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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old January 29 2010, 06:17 PM   #181
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

Alex1939 wrote: View Post
^

I thought you were leaving the thread never to return?
You were wrong. Attentive reading is your friend.

Dennis wrote: View Post
Now that I know that the OP thinks writers who stand up for their rights and who expect to be compensated properly for their work are "cocksuckers" under contract I'm not interested in what he thinks about B5 or any other piece of creative work. He just doesn't get it.
When and if I respond to one of the OP's comments or observations you'll have a point...not before.

stonester1 wrote: View Post
But the context of the times has to be taken into consideration.
No it doesn't. That reduces fiction to a kind of fossil record. Author's intent, "context of the times" and so on are fodder for undergraduate essays - the audience brings their current "context" to the reading or watching of a work of fiction, and if the work can't sustain continuing interest outside of an understanding of its "original context" then it's doomed to fade and disappear within a generation or two.

B5 was an is dark, gritty and daring.
No it wasn't, not by comparison to any of a number of network dramas even at the time (its "original context" as you'd say). Kegg is right that it was only remarkable if Star Trek was your single point of reference.
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Old January 29 2010, 06:31 PM   #182
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

Dennis wrote: View Post

No it doesn't. That reduces fiction to a kind of fossil record. Author's intent, "context of the times" and so on are fodder for undergraduate essays - the audience brings their current "context" to the reading or watching of a work of fiction, and if the work can't sustain continuing interest outside of an understanding of its "original context" then it's doomed to fade and disappear within a generation or two.
Well, since fiction IS a kind of fossil record (in many different ways, and to truly understand the impact of something, you DO have to understand the times in which it originated), and the long term worth of fiction can be judged by it's continued interest (so far, B5 has not faded away), I would consider the above invalid.

B5 was an is dark, gritty and daring.
No it wasn't, not by comparison to any of a number of network dramas even at the time (its "original context" as you'd say). Kegg is right that it was only remarkable if Star Trek was your single point of reference.[/QUOTE]

Oh really? What other network dramas as contemporaries of Babylon 5 would you name as examples of being "just as" "dark, gritty and daring"?

There are a few, but only a few. Babylon 5 is unique in that it not only had that, but several other elements that made it stand out.

It stopped airing awhile back, yet it still has MUCH attention, people still discover it and find out what the magic is, way out of the context of it's times, etc etc.

Dennis, just because you soured on the show, doesn't mean the show soured.
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Old January 29 2010, 06:41 PM   #183
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

stonester1 wrote: View Post
Dennis, just because you soured on the show, doesn't mean the show soured.
stonester1, just because you liked the show doesn't mean it was very good - or original, or innovative as drama.

B5 had a small and dedicated audience when it ran and has a small and dedicated audience now rather than a growing one. Genre TV is like that sometimes; there are still Lost In Space fans.
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Old January 29 2010, 06:53 PM   #184
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

stonester1 wrote: View Post
B5 was an is dark, gritty and daring.
Gritty? That's one you'd have to sell me on. B5 is a very stagey, very theatrical production, and generally rather clean. I'm not sure what sort of grit the show had.

Dennis wrote: View Post
That reduces fiction to a kind of fossil record. Author's intent, "context of the times" and so on are fodder for undergraduate essays - the audience brings their current "context" to the reading or watching of a work of fiction, and if the work can't sustain continuing interest outside of an understanding of its "original context" then it's doomed to fade and disappear within a generation or two.
Precisely. It's also a catch-22: You can't simultaneously claim that B5 is the best sci-fi series ever but also one that has to be made major excuses for.

stonester1 wrote: View Post
Well, since fiction IS a kind of fossil record (in many different ways, and to truly understand the impact of something, you DO have to understand the times in which it originated),
We're talking about entertainment here. The issue remains: Does it still entertain? That's all that matters, unless you're doing some sort of scholarly analysis of the show's impact on its viewers or whatever.

Oh really? What other network dramas as contemporaries of Babylon 5 would you name as examples of being "just as" "dark, gritty and daring"?
Was Twin Peaks on network? I don't know much about that sort of American thing. I think that show was darker overall. It also came before Babylon 5.
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Old January 29 2010, 07:30 PM   #185
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

Kegg wrote: View Post
Was Twin Peaks on network?
It was, as was fare like NYPD Blue.
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Old January 29 2010, 07:41 PM   #186
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

^ And Hill Street Blues (1981-1987), which preceded both NYPD Blue and Twin Peaks - and Babylon 5 - by quite a while.
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Old January 29 2010, 07:45 PM   #187
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

JustKate wrote: View Post
^ And Hill Street Blues (1981-1987), which preceded both NYPD Blue and Twin Peaks - and Babylon 5 - by quite a while.
Absolutely.
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Old January 29 2010, 07:54 PM   #188
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

JustKate wrote: View Post
^ And Hill Street Blues (1981-1987), which preceded both NYPD Blue and Twin Peaks - and Babylon 5 - by quite a while.
And in early press, JMS pitched Babylon 5 as "Hill Street Blues of science fiction" as well as "Casablanca in space." In the first Starlog article on the show, written during the pre-production of "The Gathering", JMS said that B5 would be grittier than Trek, preferring a used-future look similar to Aliens and Blade Runner, etc. I believe he said much the same thing in the first Cinefantastique article. (Wish that I could look these up for exact quotes, but the magazines are back in San Diego.)

