A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

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

  1. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Paragon of Animals (***)

    Sheridan tries to get all the alien races to sign some liberal hippy document about peace and love and being at one with the universe, and all the aliens races refuse to sign it because they hate socialism. Or something. Basically, it's another plot where all the aliens act as one and refuse to accept Sheridan's superior position because they prefer to squabble like children, but then he finds a way to outsmart them all and all the aliens agree to his demands. It's like Rumours, Bargains and Lies, but with an Interstellar Alliance logo behind the desk. It's not a bad episode, and it's good that the show is focusing on Sheridan building the Alliance, but I don't like the way that the League worlds are characterised.

    Speaking of things being poorly characterised, Byron was in this episode. I'm beginning to understand why people don't like him. There was a point where he was saying to Lyta that telepaths are better than your bog-standard human being, and he reminded me of Khan Noonien Singh. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, Khan is great fun to watch, but Khan is fun to watch because Ricardo Mantalbán was such a charismatic guy. Byron is not so charismatic, so he comes across as cold and a bit annoying. He certainly wouldn't be able to sell me on the benefits of soft Corinthian leather. (Although I do want to know what conditioner he uses.)

    But the best thing about this episode was the development given to Captain Lochley, I'm finally getting a handle on her character. Oh wait, she wasn't in this episode either. Who is she anyway? :confused:
     
  2. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I know what you mean about how the former league worlds are characterised, but there's an element of credibility to it. The Alliance is still young and most of the alien governments are still somewhat stuck in the old mindset of enlightened self interest balanced with a vague distrust of the major powers.

    In addition a lot of the smaller powers like the Hurr, Grome, Hyach and others seem to be in the habit of deferring to the likes of the Drazi and Brakiri who are the big economic powers in that little pond. Hence their voices often being the loudest.

    According to the background material thw Abbai were traditionally the mediators and often the voice of reason but hey got hit rather hard by the Shadows and have somewhat retreated from interstellar affairs to focus on rebuilding, so the balance of power and influence has shifted a little.

    At this stage I think most are just in it for what they can get out of it - mostly aid in rebuilding from the war and as much Minbari tech as they can get their hands on. It'll take a while from them to come around the the concept that the ISA has fundamentally changed things and for that matter for the Alliance itself to find it's feet. Tuzanor wasn't built in a cycle after all.
     
  3. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    ...is insane. --JMS
    Keep that in mind. ;)

    Jan
     
  4. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    That's one of the things I liked about the show's arc- we really did get a sense of power shift in the League. These background details work out quite well, and make the universe seem more "real", at least in my eyes. I always noted that in season one the Abbai, the Yolu, the Markab and races like that seem to be unofficial leaders of the minor cultures- the more reserved and "quieter" races. Those who are a bit more focused on spirituality or discipline or genuine bridge-building, rather than a quick credit and economic supremacy. Then the Abbai and Yolu seem to disappear from public eye (the Markabs of course do disappear), and the louder, less sedate, more up-and-at-em races like Drazi, Brakiri and Gaim take the lead. Then the Abbai and Yolu come back in season Five (I notice them both at Alliance Council meetings this season, where in Season Four it was only Hyach, Drazi, Brakiri, Gaim, Llort and pak'ma'ra for the league), but they still seem to have been reduced in influence. That said, seeing as Yolu and Abbai both joined the anla'shok (according to minor lines), maybe they are still doing more than they seem to be on the surface?

    One thing I liked about the relations between the former League members is how it seemed to mirror the situation with the major races. You have the older, stately cultures somewhat in decline (Centauri and Minbari) vs the younger, fast-paced, rapidly climbing go-getters (Narn and Humans). And the League mirrors that (Abbai, Yolu, Hyach, etc, being the older, more sedate, possibly declining cultures; Drazi, Brakiri, Gaim and Llort, the younger fast-paced ones). :)
     
  5. JoeD80

    JoeD80 Captain Captain

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    It may just seem like a one-off here, but the Drazi have another motivation for acting the way that they do, which actually ties into one small detail in that other episode you mentioned.
    She's in about 10 episodes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
  6. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I never noticed how little Lochley there was until this thread.
     
  7. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Lochley will be in the next episode TGB watches.

    But there's a phase in the second half of the season where Lochley doesn't appear for five episodes in a row. :wtf:
     
  8. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think there was actually a surprising amount of thought going into some of these kinds of background details. In the case of the Abbai, there's a mention of them being willing to join the IA in 'The Paragon of Animals' then (I don't think these count as spoilers) there's the passing meniton of three Abbai signing on to the Anla'Shok training in 'Learning Curve' and in 'In the Kingdom of the Blind' they have a representative back in the council chambers again, sat next to a Hurr and a Yolu no less.
     
  9. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    IIRC, Lochley was only in 8 episodes.

    Scoggins is a gorgeous woman, but I don't think her acting has ever risen above your standard soap opera bit player.
     
  10. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^I'd have to disagree with that. I thought she did very well and made a memorable impression even with only a handful of appearances.

    Plus she actually appeared in 11 B5 episodes. I'd list them but that might count as spoilers.
     
