A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by TheGodBen, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In my mind everything with Soul Hunters, TechnoMages and Minbari religion has disappeared from Babylon 5. Apparently I've lost all objectivity! But, it makes for a much better program. Thirdspace passes the time modestly well. River of Souls should have been dammed, as well as damned, before flowing out of our television screens.
     
  2. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thirdspace is definitely the better movie. Look, I found the dream stuff kind of cool and creepy, alright, and the effects for the ancient race were nice. River of Souls was a constant awkward pause.

    And it's also true that In the Beginning is the only Babylon 5 movie really worth a damn... though I'm going to go head and say I did like The Lost Tales overall.

    One of the many smart moves taken in In the Beginning is to simply skip the Soul Hunters entirely. If you'd remembered they were to have tried to save Dukhat, so they probably attacked the Minbari fleet shortly after the Prometheus (or hell, maybe the original idea was during I dunno). But aside from their addition adding an entirely extraneous detail to In the Beginning's plot... they just really suck as an idea so I'm glad they're not in the movie. The more Soul Hunters get explained, the less I understand, most often; it's a rather half-assed attempt at a mystical question branded as a species. Or an order. Or a something.

    Seriously I want to know what the non-Soul Hunting Soul Hunters get up to, or are they all strangled before they get to be patio salesmen?

    I'm currently watching Deadwood, so my immediate reaction to this was: Wait; Ian McShane was on Babylon 5? I don't remember that at all. This is some sort of Scott Bakula joke right? Quick google search later and I'd wish I'd forgotten.

    Concluded the second season today. I'd heartily concur with that. It's got Caprica's Amanda Grayson too, only in a role which is generally better focused and written.

    I have no idea. I remember there being some sort of fan theory that this was JMS's slam of DS9's holosuites; but the whole thing came off as annoyingly trite.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2010
  3. JoeD80

    JoeD80 Captain Captain

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    The holo-brothel plot was originally part of a planned second season episode that Joe said he had put on hold because Star Trek had gone over similar material. When TNT wanted more movies, he decided to finally use the story.
     
  4. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was thinking more along the lines of him reliving that embarrassing scene in his head every time he speaks to her about Byron being a long haired fruit.

    The novelization for ITB did actually those events in full, complete with Soul Hunters. There really wasn't very much to it, it picks up right after Delenn screams in favour of mass genocide and has someone tell her they've been boarded already. The hunters show up and the Minbari link arms around Dukhat's corpse and Delenn tells them so bugger off...which they do.
    Obviously in the film it'd make absolutely no sense in terms of the narrative and since it's all a story being told by Londo and not a verbatim historical account it's perfectly fine to just skip that bit. I think if you watch carefully though, you can just see the Soul Hunter ships as they did just reuse the footage from 'Atonement' for that scene.
    An excellent question, especially since the station is supposed to have an actual brothel lurking around somewhere. Perhaps the technology is considered unsafe? That or the Prostitutes Guild pressured B5 to have it banned because of the potential loss in revenue.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2010
  5. hyzmarca

    hyzmarca Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The latter is more likely. If prostitutes were to uninioze they'd be more politically powerful than the teamsters (if all the prostitutes went on strike then all the politicians would have to have sex with their wives).
     
  6. aelius

    aelius Commander Red Shirt

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    Lol, no wonder politicians all agree to keep it illegal.:lol:
     
  7. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Eh, if I had listened to everyone else's opinion I wouldn't have enjoyed season 5 as much as I did. I don't agree with everybody, nor should I. :)

    The thing that killed Thirdspace for me was that I pretty much knew how the story was going to play out from the opening monologue by Sheridan. They'd find something, a portal to another dimension would open up, some evil aliens would try to break into our universe, they'd fail and life would go back to normal. I didn't guess the involvement of the Vorlons or anything like that, but the structure of the movie was obvious and I felt it took too long to get to the point. With River of Souls, I had no idea how it was going to play out until the end of the movie. I wasn't sitting there waiting for everything to resolve itself, the story could have gone a number of ways.

    Plus, Martin Sheen. :drool:


    A Call to Arms (***)

    Some might say that I'm committing sacrilege by saying this, but I got a bit of a Wrath of Khan vibe from this movie. There's the former captain going on an inspection of a spaceship, a new crew that are inexperienced with the ship, a returning enemy from the series, a doomsday weapon, they win by losing... I don't know, it felt a bit Wrath of Khan-esque to me. It's not necessarily a good or bad thing, it was just in the back of my mind.

