A Niner Watches Babylon 5 (NO spoilers, please)

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

  1. Jimmy Bob

    Jimmy Bob Commander Red Shirt

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    Unbelievable! You only now started to continue with this thread?! And here I was thinking that TheGodBen has now done a watcher thread in every subforum in trekbbs and probably producing several more. But no! Imagine my surprise when I revisit this site again after a year long break and discover that you just came back 3 days ago.

    Wow.
     
  2. Thestral

    Thestral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I watched maybe one episode of Crusade so I've really not got anything to say. But I wanted to say how glad I am this thread is back! :mallory:
     
  3. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Don't blame me, I was busy. Wait, no, what's the opposite of busy? Drunk! Yes, that's it, I was drunk.

    Anyway, who are you to judge me? You never finished your DS9 review thread. I was enjoying that. :( And don't use being banned because of that thread as an excuse, I was banned right alongside you but I'm still intending to see this thing out.
     
  4. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^That's pretty much what I figured. If you look at the work FI was doing at the same time with DS9 & Voyager it was more or less a steady progression from the quality they turned out on B5 seasons 1-3. ND's work varied quite wildly by comparison and even at their best they were lagging behind.

    I suppose part of that can be blamed on the aesthetic the show settled on back when the technology had been pushed to the limit. You know that sort of shiny, almost plastic looking texture and lighting set-ups the meshes often had. When the tech finally allowed the graphics to passably match the look of filmed miniatures, B5 was stuck with that look while the work being done on Trek had to (almost) seamlessly match the non-CGI effects.
     
  5. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed, that's not much of an accomplishment. Isn't that like saying that shit beats diarrhea?

    True, DS9 and VOY always had better looking effects.
     
  6. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Well of Forever (*½)

    Galen (It's never a good sign when a review starts with his name) wants to go visit some sort of magical well in hyperspace, and even though Captain Gideon is only given the vaguest possible description of what it is, he decides to go because Galen seems like a nice guy and doesn't seem come across as creepy or anything. Galen has been on thin ice for me from the beginning just by being a technomage. Technomages take things that are wondrous and exciting, science and technology, and they try to reduce it to something magical. They're the Apple of the 23rd century. More than any other character, Galen's personality needs to present itself in a likeable way if I am to forgive him for the horrible crime of being a space-magician. Lying to the captain and hijacking the ship are counter-productive to this cause. I know that Galen thinks he's doing the right thing by keeping his promise, but if his plan involves lying to his friend and putting the lives of the crew in danger then he finds to come up with a better plan.

    But there is a bigger sin that Galen commits here, one that is unforgivable. He deletes Max's scans of the Well of McGuffin in order to mess with him. What an asshole. I actually like Max, you're not going to win me over by being mean to the people I like, Galen. Why don't you just fly away and never come back, because nobody likes you. :(

    Also in this episode, some creepy bearded guy mind-rapes Matheson. It's a sign of how much I dislike Galen that I only consider this the third worst thing to happen in the episode. Anyway, bearded man find out some secret that Matheson has been keeping and threatens to have him fired. I don't know what this secret is, but I'm guessing that Matheson has a crush on Gideon. Sure, there's no evidence for this but I'm sure I could whip up a 'shipper video using Sara Bareilles's song "Gravity" and it would work. Anyway, bearded man is tricked into doing something illegal so Matheson gets to stay, then he goes floating out in hyperspace for the lulz.

    Also in this episode were giant, horny hyperspace jellyfish. You know, as Excalibur flew past them I couldn't help but think of Tuvok's infamous line from Elogium "It appears we have lost our sex appeal." Little did I know that 15 second later one of those jellyfish would start humping the ship. This episode gets extra points for reading my disturbing mind. :techman:
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011
  7. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I must say, it's both disturbing and gratifyingly realistic to see that disbanding the Psi Corps and reintegrating the telepaths hasn't magically reversed decades of questionable ethics or the mindset of control. After all, given that "bearded man" ("Mr. Jones") is probably P-12, he's also probably a former Psi Cop. For all we know, five years ago he was hunting down blips and handing them over to be reprogrammed.

    I guess all the Earth Alliance could really hope for is "okay, we'll be a bit less obviously facist and won't try to take over the world anymore. In exchange we get to join the military and the boy scouts. Deal?"

    Between this and Who's My Little pak'ma'ra, Crusade was well on its way to becoming one of the all-time greats in the category of wacky extraterrestrial sex scenes. :techman:
     
  8. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Quite. More than that, they're clearly yet another way for JMS to play with fantasy cliches in a space opera setting. This goes back to "Geometry of Shadows", where they're essentially just wizards, with a bit of Tolkein-esque travelling away from the known world. By the time of Call to Arms, they're wizards who bring in the warrior Sheridan, the paladin Tony Todd and the rogue Dureena on a magical LARPing adventure.

