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Babylon 5
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jdw
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:19 pm    Post subject: Babylon 5 Reply with quote

So I just finished the Firefly + Serenity run through for the first time, and quite loved it. I never really watched Babylon 5. Checked out some of Season 1, and just didn't like the actor playing the lead (the Sinclair character). Seems I wasn't the only one as the creator replaced him. Dropped in a time or two after that, but because it was a continuing storyline it wasn't something to join late.

I think my other issue at the time was that the "look" of the series was a little cheesy, and my mindset at the time was that SciFi needed to look good. You're being taken to other worlds/places, and that it looks well done was part of the deal. Since then... I'd really just as soon have decent storylines, which was *the deal* of Babylon 5.

I see the re-releases of the season sets going right now for a super low sale price of $19 a pop on Amazon. 110 episodes, a few tv movies... it's something to sink my teeth into.

Jeremy... I recall you being a fan of it. Should I jump on this? :)

John
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Tomer



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Babylon 5 Reply with quote

jdw wrote:
So I just finished the Firefly + Serenity run through for the first time, and quite loved it. I never really watched Babylon 5. Checked out some of Season 1, and just didn't like the actor playing the lead (the Sinclair character). Seems I wasn't the only one as the creator replaced him. Dropped in a time or two after that, but because it was a continuing storyline it wasn't something to join late.

I think my other issue at the time was that the "look" of the series was a little cheesy, and my mindset at the time was that SciFi needed to look good. You're being taken to other worlds/places, and that it looks well done was part of the deal. Since then... I'd really just as soon have decent storylines, which was *the deal* of Babylon 5.

I see the re-releases of the season sets going right now for a super low sale price of $19 a pop on Amazon. 110 episodes, a few tv movies... it's something to sink my teeth into.

Jeremy... I recall you being a fan of it. Should I jump on this? :)

John


I'd recommend it. Season 1 was indeed pretty meh (although Sinclair does have one of the more awesome moments in the series later on), but there are seeds of future events planted in it and the real peak is Seasons 3 & 4.
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Jeremy Billones



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joss Whedon != J. Michael Straczynski (I appreciated Dollhouse but I
don't know if I'd recommend it.)

First thing you have to know about Babylon 5 is that it is pretty much
exactly the show the Writer/EP J. Michael Straczynski wanted it to be.
When Cheetah didn't like the pilot, and her #1 problem with it wasn't the
FX, or the acting, but the writing, I didn't try to sell her on it anymore
because the writing is what it is. I happen to like Straczynski's writing
style from both a plot and dialogue standpoint (though I have a problem
with his endings) but it's not for everyone.

Sinclair was the kind of character Joe wanted for a commander. The suits
didn't like him, and he didn't want to die on that hill, so they got Bruce
Boxleitner and changed gears a little. The stories didn't really change
in later seasons, though as everything went to hell in a handbasket
the pace picked up somewhat.

The FX in the space shots holds up well, I think. (I've watched it after
the run. but not recently.) It improved in later seasons as the processing
power caught up with the imaging software. But the live shots were
basically filmed stage plays. Didn't bother me.

I wouldn't watch "In The Beginning" first. There's not much of a plot;
most of it is just retelling some of the events that happened before
the start of the show, spoiling some of the episodes. Of course, 20
years on spoilers are less important :) Other films are generally
stand alone but I'd still watch them after season 5. (And yes, the first
half of season 5 sucks. Get a helmet -- the second half is better though
not as good as seasons 2-4.)
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jdw
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool. Thanks Jeremy and Tomer. Adding them to my birthday list for my folks to get me. :)

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finally hooked up with my folks for Double Birthday (my dad's and mine) and Mother's Day. Got the first three seasons from my Dad. So I'll have to start watching them now that Laker's season is over, and futbol season is coming to an end. :)

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've watched the first four episodes, and it's pretty much what I remember from my here-and-there checking out of the first season back when it aired. Sinclair still doesn't do it for me. :)

The acting and writing is very much in the old school method of SciFi ala Star Trek and TNG and the original Battlestar Galactica. It would be interesting to try to track when the genre moved away from that towards "darker" which I suspect folks who like it would call more "realistic". Firefly has a lot of comedy, a fair amount of stooging and buffoonery, but even the comedy is tonally wildly different from Babylon 5. And the darker edges of course are as well.

This isn't limit to the SciFi genre. Watch Hill Street Blues now after watching The Wire. HSB was leading edge in it's day, but The Wire is radically different... and what we see in The Wire are tones and methods that are pretty common now, even if The Wire did it an a higher level of quality than most.

It takes some getting use to. Perhaps like going back and watching 80s wrestling after watching a lot of AJPW from the 90s. :)

One does get the sense of the season balancing traditional format (self contained storyline that needs to get solved in 40 minutes) with longer form (sprinkling some bread crumbs here and there to pay off later).

John
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Tomer



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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sinclair doesn't really improve as a character (IMO), beyond his later re-appearance after Season 1. But, Season 1 does get better as it approaches the end and sets the tempo for the chaos that would begin unfolding in Season 2 and be the major arcs for Seasons 2-4.
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Understood. I'm sticking with it, even through tough parts. I did enjoy G'Kar saving Sinclair's girlfriend's bacon. It's kind of the first twist that G'Kar isn't quite the heel that you would think he'd be typecast as. :)

John
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Tomer



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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jdw wrote:
Understood. I'm sticking with it, even through tough parts. I did enjoy G'Kar saving Sinclair's girlfriend's bacon. It's kind of the first twist that G'Kar isn't quite the heel that you would think he'd be typecast as. :)

John


G'Kar becomes a much bigger part of the plot through Seasons 2 and 3, and he is indeed an awesome character (particularly later on). Londo's probably still my favorite character from the series, though (well, him or Bester). :)
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saw the first appearance of Bester last night, and marked out for Chekov showing up. :)

Got the sense that Telepaths, Talia and Psi Corps are going to play a role as things go on. If I read you correctly, Bester/Chekov coming back would rule. :)

I'm avoiding the heck out of Wiki and other online stuff to avoid spoilerage.