    Sheridan starts receiving messages from an annoying technomage warning about the impending destruction of Earth. Damn technomages, why can't they stay hidden? :rolleyes: And what's the deal with all the English people in the future? Did England go out and try to conquor the world again? Because half the population of Earth has some sort of English accent. I'm not sure which is more worrying, the abundance of the English in the B5 universe or the fact that the English culture superseded the French in the Star Trek universe.

    Anyway, Sheridan goes to B5 where he meets a thief, and Captain Anderson shows up with his ship. Anderson realises the importance of stopping the evil aliens but knows that Sheridan's ship can't leave without proper authorisation, so he provides two options: 1) break into the security office and release the ship, or 2) break into Ambassador Udina's office and try to release the ship from there. I was feeling like a bit of a bastard that day so I told him to break into the security office. He released the Normandy, but in doing so he was shot, although not fatally.

    Wait, wrong Captain Anderson. :alienblush:

    Captain Anderson has a wife and daughter, which made it plainly obvious that he was a goner.

    The movie was okay while containing some things that annoyed me, particularly Galen. The pacing was better than the last two, this one actually felt like a movie rather than an extended episode. The ending was a bit rushed and full of exposition setting up Crusade, and that lessens the impact of the movie. It feels like a torch-passing exercise, but the guy they're passing the torch to hasn't arrived yet.

    Then there's the music. It's not bad per se, but it stands out like a sore thumb. I've done a little reading to see what happened to Christopher Franke and it seems this was an intentional move by JMS to have a different sound for Crusade. I'm not sure why he felt that was needed, but fair enough, perhaps this new style will grow on me as I watch Crusade. I know that I used to hate the music on BSG when it started, but by the end of the first season I had grown in love with it, so perhaps that will happen again. (Then again, I'm still not a fan of the music from the BSG miniseries, and part of the reason why I loved BSG's soundtrack is that Bear McCreary took over and slowly infused the score with his own voice.)

    Scott Bakula: 81
     
  8. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    There was much ...er...discussion about how much or how little connection to B5 there would be in Crusade. JMS has stated that it was his choice but he admitted in a podcast late last year that in hindsight the move to Evan Chen was a mistake. I really love the opening sequence for Crusade, though.

    Jan
     
  9. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You know that never occurred to me, but you're right there are some superficial parallels there - though I'm sure they're quite unintentional.

    That's the plan!

    Funny you should say that as I got a pretty strong B5 vibe while playing Mass Effect...

    Uh-oh.

    Even after all these years, I'm still not sure what to make of the soundtrack. In Crusade itself there are certainly episodes and scenes where it works quite well and the main theme is quite good IMO...still it tends to fall apart in the action scenes. With BSG Bear quickly figured out that the best way to go in that regard was to get as many really big drums beating as loud and as fast as they can possibly go. With Chen, he seems to try the same thing but using wind-chimes instead of drums and in those action scenes it just doesn't support the imagery the way a good soundtrack should.
     
  10. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I'm not too fond of "A Call to Arms". Actually, to be fair, what I'm not too fond of is the set-up for "Crusade". I could really do without the Drakh plague. It just bugs me, first of all because I'm not too fond of this sort of situation. "The fate of the Earth!" never really works for me as a driving concern. If they wanted to do something interesting, have it be a colony that gets virus-bombed. Like Mars; that's an interesting set up. We know the Earth Alliance will do whatever it takes to save Earth...but would it do the same for Mars? Would it instead be "Oh no. Mars is gonna die. Tragic, our deepest sympathies. All true EA citizens please contribute to the "We're gonna miss Mars *snicker* memorial". Would Mars citizens truly believe Earth is doing all it can to help? Will Proxima and Orion put pressure on Earth, etc? That would be considerably more intriguing. Secondly, the plague irritates me because this potentially undoes all the (presumed) progress made by the Alliance in getting Humans to see that aliens are not something to be feared and hated. Home Guard is going to have a field day with this. And I know that that's how it works when your universe isn't all fluffy optimism and aims for a harder realism, but it still seems to damage what I view as the emotional core of the Bab-5 story. Did Earth really need another great trauma after the Minbari War and Civil War?

