OTHER SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

No matter how hard I try, I can't stand Babylon 5

POSTED BY: AURAPTOR
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 2, 2008 12:30
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VIEWED: 2239
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Sunday, March 23, 2008 5:06 AM

AURAPTOR

America loves a winner!


I can't put my finger on it, but every time I try to give it a chance, I always come to the same conclusion. Babylon 5 is a poser. It's lame and it's garbage. It was from the "best space battle smack talk" thread that I watched another clip from B-5. And as always, the characters seemed forced and rigid, while the effects are just sad. They remind me of the lame 80's version of Buck Rogers, with the most economic of upgrades. There's just nothing on that show which feels real, feels natural. I've never bought into anything about that show, from the aliens, the story premise, the characters, not one gorram thing!

No offense meant, either. I've seen how B-5 has its following, and for the life of me, I can't understand why. If someone were to trash Firefly, then I'd just assume they hate all things Sci-Fi, and write it off to ignorance. And I know some prefer Trek to Star Wars, though I'm glad for both, actually. There are movies and series which I prefer over others, some I care less for than others. But all in all, I can't think of a 'mainstream' sci - fi brand which annoys me more than Babylon 5.







It is not those who use the term "Islamo-Fascism" who are sullying the name of Islam; it is the Islamo-Fascists. - Dennis Prager

" They don't like it when you shoot at 'em. I worked that out myself. "

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Sunday, March 23, 2008 5:23 AM

PIRATECAT


AU you ignant potatoe picker. Offense taken its time to put on the cyber gloves. Smack there ya go. Take another big fella. Listen when it came out it was fresh with new scifi special effects no models anymore. Now by firefly standards its slow. Unifying the universe for peace seems lame. No more Federation control freaks in uptight spandex uniforms to enlighten us. As Earthers we are to just go out there and tear up some more planets cause we can. Also if you didn't take a pay cut in B5 you ended up on reality tv like jeff conway. later gator pc



"Battle of Serenity, Mal. Besides Zoe here, how many-" "I'm talkin at you! How many men in your platoon came out of their alive".

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Sunday, March 23, 2008 6:19 AM

AURAPTOR

America loves a winner!


Quote:

Originally posted by PirateCat:
AU you ignant potatoe picker. Offense taken its time to put on the cyber gloves. Smack there ya go. Take another big fella. Listen when it came out it was fresh with new scifi special effects no models anymore. Now by firefly standards its slow. Unifying the universe for peace seems lame. No more Federation control freaks in uptight spandex uniforms to enlighten us. As Earthers we are to just go out there and tear up some more planets cause we can. Also if you didn't take a pay cut in B5 you ended up on reality tv like jeff conway. later gator pc



"Battle of Serenity, Mal. Besides Zoe here, how many-" "I'm talkin at you! How many men in your platoon came out of their alive".



Wow. That was rather..... tepid. Much like B-5. Figures.

It is not those who use the term "Islamo-Fascism" who are sullying the name of Islam; it is the Islamo-Fascists. - Dennis Prager

" They don't like it when you shoot at 'em. I worked that out myself. "

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Sunday, March 23, 2008 7:06 AM

CHRISISALL


Quote:

Originally posted by AURaptor:
I've seen how B-5 has its following, and for the life of me, I can't understand why.

I think it's one of those cumulative things- like how I wasn't into Buffy for real until near the end of season two- before that I could have stopped watching and never looked back, now I think Buffy is gold. I think B5 has to be looked at the same way- if ya don't give it a couple seasons to get ya, don't bother with it. But I have close friends that swear by it, as well as peeps HERE that are swaying me in that direction.
Yeah, it seems a little stiff in clips, I'll give ya that. And a mite expensive, but I'm still intrigued.

Ivanovaisall

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Sunday, March 23, 2008 7:28 AM

ASARIAN


Odd. No matter how hard I try, I can't not stand it. :) Yes, the CGI sucks. But it has a helluva story line; and it definitely works for me.


--
"The wheel turns, does it not, Ambassador?"

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Sunday, March 23, 2008 7:31 AM

LEADB


I never cared for B5 until I started watching it from the beginning. I found it to be very serial oriented. I also didn't much care for season 5; I won't be offended if you start watching it from season 1 and just stop at the end of season 4 ;-)

Actually, I won't be offended if you don't even give it another chance. I'm not easily offended.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008 8:48 AM

AURAPTOR

America loves a winner!


Quote:

Originally posted by asarian:
Odd. No matter how hard I try, I can't not stand it. :) Yes, the CGI sucks. But it has a helluva story line; and it definitely works for me.


