A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

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

  1. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    If there was any influence, it probably went the other way since B5 was in development a lot longer than DS9. I suspect any such influence was minimal and only affected things in broad strokes, though, which seems to be the rational viewpoint with the advantage of hindsight.

    I can understand how such theories arose at the time, though. If nothing else, the visual of a space station sitting next to a big blue swirly thing is pretty striking.
     
  2. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Quite. The only viable 'B5 ripped off Star Trek' vibe would actually come from TNG and TOS (and this was a fairly frequent accusation if the old JMS posts arguing against this or that influence are any point to the matter.)

    But then, no matter. JMS shamelessly and extremely obviously 'borrows' from 1984 and Lord of the Rings, and it's not something he ever considered noteworthy.
     
  3. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    A character on "Jeremiah" even quoted a passage from "1984" in one episode. Orwell surely had a profound impact on JMS... just like Tolkien.
     
  4. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    ...is insane. --JMS
    Wasn't that in the episode about the librarian who couldn't read? That wasn't a JMS episode; it was the one Sam Egan episode I actually liked.

    Jan
     
  5. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    One or two direct quotes notwithstanding, the Tolkien influence is I think, very much overstated. From what I gather, H.P. Lovecraft, Rod Sterling, Norman Corwin, Alfred Bester (duh) and Ray Bradbury have been much more significant influences.
     
  6. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Merely non-spoilerly off the top of my head, the Minbari are very strongly and very obviously influenced by Tolkein's elves, with the idea that Draal presents of them setting out onto the sea of stars having rather unsubtle echoes of the Grey Havens, and I think JMS himself said that a new character arriving in season two bore a very strong resemblance to Aragorn (that character's placeholder name was actually Strider.)

    There's nothing overstated about it; Babylon 5 is Lord of the Rings In Space.
     
  7. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    To be fair, LotR is Greek Mythology In Medieval Briton. JMS often says that was his source more so than Tolkien (such as in a long rant he did here following a S4 episode).
     
  8. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    ...is insane. --JMS
    I think JMS said it best:
    or this one:
    Jan
     
  9. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    His characters have very little in common with Greek myth (in either case); and in JMS's case far more informed by Tolkein (Tolkein himself owes a little more to the Kalevala, Beowulf, Arthur and the like.) The closest to Greek mythology JMS has is of course Londo,
    who is more informed by Greek tragedy than Greek myth, and more by Dr. Faust than Greek tragedy.

    Sheridan is Aragorn, not Orpheus or Jesus. The story of him going to Z'ha'dum only follows the broad beat notes of the Greek myth, Sheridan's personality - particularly initially - has a Strider vibe. He is not a beautiful sexualised artist of sweet music destined to be killed in an erotic frenzy; and Sheridan loses his wife because she is already lost, not because he could not bear to agree to the terms by which she leaves Hades - and he destroys Z'ha'dum with sci-fi heroics rather than soothes it with his lyre. Stories such as the Iliad also, say, have far more moral ambiguity than the Shadow War - Sheridan and Garibaldi would never get upset as to which one of them gets to own a rapeable slavegirl; nor would President Clarke be shown to have the humanity of King Priam begging for his son's corpse. The great big cosmic war of Good and Evil... this is far much a Tolkein thing, and it is also a JMS thing, and Z'ha'dum is not Hades, it is not the deserts of Israel, IT IS MORDOR.

    There's a fine line between having archetypal similarities and just plain direct similarities. The Hero With a Thousand Faces need not always be Luke Skywalker, as it were. JMS has basically the latter -
    There's nothing archetypal in similarity between his Rangers and Tolkein's Rangers, they are Tolkein's rangers.
    Basically, his other given examples may be archetypal - proper literary fare like Greek myth and Biblical gospels - but his Tolkein influence is more direct.

    Other observations:
    "A Call to Arms" has basically a Dungeons & Dragons style plot, with the thief, the mage, and the quest. If one is unfamiliar with that the story may not make a whole lot of sense. "Thirdspace" is Lovecraft - and indeed the Shadows are indebted to Lovecraft - while the Vorlons and the evolution of beings into a higher state which they shepherd is clearly a page from "Childhood's End" - making the Vorlons angels is basically an inversion of making the Overlords demons.
    And so on and so on. JMS does not reference or homage, he 'borrows'. One's either fine with that or one's defensive about it, it makes no difference. I'm fine with it honestly; in concoting a potpurri of various geek literature interests with the odd traditional allusion JMS created a much better TV series then he likely would have if he struck out at tried to be completely original, or at least completely archetypal - quality is something that matters more to me than such frames of reference.