    I did actually like "Geometry of Shadows", but that's because Michael Ansara really gives a gravitas to Elric, while Galen just always comes off like a smug prick to me.

    Likewise. I'd say Max Eilerson is the most interesting character on Crusade.
     
  9. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In their defence, had the show continued the whole techno-mage thing would defiantly have gone somewhere and there was a *big* reveal written into the unfilmed season finale (which I shall not spoil here.) As is B5 tradition there are some out of context hints at this in the existing episodes, but you have to know where to look.

    As for Galen himself, there is a reason why he's the way he is and like all the characters, there would have been a back story (hinted at here and elsewhere) and of course a definite character arc. Put it this way, just think what if B5 had stopped mid way into season one, how different and incomplete would your opinion of the main characters (G'Kar & Londo especially) have been at that point.

    Oh, and I like Max too. He's very much the Kerr Avon of the group and easily my favourite character after Dureena and Galen. ;)
     
  10. sidious618

    sidious618 Admiral Admiral

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    Galen was my favorite Crusade character. Peter Woodward can do no wrong in my book.
     
  11. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Londo and G'Kar basically drive all the good stuff in "Midnight on the Firing Line", and are fairly interesting at that early stage in a way Galen never is. Part of it, of course, is that even at this juncture they're presented as dramatic figures who deal in murky political fortunes. I don't know how much to blame Woodward and how much to blame JMS, in fairness, but Galen is Byronically insufferable. JMS can write characters in a certain smug way, and while sometimes a performer can elevate the role (G'Kar in season five could have been much smarmier), some of them ham that element up.

    Not spoiling the finale reveal either, but there's nothing in it that salvages the Technomages or Galen for me.

    Part of the reason Londo and G'Kar work early on is that even that that juncture they're morally ambiguous and dealing in a messy political situation. Some of JMS's strongest character writing is for characters like that and while Max is no Londo, he's the best shot Crusade has on this front.
     
  12. Seven of Five

    Seven of Five Stop. Hemmer time! Premium Member

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    :eek:

    Bakula, you came back! :eek: Where have you been all my life? :eek:

    I've only seen Crusade once, and I'm not sure I need to see it again. It was very hit and miss, but, to be fair, B5's first season was too. I suppose there was a glimmer of potential, but since it was shot down after 13 episodes, it's hard to see the show as anything more than merely decent. It's a shame - enormous missed opportunity.

    More importantly though, I thought Avatar ruled. :p
     
  13. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't think that it would address my problem with them which is that they're presented in a way that I find completely insufferable. They're like those magicians that go on stage wearing capes and pretend that they're really doing magic and talk about the spirits of our ancestors. I am far more receptive to magicians that wear normal clothes and reveal that it's all just elaborate trickery and expect applause for their skill in pulling it off, not for supernatural powers they don't have. To my eye, they're children that never grew up because they were so saddened by the lack of actual magic in the universe that they decided to create it. I am not impressed by them, I pity them more than anything else.

    Also, while Max's interest in the Well of Forever may not have been entirely altruistic, what's wrong with him wanting to understand it on a scientific basis? We have enough people in this world that want to impede the advancement of knowledge to protect their superstitions and I strongly advocate hitting those people quite forcefully with lead pipes.


    The Path of Sorrows (**½)

    Galen (:sigh:) begins this episode by making a woman cry and ends it by trying to murder an alien that makes people feel better about their lives. Good going Galen, you've gone from spying on a starship captain and hijacking a ship in the last episode to attempted murder in this episode. Why doesn't anybody try to lock this guy up? Come on, he's a criminal. The least he deserves is a good hard kick in that area men don't like being kicked in.

    This episode is pretty much an excuse to show events from some of the main character's lives, which means it doesn't really work as a self-contained story, it must be judged as a collection of flashbacks. First up is Gideon, who apparently saw his former ship being blowed up real good by a Shadow vessel. Adrift in space, running low on oxygen, and even bigger catastrophe happened to him; he was rescued by Galen. Now Galen gets to treat him like his bitch for all eternity. So that's why Galen hasn't been arrested. :vulcan: Later we see Gideon playing poker when a crazy man decides to gamble away an extremely valuable breadbox on a two pair. Soon after, he realises just how stupid it was to gamble away everything on such a comparatively weak hand and he commits suicide. At least, that was my read on things. So the alien in the bubble forgives Gideon for winning a game of poker (eh? :confused:) and Gideon goes to get a good night's sleep.

