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Deep Space Nine What We Left Behind, we will always have here.

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Old April 17 2008, 07:20 PM   #961
The Habs Fan
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

Smiley wrote: View Post
I just completed my first viewing of the five seasons of B5 on Monday. It was quite a ride, to say the least. Here are some of my random thoughts about the show:

The characters are the best thing about the show. My favorites are G'Kar, Londo, Vir, Ivanova, Marcus, and Garibaldi, although I like almost everyone.

I love the first season, and I would rather watch Sinclair than Sheridan.

The fifth season is a mixed bag, although I understand the reasons now after listening to the commentaries. The Byron plot is not bad, but it needed some refining. What brings it down is that we lose Ivanova and Marcus and get Lochley in return.

I didn't cry during "Sleeping in Light," but I came close during the montage of the cast with their beginning and ending photos.

I don't feel I'm missing much by skipping the B5 telefilms boxed set, The Lost Tales, Crusade, or The Legend of the Rangers. All of the essentials are in the show. That said, I am very interested in the novels, and I plan to read all of them, unless any are hated to the level of Planet of Twilight or The Crystal Star from the Star Wars novels.

I don't have a favorite episode, but a few that I really enjoyed are "Signs and Portents," "The Geometry of Shadows," "Into the Fire," and "Endgame."

I look forward to further discussions in this forum and GSF&F.
I'm glad to see you liked the show. However, I do recommend that you watch at least one of the telefilms, In The Beginning, as it's excellent and answers a few more questions that I don't remember the series answering.
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Old April 17 2008, 07:39 PM   #962
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

According to DVD Verdict, In the Beginning includes a lot of contrivances like having some unlikely characters meet for the first time before 2258. I won't say I'll never watch it, but none of it seemed to be crucial.
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Old April 17 2008, 07:59 PM   #963
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

None of the early character meetings contradict the series in any way, since we don't see "first meeting" scenes for those characters on the show itself. There is one continuity hiccup regarding which asteroid field Sheridan mined, but it's fairly minor as these things go----there's worse between WWE and Babylon Squared.

Regarding the books, the three trilogies, plus To Dream in the City of Sorrows and The Shadow Within are worthwhile. I've heard the others aren't very good, but haven't read them myself.
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Old April 17 2008, 09:41 PM   #964
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

Neroon wrote: View Post
However, to expand upon your questions, I'd say elements like this:
- the advantages to community building, compared to the power of the individual.
- extended story arcs encompassing long periods of time
- uniting against darkness
- "not everyone is exactly what he appears to be"
- eminently quotable lines
- extensive use of CGI
OK, it's now clear what you mean. You're referring to both production elements and themes in the story. Here are several more ideas:

- Some attempt at realistic physics (space station needs to rotate in order to produce "artificial gravity"....Starfuries obey the laws of physics, and don't do physically impossible banking maneuvers in space). Although there are certainly counterexamples, in which there was some creative license taken with science......Crusade actually went one better in the realism department, and showed <gasp> the plane of the Milky Way in some of their space shots, which I've never seen done before in any other TV show or movie.

- Heavy use of what one might call "modern" directorial touches, such as frequent voiceover narrations, montages, and black and white flashbacks. (I love this style, and it was really used quite heavily from about late Season 2 to the end of Season 4.)

- Alien religions (and human religions) actually shown to have at least some kind of pseudo-philosophical underpinning. (As opposed to, say, religion in BSG, which doesn't seem to be about anything more than prophesies and the question of how many gods there are.) I'm thinking in particular of Foundationism, and Season 5 cult of personality that grew around G'Kar. In both cases, there are actually some *ideas* put forward about what the religion meant (though some of those ideas are arguably kind of paper thin, there's at least the *pretense* of religions being about something).

- The show as the vision of one man, JMS, who wrote 80 some percent of all the scripts.

