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Babylon 5

post #1 of 284
Thread Starter 
Since there's discussion of this show going on in the Trek thread, I figured there's enough interest to start up a separate thread so people wanting to talk about it wouldn't clutter up that thread.

Someone mentioned in that thread the Londo/G'Kar dynamic, and I agree, in a lot of ways, it's the heart of the show. The way their grudging friendship evolved over time was so well done -- you saw how their preconceived notions of each others species wore down as they actually got to know the other person. We saw an oppressor showing remorse and the oppressed showing forgiveness. It's a real testament to the performances of Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsoulis that these two characters had as much soul as they did.

And Lyta being revealed as the Psi-Corps sleeper? One hell of a "Holy shit!" moment. Her screaming "The Corps is mother! The Corps is father!" still sticks in my head, it was such an intense moment.

I know the show has its detractors, and some of the criticism is deserved -- Season 1 stumbles around like a blind man sometimes, and Season 5 really suffered from the half-assed way it came into existence -- but those middle three seasons are as fine bit of televised sci-fi as has ever been broadcast.
post #2 of 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
And Lyta being revealed as the Psi-Corps sleeper? One hell of a "Holy shit!" moment. Her screaming "The Corps is mother! The Corps is father!" still sticks in my head, it was such an intense moment.
Talia Winters was the sleeper.

I recently watched the entire series with my wife (I had seen it during its original run a decade ago but wanted her - a Trek gal - to see it), and I was mortified at how bad the first season was. There were a few okay episodes and it was obviously laying the foundation for what was to follow, but I often found myself apologizing for the quality and swearing it would improve.

So, season 1 sucked and season 5 was underwhelming (for good reasons), but seasons 2 through 4 were solid. It never managed to shake off the small-scale medium-budget look, but succeeded in spite of that through good storytelling. Tons of great moments ("I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next 10 generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this [waves]. Can you and your associates arrange that for me?") Also, the show had the finest space battles on television.
post #3 of 284
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nekkerbee View Post
Talia Winters was the sleeper.
Ugh, my bad.

Quote:
Also, the show had the finest space battles on television.
Galactica gives them a run for their money though. B5 did do the big epic battles pretty damn well though. And they had fantastic ship designs, especially the space goldfish look of the Mimbari.
post #4 of 284
The Spider-like design of The Shadow Battlecrabs and the Vorlon ships are some of the finest designs I've ever seen.

I am a big reader of the Bablyon 5 novels. Especially the "Rise of the Technomages" Trilogy. Remember Galen from Crusade? The books give detailed explanations of the Technomages powers and their connection to The Shadows.

In short they are Organic Cyborgs. Like Venom from Spiderman.
post #5 of 284
I'm watching this through (for the third time) with the girlfriend and while I am hip to the flaws of season 1, which we just wrapped up, it's still an incredibly strong show and if certain episodes don't string the mythology along, you always get great insight into one of the characters, whether it's Garibaldi's wayward history of fucking up or how seriously Dr. Franklin takes his work, there's always something to learn that has effects or is the pay off of certain things before, like what happened to Sinclair, etc.

I don't know if its feasible (though the DVDs have made a fuck ton of money), but I'd love to see this show get a facelift on DVD or Blu Ray. The first season especially has a terrible transfer. Do something like Star Trek, because let's face it, these are 15 year old CG (albeit pioneers of CG on tv). The attack on the station by Earthforce in S3, which is already spectacular, could be legendary with a CGI makeover.