But when the series proper began, the show took on a more, as has been pointed out, theatrical look from the production design to the manner in which shots were staged (pun intended).

Moreover, the drama wasn't as edgy as those other contemporary shows, not in the way promised early on by JMS. Was it better than the placid drama of TNG and DS9? You bet. Was it better than NYPD Blue? Not really.

Does it destroy my enjoyment of the show? No. Do I wish it had been a little better in that department? Sure, same as I wish that the production design was a bit more... substantial.
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Old January 29 2010, 08:04 PM   #189
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

One thing I thought was an interesting production choice was that they often eschewed direct lighting of the actors, in favor of allowing them to be lit by the surrounding environment.
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Old January 29 2010, 08:39 PM   #190
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

The Gathering looked pretty gritty, especially in comparison to the rest of the series (except, perhaps, some episodes focused on down below, like Convictions in the third season). But, yeah. And Homicide: Life on the Street was also on television at the same time, pushing the envelope much further than Babylon 5 ever did.
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Old January 29 2010, 08:54 PM   #191
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

Lindley wrote: View Post
One thing I thought was an interesting production choice was that they often eschewed direct lighting of the actors, in favor of allowing them to be lit by the surrounding environment.
Which was much more prominent in the...

Harvey wrote: View Post
The Gathering looked pretty gritty, especially in comparison to the rest of the series (except, perhaps, some episodes focused on down below, like Convictions in the third season).
I've always preferred the look of "The Gathering" over that of the series, including the uniforms and cinematography.

Moreover, episodes directed by Mike Vejar always had a more interesting cinematography and shot set-up. He was very fond of shooting through light to create abstract patterns on the actors' faces.
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Old January 29 2010, 08:56 PM   #192
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

Dennis wrote: View Post
When and if I respond to one of the OP's comments or observations you'll have a point...not before.
Aha! Kegg is one of my duals (or I'm one of his duals, I can't remember the exact accusation) so you did respond to me! I'll expect your apology in the mail, because PMs are so impersonal.


Infection (0)

I've just come back from the doctor after a day of tests. I watched Infection last night and I was sure that it gave me cancer, so I admitted myself to the hospital first thing this morning. Luckily the doctor could find nothing wrong with me other than my overjoyed reaction to the prostate exam, so he gave me some painkillers for the headache and told me to stop watching Futurama.

As for the episode itself, there was some stuff about an alien monster and Sinclair talked it into killing itself. Look, I don't have time to talk about this episode, every second I spend on this rubbish is a second I could be using to play Mass Effect 2. All I'll say is that I now remember why I stopped watching B5 the first time I tried.

Commander Greyshirt: 5
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Old January 29 2010, 09:17 PM   #193
stonester1
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

Kegg wrote: View Post
Gritty? That's one you'd have to sell me on. B5 is a very stagey, very theatrical production, and generally rather clean. I'm not sure what sort of grit the show had.
As in tone, not look, not nearly as squeaky clean, especially for science fiction. Dealing with morality, grey areas, consequence, especially long term.


Dennis wrote: View Post

Precisely. It's also a catch-22: You can't simultaneously claim that B5 is the best sci-fi series ever but also one that has to be made major excuses for.
Well, I personally don't feel that any excuses need be made for it, major or minor. It's not perfect, but it's imperfections no more have to be excused than those of any other show.


stonester1 wrote: View Post
We're talking about entertainment here. The issue remains: Does it still entertain? That's all that matters, unless you're doing some sort of scholarly analysis of the show's impact on its viewers or whatever.
Absolutely.


Oh really? What other network dramas as contemporaries of Babylon 5 would you name as examples of being "just as" "dark, gritty and daring"?
Babylon 5 is it's combination of elements. You have the intimate character portraits. You have the big, epic scope. You have flaws in the characters AND the societies. Those flaws have long term consequences. There is no status quo or reset button. There is serious attempts to make the aliens ALIEN. Science is taken seriously ALONGSIDE spirituality, etc etc etc.

Yes, there are other shows, both before and during, that had pieces of what Babylon 5 had. But none until Babylon 5 combined them into such a whole.

In fact, the only series I consider comparable in such disparate elements combining such elements in a tapestry like that close to it would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yes, there are shows that have done since B5, but B5 was a groundbreaker, which is why it had such an impact.
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Old January 29 2010, 09:20 PM   #194
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

Dennis wrote: View Post
stonester1 wrote: View Post
Dennis, just because you soured on the show, doesn't mean the show soured.
stonester1, just because you liked the show doesn't mean it was very good - or original, or innovative as drama.
Yes, but all you have to do is survey what is popular and put to bed the myth that "popular"=quality and "niche"=not very good.

Some things that are popular are also high quality. Some things that are bad have a deservingly small audience.

But the reverse is also very true.

But one does not follow the other as if it was an axiom.
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Old January 29 2010, 09:25 PM   #195
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Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

There are very few redeeming aspects of "Infection". All I can really think of are:

-First mention of IPX
-First exploration of organic technology
-Garibaldi calling Sinclair out for risking himself so often.
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