    However, the film itself isn't too bad. I like Dureena (and continue to like her in "Crusade"), and it's generally entertaining enough. That said (while I'm moaning ;)), I was always a little confused about the Drakh. I can only conclude (and I think the spin-off RPGs and so on confirm this) that there are different clans of Drakh with different agendas. Otherwise, their attack makes little sense to me. Aren't they supposed to be keeping themselves secret, operating behind the curtains on Centauri Prime, out of the way...quietly setting up a plan that will kick into action years later (David's keeper, etc)? Why then make themselves such a target by trying to destroy- blatantly- a prominant Alliance member world? Now everyone's going to be hunting for the Drakh, for any sign of them. It reduces them from clever, subtle chessmasters to "WE BLOW YOU UP GOOD!!" berserkers...at least that's how I see it. As said, I have to conclude these Drakh have a different agenda to the Drakh who are quietly reconfiguring the Centauri into their anti-Alliance puppets. While we're on the subject- why Earth? The whole "Humans defeated the Shadows" idea gets weaker every time. I know personal revenge on Sheridan likely plays a part (possibly revenge on humans for similiar reasons to Morden's threat to the Centauri?), but Earth was neither a player in the Shadow War nor is it the most important Alliance world. If you're going to destroy a planet, destroy Minbar, surely? Unless they thought it too powerful, too great a risk. Even then, Earth may be quite prominant, but it wasn't even actually a founding member of the Alliance. The others had to convince it to join (Delenn bribed them with shiny new gravity generators). Hell, why not go after Brakir, or Zhabar, or Vreetan? They all did far more to get rid of the Shadows, even if a human led the charge.

    So, "A Call to Arms" seems flawed to me. It sort of reduces a lot of the subtle elements of Bab-5 to "evil aliens try to destroy Earth, because Earth is where we live and thus is important". Standard sci-fi, really. Again, though, I should stress I actually quite enjoy it.

    As for the other films, "In the Beginning" is brilliant. Babylon Five at its best, and an essential part of the story, in my opinion. It's the only film I consider a must-see. I actually slot it in between "Objects at Rest" and "Sleeping in Light" when I run through the series (because of Londo's framing story, which chronologically puts it here). Nothing gets you more tearful than watching "In the Beginning" and "Sleeping in Light" back-to-back...

    "River of Souls" is good, I think. Not essential or amazing, but a decent outing in the Bab-5 universe. Some people hate it, but I never had a problem with it. :)

    "Thirdspace" is my least favourite. It has its good moments- I actually liked both Zack's elevator scene and the Vorlon's final hurrah (which I thought nicely restored a bit of self-criticism and humility to them, considering they were in full-blown insane facist knight templar mode last we saw them)- but overall it doesn't work for me. A lot of what TheGodBen and Kegg, in particular, have already articulated very well goes for me too.

    PS: The "Hand" puns are making me smile. :lol::techman:
     
  11. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The second book of the Centauri Prime trilogy begins with a sort of prequel to ACtA where we see the Drakh locate the planet-killer (having used a Centauri mining operation as front to excavate a point-to-point jumpgate that lead to the Shadow facility where the death clouds were built) and test it out. At one point, the characters learn that the planet killer was aimed at Earth, to get back at Sheridan, and after that, the plague would be dropped on Minbar to punish Delenn. No idea why, since the planet killer clearly wasn't single-use (unless it only had enough missiles for two firings before a reload), but that was the explanation.
     
  12. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    ^ Ah, thank you. :) I've never been able to track the Centauri Prime trilogy down, sadly.
     
  13. JoeD80

    JoeD80 Captain Captain

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    Well 500 years in the future there is a major split in the Alliance leading to the Great Burn. Those cracks had to start forming somewhere.
     
  14. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As I recall the plague was the result of a TNT mandated "hook" for the show; something easy to explain without diagrams that tells people what it's all about. I don't know how detailed or specific that mandate was or how much wiggle room JMS had, but suffice to say that the plague would have been cured midway through season 2-ish and the real plot would have kicked in. I won't spoil anything at this point but I will say, as short as Crusade's run was it still managed to get in hints of what that plot would have been.

    Think back to B5 midway through season 1 and how much of what was really going on we knew and how much had been hinted at right under our noses without being spotted until the second run through.