Still, this remains my favorite television show for all of its elements but especially for the way it told its story. There was never a reset button.
post #6 of 284
Thread Starter 
Oh, and as for Crusade and the TV movies? Yeah, not so much.
post #7 of 284
The only films I watched were Thirdspace (I'm a sucker for all things remotely Lovecraftian) and In The Beginning. I saw an episode or two of Crusades, and wasn't impressed. Babylon 5 was such a wonderful thing that it's a shame to try to stretch it out with sequels and spinoffs, no matter how interesting the universe is. Part of its charm was that it was a distinct story with a beginning and end; I don't want to see it Trek-ized with endless series and films.
post #8 of 284
In the Beginning was one of the best things the show produced. Londo's speech about the Earth-Minbari war is one of the only times a tv show has ever made me cry.
post #9 of 284
Back again. Just wrapped up all five seasons and three of the movies (Thirspace, River of Martin Sheen's Souls and In the Beginning) and, for all of the problems of season 5, I forgot that it could still get you. The last three episodes are such a perfect coda to the series, everyone going to their new homes but, as G'Kar said, "a part of them stays". Sleeping in Light (which I think was actually the original S4 finale) hits all the right notes. I teared up, for it was only the second time I'd actually sat through season 5, my girlfriend noted and I said that's alright, because I'll always have these stories to go back to.

The best thing I can say is that, about an hour after the finale, I wanted to start back from the beginning all over again. BSG is great, superior in some ways, but B5 will always be the top for me; I think mostly because even when off-screen shit fucked with it, such as replacing Sinclair or having to get rid of the actress playing Talia, Straczynski had a backdoor escape plan for everyone. Sure, the series loves its monologues and adherence to the script, but what a script, what an undertaking. It feels complete, even season 5 picks up after a rocky start. A fully realized dream.
post #10 of 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Happenin View Post

I don't know if its feasible (though the DVDs have made a fuck ton of money), but I'd love to see this show get a facelift on DVD or Blu Ray. The first season especially has a terrible transfer. Do something like Star Trek, because let's face it, these are 15 year old CG (albeit pioneers of CG on tv). The attack on the station by Earthforce in S3, which is already spectacular, could be legendary with a CGI makeover.

Still, this remains my favorite television show for all of its elements but especially for the way it told its story. There was never a reset button.
YES to a Blue Ray / SFX upgrade! I was a Babylon 5 junkie when it broadcast and watched the DVDs 3-4 times through (except for Season 5). My main problems with the series were the production issues....some of the CGI was crap even back in the day, and the series suffered from some of the worst acting I've ever seen. I've been burnt out on the series for a few years now.

But I loved the Shadow War story Arc, the worlds JMS created, and the characters of Londo/G'kar, Garibaldi and Sheridan, and "Guest Stars' Like Michael Ansara, and the overall 'Jaded Optimism" of the story.
post #11 of 284
Thread Starter 
I'd say the story of BSG sticks with me more than B5's story, but the characters of B5 stick with me more than BSG's characters.
post #12 of 284
I've been re-watching Season 4 and was surprised to see Bryan Cranston pop up.
post #13 of 284
BSG is basically Lord of the Rings in Space - and that is not a bad thing. Have just finished watching season 1 and two recently and it has reknewd my love for it.
post #14 of 284
Yeah but BSG ended earlier this year B5 ended over a decade ago. Come talk to me in 10 years and tell me if you still remember BSG and how great it was...
post #15 of 284
I just want to say that I think the only reason that the fifth season gets trashed is because of the storyline with the rogue telepaths thaat goes on way too long, but the other than that it wasn't too bad. The last half of the season dealing with the war with the Centauri made up for it too me.
post #16 of 284
Disk one of season one showed up today. Looking forward to it.
post #17 of 284
The whole Sinclair leaving thing still interests me. I wasn't planned and a lot of what Sheriden did Sinclair was supposed to do. However, whenever his sudden departure is bought up JMS talks about what a great guy he is and how he will never reveal the reason the actor left the series.
post #18 of 284
I thought they revealed at the time it was because O'hare was a nobody and the people funding it wanted a named actor. Thus (at the time) TV Legend Bruce Boxleitner... after all the show was syndicated.
post #19 of 284
Also, O'Hare was a walking block of wood.
post #20 of 284
You are correct in that JMS isn't talking about it; here's a letter he wrote waaaay back in 1994 discussing O'Hare leaving:

Goodbye Michael O'Hare
post #21 of 284
"Derek..."

I kid, I've had the first two seasons sitting on my shelf for about six months now from a totally fanatical B5 fan I know, maybe this will inspire me to finally watch them.
post #22 of 284
The thing about O'Hare is, is that for the role and what happens to him, he's the perfect choice. He's oddly logical, almost dispassionate, precisely what the character of Sinclair is supposed to be. I can see why that could rub the wrong with the higher ups, but he's a dynamite choice.

