A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

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

  1. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Location:
    Tatoinne
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    JMS had an annoying tendency to make his "heroes" seem bigger than they were, by creating petty and disgusting villains to contrast them with. That's just cheap. And his denoument to the Shadows vs Vorlons war was the very definition of anticlimactic.

    But there was something about B5 that was uniquely compelling. I really cannot put it into words, but it has to do with the feeling that there was more to it than we saw "on camera," in a way that no other series really managed to convey. It was similar to what Farscape did, to a lesser extent, that feeling that we're seeing a self-contained universe with its own rules that exists whether we watch the show or like it or not.

    Ok let me take another stab at it. I didn't care that much about the B5 characters. I thought Boxleitner was an idiot. Delenn's people lurched around in robes like cut-rate Jedi. A lot of characters seemed stilted, more like types (Ivanova = tough chick; Garabalid = tragic drunk) than characters. And the plotline? Frankly I can't even remember what it was. :rommie: Regardless, the environment of B5 seemed alive to me. If someone were to do an extension - not reboot - of the series, I have no doubt I would instantly recognize whether it was authentic or not.
     
  2. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    The Significant Six of Babylon 5's first season are:

    Mind War
    And The Sky Full of Stars
    Signs and Portents
    A Voice in the Wilderness, Parts 1 & 2
    Babylon Squared
    Chrysalis

    These are probably the best episodes of Season 1. Coincidentally, these are also the very first arc episodes. Which only proves that B5 (and J. Michael Straczynski) suck at standalone episodes. Fortunately, they started to phase them out by Season 2.

    But these six/seven episodes give you a good glimpse how the rest of the show will be.
     
  3. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ireland.
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    I do feel Temis makes an excellent point about villains. Having recently concluded my rewatch of the show's first season, one of the worst things about this series is all the hamfisted villains. Every other smarmy over-the-top jerk who's probably either incompetent and/or evil incarnate is tiresome to watch and even more tiresome for JMS to go around patting his heroes on the back for their good job.

    (This is not a spoiler; the heroes defeat some bad guys who suck. This should be unsurprising, no?)

    Not personally, but if your new show builds on a lot of material similar to your old show, then that show could be said to have a debt.

    Because there's a fine line between being inspired by B5 and a shameless ripoff, which is what DS9 is frequently accused of being. Given both shows were conceived at about the same time and ran simultaneously it'd be pretty difficult for DS9 to be influenced by B5 unless, uh, they were paying close attention or JMS was right and they just took a copy of his series bible and used that as a guideline.

    So, yeah, it's not like Babylon 5's debt to Lord of the Rings, which is obvious, unsubtle and clearly intentional.


    Is there something about my posts that was incomprehensible? I spent a good half-hour trying to understand why this was considered relevant and I have no idea. When I say that B5 is more discussed than other cult sci-fi shows here because it's a space opera, of course this has something to do with bad space operas - wait, what?
     
  4. Skywalker

    Skywalker Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    One of JMS' inspirations was The Lord of the Rings. The Shadow War was B5's War of the Ring. The Earth Civil War was its Scouring of the Shire.
    Seriously, guys. The code is there for a reason.
     
  5. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2005
    Location:
    ...is insane. --JMS
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    Like most sweeping statements, this is only partially true. As examples of the exceptions, I submit:
    Bester. Refa. Cartagia. Morden. Sebastian. And I almost added Neroon but he wasn't a villain, just opposition.

    Sure, there were one-off bad guys but I think the show had some varied and effective villains.

    Jan
     
  6. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2000
    Location:
    On my ship the Rocinante
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    This is becoming MORE than a little tiresome. The thread is about TheGodBen's reviews. He explicitly states at the beginning to post no spoilers, a request which I myself missed, so I understand how others may have done so. However, there have been further requests to avoid posting them. This is the last chance.

    Beyond this point if you veer off topic and/or post spoilers, there are going to have to be infractions. No excuses.
     
  7. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    Location:
    West Coast of Canada
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    Perhaps it should be posted in the thread title? After all, I'm sure there are a number of folks who just skip the first page in their eagerness to add their thoughts to the series as a whole.
     
  8. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2000
    Location:
    On my ship the Rocinante
    Rats, I knew I'd forgotten something. :o
     
  9. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA
    Fine, to get back on topic, I want to ask a question. Is there anyone who doesn't mind Infection. I'm not saying I like it or anything, but I didn't think it was that bad. It's one of the worst episodes of the season, sure, but I've seen worse in other series.
     
