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Old January 24 2010, 05:23 PM   #1
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Location: Ireland
A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Being a poster on this board while not having watched Babylon 5 is like being a beer drinker at a pot party; you feel perfectly fine with your refreshing beverage, but everyone else thinks you're lame for not joining in and they all seem to be having a good time. So...

I've spent the last year rewatching and reviewing Voyager and Enterprise, and the next show I was asked to review was DS9, a show which I'm a huge fan of. But it occured to me several weeks ago that before I attempt to review DS9 it would be interesting to watch Babylon 5 first, and after some discussion with others I have decided to do a similar review thread for B5, the main difference being that I've only seen 5 episodes of B5, so I'm going into this show "blind".

Background on me

I'm 23 now, will I ever live to see 24? The way things are going, probably yes (because it's only a few weeks away). I've been a Trekkie for as long as I can remember; I grew up with TNG, I later moved on to become a Niner, I was a Voyager hater (now semi-hater) and I felt that Enterprise was an okay show overall. I went back and watched TOS over a year ago and enjoyed the show because of the characters. My other television drama interests include The West Wing, The Sopranos, The Wire, Lost and the reimagined BSG.

I first learned of B5 from my sister who was a big fan of the show as I was growing up, but she didn't allow me to watch it because she felt I was too young to understand it. The bitch. She only showed me one episode to pique my interest, it was an episode in the guise of a news report, and it was so long ago that I don't remember anything else about it. Years later my brother became a fan and he used to constantly belittle DS9 for being a lame copy of B5. The prick. His attitude instilled in me a sort of resentment towards B5 and I resisted watching it for many, many years. Eventually I decided to give the show a chance and I watched the first four episodes of season 1 (I didn't know about The Gathering) and I found it to be so dull that I tried watching Firefly and Rome instead.

But as I said above, being on this board without having watched Babylon 5 doesn't feel right, people are constantly calling it the greatest sci-fi show of all time, and in a desperate attempt to fit in with my fellow nerds I am finally going to take the plunge and watch it. Avoiding spoilers about the show has gotten harder as the months have gone by, so if I don't take the plunge now I might find that the whole show has been ruined for me. I already know some plot threads, I know that there's some sort of war involving a race called the Shadows and a few days ago a thread which was supposed to be about The West Wing spoiled me to that fact that B5 has a storyline where they form their own state. Beyond that I know very little, so if you are reading this thread please don't post spoilers! Thank you.

The review format

The most important thing to note is that I'm not an insightful reviewer, if I have to choose between making a point or making a joke I will choose the joke, although I would prefer to merge the two if I can. I'm also quite tough to please in many regards and I will mark an episode down for arbitrary reasons. I feel that many people in the Enterprise forum were upset by this because they thought I was going to try and bring a higher calibre of review and were disappointed by what some might consider mean-spirited humour. I'm laying this on the table right now to lower everybody's expectations.

The format works as follows; I watch an episode (usually one a day, but that can fluctuate, especially at exam time) then I rate it between 0 and 5 stars, including half-stars. At the end of each season I post a season review where I create some graphs, determine the average score for the season and discuss what I liked and what I felt was lacking. (Here's an example.) I used to judge the writers and throw up some graphs for that as well, but since JMS apparently wrote 90% of the show I probably wont be doing that here.

This is a scale I once wrote up to explain my scoring mechanism:

0: Not worthy of my ridicule
: Awful
*: Bad
*: Poor
**: Meh
**: Average
***: Enjoyable
***: Good
****: Very good
****: Great
*****: Exceptional

To my former readers: Unlike Voyager and Enterprise (and, one day, DS9), the TNG-lite rule is not in play here since the show is its own universe and doesn't need to justify itself as different. Also, I probably wont have counters for B5 because a) I don't know what I should be counting, and b) I don't want to distract myself with counting things on my first run through the show.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, such as Mike Sussman hunting me down and torturing me, I will watch The Gathering tonight and post a review of it some time tomorrow, then I'll move on to the series during the week. I hope to have fun doing this, and if only one other person is entertained by it then... well, that would be rubbish. I'm hoping for at least a dozen drooling sycophants to follow this thread and remind me daily how empty their lives would be without my reviews.

Thanks for reading.
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