A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

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

  1. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    I think the "Scott Bakula?!" counter was for every time someone came into the thread without realizing the Scott Bakula joke and tried to correct you.

    Now that you're finished with Crusade, I say you get out while the getting's good and finally do your long-awaited DS9 thread. :shifty:
     
  2. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Enterprise feels apt. Certainly it's the only Star Trek series that comes to mind which has episodes that drove me up the wall as much as Crusade's X Files parody.

    Farscape thread?

    Seconded.
     
  3. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    I was going to say Farscape originally, but I vaguely recall him saying something about DS9 at one point. Or maybe he'll retire after this! :eek:
     
  4. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    [Rumours, bargains, and lies]
    The series would have switched into a different arc at the end of season 1 when the Excalibur crew would expose Earth Gov as secretly developing Shadow technology, and they would have to go rogue. A cure would be found for the plague that probably was ethically questionable - possibly using the healing device from Bablyon 5 to extract the life force from criminals and other people considered undesirable. Galen and Gideon would have fallen out when the technomages were revealed to depend on Shadow technology and to require the deaths of sentient beings to maintain the continuation of their order. Gideon would have died and had his mentality downloaded into the Apocalypse Box. The rumour is that Garry Cole might only have been on board the show as a main character for one season - sound familiar? After some sort of quest, Dureena would have received a magic sword that went "Ting". How it would all work out I don't know. I've never played D&D.
    [/Rumours, bargains, and lies]
     
  5. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    Oh dear God! :sigh:
     
  6. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    DS9 is next, it has been almost 5 years since I last watched it. For a Niner like me, that's an intolerable length of time. After DS9 I'm open to suggestions, including Farscape.


    The Legend of the Rangers (*)

    David Martell, a Ranger, made a mistake. His mistake was not killing himself in a hopeless battle. For this, he must be expelled from the Rangers because it goes against all the rules, except the rules of logic. It's been a while now since I finished B5, but I don't remember the Rangers being this dumb in the show, but in B5 they would never have let Tirk join the organisation. Is it possible that this is a different group of Rangers that happen to wear the same uniform?

    Anyway, President Sheridan and Citizen G'Kar intervene to save David's career, but he's given a crappy, haunted ship called the Liandra as a way to stick it to him. This was a brilliant decision by JMS, he obviously saw Star Trek V and realised that there's a lot of drama and comedy that can be squeezed out of having the hero ship be a malfunctioning wreck. But the real genius was in making the ship haunted because everyone loves ghosts. After all, that Parick Swayze movie made $500 million at the box office, so adding ghosts to your movie is money in the bank.

    The Liandra, worthless wreck that it is, is sent to escort the most advanced ship in the Alliance as it transports some important ambassadors to a remote planet. This may seem like a ridiculous decision to the uninitiated, but those that understand the powerful force known as "the narrative" know that the big expensive ship will be destroyed and the small crappy ship will save the day. The leaders of the Rangers are wiser than I give them credit for.

    So, the two ships come under attack by a mysterious enemy and in the middle of the battle Cantrell runs away to play some 0-G Kinect. As a result, the big expensive ship has to ram the enemy ship so that the small crappy ship can get away with the ambassadors. You'd think they'd do things the other away around, but you'd be wrong.

    Anyway, some stuff happens involving ghosts, comets, and a suspiciously evil looking ambassador, and then...

    In my time as a television viewer, I have seen many horrific things. I've seen a body that was semi-dissolved in acid come crashing through a ceiling. I've seen a man's head crushed by the wheel of a car. I've seen a woman brutally raped. I've seen a man poison his wife and child before shooting his brains out. I've seen a man lose half his face in an explosion. But none of those things prepared me for the horror of seeing a woman hanging in space shooting lasers from her hands and feet while screaming her head off. That was just... wow.

    The movie bravely continues after this moment of madness, but I have to question why it bothers. It's like watching a play where one of the actors has a mental breakdown in the middle of the show, but she pulls herself together and continues the performance. Brave, perhaps, but there's only one thing that people will be talking about in the bar afterwards.

    Anyway, the suspiciously evil looking ambassador actually is evil and he lays out what's really going on. It turns out that there's an even older, more powerful, and more evil force than the Shadows and they're called The Hand of God. Oooooooh. They're returning for some reason and some new aliens have decided to get in on the evil act. It's like JMS took what he had with the Shadows and turned it up to 11, which obviously makes it better. The obvious solution to all the Liandra's problems is to put the evil ambassador in an escape pod with some grenades and unwillingly use him as a mine. This works and it blows up the evil ship real good, David is commended for his good work and they all go to Babylon 5 to celebrate. The End.

