"Just so we're clear: once we go, this is my command. I'll do whatever's necessary. If that means turning the entire galaxy upside down and shaking its pockets to see what falls out, that's what I'll do. I'm not subtle, I'm not pretty, and I'll piss off a helluva lot of people along the way, but I'll get the job done."
—Captain Matthew Gideon
A spinOff from Babylon 5, telling the story of the spaceship Excalibur and the search for a counteragent to/cure for a slow-acting biological weapon that had been successfully deployed against the Earth in the B5 movie "A Call to Arms". Crusade retained two characters from that movie, Galen the techno-mage and Dureena Nafeel the alien thief. Despite its unfortunate resemblance to Uchuu Senkan Yamato (Star Blazers in North America), Crusade showed promise before its premature death (only 13 episodes were completed out of a planned five seasons).This being said, the series suffered terribly from Executive Meddling from day one - it was commissioned by a network whose understanding of the series pretty much stopped at "We'll be rolling in money if this is as popular as Babylon 5 was," and then later learned that this wasn't the case anyway — and the relationship between creator/producer J. Michael Straczynski and the network broke down completely while the first season was still in production. By the time the series went to air, it had already been cancelled.Amusingly, this level of Executive Meddling made it into the screenplays : In several of the episodes, the situations the characters run through resonate with the situation in which the creator was deadlocked with the network, and some of the corresponding dialogue is acidic, to say the least. Then again, if the author had resigned to the notion that he wasn't going to get the series to fly, why not have some fun while at it?In the years since its cancellation, more details have come out about where the series would have went. Check out the Trivia tab for more.
Alien Non-Interference Clause: "Visitors from Down the Street" explicitly draws attention to the fact that the B5-verse equivalent of Starfleet doesn't have one. And would be rather hypocritical if it did, because Earth was given jumpgate technology by the Centauri in the first place. The aliens had actually assumed they did, even trying to rub in that the crew couldn't interfere. They made sure to include that part of the conversation in the recordings revealing the conspiracy when they distributed them across the planet.
Anachronic Order: To the extent that it is impossible to view the episodes in any order without continuity errors.
Armor-Piercing Question: Galen asks a series of questions over the opening titles, answered by Gideon except the last: "Who do you serve, and who do you trust?"
Which, in light of the fact that the cure for the Drakh plague was due to be found around a year and a half into the five year show with the story of Earth's use of leftover Shadow technology taking centre stage, could be seen as a very subtle bit of foreshadowing.
Bad Bad Acting: Galen, talking through his Homunculus. Presumably because he just didn't carenote To expand this point, Galen is using a projection of himself to scout an apparently deserted planet. Speaking through the projection the character provides a comically flat, deadpan stream of consciousness, right up to the point that his homunculus is destroyed by an automated security system.
Coming In Hot: Inverted! Lochley's disabled Starfury is swallowed by the Excalibur's open hangar bay as the ship swoops past, using forcefield crash barriers to keep her fighter (and her) from being smashed against the rear bulkhead of the bay. Invoked as a result of Exact Words, below.
Another episode shows Earthforce personnel staring at a giant golden dragon. At first it looks like a Special Effects Failure, but since the dragon was actually a hologram, it was probably made to look fake on purpose.
Cure For Cancer / Find the Cure: The series starting premise and the focus of its first story arc. Word Of God is that they would have found it part way through the second season, but by then the REAL plot about a conspiracy in Earthforce to reverse-engineer Shadow technology would have kicked in.
Exact Words: On a particular mission, Gideon is under orders not to stop for anything, even to rescue a pilot in distress. His playing with these orders leads to Coming In Hot, above.
Expy: Max Eilerson pretty well is Avon from Blakes Seven with his geek speciality changed from IT to archaeology. Dureena is a hybrid Expy of two characters from Blakes Seven: like Cally she's a Broken Bird warrior woman whose people suffered a biological warfare genocide, but she has Vila's outlaw attitude and near-supernatural breaking-and-entering ability.
