End of Shadow War = Lame

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Starfleet Engineer, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    "What You Leave Behind" does have some problems in retrospect, but I'm not sure that's one of them. There were several occasions when the Female Changeling said that securing Odo's return to the Great Link was more important that the entire alpha quadrant-----even moreso once she knew he had the cure to the disease. He agreed to go; she therefore got what she wanted.
     
  2. I didn't really watch stargate so i cant speak to it, but in general, I disagree. The acting is consistently better imo on the other shows, and BSG is superior in every way except plotting of arc.
     
  3. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    Each of them has had several examples of your "clunky dialog and wooden acting". First two seasons of TNG and DS9 are perfect examples. As with BSG, who says I was referring to the newer generation? ;) But even nuBSG has had problems itself, most of which is very subjective as to how much or how good/bad. For my taste, "Firefly" was one of the rarities when it comes to avoiding the "wooden acting". Since it lasted only 14 episodes, who's to say it wouldn't have had problems later down the line?

    The point is that those symptoms are things most shows go through, particularly early on as the cast and crew get familiar with the stories and with each other. One thing that made B5 a little different was its use of a more stage-like presentation. That can affect a different perception as to quality, when there isn't as great a distinction. To be sure, B5's secondary actors were very "wooden" but then the show was on such a tight budget that it didn't surprise me at all. But I do feel their frontline performers compare very favorably with the best out there. True, they had a somewhat fitful start, but again... that's almost to be expected with just about any show.

    The dialog at times was definitely clunky. Not much use in ignoring that. However, I never felt it was a distraction or all that frequent. I was so engrossed in the characters and overall story that minor annoyances were never anything more than that: minor annoyances.
     
  4. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yep. That's one of the bigger writing blunders I've seen on an otherwise well-written sci fi TV show. You'll get people trying to justify it, but you really can't justify it according to the internal logic of the story. The external logic must also be there - a story must be structured so that a conflict ramps up to a satisfying conclusion, not just fizzles out because the writer can't come up with anything better.

    In theory, this might have worked, but the execution fell far short. The first problem is that Sheridan was not built up to the level - in terms of moral authority - where I would believe for one minute the Shadows and Vorlons would care what he had to say on this or any other topic.

    This plot twist is certainly better than a dumb-ass shoot-out (tho those can also be good), but required a hell of a lot more establishing work that never happened - work on not just Sheridan but also the Vorlons and especially the Shadows who were nothing more than cyphers who, as far as we knew, respected only power. Now they have a moral conscience? Since when?

    Over-exposition is a sure sign of a plot twist that hasn't been adequately set up. If it had been, we'd all instantly "get" what's happening without anyone having to say much at all. It's that "OH!" factor that all great plot twists have - you don't see it coming but you get it when it arrives. Very hard to pull off well, and writers often flub this, either by making the foreshadowing too obvious so it's not a surprise, or (as seems to be the case here) not making the foreshadowing obvious enough.

    Blame whoever hired Boxleitner, I don't think the guy is capable of the level of acting that would be required even if the scene had been properly set up and written.

    Another problem here is the stature of the villains. Great villains have stature that overshadows the hero - they may not be morally right, but they have other qualities, such as the courage to take risks, strategic savvy, wisdom. The Vorlons and Shadows were revealed to lack stature, which made them unworthy adversaries. I don't want to watch a story about childish morons. That's what TNZ is for. :p
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2008
  5. I'll give you the first two seasons of TNG. Some dreadfully clunky acting and dialogue.
     
  6. I think you hit the nail on the head right there. The whole thing is a good idea, and it sure sounds great when JMS is explaining it on the newsgroup and such, but the execution was just... not there on screen, and not established at all. It really did feel like it came out of nowhere.
     
  7. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Moderator

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    The Shadows and Vorlons care little for the lives of individuals, but they have both shown a great deal of interest in the enhancement of the lesser species as a whole. Each in their own, opposed ways.

    That's what the point of Into the Fire was. It wasn't just Sheridan rejecting their leadership----it was everyone. As in, entire species at once. And once the First Ones realized their only power over the younger races was in the ability to destroy them, they had no remaining reason to fight----each other, or the younger worlds.

