The rise in popularity of TV on DVD has brought about an interesting side effect. Namely, shows that would have previously faded into oblivion after a few airings are now finding a new audience. Often, such as in the cases of Firefly and Boomtown, audiences (and networks) are discovering that they may have pulled the plug too soon on some shows. While Crusade doesn’t exactly fit into this category, it does prove itself to be a show with promise, that may have developed into something special if i… had been given the time.
Crusade is a spin-off of the popular sci-fi program Babylon 5. This time, however, instead of the action coming to the cast, the cast goes to the action. The basic arc of the show involves a spacecraft and crew that have been charged with finding a cure for a virus that will kill all of the inhabitants of Earth within five years. It is this tie to Earth and humanity that makes the show so accessible to people that are not traditionally sci-fi fans. This also gives the show something of a tie to the original Star Trek series that started it all.
The series is not without its problems, however. In the most basic of terms, bad CGI and bad acting will always hinder a show from becoming anything special, and this series has plenty of both. The dialog is cliché, the sub-plots are hokey, and the show sometimes takes itself way too seriously. Still, though, it is nice to see a sci-fi show at least make a slight nod in the direction of breaking the genre rules that hold so many of these programs together.
It frequently annoys me when TV shows are re-mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, but the audio on the disc does not reflect such a change. Technically, the sound is in 5.1, but the audio sounds much more like 3.1. Surrounds are virtually nonexistent on this track. If you put your ear right up to the speaker, you can hear a little bit of the signal, but that’s about it.
The low end is used well, however. During many dialog-driven scenes, bass tones are kept to a minimum, so as not to distract from the words that are being spoken. During the exteriors, however, viewers are treated to a nice rumble from the ship’s engines.
The video transfer on this disc is the same as my view of Ridley Scott’s body of work; basically good, with a few annoying exceptions. This full screen release sports a clean transfer, with minimal grain. Everybody is in focus, and there is some good use of steadycam camera moves. The problems come from the disc’s color presentation. The colors all appear washed-out and dull. This makes the show look much more like something that was shot in the early nineties… not something that was just created a few years ago. I realize this is not a title that is going to move huge units, but it still would have been nice if they could have punched up the colors a bit before distribution.
The extras that are here are quality, I just wish there were more of them. There are commentaries for two episodes, which are some of the better tracks that I have heard on a TV boxed set in some time. They are informative, funny and entertaining… all great traits to strive for in a quality chat track. Also included here are two featurettes. The first is a 15:00 piece that discusses the making of the show. This is essentially an extended Electronic Press Kit, but it is one that was very well done. This is about as good as a pre-existing fluff piece can get. The second featurette is a 6:00 piece on designing the ship (and thus, the sets). This extra is not quite as well done as the other one. Many of the designers are blind to the fact that the CGI and set design is not all that it could or should have been. Even so, it is still an entertaining segment for fans of the show.
As was the case with Crusade’s parent show, Babylon 5, this is something that is fine for some people, but not so much for me. This is a plot that showed great promise, and it would have been interesting to have seen what directions it would have grown into. Thanks to the insistence of television networks on making as much money as they can, however, we will never know what might have been.
Special Features List
- Two Commentaries
- The Making of Crusade
- Forging Excalibur