Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS**

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by chrisspringob, May 4, 2008.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    And at the time, in his online posts, JMS was always quite open about the fact that he was adjusting and revising his plans as he went along -- which, of course, is the only sensible way to approach an ongoing series. So I was quite surprised when, some years later, I learned of the emerging myth that he'd had every scene planned out before the pilot was shot. I've heard some people say that JMS himself is promoting that view, but I'm not sure if they're misinterpreting his words or if he's actually fallen for the hype about himself and been rewriting the past.


    Three, actually -- Tamlyn Tomita, Johnny Sekka, and Patricia Tallmann. He was able to bring Tallmann back a few seasons later, but that wasn't part of the plan at the time. She was fired and replaced, just like the other two. It's just that her replacement didn't get along with JMS, so he ended up firing her and bringing the first telepath back.

    Yep. This is another thing he was quite open about at the time. When it became unclear whether the series would get more than four seasons, he reworked his plans for the final two seasons to fit the key points into just one season. The series finale, "Sleeping in Light," was actually filmed at the end of the fourth season, and would have aired then if the show hadn't been renewed. When it was renewed, they shot a new fourth-season finale, "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" (I think it was called), and then JMS had to construct a new story arc for the fifth season, incorporating some of the storylines he'd cut from the original S4/5 plan and some he'd had in mind for Crusade or sequel movies.

    See, this is what people misunderstand about having a series preplanned. It doesn't mean you have every specific event locked into place. It means you have a number of story and character threads you want to use, and you fit them in where they work best. If your plans change and a thread doesn't fit in one place, you move things around and fit it in somewhere else.
     
  2. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    It's a misinterpretation. He's never said anything of the sort. He's said variations of two things many times. First (paraphrasing), that he'd worked out B5's history in detail for a hundred years past and future and in the broad strokes for a thousand years in either direction. Second, (again paraphrasing) that in a particular notebook, he kept 3x5 cards with the major beats of each season. From these, he'd work out each year's stories. He never said that he'd planned every single thing in exhaustive detail. Quite the opposite.

    Not quite accurate. Patricia Tallman (via her agent) couldn't agree on a salary for the series and so she was passed over. Andrea Thompson requested to be released from her contract. This isn't just JMS's word, I've heard them both acknowlege it.
    Exactly. One of the things that made B5 great was that it was fluid enough to take advantage of happy surprises as well as recover from cast defections. IIRC, in the first season, Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas didn't have a guaranteed number of episodes. Once their chemistry and talent became apparent, those parts grew with the story. Bester was only supposed to be a one-off character but became the villain we love to hate.

    Jan
     
  3. Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    one thing that strikes me is the original revelation behind Sinclair's S1 minbari story. It fits a little bit more with how it was presented in S1, as this dark mysterious thing, it never quite seemed to jibe when later revealed as "he had a minbari soul" - it was almost anti-climactic, at least until the valen revelation. In fact there's a very different vibe to S1, not just in Sinclair/Sheridan, but in tone and storytelling, it almost seems like a different series. I'm fascinated by this original plan and would love to read a more detailed treatment at some point.

    Sinclair wasn't going to be Valen in the original plan, it was strange to me that Valen was never mentioned by name until late in S1, which is sort of a surprise. however someone at another forum tracked down this message which seems to pin down a time when JMS decided on this particular twist - ie late in the 1st season: http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-9049
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2008
  4. zenophite

    zenophite Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    ^yeah the synopsis makes me want to go back and watch S1 to pick up on any clues in light of the new info.
    I read a speculation piece on the net once that did a really nice job of setting up a "what if" scenario regarding the "original" story. It was actually pretty interesting and it's funny that this jms synopsis is a bit of a let down in comparison.
     
  5. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    Valen was mentioned by name pretty early in season one, specifically in "The Parliament of Dreams" the eighth episode shot and fifth shown. Delenn says:
    Jan
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    Good to know.
     
  7. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    So in the original plan, Valen was just a famous historical figure and nothing more? And then when Sinclair couldn't make babies anymore... the B4 time travel went backwards instead of forwards?
     