--
"The wheel turns, does it not, Ambassador?"



Here's the kicker, I don't find Dr Who's FX to be anything special. In fact, I find them to be down right goofy, but the story line and the characters pull me in. ( The fact that it's British might be have something to do w/ it , but I dunno ) I guess what it really comes down to is that I'm perplexed that I am not in the least bit interested in B-5, and yet so many here whose views on Sci-fi with which I agree and whose opinions I value can be so far apart on this one issue. Now, I never read the DUNE series of books either, and the movies, by all accounts, were 'iffy' at best, but DUNE doesn't come anywhere close to annoying me as does B-5.

And chrisisall, this goes well beyond my reluctance to watch something like Buffy. The few times early on when I watched Buffy, I was fairly impressed, but since I hadn't followed from the start, I kinda just stayed away. It wasn't until I started watching Angel, and realized so much of it was tied to Buffy ( in character histories, story plot, etc... ) that I decided to give BTVS a proper try. And because It was Joss, I knew it was going to be good. i just didn't know HOW good.

It is not those who use the term "Islamo-Fascism" who are sullying the name of Islam; it is the Islamo-Fascists. - Dennis Prager

" They don't like it when you shoot at 'em. I worked that out myself. "

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Sunday, March 23, 2008 8:49 AM

IMNOTHERE


Quote:

Originally posted by AURaptor:
I've seen how B-5 has its following, and for the life of me, I can't understand why.



B5 was a milestone without which we might never have seen newBSG, Heroes, Firefly, Farscape, Andromeda - at least not in the form we know.

Sadly, though, I don't think it has aged very well. Unless you got into it when it first aired, I can understand that it would be hard to see what all the fuss was about.

Since the whole premise is very much a classical tragedy, it was produced in a theatrical/melodramatic style (as was Star Trek) which was already going out of vogue at the time in favor of the pseudo-realism of shows like newBSG.

It was also an early pioneer of CGI "model" work and virtual sets (certainly on TV) - at the time, it was pretty stunning: nothing like those space battles had been seen outside of the cinema (the closest Star Trek, TNG came was in Best of Both Worlds - and that was a big season finale - B5 did it several times a season). Ditto for make up - Trek was in the "aliens are humans with lumpy foreheads" phase - B5 had regular characters in full-face prosthetics. We've seen better since - but it was B5 raised the bar.

Unfortunately the DVD transfer did not do justice to these due to the "interesting" decision to go for a widescreen transfer - great for all the live filmed on super-16, but disastrous for the CGI and composite stuff which had to be taken from video, cropped and zoomed to 16:9.

There's also the small matter of ending the reign of the Star Trek Plot Reset Button (or Omega 9 or whatever they call it in Galaxy Quest). B5 actually had a pre-planned 5-year story with a beginning, middle and end. That was quite unique at the time, and probably too ambitious - but most shows since have at least had season-length plot arcs.







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Sunday, March 23, 2008 11:04 AM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


B5 has to be viewed as a whole entity, one in which the sum is definitely more valuable than any of its individual parts. The first season was weak, but seasons two-four is some of the best SF on television (or film), only rivaled in my mind by Firefly and Lost since then. And as much as I like the majority of the new BSG, I think B5 was (and still is) superior.



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Monday, March 24, 2008 12:27 AM

DEEPGIRL187


I never got a chance to watch B5 all the way through, but what I did see was good. I honestly enjoyed more than what I saw of Star Trek (the only show I could bring myself to enjoy was DS9). I will say that I didn't enjoy the first captain as much as the second.

Also, Garibaldi and Marcus kicked ass.

****************************************************

"This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff. Also, it can boil an egg at 30 paces, whether you want it to or not, actually, so I've learned to stay away from hens. It's not pretty when they blow."

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Monday, March 24, 2008 2:11 AM

HIXIE129


B5 was a great show and the actors were terrific.

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Monday, March 24, 2008 2:48 AM

JONGSSTRAW


I bought Season 3 & Season 4. Those seasons wrap up the Shadow War, and the War against Earth in one continuing arc. Next to Firefly, I love these episodes more than any other sci-fi show. The action is great, the stories are great, but most importantly is the fact that all the main characters undergo a personal crisis that changes their behavior in interesting ways.

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Monday, March 24, 2008 4:49 AM

MUDKICKER


Ugh. B-5. Utter crap. Never liked it... never will. But that's just me.

Sorry folks.