There are multiple similarities to Blakes Seven, which JMS is known to be a fan of: The similar design of Excalibur and Liberator; the manner in which Max is not merely similarly written to Avon, but cast with an actor who looks quite similar to Paul Darrow; Dureena's nature as a hybrid of Cally's personality and backstory with Vila's talents; the Apocalypse Box as a near-Captain Ersatz for Orac. If the series had continued, the main story arc would have been the Excalibur on the run from EarthForce.
"Visitors From Down The Street" is a parody of The X-Files.
Head-Tiltingly Kinky: The Pak'Ma'Ra-Human porn that Captain Gideon stumbles upon. Right after the ship's doctor mentions that those two species are entirely incapable of mating.
"Technology is a wonderful thing."
Imminent Danger Clue: Gideon and Lochley realize at the last second that an alien is about to shoot because the alien weapon produces a smell of ozone when it is being charged.
I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Alwyn, an old friend of Galen and a rival or colleague of his mentor Elric, appears in "The Long Road", and is played by the father of the actor who plays Galen.
Last Of Their Kind: Dureena Nafeel's home planet was destroyed in the Shadow War and she is believed to be the only survivor. More of her species are later discovered living on another planet, but they are infected by the Drakh plague and have even less time to live than the humans on Earth have.
Magic Mirror: Gideon's Apocalypse Box, "It gives you an edge. It knows things no one else knows." "You have to be very careful because... it lies. Not all the time. Just enough.".
Mile-Long Ship: The Excalibur is 3 kilometers long and has its own internal rail system.
Only One Name: Galen, along with many of the aliens they meet. Subverted with Dureena Nafeel.
Galen stands out in particular because other main characters are often addressed by different parts of their full name, sometimes by the same person in the same episode.
Orwellian Editor: A rather bitter real-life example. When it came time for the DVD release, JMS was asked to contribute to the bonus features. He agreed, but only on the condition that he could discuss what he went through in regards to Executive Meddling and being Screwed by the Network. He didn't plan to pull any punches, but the studio agreed and everything he wanted to say was recorded. Later on after getting the finished DVD set, JMS listened to the commentary - only to find some creative editing had been performed. His criticisms were not only gone, but replaced with unrelated audio from the on-camera interview. He wasn't told they were going to do this, either. JMS was naturally pissed and successfully got the studio to remove the entire commentary from later pressings.
And in an interview for the DVD set, JMS essentially fronts up and admits that was quite deliberate.
In addition to the Blake's 7 similarities, there's a lot of overlap between Crusade and The Hobbit: A team of dwarves/humans are out to save their home with the help of a hobbit/alien thief, a secretive wizard with an agenda, and a mysterious ring/box that shouldn't be trusted.
Research, Inc.: Interplanetary Expeditions (IPX), though they're more into archeology. Max works for them as a linguist, which is how he meets up with and gets recruited into helping the Excalibur.
Screwed by the Network: The most noticeable artifact is the scrambled episode order, but that's just the beginning of it (see trope page for more).
The entire "Visitors from Down the Street" is an Affectionate Parody of The X-Files, complete with alien counterparts of Mulder, Scully and the Cigarette Smoking Man.
In "Ruling from the Tomb," several characters are hanging out in a bar called "Phobos" on Mars. John Sheridan visited a bar with the same name in the Babylon 5 episode "The Face of the Enemy." The bar doesn't look the same, but considering that Crusade took place five or six years after B5, and the bar got pretty trashed when Sheridan was there, it's entirely possible that it got remodeled. For bonus points, two of the street names mentioned in the episode are named for Ray Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs, both of whom wrote fiction based on Mars.
Take That: The following exchange at the end of "Visitors From Down the Street", after Gideon has sent out messages to a planet's population informing them about the malevolent Government Conspiracy that has been ruling them and framing Earth for it:
That Came Out Wrong: Gideon dates Lochley and at one point asks her if she was ever "under" (unbeknownst to him, her ex-husband) Sheridan. She does a Spit Take. Then she kindly waits until he's taken a drink to tell him who her ex is, forcing one on him too.
It's a bit of a Genius Bonus too, especially on the first viewing, as only people who watched the last season of Babylon 5 would know that Sheridan and Lochley had been married prior to her mentioning it in that scene.