    The movie is full of clichés and I imagine it is referenced often over on TV Tropes. There's nothing fresh or exciting about it, it feels like a generic action movie in the Babylon 5 universe. The only reason I'll remember it at all is because of that one scene, and it wont be a fond memory.
     
  7. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    At least the Brakiri ambassador had a scene. He was always one of my favourite supporting characters (not quite sure why, I just like seeing him).

    Ah.

    About that...

    But you've already worked that out, I see.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  8. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    I rather liked the dynamic between Martell and Dulann. And the music rocked. But otherwise, Legend ain't all that.
     
  9. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

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    That stupid, stupid kung fu weapons room is the only thing I remember about Legend of the Rangers. Ugh. :scream:
     
  10. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    See, Legend of the Rangers is all about people seeming to do the same thing twice... but they're actually not. So I think JMS had a cunning plan.

    The problem with that is that he had to do the same thing twice to pull it off. And that was boring.
     
  11. Evil Twin

    Evil Twin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    LotR is the only bit of B5 I still haven't watched but from everything I've heard I'm probably better off remaining blissfully unexposed to it. :lol:
     
  12. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I won't even give it that, since most of the music was second-hand from the canceled computer game.
     
  13. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    Dear God! I'm thinking it was best that I read this review before watching this movie. I'll probably pass on this one. :eek:

    I say Stargate.
     
  14. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    Stargate is bleh, big step down from B5 and DS9. X-Files would be my choice as that has things which can actually be discussion worthy beyond "that line was funny."
     
  15. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But LotR's reveal at the end was that they pretended to be doing something else but they were actually doing the same thing as before. :p


    The Lost Tales (*½)

    There's two unrelated stories here and if there's a connection between them it's that the main characters in both took much too long to figure things out. I think that's what JMS was going for.

    Story 1: Lochley, the priest, and the devil

    It has been noted in the past that whenever Babylon 5 deals with religious material I tend to ridicule it, probably because I'm an atheist. That's half true. The concept of a god is one thing, but literal depictions of angels and demons are a bridge too far for me. Demons are as real to me as fairies are. B5 never had an episode about a fairy causing havoc on the station, but if it did then I imagine that many people would find it as ridiculous as I find having a demon causing havoc on the station.

    Maybe I could just explain all the demon stuff away as being an alien masquerading as a demon? Perhaps the being that has inhabited Simon is no more a demon than Kosh was an angel. That's the way I'm going to rationalise it, naturally, but the episode seems to play all this stuff for reals. These beings have apparently been on Earth a long time, longer than the Vorlons or the other races if they're worried about an event that will happen in 5 billion years time. They also appear to be responsive to a Catholic exorcism ritual. Also, if they're really just misunderstood aliens then Lochley has condemned them to die on Earth (in 5 billion years) rather than trying to help them escape.

    There's not really much of a plot here, but what little there is makes Lochley seem a quite silly, at least to me. Most people that were in charge of this situation would pull up the victim's background to see if there's anything suspicious before calling in a priest to perform an exorcism, that just seems like the logical way to go about things. But Lochley calls up the priest first before checking the records of the transport ship Simon was on. The episode plays this like a shocking revelation, but it leaves me questioning Lochley's competence.

    Story 2: Sheridan, the Prince, and the wizard

    It's a question that we're all asked at some point in our lives; if you had the opportunity to kill Hitler before he rose to power, would you take it? For me the answer is no. Not because I worry about disrupting the timeline, or because I love Hitler, but because I don't think killing Hitler would have addressed the problems that allowed him to come to power. If you want to prevent the rise of an extremist group in Germany in the 1930s then the best way to go about it is to avoid the perception of trying to humiliate Germany in the Treaty of Versailles, and prevent the causes of the Great Depression. Those are harder acts to pull off, but they are not only likely to get better results, they're also nicer things to do.

    So when Galen shows up and tells Sheridan to kill Prince Vintari in order to save the future Earth, I was already thinking of better ways to pull that off that didn't involve murder. The fact that this is a revelation that Sheridan only comes up with at the last second makes me question his judgement as a political leader. Didn't he learn from that time when he impulsively declared war on the Centauri because people were yelling at him? Anyway, this revelation makes Sheridan realise this was Galen's plan all along, because that makes sense to him for some reason. Then Galen acts all smug and hints that that's the case.

    Bullplop! I'm convinced that Galen's plan really was to have Sheridan murder the Prince, because Galen is wicked and vengeful. (Just look at what he tried to do to that friendly alien in the bubble.) Once Sheridan presented a better plan, Galen claimed it as his own like the smug git that he is. I'm basing this theory on an irrefutable fact; the fact that I don't like Galen.

