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Babylon 5 Reboot in 2016 - Page 2

post #51 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammerhead View Post

We'll probably never hear the last word on how Claudia Christian's contract got dropped.
There's a fantastic pair of books called THE BABYLON FILE that were released while the show was in its first run. Volume 1 was a breathlessly adulatory tome written while the show was midway Season 4; and Volume 2 was written after the series wrapped, and the author was unapologetically pissed.

Anyway, Volume 2 contains both sides of the story, right from the horses' mouths. It's the most comprehensive account I've yet seen.
post #52 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by erik myers View Post

Sorry, man. I followed this show religiously for five years, videotaping and re-watching it as it went; and even now, years removed, raising a glass to Lennier or quoting "David is safe" does not, in any way, satisfy the fact that story lines were clearly set up to be told within the context of a five-year Novel For Television, and then weren't.

 

Nope, as I've already pointed out a couple of times here, JMS never intended to ever show us how the Drakh occupation on Centauri Prime ended, ever, in any way, shape, or form onscreen except for those brief flash-forward future tidbits. You're misattributing to JMS promises that were never actually made, and as evidence in the intervening decades has proved, Straczynski never had any onscreen plans for this, ever.

 

I think there might be a fundamental misunderstanding of the story JMS was telling happening, here, which could account for the assumption that he somehow got his own story wrong. Indeed, any novel can contain sections that are only meant to be visited briefly for the purposes of storytelling, and then never revisited again -- why should Babylon 5 be expected to behave differently?

 

JMS chose to set a very brief section of the narrative in the future on Centauri Prime, but to have depicted the entire Drakh occupation would have taken up another five TV production-years. And the Drakh occupation was never really all that important to the greater arc anyhow, except with regards to how Londo finally faced his destiny (as well as G'Kar, his own).

 

The post-Earth Civil War events were not tacked onto the five-year arc. JMS was, in effect, doing a narrative history. He had laid out the events of the story in broad outline for a million years in either direction (the events of "Deconstruction" would have made it into the series one way or another), and in detail for a thousand before and after the key events of the 2250s and '60s. He selected the chunk of the larger story that he wanted to tell, just as David McCullough chooses the stories from the 18th century that he wants to tell.

 

Should McCullough have ended his John Adams with Yorktown, or with Washington's inauguration because the struggle for independence was his "main" story? Do all stories that intersect with the American Civil War have to start with Fort Sumter and end with Appomattox?

 

You can tell the story of Bleeding Kansas and the political battles over slavery on Capitol Hill, and end with Lincoln's first inauguration, and still have a perfectly valid story. You can tell a story that starts with a Confederate soldier in the aftermath of Gettysburg, as the Lost Cause recedes from its high-water mark, and continues through Reconstruction. If you do, are you screwing up the "fundamentals" of your story?


JMS certainly isn't a perfect writer, and he made any number of missteps in five seasons, and wrote an ungodly number of episodes. But he didn't get the entire structure of the work wrong.


Edited by Leto II - 7/16/15 at 8:36pm
post #53 of 57

    Quote:

Originally Posted by erik myers View Post

Clearly our views on this differ, but I know I wasn't the only one who was perfectly willing to forgive dropped threads when the story was hastily wrapped up at the end of Season 4 due to necessity; but felt less charitable after an interminable fifth season in which half the episodes were standalone, and the other half concerned with setting up new arcs rather than resolving the ones floating in limbo.

 

What "new arcs" were these? Everything introduced in Season 5 (apart from the new Lochley-material) was always intended to be there right from the very first moment the cameras rolled on the Season 4 premiere, whether as part of the fourth year or the fifth, depending upon the renewal-situation.

 

All of the Byron stuff, the Telepath colony, the escalating Drakh-situation, setting up Lennier's fall, and the shaky early days of the Interstellar Alliance, were all in JMS's series notes, and we got all of that. And of those, only Lennier's fall (and Lyta's final fate) were ever intended to be followed up on outside of the series, in a potential feature film. Yes, there were a few additional standalone episodes that were written as a necessity, but nothing in those episodes left anything "floating in limbo" when the series finally ended.