- You write "extended story arcs encompassing long periods of time". But that barely scratches the surface of what makes B5's story arc unique. The fact that the entire story was planned out in some detail beforehand really shows. I mean, it *really* shows when you compare to basically any other long running series that relies heavily on story arcs. B5 has all but ruined the rest of television for me in this regard. In every other show, they can create the illusion that there's some coherent long running story thread running through the series, but by at least the second or third season, it starts to become painfully obvious that they're just winging it, and the end product never holds together nearly as well as B5.

- Relatedly, there's the fact that (almost) every episode has at least an A and a B story (and frequently a C story). Usually, with one storyline connected to the overarching story arc of the series. Virtually every episode contributes at least *something* to the overall story arc.

- One particular political bent to the show that doesn't get enough attention (which is kind of related to your "the advantages to community building" item): The show is fiercely anti-nationalist. There really aren't any major recurring bad guys who are just in it for themselves, except maybe Lord Refa. Every other "bad guy" does what they do primarily because they're out to protect the interests of their faction (Londo does everything for the Centauri, Bester to protect the interests of the Psi Corps, Lyta in Season 5 to protect the interests of Telepaths, etc.), or because of ideology (the Shadows and Vorlons put their own ideological dispute ahead of the interests of the younger races). It's the good guys (the "Army of Light") who transcend all of that and put the interests of the whole "community of races" first.
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Old April 17 2008, 11:35 PM   #965
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

One of the elements of B5 that I don't see talked about much is friendship but it's pervasive throughout the series. Garibaldi was fiercely loyal to Sinclair and Franklin and G'Kar. G'Kar was friends with Garibaldi and Marcus and later, Londo. Vir was a friend to Londo and Lennier. Carrying on to Crusade you've got Gideon's friendship with Mattheson and Galen.

Those are just a few of the obvious and perhaps more intense friendships but I think if you were to be reading a list of B5 elements and said "friendship" you'd get some thoughtful looks and then lots of nods.

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Old April 18 2008, 07:24 PM   #966
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

This week, I purchased almost all of the B5 novels and novelizations. The exceptions are the first two Techno-Mages books and the final Legions of Fire book. I was willing to pay $13 for the last Psi Corps book, and I'll probably break down and pay $15 for the first Techno-Mage book. However, $25 and $47 for the other two are just ridiculous. Does anybody know of a good source for those two?
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Old April 18 2008, 07:31 PM   #967
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

Smiley wrote: View Post
This week, I purchased almost all of the B5 novels and novelizations. The exceptions are the first two Techno-Mages books and the final Legions of Fire book. I was willing to pay $13 for the last Psi Corps book, and I'll probably break down and pay $15 for the first Techno-Mage book. However, $25 and $47 for the other two are just ridiculous. Does anybody know of a good source for those two?
Libraries or careful watch on ebay and other used book sellers is your best bet.

I still don't have the final Legions of Fire book.

For the second Techno-Mage book, you might try contacting Jeanne Cavelos directly, as I did earlier this year. She had a few copies left a couple of months ago. Book two will go for 25 bucks with shipping, and she's happy to autograph and personalize (if you want).

For the Psi Corp book, I would look around some more. I picked it up for 4 dollars from Deep Discount.
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Old April 18 2008, 07:39 PM   #968
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

As far as the movies go, my two cents:

In the Beginning: There are some contrivances here to get all of our characters together, but if you're willing to get over that there's a lot that's good about this movie. Fills in some of the holes and connects some of the dots left by the series. Plus, we get to see Londo as an old Emperor, as the framing sequence takes place a few years before "Sleeping in Light."

Thirdspace: Almost entirely standalone, besides bits about IPX that may have been more meaningful had Crusade lasted longer (but it didn't). Still, I found it to be fairly fun, even if the ending is totally conventional. Takes place before "Atonement" in season four.

River of Souls: A decently conceived A-story and a horribly thought up B-story are poorly executed in unison. Easily the worst of the movies. If you want to see Garibaldi a little more, and Lochley come into her own, then MAYBE it's worth seeing it once. Maybe. Takes place about six months after "Objects at Rest."

Call to Arms: Basically the pilot to the short-lived "Crusade" spin-off. Fairly good, although it does suffer from a couple of clichés. Also, "Crusade" was cancelled after 13 episodes, so there isn't really any pay-off outside of a couple passing lines in the novels.