  11. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A View from the Gallery (*½)

    When the episode began with Lochley talking about some random alien threat I prepared myself for an alien-of-the-week episode, so once the episode revealed that it was going to go in a random direction instead I was actually relieved. I decided to give this episode a chance and hope that it could pull off something like TNG's Lower Decks. Sadly, it didn't work for me because I just didn't like the characters of Bo and Mack, and if you don't like those characters then you're going to have a hard time accepting this episode.

    The structure of this episode also hampers things, essentially it is a string of events leading Bo and Mack from one main character to the next... and Byron for some reason. It starts out with Bo meeting Franklin and Franklin giving one of his trademarked emotional speeches. If you dropped a hat in front of Franklin he'd speak passionately in hushed tones about the importance of hats and the tragedy of them getting dusty from the ground. Then they meet Lochley and Garibaldi fighting in an elevator. I think they like each other. Then Zach shouts at them. Then Byron irritates them for a bit. Then they eavesdrop on Londo and G'Kar when they really should be minding their own business. Then Sheridan tells them to lead Delenn to a life-pod even though they're maintenance guys and Delenn has had more combat experience than them. Seriously, if they had run into any of Emperor Palpatine's personal guard I imagine that Delenn would be the one saving their asses, not the other way round. Then the battle is won and Mack tells Lochley that she's okay in his book, even though he has barely seen her in action and her whole battle strategy as far as I can tell was to wait for the White Stars to show up.

    But at least I finally got to learn more about Captain Lochley. For example, I learned that she looks better without the ponytail. I also learned... nothing really. Who is she anyway? :confused:
     
  12. Brian

    Brian Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I haven't rewatched Babylon 5 since seeing Celebrity Rehab. I'm afraid it will ruin any episodes Zach is in for me. :sigh:
     
  13. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I just realized there was another counter you could have included: Franklin Soliloquy. Mind, that might have been spoilerish way back, but this is definitely the episode where it became cliche. Come to think of it, the whole episode is nothing but a string of B5 Character Cliches.
     
  14. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Harlan Ellison sits around Babylon 5 for years, and this is the excellent story he sees fit to grace us with.

    It's a pretty dismal episode and I'd agree the 'you're the woman, so go escape' angle was particularly poor. The entirely random alien threat bugged me because they seemed so arbitrary and half-baked as protagonists; emerging randomly from the ether just to give Babylon 5's crew something to tilt against in the background, but oh well.
     
  15. Hound of UIster

    Hound of UIster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Franklin has some of the worst monologues in B5. The one about spacing takes the cake.
     
  16. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Yeah. Sadly, this is how I see it too. You want to give the episode a chance, but it just doesn't work, largely because Mack and Bo are simply unappealing characters.

    :lol:. Much as I love the character...pretty much true. :lol:

    I also agree with Kegg that the antagonist race is unappealing too. "Arbitary and half-baked" as he put it, and I think that pretty much sums it up.

    That said, at least the episode has a few good points. The Londo/G'Kar scene was great (but then those always are), Delenn got a few good lines, the continuity nod about the White Stars still on the way back from Enphili was welcome...and Byron's scene was actually one of his best, in my opinion.

    Oh, and there was spoo. Spoo improves any episode. But only marginally.

    Overall, I have to agree with everyone else- a poor episode.
     
  17. JoeD80

    JoeD80 Captain Captain

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    The plan worked! ;)
    More coming.

    Why would it do that? Jeff was sober when he was on Babylon 5.

    Harlan gets story credit here because he was asking Joe "What about the little guys? Why so much focus on the command staff?" Harlan didn't necessarily come up with the rest of it, since Joe also shares story credit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  18. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, probably my least-liked episode. I'd even give it a "pathetic". The two leads never once made me believe they weren't reading lines (badly) from a script. And that idiotic line about not knowing what their tool was and why they were sweeping it back and forth made me want to set them on fire and toss them to the Pak'Mara.
     
  19. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I had no idea this one was so disliked. While it's certainly not a favourite of mine I did rather enjoy the tongue-in-cheek/wink-at-the-audience nature of it. The floor wavey thing, the debate about why Ivanova left, if Lochley is any good, why is there fire in space, how long Londo and G'Kar have been married - this is all stuff that the fans were asking at the time and I think I got the joke.

    I don't know if I found Bo and Mack appealing but I defiantly found them entertaining. For guest actors at least, they had pretty good chemistry.

    As for the alien fleet...well the fact that it was an arbitrary theat was entierly the point. Not every alien race has a government that gives a crap about trade and co-operation. Some are just out to conquer and grab what they can and they're treated very much like a force of nature, a storm you occasionally have to ride out, a significantly more powerful alternative to those old generic raiders. They weren't central to the plot, they just served as a catalyst for the backdrop. Plus they didn't entierly come out of nowhere; they were expected and the Gaim had already fought off one fleet themselves.
     
  20. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Okay, that's a pretty good point. :) Maybe the combination of Red Helms and Mack/Bo is the problem, then, at least for me. Maybe if it was just the one I would view it more like you do here. I think the two of them, though, just made the entire episode feel...off.

    That said, it wasn't a bad idea for an episode- either the Red Helm raids or the "Lower Decks" aspect- but to me it just didn't work because I found Mack and Bo uninteresting, and the Red Helms were a little too much "aliens of the week" on top of that. Again, between them, it simply left me a bit cold.