Although Gears Online focuses on Japanese science-fiction it’s nice to take some time now and then to look at western science-fiction here on GearsBlog. It’s no secret to anime fans that a large number of anime titles are influenced (sometimes quite heavily) by western science-fiction stories.
I rented and watched through the 13 episodes of the ill-fated television show Crusade. Set in the Babylon 5 universe and also created by J. Michael Straczynski, Crusade was never allowed to complete its story. Set a few years after the events of the Babylon 5 TV show, Crusade followed the efforts of the crew of the Excalibur, captained by Matthew Gideon, to find a cure for the Drakh Plague which would kill everyone on Earth in five years. The story was going to develop into something beyond a race for the cure but Turner Network Television pulled the plug after thirteen episodes.
Crusade was shaping up to be a really good show. Although the characters and story structure weren’t as good as Babylon 5 it was certainly good enough to keep watching. The CG effects were more polished and plentiful than in Babylon 5 and a few episodes hinted at ideas that sounded truly interesting. Good science-fiction on American television is very rare and Crusade’s cancellation is an indication of why. American audiences, by and large, don’t want science-fiction. The closest thing to science-fiction they can handle is Star Trek Next Generation and the later installments in that franchise.
For me, the main shortcoming of Crusade was the simplified setting. Babylon 5 had a complex situation with a few main alien races that were important players on the scene. The audience got to get to know them and appreciate the intricacies of mankind’s future. Crusade has a different minor alien race show up in each episode but none of them are important enough to worry about. The Drakh were quite interesting but we didn’t get to see anything about their motives, goals or culture. That might have changed in the second season so I shouldn’t be hasty to judge. Still, it would have been nice to see some of the same richness that I was treated to right from the start with Babylon 5.
All things considered, Crusade was a great show and deserved a chance to tell its full story. Too much time has passed now for any attempts at revival. This fan, however, hasn’t given up hope on J. Michael Straczynski being given another chance.