Author Topic: Re-visiting Babylon 5  (Read 144 times)

Offline number six

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Re-visiting Babylon 5
« on: September 11, 2020, 04:04:47 PM »
Decided to re-watch Babylon 5 a few weeks ago. Was a fairly big fan of the show in the 90s but don't think I've sat down and watched the entire series since then. It's interesting going back after all of these years.

First, I remembered the First Season to be hit or miss, then seasons 2-4 to be amazing and finally season 5 to be mostly garbage.  Re-watching all of season 1 in it's entirety though.. its pretty good all around. I think the bad memories of early Babylon 5 stem from the 2-hour premiere ("The Gathering") which is pretty awful. Some of the cast was missing, the Mimbari looked like witches.. there were a lot of crude jokes.. perhaps suit interference or JMS just needed to retool.. either way the rest of Season 1 is actually good even if its mostly filler.

My view on the commanders has also changed. I remember not caring for Sinclair a whole lot and liking Sheridan a lot better. Sinclair actually isn't that bad and I found myself missing him with his abrupt departure in season 2 (actor had mental problems and had to quit) but it is hard to beat Bruce Boxlietner.

The CGI hasn't aged well but the first season with it's Lightwave/Amiga based graphics are particularly bad. They did what they had to do given the budget but most of it looks like cutscenes from a mid-90s PC game. This would be an excellent show to remaster with new CGI but I doubt its popular enough to warrant that.

I remember it being definitely noticed at the time but man.. Deep Space 9 ripped the hell off of this show. Not just the name and general setting but several of the characters, the way a race aligns themselves with the bad guys which leads to their downfall, the religious issues and even the subplot with the rogue secret agency within earth. Rumor is there was an out of court pay out to JMS.. if not this would have been an easy lawsuit.

Anyway still a great show that is somewhat forgotten these days. Will be interesting to see if Season 5 is as crap as I remember..to be honest its probably better than anything Star Trek has been plopping out recently.


Offline HFK

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Re: Re-visiting Babylon 5
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2020, 04:37:35 PM »
Season 5 was hit and miss because they had to wrap up the main story in S4. Lochely ends up being okay but a lot of the telepath stuff was way too much filler.

As for remastering the CGI supposedly they originals were lost so they would have to redo everything from scratch.

I could go on for days about B5, love it overall. Even enjoyed Crusade but TNT messed with it so much it was destined to fail. There were also a couple movies after it ended and the novels are really good. 

Offline Niloc

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Re: Re-visiting Babylon 5
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2020, 05:50:32 PM »
Yeah, the first season wasn't that bad, it was more in retrospect seasons 2 through 4 were a lot better. I think the CGI jumped quite a bit between seasons 1 & 2 as well - still pretty crude, but improved.

JMS actually got lucky with the guy who played Sinclair leaving, it really would have wound up being way too much for one character to be the commander of B5 AND everything else Sinclair wound up becoming later.
The change of actors forced a re-write that made it easier to swallow.

There was a sequel series to B5 too, I think it only ran one season. I remember that having more improved FX as well (not surprising since it came later) but otherwise being pretty bland.

Offline Steve O

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Re: Re-visiting Babylon 5
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2020, 08:41:26 PM »
I wish they did not get rid of Kosh after season two (I think it was).  Season 5 was horrible without Ivanova.  Her interactions with Garabaldi were fun.  It was good that they brought Sinclair back for a guest spot after he left.  Not many of the cast members are still with us.

Offline number six

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Re: Re-visiting Babylon 5
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2020, 09:42:34 PM »
Season 5 was obviously rushed into production when they found out at the last minute the show wasn't cancelled after all which I'm sure explains why it wasn't so good, the story had already wrapped. That said from what I can remember it wasn't great.. they kept teasing a Telepath war but i don't recall it going anywhere and I never much cared for the Telegoth angle anyway.