  8. Tulin

    Tulin Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    The funny thing is, I am watching B5 with my partner right now and after watching "Babylon Squared" and hearing how B4 gets taken through time to help fight in a Great War, he just automatically assumed it was coming FORWARD in time.

    He actually also(incorrectly)surmized that based on the Centauri prophetess' prediction in "Signs and Portents" that B5 will be destroyed VERY soon(we just watched "Sic Transit Vir")and B4 is right on track to appear any episode now to take the place of B5 as the new base.


    How ironic that he is actually on track, almost, with JMS's original outline.
     
  9. Saul

    Saul Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    Thanks chrisspringrob. I prefer the story we got then this. However Babylon Prime sounded interesting and I would have liked to have seen this as Season 5.
     
  10. RobertScorpio

    RobertScorpio Pariah

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    Yeah..I agree. I liked the way it came out on TV instead. One of my favorite episodes is when Sinclair comes back and that whole Mimbari war, 1000 years ago, makes more sense then..

    Rob
     
  11. chrisspringob

    chrisspringob Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    For reference btw, that post, written on May 20, 1994, would have been written after "Chrysalis" was already written (and before he started writing Season 2). In fact, it was probably written after "Chrysalis" had been filmed, though I don't know the exact filming dates.
     
  12. Elemental

    Elemental Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    Do you really think that if B5 had reached the mass appeal that Star Trek had and fans and execs were demanding tons of merchandise that would result in even more money for Joe, that he would have denied them?

    And it's amazing how quickly people jump on the "bash Star Trek" bandwagon. If you don't remember those shows being "about something" than perhaps your memory has become a bit tinted. I'd easily say overall, Star Trek has been much more theme-based than B5 which I'd say was primarily story/plot-based.
     
  13. chrisspringob

    chrisspringob Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    It's not even that. It's....who had the power to approve merchandising anyway? JMS certainly didn't, as it was Warner Bros. who owned the show.
     
  14. Tulin

    Tulin Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    I'd give you that ST was more moralistic. However, despite the intricate plot of B5, I have fond memories of going over the themes of B5 with a couple of friends during those incredible years when the show originally aired.

    Some examples include,

    There will always be a price to pay, so choose wisely - the value in estimating a cost before leaping headfirst into something

    Treasure the moments you have, for they will never come again - using time wisely

    The noble devotion of oneself to greater and higher ideals, rather than the destructive path of revenge and self-interest

    The concept of questioning your own government, no matter the cost to you personally - evil flourishes when good men do nothing(How incredibly timely!)


    Babylon 5 had rich and grand themes in abundance and I found it HUGELY uplifting.
     
  15. S. Gomez

    S. Gomez Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    ^Not to mention self-sacrifice - what it really means and what it takes to get there (one of those points touched on it, but I think you could give both self-sacrifice and noble devotion their own due).

    Whether one show was "better" than the other is of course entirely subjective, but I think it's wrong to say B5 was only about the plot.
     
  16. Elemental

    Elemental Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    ^I never said it was only about plot but that it was more plot-based or plot-driven whereas Trek is more theme-driven.
     
  17. chrisspringob

    chrisspringob Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    The difference between the two is that Star Trek is short stories, whereas B5 is a long novel (not that Trek has never done story arcs, but those feel less like a coherent whole than the B5 story arc). Many of those short stories are indeed "about something", but some really are not.....with most of the latter category belonging to Voyager and Enterprise (sorry, I couldn't resist the cheap shot ;) ).
     
  18. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    Not to mention B5's complete lack of technobabble solutions ;)
     
  19. zenophite

    zenophite Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    Star Trek has always seemed more about preachiness and black and white reasoning IMO. B5 allowed you to see characters change and fail and sometimes come back from the brink. While B5 had its theme based shows they seemed to come about far more naturally out of the overall story than those in trek.
     
  20. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    Re: Synopsis of JMS's synopsis of the "original arc for B5" **SPOILERS

    B5 definitely showed more shades of grey in humans, and that's one element I liked.