  10. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2005
    Location:
    ...is insane. --JMS
    In fairness, it's not as if TGB gave us much to work with in discussing his review of "Infection". But to discuss the episode itself...

    Something I don't remember other SF shows doing that I liked a lot about B5 was the way it had news reports and showed the crew dealing with an annoying reporter in this episode. One of my favorite Ivanova lines: "Don't. You're too young to experience that much pain."

    There wasn't much in the way of change between the script and the finished DVD but two of note are that in an early draft of the script, Sinclair has the compartment decompressed and the Nelson/machine flies out into space and self-destructs. Also, at the end of the newscast, the script had an excerpt of a John F. Kennedy speech that the network made him cut:

    Two notes about the reviews themselves. It's hard to tell from the style he affects whether or not TGB is paying real attention to the episodes but I did rather expect him to note that Sinclair's tendency to throw himself into the line of fire was addressed in this episode. Also, it's worth mentioning that while many of these eps do stand alone, there are arc elements all through them, not just in the six noted above.

    Jan
     
  11. Ryan

    Ryan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2001
    Location:
    Lincoln, NE
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    That's JMS' claim though I'm doubtful any studio or professional writer would be dumb enough to do that (though there's no denying the similarities on paper are rather startling).

    I was thinking more of the later seasons of DS9 being a darker, arc-driven story about intergalactic politics and war. DS9 starts out rather standard Trek fare and very much morphs as it progresses.
     
  12. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ireland.
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    ^
    But you do understand it's a contentious claim, no? Round and round we've gone with the DS9 merry go-round.

    Nah, it's entirely true. "The worst thing about the series is all the hamfisted villains." Not that all the villains are hamfisted.
     
  13. Ryan

    Ryan Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2001
    Location:
    Lincoln, NE
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    That DS9 is a lift from the B5 series bible, absolutely. But saying that DS9 wasn't influenced by B5, that's just sticking your head in the sand.

    I'm sure no one involved would admit it at the time - why give press to someone you're ostensibly competing with? - but the evidence is very clearly on the screen (and DS9 was the better for it).
     
  14. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ireland.
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    Perhaps, but flame wars have started over less. The only influence the DS9 writers have ever conceded is that the Cardassians were to have a secret security service called the Grey Order; until Robert Hewitt Wolfe saw that on Babylon 5 the Minbari had something called the Grey Council, so he changed the name to the Obsidian Order.

    Beyond that they insist they didn't even watch the show at all, so we'd kind of have to be imply they're a pack of liars.

    And better in general, to be perfectly candid. Even if the show directly ripped off B5 I wouldn't greatly care - it had much better actors, makeup artists, SFX, a bigger budget and an actual staff of writers. DS9 benefited rather greatly from those incidental facts.
     
  15. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2001
    Location:
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    Considering the same company did DS9's CGI (seasons 5-7) as did B5's CGI (season 1-3), at least part of the "better SFX" argument is simply down to additional experience.

    Which in turn suggests that if not for the lessons learned doing B5, DS9 would not have been able to produce CGI on a comparable level to model work, at least not so soon, and perhaps would not have ever moved away from models. Which probably means no Dominion War, or at the very least no fleet battles.
     
  16. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    I do. To me, "Infection" is just silly, mindless fun. Sinclair talks a machine to death Kirk-style, while Michael O'Hare is hilariously overacting. :lol:
     
  17. apenpaap

    apenpaap Commodore Commodore

    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    Or it's just because B5 Season 1-3 were in 1993-1995, while DS9's season 5-7 were in 1997-1999. Technology advanced quite a bit between those years, regardless of whether or not they had goptten experience from B5.
     
  18. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2001
    Location:
    Bonney Lake, WA
    Re: A Niner Watches Babylon 5

    Perhaps. We'll never really know for sure, of course.

    Regardless, I do think it was a mistake for B5 to drop Foundation Imaging. From seasons 1-3 there was a continual improvement in the SFX; once they switched to Netter Digital, the quality stagnated a bit for the remaining years. You can really tell which company was the innovator and which the follower.
     
  19. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Location:
    I said out, dammit!
    I have no problems at all with it. I think I like it for its old-fashioned Trekkiness. Monster, commander in action, commander talks monster into exploding... I liked those rifles too!
     
  20. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    Location:
    West Coast of Canada
    I dunno. Infection reminds me of a bad episode of The Outer Limits. There's a good idea somewhere in there but the execution is hopelessly clunky.