    This does require *some* interpretation, but not overly much. The clues were all laid out in plain sight.
     
  8. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    Whether it was a satisfying conclusion is VERY open to interpretation. This was never about a "gee whiz space battle". However, it was about that ideological battle Sheridan speaks about. Everything I have ever read or heard about the show's development indicates that. This was not something jms just threw in there because he couldn't write his way out. It certainly was not perfectly executed, but then that was caused more by outside factors than the series' design. B5 was not a series that spelled things out in clear-cut, can't miss lettering such as you got in Trek ad nauseum.

    Don't misconstrue me as a blindly faithful B5 apologist. Yet as Lindley puts it, the clues are there. The setup is there. It simply isn't displayed as vividly as audiences - myself included - have come to expect. Perhaps it does require a certain amount of rewatching, and that could be a flaw in some folks' eyes. OTOH, I rather apprecaite the chance taken on a different path.
     
  9. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    I think that the problem, such as it is, was that there wasn't enough time to illustrate properly that it wasn't just Sheridan and Delenn who understood and rejected the ideologies that the Shadows and Vorlons represented. All of the other races got it, but it was only illustrated by the ships which put themselves in the path of the missiles to protect Sheridan's White Star. But for those who claim that they didn't see it coming, watch "The Fall of Night" again to see when it was that Sheridan understood how deceptive and manipulative the Vorlons were. It was only a short step to realize that the Shadows did the same as they persuaded and manipulated races to war with each other.

    Jan
     
  10. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We never got to know an individual Shadow, really, but we DID get to know an individual Vorlon, Kosh. Discussing it with friends, we got the impression that the Vorlons wanted someone on B5 as an observer/representative to the other races, but it wasn't really a desired assignment. We decided that Kosh volunteered for it and the other Vorlons eagerly gave it to him. He probably has a reputation among his people as quite the bleeding heart liberal. The Vorlon that came after, probably more representative of the dominating attitude of his people, although I don't necessarily believe that most Vorlons are such over assholes. But they probably are aloof, arrogant, and really don't have time for the other races as individuals.

    Kosh Naranek was an exception. He WAS interested in the other races as individuals, and sought to spend time with them. He had his own agenda, and was a representative of his people. But he wasn't just about that. He also had affection for individuals, cared about them. There was no doubt he felt for Sheridan, for example.

     
  11. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No, it wasn't perfect, but it was certainly good enough, and even then, better than most.
     
  12. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I've explained my disatisfaction with Into The Fire in the past. I'll try not to go into great detail again. To be brief:

    (1) The fact that a couple of ships with people we've never seen on them sacrifice themselves for Sheridan doesn't seem like a show-stopping moment to me. I certainly don't believe that the Shadows (or the Vorlons) that we've seen thus far would blink at this. They'd certainly have mowed down a great number more ships before even blinking.

    (2) Sheridan doesn't have a lot of moral authority, IMO. Every time I see the beginning of season four, I find myself agreeing with Garibaldi. Who the f*ck is this Lorien guy supposed to be? Sheridan doesn't stop for a second to explain himself to anyone. He certainly owes this to his command staff. It's a good thing they back him up regardless.

    (3) There's the inevitable anti-climax of the only way where the human (and aliens) are able to defeat the Shadows and the Vorlons is to get a few other First Ones.

    (4) Add to that the lack of complexity in characterization for the Shadows and the Vorlons in the final scene (Sheridan's paternalistic "now get the hell out of our galaxy" is the obvious, and embarrassing, example that continues to be glaring).

    I love the idea that this is an ideological conflict that cannot be ended with weapons. But I absolutely loathe the execution. Others, of course, will disagree. But there it is.
     
  13. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    That was a short amount of time to convey a rather complex ideal, but again ... given the point at which it was discovered that there would be no fifth season, how could what you wish be accomplished?

    Don't forget that while Garibaldi is suspicious by nature, he was still "adjusted" by Bester. Moreover, don't forget that Garibaldi before said adjustment went to G'Kar and let him have it for not sending a Narn cruiser out in "Walkabout", that the "captain has the moral authority to say you may not come back" (sic). This is doubtless the stance that the rest of the command staff took, even if we didn't see it on-screen. Telling the command staff would be helpful from one perspective, that's true... yet there is still the problem of Ulkesh at this point. Sheridan has to take a hard-nosed approach, a willingness to make those tough choices.