 

The main thing about B5 that makes it a different experience than most other series, is that it repays repeated viewings. Season One is a completely different experience when you watch it again after seeing the end of the series. The character of Sinclair is clearer, and you catch much of subtle foreshadowing that you couldn't have caught the first time around.

 

Similarly, Season 5 plays much better the second or third time through when watched on DVD (especially for people who only saw it when it first aired) because people aren't watching it through the lens of their expectations, and they aren't waiting an entire week between episodes.

 

Part of the problem during the original TNT run was that a lot of fans had, in a sense, already outlined the final season in their own heads. They especially wanted to get to the end of the Londo/G'Kar story, which they assumed would be near the very end of the series. (I remember people wondering if the show would start skipping three or four years in time between episodes as the last three or four approached, to cover all the events in between 2262 and the end.)

 

Because JMS didn't write what many fans were expecting, and because they were waiting a week or even longer between episodes (because of a couple of hiatuses TNT built into the schedule, due to the NBA playoffs) the legend of the "Interminable Telepath Arc" was born.

 

In fact, the Teep-thread only runs through the first eight episodes of the season, not "half the season," as many (mis-)remember it, and it is mostly the "B"-story in episodes about completely other things entirely.

 

But it "felt" longer, because at the time, people were just anxious to get to that other stuff. But watching the season again, without these expectations, and without the long wait, makes it clear that the season has an arc that makes sense and that builds well, although it is necessarily weakened by the last-minute loss of a major actor/character only weeks before the start of shooting, which especially weakened the Teep-arc.


Edited by Leto II - 7/16/15 at 8:34pm
post #54 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by erik myers View Post



How did you feel about the resolution of the Shadow War?

 

First 6-7 were episodes were very solid, they kept the flow going. I appreciate JMS' thing for weird season structures. I was almost sad to see Mr.Morden go, after getting a big kick out of his fabulous tanned makeover.

post #55 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leto II View Post

Nope, as I've already pointed out a couple of times here, JMS never intended to ever show us how the Drakh occupation on Centauri Prime ended, ever, in any way, shape, or form onscreen except for those brief flash-forward future tidbits. You're misattributing to JMS promises that were never actually made, and as evidence in the intervening decades has proved, Straczynski never had any onscreen plans for this, ever.

I think there might be a fundamental misunderstanding of the story JMS was telling happening, here, which could account for the assumption that he somehow got his own story wrong. Indeed, any novel can contain sections that are only meant to be visited briefly for the purposes of storytelling, and then never revisited again -- why should Babylon 5 be expected to behave differently?

JMS chose to set a very brief section of the narrative in the future on Centauri Prime, but to have depicted the entire Drakh occupation would have taken up another five TV production-years. And the Drakh occupation was never really all that important to the greater arc anyhow, except with regards to how Londo finally faced his destiny (as well as G'Kar, his own).

The post-Earth Civil War events were not tacked onto the five-year arc. JMS was, in effect, doing a narrative history. He had laid out the events of the story in broad outline for a million years in either direction (the events of "Deconstruction" would have made it into the series one way or another), and in detail for a thousand before and after the key events of the 2250s and '60s. He selected the chunk of the larger story that he wanted to tell, just as David McCullough chooses the stories from the 18th century that he wants to tell.

Should McCullough have ended his John Adams with Yorktown, or with Washington's inauguration because the struggle for independence was his "main" story? Do all stories that intersect with the American Civil War have to start with Fort Sumter and end with Appomattox?

You can tell the story of Bleeding Kansas and the political battles over slavery on Capitol Hill, and end with Lincoln's first inauguration, and still have a perfectly valid story. You can tell a story that starts with a Confederate soldier in the aftermath of Gettysburg, as the Lost Cause recedes from its high-water mark, and continues through Reconstruction. If you do, are you screwing up the "fundamentals" of your story?