    That happens far more often than he seems to believe. There's a little bit of Lensman in Babylon 5 as well, of course.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  10. WHF

    WHF Captain Captain

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  11. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    ^Beware, spoilers behind the link.
     
  12. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Nope, I was thinking about the Season 2 premiere.

    A captured Marcus was commenting on the Valhalla Sector's methods and plans by referencing Orwell.
     
  13. JoeD80

    JoeD80 Captain Captain

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    Joe actually described this somewhere in one of the script books. I can't remember the quote off hand, but he was talking about how he wanted to use a particular scene from a movie in one of his projects but hadn't found a place to put it yet. Tarantino writes in a similar way, adapting scenes from movies here and there to make a new whole, and the end result is quite good IMO. But it's not about taking a story one-for-one; it's a multiplexing of stories and life experiences into a new creature. If a certain story speaks to you, you can write it in a new way that isn't "borrowing" but it still cuts in to the very same themes. There is an explicit list of literary/television/movie influences that Joe wanted to use for B5 in one of his earliest Babylon 5 documents that is pretty interesting to think about, but a couple of them are definite spoilers for some later plots:

    Casablanca, Dune, Lord of the Rings, The Prisoner, Gone with the Wind, Civil War, [the Kennedy Assassination], Foundation, Lensman
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  14. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    Have you gotten ahold of season 2 yet, TGB?
     
  15. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've actually had it for over a week, I just took some time off to get some college work out of the way. Luckily things are dying down a small bit now so I should be starting season 2 tonight. :)
     
  16. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Points of Departure (***)

    Hmm, not the grandiose start I was hoping for after Chrysalis, but what could JMS do? His lead actor left at a pivotal moment in the series and he had to introduce a new station commander and try to get us all to accept him in 42 minutes, all this after hinting in Babylon Squared that Sinclair was going to be a big deal in the future of this show. So while this episode didn't explain what is going on with Delenn, and we still don't know where G'Kar went, and we don't know the political ramifications of the Earth President being assassinated, and nothing new happened with Garibaldi... I can't blame this episode for dropping all that stuff to introduce Sheridan.

    As for Sheridan, I like him, he has let me with a much more positive impression that Sinclair did after his first episode. I guess part of the problem with Sinclair is that I knew he would be leaving, and the episodes that focused on him tended to deal with the mystery of the Battle of the Line rather than exploring him as a person, so I never clicked with him. Sheridan on the other hand doesn't feel like a mystery, he feels like a character front and centre, and while he discusses his actions during the war, and this episode's plot focuses on that era of his life, it doesn't feel like this is all there is to him. And I like that he's more... bitter than Sinclair when it comes to the Minbari. Sinclair seemed to get along with everyone, it seems like Sheridan is going to bring a bit more conflict to the show.

    However, I could be very wrong about this, I've only known the guy for a few minutes. :lol:

    The one piece of the overall plot that did move along was the revelation of what "really" happened at the Battle of the Line, and boy was I underwhelmed by that. I was expecting something Earth-shattering, the revelation that humans have in them something I don't believe in wasn't what I was hoping for. Anything that validates Soul Hunter as an episode in a bad thing in my book. I just don't buy that the Minbari insisted on making Sinclair the commander of Babylon 5 because he was the first human the Grey Council encountered, I have to believe that there is something more to it than that.

    I'm a bit rusty, I nearly forgot the Scott Bakula counter! :eek:

    Scott Bakula: 17
     
  17. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    Suffice it to say that Lennier's account is a simplification. That explanation was enough for the Religious Caste, but as you've seen, the Warrior Caste wasn't much more keen on it than you were. There are secrets even among the Minbari.
     
  18. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    What was the Minbari Mantra throughout the series? No Minbari ever tells the whole truth?
     
  19. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    And more to the point, there is a much more scientific explanation to be deduced later on. I don't believe in souls either, but once you get the whole story, it'll make sense.
     
  20. Reverend

    Reverend Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    At this stage, the point is that this is what the Grey Council believed. To the Minbari, souls are very real and absolutely CENTRAL to their beliefs that informs their view of the entire universe (you'll hear about that later) so it's something they take VERY seriously, even if most humans think it's utterly ludicrous.

    None of the other castes were told what Lennier revealed precisely because none of the castes were liable to accept or even believe it and doing so would cause immense turmoil.