____________________________________

"We are not gonna die. You know why? Because we are so...very...pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die."

PVT Gabriel "Mudkicker" Sheppard, 76th Independent Battalion

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Monday, March 24, 2008 10:35 AM

CHRISISALL


Quote:

Originally posted by ecgordon:
B5 has to be viewed as a whole entity, one in which the sum is definitely more valuable than any of its individual parts.

Amazon has 1-5 for $210, would you say that's a fair price?

Quizical Chrisisall

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Monday, March 24, 2008 1:52 PM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


Quote:

Originally posted by chrisisall:
Quote:

Originally posted by ecgordon:
B5 has to be viewed as a whole entity, one in which the sum is definitely more valuable than any of its individual parts.

Amazon has 1-5 for $210, would you say that's a fair price?

Quizical Chrisisall


That works out to $41.99 per season, which is definitely not as good as the $19.99 per season I paid at Best Buy last year (and I believe amazon had a similar sale on at the same time). Either wait for another sale or just buy the first four seasons, since individually those are only $39.99 each right now. Of course three and four are the best but won't mean anything to you without seeing the preceding episodes, and don't forget that the original pilot film, "The Gathering," is not included in the season one set, but can be purchased on a dual-sided disc along with "Babylon 5: In the Beginning," as well as the five disc "Movie Collection" set.

Season five is worth buying only if you really enjoy the first four, but the plotlines in it were anti-climactic. JMS crammed his originally conceived season five stories into season four because he feared they would not get renewed for another year.

And of course, as I have done on several other threads recently, I'll do a bit of self promotion and provide a link to my review page for the series - http://templetongate.net/babylon5.htm



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Monday, March 24, 2008 2:59 PM

TRAVELER


There is a story arc that requires seeing the each season. If you don't know the on going plot it is hard to tell the characters motivations. There are also subplots that leak in and you may lose a lot if you miss those. It is like the old time serials that played in the theaters in the 30's to fill the theater in the afternoons with kids. Return next week and see if Flash escapes the deathtrap of Ming the Mercilous.


http://www.imdb.com/mymovies/list?l=28764731
Traveler

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Monday, March 24, 2008 4:49 PM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


In regards to my review that I linked to earlier, I probably should do some revisions to that. I wrote it nearly seven years ago now, and at that time I said the FX was impressive for tv. But since then we have had Firefly, BSG and the Stargates, all of which put the B5 effects to shame. I based that statement on what I was seeing on the Sci-Fi channel at the time, but the dvd transfers actually highlight the deficiencies of the FX. The live action was shot on Super-16 and that transferred okay to a widescreen format, but the FX had to be blown up then cropped to 16-9 ratio, so it looks grainy and quite fake now. Still, B5 lives and breathes through the storylines and the character development, not the FX.






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Tuesday, March 25, 2008 6:43 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


You know I never really cared that much for Babylon-5 either, even though generally I only have good things to say about it.

The thing about Babylon-5 is that every time I see it, I get the impression that it’s good science fiction. Unlike a lot of science fiction it does actually attempt to keep to the laws of physics, which would normally make me love a show, and then there is the epic and dramatic backstory - another staple of good sci-fi. You’d think that Babylon 5 would be among the greatest scifi in the history of scif, but somehow it just doesn’t work. It just doesn’t keep my attention or my interest on an individual episode level. I think maybe it tries to go so hardcore scifi that it forgets the simply dramatic elements of storytelling.

I don’t really know, but that’s kind of my impression. I keep thinking that the key is to sit down and watch everything in it’s entirety in order, and then maybe the story will come out and make sense, but that’s a lot of episodes to commit to all at once.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008 1:08 AM

ECGORDON

There's no place I can be since I found Serenity.


I don't know if this is true or not, but someone on the scifi.com forums posted that next week's Best Buy sale will include all seasons of Babylon 5 for $19.99 each. I'm hoping that includes the Movie Collection since that is all I lack to complete my set.



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Wednesday, March 26, 2008 3:43 AM

BARNSTORMER



Auraptor,

I had a real hard time getting into B5. My sister kept trying to get me to watch, but everytime I did, I thought it was'nt worth it.

Then one day I caught a piece of "In the beginning" while channel surfing. This was a B5 movie that got into the pre-history of the B5 verse.

There were several scenes in the movie that hooked me, much in the same way that the first aired firefly ep hooked me.

I still can't stand seasons 1 and 5 though. But 2,3,and 4 were pretty good IMO. Even if some of the episodes were a bit lame.