    Overall, the first story didn't work for me and the second story, while trying to present an interesting morality play, wasn't as good as I was hoping. Plus, it had Galen, that always costs a point or two.
     
  16. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's the curious thing about JMS, I guess, who is also an atheist, but who takes religion very seriously. This works better when he's writing about religion and ethics (Brad Dourif the monk, a bit of telegraphing in casting) and not so well whenever he starts dealing with religion and the supernatural... and is just downright dire the moment he starts parading anything related to Arthurian legendry around.

    All that said I'd probably point to "And the Rock Cried Out No Hiding Place" as the show's best use of religion, a choice that I'm sure says more about me than anything else.
     
  17. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    RCO, fantastic ep. But then, I enjoyed both Arthurian eps, too.
     
  18. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    I've been questioning his competence as a political leader for quite some time as well.
     
  19. hyzmarca

    hyzmarca Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Lost Tales, I think, is just a case of insufficient budget to do anything interesting. A telepath war movie would have been more interesting, but I don't think they would have been able to pay for it.
    Legend of the Rangers suffers from being tacked on. It really doesn't have any place in the established 20-year plot arc.
     
  20. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Babylon 5 Review

    It took far longer than I was expecting, but I have finally completed this journey. It's weird trying to recap a show that I watched over a year ago, so this final summary isn't going to be my finest hour.

    Here's the graph for the ratings I gave to each episode of the show:

    [​IMG]

    This may be the controversial bit; determining what to include in the final average from the show. I decided right away that Crusade shouldn't be included as that was a different show, but what about the movies? Well, I included all of them except for A Call to Arms and The Legend of the Rangers as they were pretty much pilots for different shows. All the other movies were centred on Babylon 5 or the characters from the show so I included them in the total. That makes 115 episodes or movies and an average score of 6.122. (Including Crusade and the other two movies, that average drops to 5.984.)

    By my standards, that's a very good score. (I'd point out that it's way ahead of my scores for Voyager and Enterprise, but that was probably a given from the start. ;)) The trend line shows what everyone already knows, it starts out as an average show and improves greatly from there.

    [​IMG]

    This graph says a lot, I rated the vast majority of episodes as average or better, and there's a high proportion of 7s. Strangely, it has the same number of 10s as Voyager, but only one 0 score. This is a very solid show. Overall, I rated 21 episodes below average, 18 episodes average, and 76 above average.

    I usually rank what I consider to be the top and bottom 10 episodes, but because the show isn't fresh in my mind I can't do that this time. So here's my top and bottom 1.

    115. Infection
    ...
    1. Intersections in Real Time


    The Characters

    Once again, I'm not going to go into much detail here because of the year-long gap between viewing the show and writing this, so here's my brief opinion: I like most of the characters. I even liked Byron a little bit, which probably has some of you cursing my name.

    My clear favourites are Londo and G'Kar, which is probably the most uncontroversial opinion anyone has every expressed about this show. They're fascinating characters that can easily straddle the gap between comedy and high drama, sometimes in the same sentence. Then there's characters like Vir and Lennier that I initially thought I was going to hate, but I ended up liking them as well. The human characters were often overshadowed by the aliens, but they were okay, and I liked some of the stuff that Franklin and Garibaldi got up to.


    Statistics

    Captain Greyshirt: 22
    Scott Bakula: 94
    Scott Bakula?!: 4

    Season 1 Average: 5.045
    Season 2 Average: 5.682
    Season 3 Average: 6.5
    Season 4 Average: 7.136
    Season 5 Average: 6.545
    Overall Average: 6.121

    Crusade Average: 4.538
    Voyager Average: 4.875
    Enterprise Average: 5.206


    Final Judgement

    I'm not going to say that it was a mistake for me to give up on Babylon 5 after four episodes the first time I tried to watch it, it was a rough time in my life and Rome relaxed me in a way that B5 didn't. (That's probably the first time anyone has called Rome relaxing.) But I am glad that I finally gave the show a second chance, it ended up providing quite a ride. One day I will probably give the show another viewing from beginning to end, and perhaps then I may be more forgiving to some of the show's weaker early episodes.

    I think I'll end this with an anecdote. While watching the final episode of Crusade, seeing the characters walk around the old Babylon 5 sets, I found myself missing that place. The sets aren't fancy, they demonstrate the show's low budget in many ways, but I grew attached to them all the same. I may not be fanatical about the show, but I am a fan.

    Don't groan! It's the best that I could come up with. I'd like to see you do better you miserable sons of...

    Fin