I couldn't imagine introducing a person to the series anywhere else.
I saw the series three times, before I got the change to see the pilot, since WB goofballs thought including it in the entire DVD boxset was not nessecary.
My girlfriend saw the entire series without watching the Gathering. A few months after, we finally got a change to watch it, and really, as fun as it was..... it was pretty bad. The storypoints are picked up in the series so well, that's it's really not nessecary to view it first.
I'm glad the consensus seems to be that The Gathering isn't essential. I just ordered B5 season 1. I watched the first episode online before deciding on it, and to me it seemed like a good introduction.
The Gathering isn't essential as the start of Season 1, but should probably be watched simply for the sake of completeness.
I'm back with thoughts on episodes 9 through 12, but before I get into the meat of things, I wanted to make an observation: as I've been watching the season, I've come to the conclusion that there are only about 4 or 5 (depending on if you think TKO - despite its being widely panned - is essential or not) episodes in S1 which qualify as 'filler'. This is a much bigger list than the one I mentioned before I started talking about my own 'essentials' list, but that's how I feel.
Now, on to the episode reviews.
As I mentioned above, I've come to the realization that there are way more 'essential' episodes in S1 than I had previously thought, with Deathwalker being one of those that I hadn't previously considered as being an essential part of the season's storyline.
I also mentioned this earlier, but I've always felt a bit like Talia does in this episode when it comes to understanding the 'B' plot involving her, Kosh, and Abbut. JMS has said that he ended up letting the episode's writer, Larry DeTillo, script that plot despite not liking it very much, but that he probably wouldn't have returned to it to give it some resolution even if Andrea Thompson hadn't left the series. Despite its confusing nature, though, I do think the plot would've been worth revisiting, especially after having, as I mentioned, recently read a fanfic that did a pretty good job of revisiting it.
I mentioned this earlier, but Believers really isn't my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong; I completely 'get' what the episode was trying to say, and even like many of the themes it presents. However, I have a very hard time getting past the stupidity and criminality of the actions that Shon's parents take, which, for me, really offsets what the episode was trying to communicate.
The 'B' plot involving Ivanova is really the first 'b' plot of the season to feel somewhat extraneous in comparison to the 'a' plot, but it does give us some new insight into her character and gives us a chance to see her doing something other than just pacing back and forth in C & C, and, as I noted previously, inspired me to commit to something that I'd been mulling in regards to re-assessing and reconfiguring the Babylon 5 reboot project I started a while back and Ivanova's involvment in it.
I mentioned earlier that I couldn't quite decide if Survivors belonged on my 'essentials' list, but I've' since lost any uncertainty I had and have definititively added it to said list, primarily because of the character information it gives us about Garibaldi, but also because of how it ties into the Home Guard/anti-alien sentiment and prejudice story angle introduced in The War Prayer and followed up on in And the Sky Full of Stars.
By Any Means Necessary
This episode really reminded me very much of the nuBSG episode 'Dirty Hands' due to its similar story material, but it also reminded me of that episode because it's a much 'grittier' episode than any of those that precede it in both tone and in terms of the way it was shot.
I wasn't quite sure whether or not the episode was an essential one or not until Londo made it clear that he was deliberately screwing with G'Kar as a way of getting subtle revenge for what happened in Midnight on the Firing Line. It is that little bit of motivational candor that pushes the episode onto the 'essentials' list when it otherwise would've been 'filler'(albeit excellent 'filler').
There shouldn't be as big an interlude with regards to my comments on the remaining episodes, since I think I'm going to try and cram them all into a couple of 'super posts', which will probably come tommorow morning or afternoon (depending on how long it takes me to watch the eps).