Am I a Lion?... No, I think I'ma tellin' the truth.

BarnStormer

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008 5:15 AM

CANTTAKESKY


Auraptor,

You're not the only one. I've tried, and tried. Then people said, you have to watch it from the beginning. So I put the whole series on my rental queue to start at the beginning. After the first 2 discs, I took it off my queue. Watching it feels like work; I have to work to keep my eyes peeled while counting the minutes until it ends. I feel it's my duty as a die-hard sci-fi fan to put in my time. There's something wrong with that.

I can't get into Farscape either, even when I start from the beginning.

Now I never got into Buffy, but once I started at the beginning, I understood it and enjoyed it. Still don't like it enough to buy the series, but I'm glad I gave it a shot.

Angel, I got right away. Firefly I got right away. Dark Angel I got right away. Maybe it's just me, but I think I know pretty early on if I'll like something or not.

--------------------------
Entertainment shouldn't feel like work.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008 5:27 AM

CHRISISALL


Quote:

Originally posted by canttakesky:


Entertainment shouldn't feel like work.

That's exactly how I felt about SciFi's Dune. I MADE myself watch the whole thing.

Then I went back to the Lynch version, heh heh.

Lazy Chrisisall

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008 5:30 AM

MAL4PREZ


Someone whose taste I respect greatly recommended B5 to me, and went so far as to lend me season 1 with a list of the episodes that are worth watching and those I should skip. (She admits that some eps are horrible.) But, just like when it was on TV, I find myself watching 5 minutes and losing interest.

What the hell is it? I agree Auraptor, I can't quite put my finger on why I can't stand this show. Maybe it has to do with the costumes and sets. Or, like you say, the acting is forced. It just looks fake, and I have a hard time believing these are real people in some real place. Not like Firefly, which I fell for immediately.

It's a shame. I really do want to get into the storylines of B5 that I've heard are so good. I just can't stand it long enough to watch full episodes.

Maybe I should just skip ahead to season 2...

-----------------------------------------------
hmm-burble-blah, blah-blah-blah, take a left

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Thursday, March 27, 2008 3:22 AM

SPACEANJL


The ideas behind Bab-5 were really good, but the execution, if not exactly sucking, was not as good as it could have been.

But it had some funny bits (the Streibs, anyone? - the descendants suing for loss of earnings was hysterical) and some really interesting debates on ethics (medical intervention) Lots of stuff on souls and past lives for those that way inclined. And the Sheridan/B4 twist? Excellent, if odd.

Plus a cod-Arthurian vibe with Delenn, Sinclair and Lennier.

The Psi Corps were even creepier than the Blue Hands guys - I mean, the whole sleeper agent thing? And the politics between the other races made humans almost an irrelevance. The whole story arc with Londo and G'Kar...oh, my god, I still remember all the names. I only ever saw it once.

Still, it didn't quite grab me the way Firefly did.

Maybe they had too many things going on, trying to fit into the storylines. But it was a step forward from the perfect plasticity of the Ikeaverse as given to us by Roddenbury. (Let's not even go into 'Andromeda' - I am the avatar of the sun - what?!) I think it paved the way for the idea of a future that was neither utopia or dystopia, but just folks.

Have to say, never could get into Farscape, either.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008 4:39 AM

DEEPGIRL187


I was an even bigger fan of Farscape. Whereas Babylon 5 seemed more plot-driven, Farscape paid much more attention to its characters, which were all great fun to watch, IMO. John became a vastly different person over the course of the series, and for that matter, so did everyone else. Farscape was probably the first show that really gave me an appreciation of sci-fi television (and probably led me to watching Firefly as well).

I will admit that if you start watching in the middle, you'll be lost. I started during season two or three, and even after watching for awhile, hadn't figured out all of the storylines.

****************************************************

"This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff. Also, it can boil an egg at 30 paces, whether you want it to or not, actually, so I've learned to stay away from hens. It's not pretty when they blow."

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Friday, March 28, 2008 4:43 AM

BLUESUNCOMPANYMAN


Quote:

That's exactly how I felt about SciFi's Dune. I MADE myself watch the whole thing.

Then I went back to the Lynch version, heh heh.

Lazy Chrisisall



I agree with Chris on this one. I do however feel that to aquire the complete dune experience, one needs to combine lynch's movie with Sci-Fi's version. Lynch nailed the feel of the dune verse but made up some silly plot points, sci-fi got the plot right but made the world look stupid. As a sidenote, sci-fi found their redemption with Children of Dune. The stupid costuming of Dune was eliminated and the book is followed closely.

