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Prospects are dim for reviving the aborted BABYLON 5 follow-up.
By Frank Garcia
February 21, 2000
Although it has been just five months since CRUSADE completed its first run broadcast on the TNT network, the obstacles mounting against a potential revival of the series have ramped up, says series producer John Copeland.
There is some reason for optimism: the broadcast rights have just reverted to Warner Brothers Television, the studio and owner of the show from the TNT network; that frees Warner Brothers to offer the series to another broadcaster who can take up the show. However, other factors are making the show's revival increasingly bleak.
'I am not familiar with the terms of the license for airing between TNT and Warners,' says John Copeland. 'However, if the license has expired, I would think that Warners will try and place the series on another cable channel in reruns. I do not think that there is much likelihood of CRUSADE returning as a first run series for the following reasons: (1) We have had to liquidate most of the sets, set dressing and props. Once a series is over it is hard to justify holding on and paying for the storage costs. (2) The cast contracts have all expired. It would mean recasting the series. We might get some of the cast back, but probably not all. They have moved on with their lives as well in the intervening time.' Just the effort related to recreating the sets, says Copeland, is a considerable hurdle. 'You can see that there are many challenges to deal with. I just don't think anyone is going to be interested in doing that at this time,' he says.
As faithful fans recall, CRUSADE was a spin-off of the groundbreaking and award-winning BABYLON 5, which ran for five seasons. CRUSADE starred Gary Cole as Captain Matthew Gideon, commanding the starship Excalibur who scoured the galaxy in search of a cure for a fatal Drakh plague that imperiled Earth's inhabitants. With a five-year deadline in front of them, Gideon traveled aboard a powerful prototype starship and assembled a disparate crew that included Galen, a Technomage (Peter Woodward); Dureena Nafeel, a thief (Carrie Dobro); Max Eilerson, an archaeologist and linguist (David Allen Brooks); Dr. Sarah Chambers, ship's doctor (Marjean Holden); and Lt. Matheson, second in command and a telepath (Daniel Dae Kim). The TNT Network had ordered and produced 13 episodes but, as a result of creative differences with the series' producers, canceled the show even before it had a chance to air for viewer consumption. Between June and September 1999 the series aired on the TNT Network and was well received with an overall season average of 1.3 rating.
In a desperate attempt to keep the series alive, Warner Brothers pitched the series to several outlets including the Sci-Fi Channel, but TNT stipulated that anyone who bought the series would also have to pay for production costs in addition to any licensing fees from Warner Brothers. This made the series more expensive than usual for buyers. Sci-Fi Channel examined their budgets, but ultimately, prior commitments to other projects precluded this scenario.
Now that CRUSADE's broadcasting rights have reverted back to Warner Brothers Television, the TNT-stipulated production fees are no longer 'attached' making the series available for purchase at a more reasonable cost. In related news, TNT's broadcast rights for BABYLON 5 expire in February, 2001. Any new broadcaster who is interested in CRUSADE will likely want to obtain B5 as well. Also, CRUSADE videos are now being released in the United Kingdom.
Myriads of CRUSADE fan websites have popped in the hopes of spreading the word about the series and serving as a central clearinghouse for information. One of them, Crusade for CRUSADE (www.astro.umd.edu/~fleming), reports series creator and executive producer J. Michael Straczynksi as saying that he would return to the series if a new home was found for the show. Asked if he had any message to fans at this time, Copeland replied, 'Fans should embrace the show for what it was and what we were able to do and keep fond thoughts for the future. Thanks for your ongoing support.'
Will CRUSADE remain dead? Will we never learn the final fate of Captain Gideon and the crew of the Excalibur and their quest to save Earth? Fans should remember that, historically speaking, it is not without precedent for a favorite SF-TV series to return to life after cancellation or an extended break. If Hollywood can revive genre favorites as STAR TREK, ALIEN NATION, DARK SHADOWS, I DREAM OF JEANNIE, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, THE INVADERS, KNIGHT RIDER, KUNG FU, LOST IN SPACE, MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, THE OUTER LIMITS, SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (and the BIONIC WOMAN), THE TWILIGHT ZONE, and WILD, WILD WEST, as either television or feature projects, they may find a way to bring back CRUSADE.