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

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

  1. Angel4576

    Angel4576 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Regarding themes, we've missed a pretty important one, one which had its origins right back in The Gathering; the ability of one person being able to change the world around them. The most explicit example of this was the showcasing of Sheridan's journey. DS9 tried something similar with Sisko, and whilst I enjoyed Sisko's progression, it wasn't as coherant as that of Sheridan.

    Personally, I think it's fair to say that both B5 and Star Trek had themes. Not the same themes, which at the end of the day, is great. There really wasn't much need for them both to tread the same ground.
     
  2. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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

    LOL, this reminds me of the ending of DS9. The Sisko's great and powerful destiny... was to chuck a book into a fire because Winn told him to. Man was that a disappointment.

    Actually come to think of it, what great accomplishments did Sisko as an individual make? Dax discovered the wormhole. Sisko "taught" them about linear time, but as the series went on we learned that was a joke and they were actually manipulating him. He helped design the Defiant but so did hundreds of others. He convinced the Prophets to seal the wormhole, but again, it was part of their pre-determined plan.

    In the end, wasn't he pretty much just a cog in a machine, manipulated by higher powers?
     
  3. zenophite

    zenophite Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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

    Despite the amount of praise it often receives I found DS9 hard to watch. I think that overall this trek attempt to make an arc based show was not that great - your examples being but a few of many elements that contributed to that feeling. but of course that's just my opinion and this thread is about B5.
     
  4. Admiral_Young

    Admiral_Young Fleet Admiral Admiral

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

    Thanks very much for posting the synopsis...oh by the way what was the joke that JMS laid on Peter Jurasik and Andreas Kastaslas? Or is it not worth mentioning here?

    I have to say after reading that I too am glad that we got the Babylon 5 that we got and I also agree that can't be the actual synopsis with Michael O'Hare in mind, although I guess that is just fans second guessing JMS. The Babylon Prime idea seems interesting...and I too always looked at the "War Without End" two parter as a sort of potential series finale pertaining to the 2278 scenes. Its of note to see that JMS also looked to use this particular time frame to tell "In The Begining" from as well. The continuation of the Earth/Minbari War in the first couple of seasons makes sense as it was a crucial part of Sinclair's life that was left unaswered at the time of Season One.
     
  5. BenRoethig

    BenRoethig Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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

    Look, the show that we see is never going to be exactly like an initial outline, even without cast changes. Doing a series allows a lot of time for input and new ideas.
     
  6. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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

    In "The Exercise of Vital Powers", the first draft of the script had G'kar undergoing a sex change due to stress and then becoming lovers with Londo. It played out for several days with them actually sending Andreas out for chest casts in order to design cleavage and corsetry.

    The joke parts were excerpted in Volume 15. I really wish they'd filmed it. JMS brought the script to a con here in Orlando a long time ago and had local volunteers play the parts and it was great. I can only imagine what those two actors could have done with it.

    Jan
     
  7. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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

    ^^
    That's hilarious :D

    I used to love DS9 dearly as it was the show that basically got me into sci-fi, though looking back on it now it was really just a baby step to the modern s-f serial drama. Unfortunately I didn't start watching B5 until the end of the fourth season.
     
  8. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Vice Admiral Admiral

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

    You know I've been thinking about this for awhile, and I've come to the conclusion that JMS in his original concept for the series and the overall arc may be akin to The Winds of War. It seems that Babylon 5 would've been about the stirring of the war drums, much like Wouk's novel and the miniseries that followed. Then, just like Wouk's War and Remembrance and the next ABC miniseries, we would've seen the war in Babylon Prime.

    The combination of CGI advancement and the constant threat of cancellation may have made JMS, either before season 1 or mid-season 1, rethink this approach. Also, he probably figured why the hell was he saving the best stuff for the sequel series when it seemed in the early years that the likelihood of that happening was nil since the series itself always seemed to dangle in a precarious balance thanks to PTEN.