As to Bab 5, I recall in 1993 there was a huge controversy twixt DS9 and the Bab 5 people. J. Michael Straczynski claimed that he proposed his inital script to producers who rejected it in 1991 and 92. Finally as he was gearing up for Bab 5 season 1 in 93, he learned that people affliated with the orginal script rejections were collaberating with the Trek folks on DS9. He claimed that his concept of a narrative centered around a static location (a space station) was stolen. Perhaps it was...perhaps not. In the end, Straczynski let it go, never filing suit. Although at cons if the subject is broached he'll be sour.

My point is this. During these last 3 months I have had the chance to sit and watch all 5 seasons of Bab 5 along with 7 seasons of DS9. What I've determined (pure opinion here, don't get mad at me if you like bab5) is that DS9 is better. Bab 5 seasons 1 & 5 are kinda silly. Season 5 especially. I had to FORCE myself to endure the long drag out towards the end of 5..truely painful indeed. The heart of the plot is concentrated in seasons 2,3,&4. Personally, I have no doubt that Straczynski had "vision". Bab5 is not written like lost, where characters seem to blunder around as a function of writers who haven't thought very far ahead. All 5 seasons were fleshed out before the pilot ever aired. However, this will not serve Straczynski well when one considers the failures of seasons 1 & 5. The honest hard truth about bab 5 is that it's actually a 3 season show pulled like taffy into 5. This is why I think it appears hollow to modern viewers.

DS9 on the other hand really stands up to the test of time. The plots are crisp, the continuity is solid, character developments are good. So I'm forced to ask myself, if DS9 was "stolen" why is it better? I think the answer lies in the Trek writers who were plucked from TNG. These fellows made their mistakes too, but these occured years before in 1987-89 with TNG seasons 1&2. By 1993 they are honed, lean, and mean with plenty of practice making the great TNG episodes of TNG seasons 3,4,&5. While I have no doubt that DS9 was written without true "vision", the writers paid close attention to development of characters and things stayed fresh at all times (with the notable exception of the very end). The writting staff for DS9 was therefore "nimble", able to collaberate and work as a team as opposed to Straczynski who held his show in an iron claw...accepting no criticism and trying to manage all the small details. Joss himself has said that unwillingness to collaberate kills the creative process. Think about any of the buffy/firefly episodes you've watched with Joss commentaries active (OIS comes to mind). Often Joss will discuss a particular scene you're viewing and describe how his original vision had been shifted slightly by the imput of others who "tweaked" small details. This is how the great Sci-Fi is made.

Both DS9 & Bab5 exhibit poor CGI, but this is a product of the times. Please recall that the CGI quality of 1995 is light-years behind CGI renderings in 2000, a meer 5 years later. Some of the best Dr. Who plots exist in the 70's when effects are stone-age pathetic. To grade any show lower based on CGI concerns would be unfair.

Perhaps my ramblings don't encapsulate the Bab 5 issues well enough. Here's a couple articles that echo my feelings. Perhaps they shall be insightful:

http://www.pheasnt.demon.co.uk/Pheasant/Babylon5.html
http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2005/11/alas-babylon.html


Do not fear me. Our's is a peaceful race and we must live in harmony.

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Friday, March 28, 2008 7:05 AM

MAJORLYCOOL


Quote:

Originally posted by canttakesky:
Auraptor,

You're not the only one. I've tried, and tried. Then people said, you have to watch it from the beginning. So I put the whole series on my rental queue to start at the beginning. After the first 2 discs, I took it off my queue. Watching it feels like work; I have to work to keep my eyes peeled while counting the minutes until it ends. I feel it's my duty as a die-hard sci-fi fan to put in my time. There's something wrong with that. Entertainment shouldn't feel like work.



Perfectly said. I watched the pilot last night after a friend recommended this show to me. I never bothered with it when it was on the air. I was falling asleep while it was on and simply couldn't wait for it to be over so I could say I gave it a shot. Has Firefly ruined me? lol


I swallowed a bug.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008 12:30 PM

IMNOTHERE


Quote:

Originally posted by bluesuncompanyman:

Lynch nailed the feel of the dune verse but made up some silly plot points, sci-fi got the plot right but made the world look stupid.



I'd say they decided to go with the Dune = Macbeth (only Macbeth wins) angle and deliberately made it look like a stage play. Having the Baron break into rhyming couplets is the giveaway... Interesting that Sci-Fi Channel Dune comes up in the same breath as B5 - I'd agree that they have similar ...attributes (see earlier point about B5 being in the style of classical tragedy rather than modern pseudo-realistic TV).