Legend of the Rangers: A decent concept that suffers from moments of absolutely poor execution. Not as bad as fandom makes it out to be, and it has G'Kar in it, but not great at all.

The Lost Tales: The first volume was made for practically nothing, and it shows. Hopefully high sales will mean future volumes (if they are happening) will have much higher budgets. Still, after such a long time without Babylon 5, it was a nice diversion for an hour.
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Old April 18 2008, 07:48 PM   #969
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

Hirogen Alpha wrote: View Post
For the second Techno-Mage book, you might try contacting Jeanne Cavelos directly, as I did earlier this year. She had a few copies left a couple of months ago.
HA---Have you read the Technomage books yet? I remember a long time ago, when you were reviewing the series, you said that you would get to them at some point if you could find copies. After reading your reviews for the rest of B5 / Crusade, I'm curious to hear / read what you thought of them.
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Old April 18 2008, 09:03 PM   #970
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

Hirogen Alpha - Thanks for the advice. Like I said, I already ordered the 3rd Psi Corps book. Based on its reputation, I thought the price was fair. I'll keep searching, but it seems like every online site has decreed that those books are worth the same exorbitant price. I don't suppose there's a chance for a second printing down the road?

Regarding the movies, I have the novelizations for In the Beginning, Thirdspace, and A Call to Arms. If I like those, then I will bump up the movie DVDs on my wishlist.

Also, thanks to whomever recommended The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5. It has already helped me identify the book publication order, and I will surely read through the episode details the next time I run through the series.

As long as I'm asking about books, what are the best nonfiction titles? I'm interested more in the genesis of story ideas, design elements, and episode commentary than the actual production of the series.
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Old April 20 2008, 08:46 PM   #971
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

When I was picking up the B5 trilogies, I think I had to ask my local Barnes & Noble to order one of them in for me, but they did and I didn't pay an exorbitant price for it.

Actually I was under the impression the trilogies + 2 were all being reprinted that year (2003-ish), hence why everything was easy to find, but some people claim that never happened so I don't really know. Maybe I just got lucky.
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Old April 20 2008, 11:26 PM   #972
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

chrisspringob wrote: View Post
Hirogen Alpha wrote: View Post
For the second Techno-Mage book, you might try contacting Jeanne Cavelos directly, as I did earlier this year. She had a few copies left a couple of months ago.
HA---Have you read the Technomage books yet? I remember a long time ago, when you were reviewing the series, you said that you would get to them at some point if you could find copies. After reading your reviews for the rest of B5 / Crusade, I'm curious to hear / read what you thought of them.
I've finally acquired all three books, but won't have time to read them until the semester is over. At least a month away at this point. But sometime soon after that. I'm anxious to learn more about Galen, Elric, etc.
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Old April 20 2008, 11:32 PM   #973
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

Smiley wrote: View Post
As long as I'm asking about books, what are the best nonfiction titles? I'm interested more in the genesis of story ideas, design elements, and episode commentary than the actual production of the series.
The season by season guides are merely okay titles. Other than that, JMS' Babylon 5 Script Books have a great deal of commentary in them, although they mostly consist of the teleplays that he wrote for the series (the majority of the episodes) and can be rather expensive. Furthermore, they'll go out of print at the end of May this year.

http://www.babylon5scripts.com/ is the seller's page. They're probably outside of your price range, especially considering you're probably not interested in the scripts, but there are plenty of great tidbits in them.

Of course, I say that only owning four of them. Despite wanting to have a complete set, I just cannot afford one right now.
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Old April 21 2008, 12:18 AM   #974
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

Speaking of the script books, wasn't Vol. 14 supposed to have shipped by now?
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Old April 21 2008, 01:29 AM   #975
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Re: Niners Unite...around Babylon 5! - The Lost Threads

chrisspringob wrote: View Post
Speaking of the script books, wasn't Vol. 14 supposed to have shipped by now?
It should be pretty shortly. The 'signing bunker' was supposed to take a few weeks.

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