade upon accolade, was named as the 2ndmost successful genre series of the 1990s after The X-Files,and whose commencement was said to have been one of only three watershed moments in the history of genre television, alongside the greats; The Twilight Zone and the original Star Trek.
But Babylon 5 was unlike any other show previously produced. Technically a sci-fi series, B5 was more like a political espionage thriller such as The West Wing, and described as ‘Casablanca In Space’. The characters on the show were not concerned with the zap-guns and cute robots usually found in TV sci-fi; instead, they witnessed the rise and fall of mighty empires whilst trying to deal with the day-to-day problems of living in a community of different rival species, all spying on each other, whilst the Advisory Council of space-station Babylon 5 tried to forge a lasting peace. And when war came to the station and our characters turned to Earth for help…, they discovered that Earth was in league with the puppet-masters behind the conflict.
In an unusual twist for TV sci-fi, Earth represented the villains, with the Humans of station Babylon 5 forced to fight against their own Government in order to win freedom & peace for all. The series was so refreshingly different and successful, it led to six feature-length TV films, a spin-off series called Babylon 5 – Crusade, and more recently, a feature-length DVD. Guest-stars included greats like Martin Sheen, Michael York, and Sarah Douglas.
With all this new interest, a lot of people have been asking the online community where they can see Babylon 5, but so far the show has not been made available on any streaming websites. This fact got me thinking…. As Channel 4 was B5’s home in the UK back in the 90’s, I thought I’d ask if there was any chance of you repeating the series please? Or perhaps you could play it on E4? After all, the fantasy series Charmed(which was produced alongside B5) is still popular in repeats and is still broadcast on E4. Surely there’s room on either the E4 or C4 schedule for another great genre series of the 1990s? I hope you can help! And I look forward to your reply.