Quote:


He claimed that his concept of a narrative centered around a static location (a space station) was stolen.



Well there are some other similarities:

* Said static location becomes the front line in a big interstellar war (OK that's sorta predictable)
* Big blue swirly thing parked next to space station leads to exotic places...
* Major plot point is the volatile peace between a newly liberated planet (Narn/Bajor) and their former oppressors (Centauri/Cardassia) - who later ally themselves with the Big Bad Guys in an effort to recapture their former glory.
* Main protagonist is damaged goods from a war that Earth nearly lost (Minbari War/Borg attack)
* Main human protagonist turns out to be a messiah figure in the religion of one of the alien races
* Transgender (ish) major character: Delenn was originally going to be a male until her transformation at the end of S1 and subsequent romantic entanglement with the captain (they dropped the idea while making the pilot). Dax turns out to be Sisko's old mentor and drinking buddy in a hot new sleeve...
* Sheridan falls down a big fiery hole in the ground, dies, and is resurrected. Sisko falls down a big fiery hole in the ground and is reborn into the spirit world. (OK, so they might have got that idea from some other famous work of fantasy).

Of course, that could all be coincidence - e.g. the role of the UN in former Yugoslavia was topical at the time.

Quote:


However, this will not serve Straczynski well when one considers the failures of seasons 1 & 5. The honest hard truth about bab 5 is that it's actually a 3 season show pulled like taffy into 5. This is why I think it appears hollow to modern viewers.



Presumably you know the genesis of Season 5: While they were making Season 4 the chances of getting renewed were looking remote, so JMS upped the pace and finished the story in Season 4. The show got renewed just in time to shoot a filler episode to end S4 so the in-the-can series finale could be postponed to the end of S5.

As for Season 1 - that might have been pressure to make the show more "episodic" to satisfy the studio - since the common wisdom at the time was "Space Opera = Star Trek = Episodic". Trouble is - you had to be concentrating because when they entitled the season "Signs and Portents" they weren't kidding: there's a clue or two in every episode.

I'd fully agree that B5 done in 3-4 seasons of 13 episodes would have been much better...

Quote:


DS9 on the other hand really stands up to the test of time.


Beg to differ - DS9 has been recently re-shown on UK TV and I found it hard to stay awake through an episode. When DS9 was good it was very good (Pale Moonlight, Tribbles, the one where Sisko is a 1930s SF hack spring to mind) but it never seemed to follow through, and the stuff in between is just plain bland.

What if Sisko did suffer a mental breakdown? What if Ezri Dax's shotgun joining did leave her incompetent, but Sisko was too loyal to see it? What if the threat of the Dominion seriously corrupted the Federation?

Yes, DS9 takes some of the gloss off the Federation - but B5 gives us Earth descending into fascism one little step at a time, B5s secession and the aftermath, the civil war and the aftermath of that.

B5 went places like that and let the stories develop over the seasons. DS9 danced around them then activated the Plot Reset Device. Yes there's some character development, but nothing like the huge, tragic journeys of the main characters in B5. E.g. in DS9, the young Ferrengi comes back from the horrors of war, traumatized but - although he's maybe a bit more mature afterwards - its all kissed better by the end of the episode and never really mentioned again.

C.f. Garibaldi's arc in B5: his alcoholic past is set up in S1, with a lapse or two for good measure (er...). In S2 its established that he doesn't initially trust Sheridan - his first loyalty was to Sinclair. Then in S3/4 he is "reprogrammed" by Psicorps - but he doesn't suddenly turn, Trek style, into "Evil Garibaldi" (to be cured by the end of the episode) - instead (over half a season) his suspicious nature escalates into paranoia, his former mistrust for Sheridan (who's now gone all messianic) grows into hatred and in the end you can see that he really believes the chain of rationalizations which lead to his eventual act of betrayal. When he's apparently redeemed his colleagues don't spot that the experience and his inability to extract revenge have sent him sliding back into the bottle - again over the course of several episodes - until its too late and he causes a disaster - which ends his career - he does recover but only by making a complete lifestyle change (and the Love of a Good Woman - aaaahhh!) 20 years later he may be recovered.

I've never seen Trek try anything like that - B5 ran comparable arcs for at least 4 main characters (Sheridan, Londo, G'kar, Garibaldi).

Sorry - but I'll put up with quite a bit of stiff acting and clunky exposition for a story of that scope and ambition.

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