    That is one thing I was disappointed in, that the other "First Ones" seemed to be little more than window dressing. They didn't seem to have much in the way of things to do. Even with Lorien's explanation.

    Then we will have to agree to disagree. To me it is NOT so "obvious" or "glaring", because i understand the set-up to this point, as well as the constraints placed upon the show creators due to the loss of S5. That doesn't help the newcomer to the show, I agree. But I just don't feel that line is such a glaring problem. It's simply a succinct, if a bit overwrought, summary of the plotline's resolution in a timeline forced upon the show creators.

    Loath seems to be too strong a reaction. I'm disappointed because I would have liked to have seen more detail and more involvement in this and other stories (the Minbari civil war for one). But "loathing"? I think if that's your reaction then maybe - but only maybe because you did one helluva job in research - your expectations are a bit unrealistic given the constraints.
     
  14. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The only issue I have with the end of the Shadow War is that the end seemed kind of abrupt.

    But, as Neroon has pointed out, this was forced on the showrunners. So considering how good everything else was, I can let that go.
     
  15. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Who knows. It would take a lot of thinking to come up with an answer to that. I'm just pointing out the parameters of the story and how the logic doesn't quite work out in the end.

    I understand that Garibaldi was adjusted. That's not the point. The point is, he's supposed to be acting suspiciously, but in the end, I mostly agree with him! I don't know why the rest of the command staff is so willing to go along with Sheridan. He disappears at Z'ha'dum, is presumed dead, and suddenly returns to the station behaving very differently than before, and with Lorien, a figure who is brought on board without explanation.

    Although I wasn't entirely happy with the way it was portrayed on Battlestar Galactica, either, I found that way the characters treated Kara Thrace after her "death" much more believable.

    Agreed. They make for more of a visual presence than just Lorien, but they don't contribute much to the narrative. In fact, Lorien going around to find all the First Ones actually slows down the narrative more than I would like.

    I'd agree, except JMS has been pretty explicit, both on the internet and in the script books that the "full" version wouldn't have run much longer, and he seems to like it cut down the way it is just as much as any longer version.

    I would definitely have liked to see the Minbari civil war expanded. As it stands its like a foot note version of the story as I imagine it. One episode the war begins, the next, it's over. That might be a slight exaggeration, but not much of one.

    Perhaps loathe is a strong word. I don't know. I graded the episode a C+ upon second viewing. I think that grade sums up my feelings more so than one word does.

    As for having high expectations...it's part of who I am as a critic. My fundamental parameters for criticism is that anything flawed (in whatever way) is explainable, but nothing is excusable. Good television can be explained, if not excused. Great television requires neither explanation nor excuse. But great television is very, very, very few and far between in my eyes.

    ...

    ...Remember when I said I would "be brief?" :lol:
     
  16. Starfleet Engineer

    Starfleet Engineer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Huh? Is this something I'm not supposed to know yet or have forgotten from a previous episode?
     
  17. Jax

    Jax Admiral Admiral

    People normally want a ending that invovles the good guys winniing in a huge battle but that was not an option due to the tech difference so I loved that B5 did something different and I think they pulled it off well.

    Didn't JMS rush the ending as at the time he was told season 4 would be the last so he needed to the rest of S4 to focus on Earth.
     
  18. stonester1

    stonester1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You find out later in season 4.
     
  19. Emh

    Emh The Doctor Premium Member

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    If it makes you feel better, Hirogen Alpha, I agreed with Garibaldi, too. Before and after finding out that he was conditioned. Sheridan comes back from the dead and he doesn't think his closest friends who have gone to hell and back for him don't deserve an explanation? Garibaldi is right: Sheridan became very high and mighty after he returned from Sheridan and it was at this point I really began to dislike him.
     
  20. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    He cut about four eps. from the Shadow War storyline but I don't think it hurt it any, the job of a writer is tell a story with the least amount of words and I thought season four turned out great.