    Next up is Matheson, who visits the bubble alien in the night because he's desperate for more character development. We learn that he was in the Psi Corps and used to inject rebels with bad things. But after talking to one of the nice rebels he comes to realise that he's working for the bad guys and he switches sides. Telepaths are extremely subtle and love to use psychological warfare, which is why they destroy the Psi Corps base with a nuke. The bubble alien forgives Matheson for siding with the good guys (eh? :confused:) and Matheson goes to get a good night's sleep.

    Finally, Galen pays a visit to the alien. The flashback reveals that Galen comes from a world originally settled by English thespians and that his not-quite-wife dies for some reason, but not before they get a final scene together where she gets to relay a message to him that will be have relevance in the future. Galen refuses to forgive God for this act and decides to take out his anger on the bubble alien by throwing a fireball at it. But Gideon and Matheson show up just in time and save the alien. The next day they return the alien to the planet, but not before Gideon and Matheson have a tender moment together that I'm choosing to imagine has romantic undertones.

    I found the first two flashbacks interesting enough as I learned something about those characters. Galen's flashback was as insufferable as the man himself and the story connecting all this together was pretty meh.

    Scott Bakula: 91
     
  14. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

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    Blasphemy!! ;)


    And as for Galen - Jesus-tap-dancing-Christ, just stop. I thought Byron was was bad! I'm beginning to think I'll take him over Galen any day.
     
  15. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well Matheson's thing would be a case of wanting a chipper, heroic character to feel guilty about something without making the audience feel repelled at him. If Matheson had a more unpleasant demon in his closet he'd be in severe danger of becoming interesting.

    You sirs are both correct.
     
  16. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I like this. Well said. And it reminds me now of Alwyn's dragon; it was more pathetic than whimsical, really, wasn't it?
     
  17. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^It's a matter of perspective. The admittedly whimsical style of the techno-mages is somewhat tempered by the fact that these guys really can throw fireballs and not just play with illusion. Allot of what they do belies just how powerful and truly dangerous they can be and I think that's half the point.

    Personally when they first showed up on B5 I just thought it was an interesting idea to take Clarke's famous quote to it's logical extreme.

    The point I was trying to make was that all the main B5 characters had definite arcs and were very different people in season five from who they were at the beginning of season one. I think it's a given that similar arcs were planned for the crew of the Excalibur. Remember, no one here is exactly what they appear.

    Hmm...what an amazing coincidence. :shifty:

    ^Did anyone else get a major Rod Sterling vibe from this segment? Hell, the whole concept of the Apocalypse Box feels like it jumped straight out of the Twilight Zone. Also, (random trivia time) I think that was our first ever glimpse of a car in the B5 universe.
     
  18. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    This take on the technomages is especially interesting knowing the backstory. Long story short:
    The Technomages were the Shadows' special weapon against the Vorlons, the same as the Vorlons made telepaths to fight the Shadows. The Order was a group of survivors of the first batch that struck out on their own to try to use the technology for good instead of evil. The Shadows kept supplying them with tech in the hopes that they'd be able to use them later, and the Technomages kept taking it, because they thought they could avoid doing the Shadows' bidding. Still, it was very common for Technomages to go bad.

    All the dragons and fireballs and wizard robes and rituals and incantations are ways to maintain discipline and positive vibes to overcome the technomage's tech constantly telling them to kill everything at the slightest provocation. Galen and a few others learned to get rid of that programming and zen out, but most of them still have a Shadow-issued short temper.
     
  19. Lindley

    Lindley Moderator with a Soul Premium Member

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    What you may not realize about Technomages is that they don't really understand the technology either. They know how to use it, but they did not create it and they have little understanding of its workings. In fact they occasionally find new capabilities they didn't know that it had.

    This is elaborated in detail in The Passing of the Technomages book trilogy. Basically, they're the Jedi of Babylon 5.
     
  20. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In other words, the Technomages aren't really smart people with a deep understanding of technology who use that knowledge to create an aura of magic... by countering their own ignorance with superstituous self-assurance they manage to be more obnoxious than they initially appeared. ;)

    Ah, Technomages. They worked better than say, Soul Hunters in a single episode, but I don't think it was a concept that bears much revisiting.

    I'm aware of that. But I was counter-observing that isn't a defence for how terrible a character Galen is in season one, since Babylon 5 was able to do that without ever having Londo or G'Kar stoop to his level.

    The man was in a telefilm, approximately a dozen episodes of TV, and a DVD release. He's consistently terrible, and even if he was salvageable, it doesn't excuse how bad he is (just as the stuff that's flat out terrible in Babylon 5's first season isn't mitigated by how good the show gets later).
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011