And Rusty, do it! You'll enjoy it immensely.
post #23 of 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlord View Post
Disk one of season one showed up today. Looking forward to it.
Okay. Finishing disk one, and thus far, the only thing keeping me going are the near-unanimous intertron opinion that season one takes a while to warm up.
post #24 of 284
Stay the course. Seasons 2-4 are epic.
post #25 of 284
While I do consider myself hypocritical for saying 'stay the course on this', but to drop, say, Dollhouse at first chance, yes, stay the course. The first season lays the groundwork. The first disc...bah, that's just introduction. The grander mysteries are only slowly forming, and at about the halfway point in the season, there's a grand 'wtf' moment that gets you salivating.

Disc 2 also features the entrance of the best recurring character (and sci-fi fan favorite!), as well as Sinclair's history.
post #26 of 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Happenin View Post
While I do consider myself hypocritical for saying 'stay the course on this', but to drop, say, Dollhouse at first chance, yes, stay the course. The first season lays the groundwork. The first disc...bah, that's just introduction. The grander mysteries are only slowly forming, and at about the halfway point in the season, there's a grand 'wtf' moment that gets you salivating.

Disc 2 also features the entrance of the best recurring character (and sci-fi fan favorite!), as well as Sinclair's history.
There was a moment when a character said "I'll be there at [INSERT RANDOM TIME HERE] ... ominous pause ... "don't be late." So cliched. I will keep trudging on. At least "Infection" had an interesting idea behind it.
post #27 of 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by teledork View Post
Stay the course. Seasons 2-4 are epic.
Agreed. The first season will often feel like a chore. When showing the series to my wife I found myself frequently apologizing (and privately horrified that my recollection of the quality of the program was so off.) But seasons 2-4 are absolutely terrific, and my wife grew to love B5.

Stay the course, it really is worth it.
post #28 of 284
I'll also chime in with a 'stay the course' comment. I watched the first part of season 1 when it was originally broadcast and hated it. I came back in about midway through season 2 (my friends were raving about it) and loved it.

It doesn't just get better, it gets GREAT.
post #29 of 284
Thread Starter 
I saw a couple of scattered episodes early in Season 1 and only watched regularly starting at the end of the season. That first season feels a lot like JMS hedging his bets in case there wasn't a second season -- lots of stand-alone episodes, sprinklings of the mythology and hints of the larger arc throughout, but nothing that couldn't be rushed to conclusion or abandoned should the show have gotten canceled. Towards the end, when I guess they knew a second season was in the bag, things started taking on more of the tone the show would have for the rest of its run.
post #30 of 284
I will carry on. Ahh...the halcyon days of television, when shows were given entire seasons in which to get their sea legs.
post #31 of 284
Thread Starter 
Especially in syndication. There was a lot of syndicated crap in the 90s that got two or even three seasons that probably would have never gotten to ten episodes on a network.
post #32 of 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Dickson View Post
Especially in syndication. There was a lot of syndicated crap in the 90s that got two or even three seasons that probably would have never gotten to ten episodes on a network.
Since I knew someday I would get around to watching Babylon 5, I've avoided as best I can reading about the series on-line. But, after the first ten minutes, I had to go look up Babylon 5 vis a vis Deep Space Nine. Rick Berman should be ashamed of himself (for many things, but especially for that).
post #33 of 284
So? How's it working for you by now?
post #34 of 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by teledork View Post
So? How's it working for you by now?
Ugh.

I tried. I really did. I finished season two, and gave up early in season three. I think this may have been one of those shows you had to watch at the right time in your life. Like back when I was in my early teens. The endless monologues ... the storylines with a grandiose and impressive scope intercut with silly diversionary nonsense (oh shit, HOW WILL DELENN FIX HER HAIR!!!!) ... the great war which never really feels all that immense or impressive in scope. I could forgive the special effects, if any part of the actual grit and grime felt realistic or "lived-in" in the slightest.

