The Legend Of The Rangers: To Live And Die In Starlight

Babylon 5In 2265, the Interstellar Alliance discovers a previously unknown race moving near the fringes of its territory. There is no sign of who they are, what they want, or why they are there, save their destruction of a long range vessel flown by the Rangers. The Minbari elders who govern the Rangers enlist the aid of Citizen G’Kar in the investigation. The Narn ambassador gladly volunteers his help…his travels through the galaxy suggest that once again, powerful forces of darkness are on the move.

While on Minbar, G’Kar intercedes in the case of David Martel, a human Ranger who had been in line to command a ship until he violated the Rangers’ central code. With his captain injured and his ship outnumbered and unable to fight, he retreated to save the life of his crew, despite the Ranger vow never to break off in combat. G’Kar’s intercession saves Martel from expulsion, but rather than a top of the line ship, he is given command of the Liandra, a twenty-year-old relic in less then spaceworthy condition, whose previous crew met with disaster. The crew is mostly a collection of Martel’s friends and Rangers who have thus far been outsiders – Minbari second-in-command Dulann, weapons specialist Sarah Cantrell, healer Firell, communications/translation specialist Kitaro Sasaki, intelligence operative Malcolm Bridges, political/first contact expert Tafeek, Narn engineer Na’Feel, and Drazi Tirk. The latter two are the first representatives of their races to serve as crew on a Ranger vessel.

The Liandra’s first assignment seems routine enough – escort a warship carrying Alliance delegates to a security conference on a colony world. It is not long before the routine is broken, as the unknown race makes contact in a decidedly hostile way, perhaps confirming G’Kar’s fears. The warship is destroyed, the delegates barely saved, the Liandra heavily damaged, and its first officer gravely wounded. Martel and his crew’s only hope of returning home is to unravel the mystery of the previous crew’s and somehow defeat their mysterious pursuers…and this time, he can neither retreat nor surrender.

Order the DVDsDownload this episodewritten by J. Michael Straczynski
directed by Mike Vejar
music by Christopher Franke

Cast: Dylan Neal (Captain David Martel), Andreas Katsulas (G’Kar), Alex Zahara (Dulann), Myriam Sirois (Sarah Cantrell), Dean Marshall (Malcolm Bridges), Warren T. Takeuchi (Kitaro Sasaki), Jennie Rebecca Hogan (Na’Feel), Mackenzie Gray (Minister Kafta), David Storch (Tafeek), Enid-Raye Adams (Firell), Gus Lynch (Tirk), Todd Sandomirsky (Tannier), Andrew A. Kavadas (Captain Bart Gregg), Simon Egan (Minbari crewman), Bernard Cuffling (Sindell), Chris Robson (Ranger), Rob Morton (Drazi diplomat), Eric Schneider (Cloaked figure), Mark Antontuk (Wounded Minbari)

LogBook entry by Dave Thomer

Notes: In late 2001, Babylon 5 moved from the early morning time slots to which it had been exiled by TNT to the 7 PM weeknight slot on the Sci Fi Channel. The reruns, now shown in widescreen, quickly became one of the network’s top-rated shows, even outdrawing some of its original programming. (Granted, in the case of stuff like Black Scorpion, that wasn’t too hard.) That got Sci Fi and B5 creator J. Michael Straczysnki to talking about new projects set in the B5 universe; the first product of those discussions was Babylon 5: Legend of the Rangers.

The project was approved as a two-hour made for TV movie, but the movie (itself titled To Live and Die in Starlight) is also a pilot for a Legend of the Rangers TV series. (Which means the full title of the movie is Babylon 5: Legend of the Rangers – To Live and Die in Starlight.) In a Usenet announcement of the deal, Straczynski said the pickup for series was “likely”, and he seemed to be operating on the assumption that To Live and Die in Starlight was just the beginning. There was cause for optimism, especially since Straczynski said the Starlight script had an energy similar to B5’s excellent third season.

Legend of the Rangers is set in 2265, about three years after the events of the last “contiguous” B5 episode, Objects At Rest, and follows the adventures of the Rangers (also called the Anla’shok) as they aid civilizations that were devastated by the Shadow War. Straczynski pitched the series as an action/adventure series with underlying drama – as opposed to B5 which was a “heavy drama with some adventure/action elements” – which would explore Minbari culture in greater depth.

The cast of Rangers had extensive SF and fantasy experience. Dylan Neal plays David Martel, a Ranger who Straczynski says has “come through some especially rough times.” Mackenzie Gray has appeared in Andromeda, First Wave, and The Outer Limits, as has Alex Zahara. Zahara also plays a recurring role on Dark Angel, and has done several episodes of Stargate SG-1. Dylan Neal, Myriam Sirois, Warren T. Takeuchi (Dark Angel, Stargate SG-1, The Sentinel, The 6th Day), Dean Marshall (First Wave, Poltergeist: The Legacy), Jennie Rebecca Hogan, David Storch (First Wave), Enid-Raye Adams (The Lone Gunmen, The Outer Limits) and Gus Lynch round out the cast.

Most of the characters are humans or Minbari, with the exception of Hogan and Lynch, who play new recruits from other races. Hogan plays the Narn Na’Feel, while Lynch is the Drazi Tirk. Other characters are Martel’s Minbari second-in-command Dulann (Zahara), weapons specialist Sarah Cantrell (Sirois), healer Firell (Adams), communications/translation specialist Kitaro Sasaki (Takeuchi), intelligence operative Malcolm Bridges (Marshall), and political/first contact expert Tafeek (Storch).

B5 and Crusade partner Douglas Netter returned as executive producer with Straczynski. B5 vet Mike Vejar directed the pilot movie. Andreas Katsulas reprised his role as G’Kar in the film (but most likely would not have been a regular through the entire series). Canadian effects company Gajdecki Visual Effects handled the special effects. (Netter Digital, which handled effects in B5’s fourth and fifth seasons and in Crusade’s 13 episodes, had gone bankrupt since production wrapped on B5 and Crusade.) B5 series composer Christopher Franke returned to handle the score.