    Also, and our resident B5 guru Jan probably has the answer, JMS printed in one of the Titan mags his original, out-of-the-shower, notes on The Babylon Project (his original title for the series) that got the way, way broad strokes of the series and characters. I can't seem to find that issue, does anyone have it and could they quote it here? I think it would be interesting to see it against what is now know of this early iteration of Babylon 5.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2008
  9. Plain Simple

    Plain Simple Commodore Commodore

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

    Just discovered this thread. chrisspringob, thanks for posting that! I agree with everyone who said that what we actually got was great, however it is impossible to compare a complete series with an initial draft, especially when it's the draft that led to the series.

    As many have noted before it's odd that many main story points where transferred to a spin off series. Where's the logic in that? I can follow the reasoning chrisspringob gave in one of his posts to some degree: that he did it to get a bigger budget for the spin off series, if the original would have been succesful enough. But is it really necessary to start a spin off for that? Can't the budget be raised in between seasons if the show is succesful? Does anyone have any more info on why he planned the spin off?

    Jan, I really enjoy your insights in al B5 related posts and I'm quite sure I must have asked in the past, but (if you want to share this with us) what exactly is your role in the JMS/B5 world that makes you "our resident B5 guru"?
     
  10. chrisspringob

    chrisspringob Commodore Commodore

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

    As I speculated, I think the spinoff series storyline was a pie-in-the-sky idea for what could be done if there was a much larger budget. Yes, if the main series was really successful, they could have increased the budget during the main series, but JMS couldn't count on that from the outset. He needed a story outline for the main series that could be achieved on the budget he had at the beginning. But then once the series got going, he realized that with CGI, he could achieve most of what he wanted in the spinoff within the main series.

    At least, that's an educated guess. Purely speculative on my part.
     
  11. Plain Simple

    Plain Simple Commodore Commodore

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

    So he planned on purpose have the series end on a cliffhanger? That just sounds very odd to me. I mean, setting up a situation in one show which can lead to a spin off, sure, that's how these things go. But to purposefully plan a five year series which will never see the resolution of it's main story threads, that to me seems just weird.

    Edit: I do realise that it is just speculation on your part. I'm reasoning here from the assumption your speculation is true. And that leads to weirdness I think. But I can't think of any other explanation that doesn't either.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2008
  12. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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

    I believe it was originally going to end on a cliffhanger I thought and I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong but I thought it was going to end with Sinclair going back in time to the end of the last Shadow War.
     
  13. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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

    Actually, IIRC, in this early draft of the story, Sinclair and Delenn actually travel on Babylon Prime (the renamed Babylon 4) FORWARD in time. Further evidence of this exists in the introduction to "Babylon Squared" where JMS notes that certain lines were left ambiguous so that it could be inferred that the station was heading backwards OR forwards in time.

    I don't have my script books here with me at work, obviously, so I can't cite any passages at the moment.
     
  14. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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

    Thanks for the kind words, Plain Simple. I had a full set of B5 scripts long before the Script Books came out and have always enjoyed looking things up in them to help with discussions. I've sometimes had a knack for finding relevant JMS posts when questions came up, too and I tend to go to most cons where JMS appears. I'm not sure I'm that much of an expert but I've got some great research tools! I became a member of the Scripts Team in the second half of the project and had the honor of having a project of mine, the 'Joe Cuts' inventory of added/deleted/changed etc. scenes, included in the free Volume 15.

    JMS introduced the 'Joe Cuts' by saying I was insane (in a good way). middyseafort called me a guru. Reader's choice, I guess. :)

    BTW, middyseafort, I hadn't noticed your question about JMS having printed his out-of-the-shower notes. I've got all of the Titan magazines here, can you give me any more info that you recall about it so I can look it up? Early or late in the run? Theme for that issue? Anything?

    Jan
     
  15. chrisspringob

    chrisspringob Commodore Commodore

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

    Ummm....this is all covered in the first post of this thread, where I typed out a long synopsis of JMS's outline. As I said in that post, the following is, more or less what JMS wrote in that story outline (though I've condensed what he wrote into fewer words):

    So yes, according to JMS, he intended for the series to end on a cliffhanger. That part is not speculation. The only part of this that is speculation is my theory for why exactly JMS wanted to save so many crucial story elements for the spinoff series. That's the part where I speculated that it was just a pie-in-the-sky "Well, I can't achieve most of what I want with the current budget and with current technology. But maybe in five years, if the series is really successful, we could do all that stuff in a sequel series."
     
