Why then has nobody told me before now how incredibly awesome Babylon 5 is?
What TV does far, far better than movies is long form narrative. If you have a two hour movie, you can only tell so much story. Even if you have three three-hour films, you're still limited in scope. However, if you have multiple 13 or 22 hour-long episode seasons, you can tell a crap ton of story. I like story, so I like TV that tells long stories.
Of course, most shows don't. If you sit down in front of an hour of Law and Order from season 8, then watch and episode from season 3, it probably won't matter. They'll probably also be the same episode. Good TV will tell a story over the course of the season. Things change in meaningful ways between the first and last episodes.
Great TV tells stories that have implications across multiple seasons, but not always in the same way. Think of a story as an arch. Most TV (think Law and Order) has an arch that stretches over a single episode. That's fine, but those kinds of shows are like popcorn, and ultimately, they're forgettable. Even excellent shows like The Simpsons do this.
Shows that tell a season-long story still have the short, episode arches, but each of those small arches also goes into a bigger, season-long arch. Buffy and 24 are examples of this. You really can't watch those shows out of order, or you start to miss things.
Which brings us to Babylon 5. This show was on for 5 seasons. One guy wrote them. The amazing part? He knew how the series was going to end before he wrote the first episode.
Think about that. This guy must have had a massive pair of brass balls. I can't imagine walking into a network exec's office and saying "I have an idea for a sci-fi show that's not Star Trek that will last for five seasons, and tell one complete story in that time." It would never happen in today's landscape. It's a minor miracle that it happened back in 1994. But someone gave him a tiny budget and Bruce Boxlietner, and let him have at.
It's brilliant. This show is essentially one large story arch that extends from season 1 to season 5. At first blush, a lot of episodes in the first season come across as one-offs that don't tie in. Then, two seasons later, something that happened in the first season suddenly turns out to be a pivotal moment. Because he planned everything out, he's able to do actual, honest to God foreshadowing in ways that are just never seen in TV. It's like reading a well-constructed novel over the course of five years.
Of course, it's not perfect. The show was done in 1994 on a budget of $5 and baling twine (they couldn't afford shoe strings). The acting is sometimes iffy (though often brilliant), and the special effect are...well...quaint. But once you get past all that, it's one of the best TV shows I've ever seen. Just thought you should know.