The acting only got marginally better, and a lot of the characters simply didn't make sense. And they never stopped with the goddamned pontificating. I can totally see why my contemporaries loved this when it came out, but every step of the way I had a "late to the party" vibe.

Maybe I'll pick it up again at some point, but right now I'm starting on Farscape. The last of the "big sci fi" series that I missed out on during their initial run. And no, the stargate multiverse isn't on my radar.
post #35 of 284
See, for me Farscape is the show I came too late to. Watched Season 1, friends assure me it gets totally awesome later on, but I'm just not hooked.

Currently (still) re-watching B5 S4...
post #36 of 284
This is replaying on TV at the moment and I wound up catching some of Season 4 last night. I forgot how stylish the show could be at times, the scene where Sheridan is betrayed and beaten up in a bar, with the strobe lighting and that weird grunge rock soundtrack, is really, really, well done.
post #37 of 284

Didn't join in on this thread before because I only watched this show for the first time last year. My excuse for bumping it is that the AV Club has now started recapping it. I posted a negative comment about the show in response to some of the rapturous praise it was getting, and got slapped down by the recapper himself. But I honestly don't like this show very much, and feel rather baffled by just how much praise it gets in the geekosphere. (One of the commenters called it better than Buffy, another described one sequence as "the funniest thing I've ever seen on TV". It's not just me, right? These people are insane, right?)

 

Babylon 5's certainly interesting, ambitious, and historically significant as far as pop culture goes. I'm certainly not sorry I watched it. And there were lots of good ideas in there, and a handful of great episodes. Plus, it's not fair to rag on it for dated effects or low-budget production values (though I think it IS fair to rag on it for sometimes hideous production design, particularly in regards to the ugly, 80s shopping-mall sets). But I still think this show was missing something. As bad as Star Trek can be, it was the product of diverse hands, and that led to a diversity of quality, greatness scattered amongst the crap. By sometime in season 2, JMS was as good as he was ever going to be, and there was no way for the show to take the jump in quality other series might have to become something great. It basically disappeared up its own ass. I can see how this would be the greatest show ever when you were 12 and it was the only real alternative to Trek, but it also kind of feels like it was written by a 12-year-old at times. Weirdly, I think the characters and world were all very well conceived...somehow, their author never really did justice to them.

post #38 of 284

Had a feeling that was you over there, Prankster. I, fittingly, am "Ham".

 

Out of curiosity, may I ask if you've seen the episode to which I referred? Claudia Christian's comic chops remain underrated.

post #39 of 284

I've seen the whole show except for the TV movies (I've seen the pilot). The cast was talented, but the material they were given was a BLACK HOLE OF COMEDY when it tried to be funny. It was the stupid-ass comedic shit Data got up to on TNG times ten.

 

And if the scene you're describing is the one I'm remembering, then...I vociferously disagree. I actually think I remember squirming in pain at how awful and embarrassing that sequence was for Claudia Christian. Is it the one where she pretends to do a human "mating ritual" and ends up leaping around and screaming gibberish like an idiot for what seemed like twenty minutes, while my soul died within me? Because that was about on par with Spock riding Kirk like a pony at the behest of telekinetic Greeks that one time.

post #40 of 284

I love B5 but humor was not its' strong point: in fact a glaring weakness of the show is that it failed miserably at its' attempts at humor (In fact I was kind of appalled in Season 1 when all the "jokes" seemed to revolve around someone getting in Ivanova or the Doctor's way and being threatened with death or dismemberment).

 

One exception: in one of the later seasons someone is spouting off some Techno-Babble at Sheridan and he stops them by saying "yeah, well as my great Grandad used to say...Cool!"

post #41 of 284

All I can say is, I Iove the Ivanova Dance and I'm not alone.

 

 

Rebo and Zooty leave me cold, however.

post #42 of 284

At least with Rebo and Zooty, it's clear that JMS knew he couldn't really make them funny so he had their actual comedy stay mostly offscreen, and he put a big asterisk next to them by raising the possibility that Sheridan just had a lousy sense of humour. As I recall, Ivanova (or was it replacement-lady at that point?) thought they were awful, thereby standing in for the audience.
 

post #43 of 284

That's S5 so it was Tracy Scoggins. Although references to Rebo and Zooty go further back.