Lochley I didn't like. She was no Ivanava and I think her backstory involved her being a crack whore. The show just never felt right in that last season.. culminating with about the only episode I remember because it was so terrible.. the one where the 2 janitors talk about Spoo for 43 minutes.

And yeah I can see how splitting Sinclair/Sheridan was probably good overall as that would be one hell of an arc. Another downer was the blonde Telepath going to CNN so they had to replace her with Patrica Tallman but kept the 'artificially enhanced' story on both so it worked out. I mean I honestly like Tallman better as an actress but I'm sure the plan was to have one character throughout the entire show.

The post-B5 shows were all over the board. The full on series was Crusade, that's the one that basically stole the plot from Space Battleship Yamato (aka Starblazers) down to the way the ship worked. I remember it being a bit silly (especially with the Technomage) but OK.. I only watched a few episodes because they announced early on it was cancelled so I didn't see the point in investing more time in it. I'll give it a go when i finish the series proper.

There were a bunch of attempts at new series as well.. the Legend of the Rangers i think it was called.. all I remember on that is they punched and kicked in a ball to activate the ship weapons which looked horribly goofy. There was also a "Tales from Babylon 5" or something that only got the one episode.

I think the show is properly dead now but at least they made a few great seasons with it.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2020, 09:44:35 PM by number six »

Offline number six

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Re: Re-visiting Babylon 5
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2020, 09:43:21 PM »
I wish they did not get rid of Kosh after season two (I think it was).  Season 5 was horrible without Ivanova.  Her interactions with Garabaldi were fun.  It was good that they brought Sinclair back for a guest spot after he left.  Not many of the cast members are still with us.

Yeah Babylon 5 is probably the most cursed show of its time actor death wise. More than half the cast is dead now.

Offline Niloc

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Re: Re-visiting Babylon 5
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2020, 10:51:50 PM »
JMS was way ahead of the curve on interacting with fans too. He answered some of my questions on Usenet back in like, 1995 or so. Back when the WWW was just barely anything.

Offline number six

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Re: Re-visiting Babylon 5
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2020, 03:33:42 PM »
JMS was way ahead of the curve on interacting with fans too. He answered some of my questions on Usenet back in like, 1995 or so. Back when the WWW was just barely anything.

I remember that, rec.arts.sf.babylon5 or whatever.

It's nice now all these years later to go through the collected comments he's made on specific episodes. He's good about answering questions about why this happened or that didn't happen. Refreshingly he'll also admit when episodes didn't quite turn out as good as expected.

This is in sharp contrast to how most genre shows work today.. where the writers will never address what the hell they were thinking when they tank a show with lousy logic. Different breed I guess.. most people today are in it for the money and not the vision.

Offline number six

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Re: Re-visiting Babylon 5
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2020, 03:41:07 PM »
OK half-way through season 4, it's nice to be able to binge this!

Once again, I really was down on the first season for no reason. Season 2 has a lot more filler than I remember including a few clunker episodes worse than anything in the first. Once things get really going in the 3rd season though it's a nice ride.

It's really been like watching the show for the first time as I forgot so many sub-plots and story lines. The Ivonava/Talia lesbian subplot, etc. etc.

You can most likely attribute it to the fear of cancellation but season 4 has some issues. They wrap up the Shadow war quickly (first few episodes in) then hit the brakes transitioning into the Earth/Coup plotline. Honestly it should have been the other way around as it's hard to go from a Galactic threat like the Shadows into something more mundane like Earth issues but I remember the Earth stuff being pretty good so we'll see.

Game of Thrones had a similar issue when it wrapped up the Zombie plotline then downshifted to whatever it did before it fell off a cliff.  Deep Space Nine managed their war a bit better in that it ended with the last season, but once again they had the luxury of knowing they weren't going to be cancelled.

Still a great show and the CGI definitely improves in Season 3. It's not model-work good or modern CGI good of course but it's not Playstation cutscene bad anymore.

Will see how season 4 ends and finally if season 5 is as terrible as I remember.