    Possibly, but as I said, it was never meant to be the core of the show and would have been dispensed with pretty quickly. Then of course the whole point of this "hook" is the draw in new viewers who may not have seen B5 or even much science fiction before (at least that's what TNT hoped for.) Though trite, "the fate of Earth" is much easier for people to grasp than any of the other options you propose...plus from a purely logistical standpoint, I don't think the plague would have done much on Mars.

    The colony still has everyone living in pressurised domes and there's no planetary ecology to speak of aside from engineered microbes in the permafrost for terraforming purposes, no not many ways for the plague to infect people. It may have meant everyone had to stay in the domes more than normal and could no longer go outside with just a parka and breather but I think if they restricted travel, most of the population would be reasonably safe from being infected in the first instance. Either way it'd be much less credible to have a clock-o-doom ticking down the five years till mass genocide day.

    I'm about halfway through reading the first of the Centauri books right now and details on the Drakh are still pretty sketchy. They do have a central authority or government of sorts called the Drakh Entire, which seems to plan and act through consensus with agents like Shiv'kala (the one that gave Londo his Keeper) given fairly wide latitude. The name would appear to suggest that all Drakh have a say in what goes on but (so far) it's not been elaborated on.
     
  15. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the Technomage trilogy went into a little more detail on the Drakh's organizational structure. At the very least, they explained the difference between the Shiv'kala Drakh and the red-glowy-eye raver Drakh.
     
  16. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    Well, it's official - I hate Galen.

    Did he even have hair? Because if he did, I hate it!

    Then again, given what JMS is currently doing to Wonder Woman, I'm not too fond of him either.

    Oh, and one more thing, about Galen....

    Subtle transition there pal. :rolleyes:
     
  17. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    Eh, I like Galen. He's over the top, but he's fun.
     
  18. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    Remember he's Edward Woodward's son. of COURSE he's gonna act over the top! :lol:
     
  19. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As to why Centauri Prime and Earth were the first targets of the Drakh, I had assumed that it was because Earth and Centauri Prime were allies of the Shadows who betrayed them. The Vorlons obviously intended the PsiCorps on Earth to get together in some sort of humongous psychic communion that would mentally fry Z'hadum and the Shadows. The neutrality treaty took away this weapon from the Vorlons. Violating the neutrality treaty to give the Shadows telepathic Shadow vessel operators would have given the Shadows a well nigh invincible core to its forces.

    As Shadow loyalists, punishing the traitors from the ranks would be a high priority for the Drakh. Thus, the open attack on Earth and the covert attack on Centauri Prime came first.

    Incidentally, n one sense, one can attribute the victory of Good to Alfred Bester!:) But then, you can say the same I think for all the characters.
     
  20. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Very interesting theory - it makes no sense at all.[/groucho]

    Centauri Prime was targeted because of Londo; both what he did and the potential the Shadows saw in him. The Drakh wanted to continue to harness that potential and among all the Alliance races, the Centauri would be the easiest to isolate. They have a history of stomping about and throwing their weight around so it was easy to turn the others against them.

    Earth would have been more of a symbolic strike as humans (not just Sheridan) had lead the charge against the Shadows and later the Vorlons. The Minbari would have been next - indeed that was what they brought the plague for, it was to be used against Minbar.

    As for the Vorlon's plans for human telepaths, that's touched on in the short story 'Nautilus Coil'. In a nutshell the "standard" human teeps (P1 - P12) were about step three out of a five step plan, with Lyta's enhancements being around step four. Because of Dr. Kirkish and IPX found that ship on Syria Planum, leading to the Icasus mission and the premature awakening of the Shadows the Vorlons never had time to finish the job and just used what they had. The Shadows got their first however, using Morden's connections with Earthforce New Technologies, IPX and their links to the faction of "laters" (teeps raised as mundanes before manifesting their psi - as opposed to the Cadre Primers who were born teeps.) The laters had essentially pushed most of the Primers out of key positions within the Corps and took control of Department Sigma (the ones behind Ironheart's enhancements, the Syria Planum dig, and probably the "Bureau 13" cell) which meant they could funnel the high powered blips to the Shadows.

    Teeps were never meant to kill of the Shadows, just beat them back into submission so the Vorlons could force them to admit they were right.