 

But yeah, that's the joke with Rebo and Zooty. They have a literally universal appeal to sentient beings in the future; we the 20th-century viewers are expected to kind of not get them.


Edited by Hammerhead - 6/2/12 at 10:32pm
post #44 of 284

I love this show and i have watched all the seasons of this show.  The 3rd season of this show is awesome. 

 

 

 

 

...........................

post #45 of 284

I really want Babylon 5 remade.  Can you imagine how amazing it could be if it launched in the current TV climate?  Great actors, great production value, a studio leaving it alone to tell it's story.  Shorter seasons with no bloat.

 

It could be glorious.  

 

Because as much as I love this show (and capital-L Loved it in my late teens, when it first aired), it has aged like mayo in the sun.

post #46 of 284

Spike and I were discussing this very subject the other day over XBL, and forget new direct-to-video projects or a feature film (or even a remake) -- what's truly needed is a top-to-bottom HD redo of nearly all the VFX.

 

If Warner Bros. were to do a straight-up release of the series right now on Blu-Ray, virtually none of the current effects work would hold up in 1080p resolution. This is because the majority (if not all) of the original digital effects files were dumped out of computer memory years ago at Foundation Imaging and Netter Digital, and would have to be completely recreated from scratch for any future high-definition release. Were those same files still available today, they could be upconverted to HD (according to JMS). But they aren't.

 

Watching the show nowadays via DVD on our 60" plasma TV, the live-action stuff still looks pretty good; most of the space stuff, unfortunately, does not. If Warners were to simply dump the existing transfers onto BD, the resulting mess would be excruciating -- the space-battles would look like junk, resolution-wise, still locked in 480p (or below).

 

When you check out the recent B5: The Lost Tales movie, the VFX work was produced in high-definition, and it looks amazing. God forbid the main series itself should ever actually look this great. For Babylon 5 to continue to have any sort of realistic future and shot at rediscovery, it desperately needs a TOS/TNG-style visual makeover.

 

Warner Bros. has grossed close to a billion dollars from this show on DVD sales alone. The audience-base is still out there, and they know it. If they release it on Blu-Ray tomorrow strictly as-is, it'll be a debacle.

post #47 of 284

Seasons 2 to 4 were as good as any sci-fi show ever done. A nicely budgeted 10 episode per season cable B5 would be the shit. Stay focused. Season one mostly go with the Centauri-Narn conflict with the Shadows vs. Vorlon stuff in the background. Season two deal with the Human-Minbarri relations while forming the battle lines in the great war. Season 3 should be all about the run up to and the war itself.

post #48 of 284
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelios View Post

Seasons 2 to 4 were as good as any sci-fi show ever done. A nicely budgeted 10 episode per season cable B5 would be the shit. Stay focused. Season one mostly go with the Centauri-Narn conflict with the Shadows vs. Vorlon stuff in the background. Season two deal with the Human-Minbarri relations while forming the battle lines in the great war. Season 3 should be all about the run up to and the war itself.

 

Exactly!  Where would we work in the liberation of Earth?  Or leave that aside?  Babylon 3?

 

Man, there were just so many great plots in the show.

 

It's never going to get the credit it deserves.  Babylon 5 was the catalyst for getting TV on DVD!

post #49 of 284

Regardless of my issues with the show, I really, really dislike the mentality that you have to revamp the special effects on something like this. It's George Lucas thinking. The work is part of the past, the special effects are part of history (and obviously Babylon 5's effects are significant from a historical perspective), you should let them stand. Going back to keep it "cutting edge" smacks of the whole idea of never outgrowing your adolescent obsessions. Would you go back and insert CGI into Ray Harryhausen's work?
 

post #50 of 284

I agree. But the DVDs invite this sort of thinking, thanks to their 50% commitment to widescreen. I'd much prefer to own the series in its original broadcast ratio, with the FX shots uncropped.

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