JMS certainly isn't a perfect writer, and he made any number of missteps in five seasons, and wrote an ungodly number of episodes. But he didn't get the entire structure of the work wrong.
Agree to disagree, then. I'm all for showing us flashes of the future, and the resolutions to certain plots; but certain storylines (like Lennier, David, G'kar killing Londo whilst wearing an eyepatch instead of his new eye) feel very bereft of context. We didn't need all of it; but I could have dealt with a few more tantalizing details instead of the episode with the janitors.

It wasn't that the Telepath story didn't go anywhere: it's the fact that it was clearly a set-up for CRUSADE, and a feature film to go in between. That felt cheap and a manipulation of the material to support a franchise that never happened.

And speaking of films: with the exception of IN THE BEGINNING (which, while decent, suffered for giving the leads pre-existing association), those TNT movies were total shit -- and could have been used to tell some of those hinted-at stories.
post #56 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by erik myers View Post

It wasn't that the Telepath story didn't go anywhere: it's the fact that it was clearly a set-up for CRUSADE, and a feature film to go in between. That felt cheap and a manipulation of the material to support a franchise that never happened.

 

However, absolutely none of that is JMS's fault whatsoever.

 

And again, you're forgetting that JMS first mentioned/announced what became Crusade way, way back in 1991, as a story always intended to be told outside the scope of the five-year Babylon 5 arc. He said so right from the very beginning (before even "The Gathering" was ever shot) that this was always a Babylon 5 spinoff tale, and as the progenitor series, B5 had to lay some of that groundwork during its run (similar to how TNG set up the premise of DS9).

As for Crusade itself -- TNT wanted that series dead, no matter what JMS did or did not do. That motivation was entirely political, and nothing Warner Bros. did was able to stop it.

JMS wrote the initial TNT movies and the outlines for the three Del Rey trilogies at a time when he was working on Crusade, Season 5 was approaching its end with good ratings on TNT, more TV movies were in the pipeline, and Warner Bros. was asking for a feature film treatment.

 

In other words, he planned the Telepath War theatrical film, TV movies, and novel trilogies at the time when it most looked like B5 could develop into the kind of "franchise" that he could live with -- a universe where he could tell more stories in other media while still maintaining control.

 

A time when he knew he had a new series production-deal in hand for the spinoff (and had every reason to be optimistic that it would do well, based on B5 S5's ratings, and his then-excellent working relationship with TNT), and very good prospects for a movie deal and perhaps a (Trek-like) series of theatrical films with the original cast while Crusade continued on the small screen.

 

And yet, at the apex of B5's fortunes, he chose to tell the Telepath, Technomage and Centauri stories as novels. He did so because he saw then as being mostly backstory (Teep, Technomage), dealing with "side issues" that weren't part of the main story (of the Younger Races taking control of their own destiny -- Teep, Centauri) or too sprawling, too expensive, and too populated by strange and alien characters to work as TV movies or feature films (Technomage, Centauri).

 

In short, he made them books because they *couldn't* be live-action television or movies.

 

And then, of course, TNT killed Crusade, and spitefully prevented anyone else (including the Sci-Fi Channel) from putting it back into production again. The rest, as they say, is history.


So...to blame JMS for any of this is bad deduction at best. The most I could ever potentially fault JMS for is keeping his artistic integrity intact against a hostile network (Crusade), and the integrity of his primary creation (Babylon 5) at its creative height. And I would never fault him for any of that.


Edited by Leto II - 7/17/15 at 3:46pm
post #57 of 57
None of this means the decisions were the right ones. That's for the audience to decide: was the author's plan successful?

And arguing "the plan from the beginning" is sort of a challenge given the fact that cast changes -- particularly Boxleitner -- had an effect on the overall arc, regardless of how it's played down.
Edited by erik myers - 7/20/15 at 8:23am
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