  16. Loupjo

    Loupjo Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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

    Interesting read. I think I prefer what we got although of course I am not sure how it would have played out on the screen.
    I do think it's a shame that Sinclair didn't last beyond season 1; I always thought he was a better character then Sheridan. it would have been nice to see it played out throughout the show. I never minded O'Hare and thought he was an OK actor.
    Now I don't dislike Sheridan and I think his character in some ways was better suited to become Delenn's partner as they were more oppossed and played off better against each other.
     
  17. Plain Simple

    Plain Simple Commodore Commodore

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

    Sorry for the confusion. I'm well aware of what parts were in your original post and which were later speculation, that's not it. I'm not doubting that the cliffhanger was in the original draft. I'm just saying that it's quite odd imo to preplan a five year series and then have it end on a cliffhanger. One must have a pretty good reason for that. And now I'm not at home in the inner workings of tv land and your speculation might be a logical reason, but to me it is not clear why you need a spinoff for this? You speculate he might have thought "Well, I can't achieve most of what I want with the current budget and with current technology. But maybe in five years, if the series is really successful, we could do all that stuff in a sequel series." But how is that any different from "Well, I can't achieve most of what I want with the current budget and with current technology. But maybe in some years, if the series is really successful, we could do all that stuff then"?

    So, again, I do not doubt that he did plan to end on a cliffhanger, I am just curious (just as you) as to the 'why'. And while I think your speculation is interesting and certainly the best I've read (well, the only one actually) or can come up with myself, it still doesn't satisfy. Unless someone can explain to me why a spin off series would be better suited to attract a big budget than just another season in the existing series.

    Hope that clarifies things.
     
  18. chrisspringob

    chrisspringob Commodore Commodore

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

    Again, he couldn't count on the budget going up, so the story outline for the main series had to assume that the budget would stay the same. He assumed (according to this speculation) that what he really wanted to do was unachievable at the time the series was starting, so his outline had to reflect that. It may not have occurred to him back then that he would be able to rewrite the series storyline so drastically midstream if it looked like his most ambitious vision for the story was achievable on a TV budget after all. So the only way to include those ambitious story elements somewhere down the line, should it prove possible to produce them, would be either a sequel series, or adding on extra seasons to B5. He may have simply thought that B5 being destroyed and the entire show shifting to Babylon Prime and a new mission would be a sufficiently drastic break with the tone of the original series, that it made more sense for it to be a sequel series.

    He also might have thought that, if he wrote an outline in which those ambitious story elements were included, even as a possibility, in the main arc of the series, and he showed that to Warner Bros., they would be scared off. That they either wouldn't like the idea of the show changing so drastically, or that holding out the idea of adding extra seasons to the show or saying "I don't know if I'm going to go in this direction or not; depends on how much $ we have" would make them think that he was just blowing smoke when he claimed that he had a solidly mapped out storyline for 5 years.

    That is, he may have thought it was better to make those most ambitious story elements seem like an afterthought that could be done, or not, some time down the road, purely for reasons of TV politics.
     
  19. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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

    I *think* (and it's only based on what little JMS has said about various contracts in the past) that it's not as much a matter of attracting a bigger budget as that after a successful 5 year run, a bigger budget would be far easier to negotiate. Whatever B5's budget was starting out, there would be set contractual increases for expenses and salaries each year. Once that budget ran out everybody would be free to negotiate from a stronger position following a successful series.

    Jan
     
  20. mandragora

    mandragora Lieutenant Red Shirt

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

    It might also have been a question of not knowing how fast CGI development would progress - better to outline off-station and other plotlines that require a lot of comparatively advanced CGI for a later point in time (5 years into the future instead of two or three), to give the outline more credibility and avoid assuming too much. When it turned out that CGI technology advanced much faster than expected, it became feasible to shift the sequel outline plotlines into the series proper both technologically and within the budget given. Just my guess.