John
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm on the third episode of Season 3. Some thoughts:

-------------------------------------------------

I'd break the writing into three parts: series long plotting, individual episode plotting, and dialogue.

As mentioned earlier, the dialogue is extremely old school sci-fi. From 2011 perspective, and even late 90s perspective, it remains really tough to adjust to. You kind of get the sense of that as well in the Bruce+Jerry+Claudia commentary track where among the things they have fun at/with is the over-the-top acting and the dialogue. It fits in well with the 60s or 70s, and perhaps in the 80s/90s from a TNG / Deep Space 9 standpoint. But it's really dated.

In the other direction, the series long plotting is the strong point. It also is old school sci-fi, but the fact that it's plotted 100 episodes out and slowing being revealed is far in advance of what we would see in other sci-fi TV shows, and frankly most TV. That's a big positive. There are things that are still too obvious (then again much of the obvious is intentionally obvious), and at times a over-the-top or cringey. But overall, this is what drives the show and pulls it along. It's easy to be pulled along in a show by some characters you like, and wanting to see what happens to them... or even just enjoying a hour of mindlessly being entertained by them. In this case, if the show works for you, it almost certainly is the series long plotting that pulls you along.

The individual episode plotting is somewhere in between those two extremes, and itself at times split. Episodes usually are split between A plot and B plot, sometimes linking up... sometimes kept split giving different characters something to do. A or B could touch on the series long plot, or one of them could just be a self contained plot, at times a little comic relief... though even thoughs give us some insight into characters, or even introduce is in more depth to some aliens. The show does a good job balancing all that out. That's a positive, and the side that edges up against the positives of the series long plot aspects: there's a lot of depth here, a lot going on, and so much time to let the stories get told.

The aspect that edges up againt the writing weakness (i.e. the worst of the dialogue) is that individual episode plots still fall victim to the constrict of Format: some things need to get wraped up in 60 minutes. Just as in your typical Star Trek and TNG episode, there are a few too many Magic Bullets that wrap things up. When you think of each season as something of a novel in a five part series of books (JMS tends to call the whole of the show a Novel... but it's far too vast for that), in a sense each episode is a chapter. That's too trite for how much there is in an episode... but just to run with it, we're contantly getting chapters where some things wrap up. In a novel, you just don't get that many wraps.

The show balances that out not just with the series long plots where the "wrap" in a sense only opens up into something more, but also with (i) the typical structure of the show where there's something of an epilogue, and (ii) the wraps often aren't something pat.

An example of the first is where we go back to Earth Dome for the epilogue of the Season 3 opener. We've just wraped the episode... no, wait... there's this little bit at the end that reminds us: we're not at The End.

Of the second, I can't think of any better example than the "wrap" of the Plague episode: of course Franklin comes up with the solution to the Plague... this is Sci Fi TV, he's a doctor damn it, and their role on these shows is to work a miracle at the last minute to save a lot of people. Franklin does... too late for those on B5... _anywhere_. No miracle, and the death toll is staggering (though we get the sense a small amount of what's coming).

You have to wrap some things up. You do need to give the viewers a sense that something gets done often enough on the show. But things like the Plague as a well plotted out curveball in The Format.

-----------------------------------------

Didn't think I'd miss Sinclair, but part of me does. Sheridan works for where they're headed, but after watching 22 episodes of Sinclair, you kind of get use to him.

Boxleitner/Sheridan is kind of funny in the 2nd season for something he (and Claudia & Doyle) point out in their commentary track of that year: he's smiling way to freaking much. :)

Overall, the acting strikes me as 80s Daytime Soap Opera level... or 60s/70s/80s TV Sci-Fi. Hammy, over-the-top, overly expressive even when dealing with serious stuff. Not a one of people who've risen to any level of power / command in the show have a poker face, with perhaps one exception. I mean... damn near _all_ of them. It fits with the dialogue, but one wishes that several of the characters were more closed.

On characters:

Ivanova: she is the one that I wish was written and played more closed, and with more of a poker face. It's a bit ironic that needs to be said, as her "character" is written as if she's the most closed of the humans. The problem is that her dialogue and her pretty clear direction (whether in the script or from the directors) is to wear a hell of a lot of her emotions right there on her face, and in her eyes. Too many smiles (which for the longest time came across awkward), and too often looking close to teats. For all the Russian fatalism that JMS has her throw around, you wish that she was more stoic and guarded, so that the times she lets it show (such as her father's death) there was a deeper meaning. In addition, she's clearly being groomed in her career for command, and as commander you need to show a certain cool. Since Sinclair and Sheridan are going to be chewing up the scenes, and Garibaldi is written as a somewhat over-the-top character (rather than a cool as a cucumber top cop / security man), it really needed Ivanova to me that calm, cool person. I don't dislike the character... actually like her to a degree, and Claudia is growing on me. Just think that this is probably a character that will be better done in the reboot of the season in 15 years. :P

Garibaldi: just not what you expect out of Security. Had instant defenses against him because he just didn't look the type, wasn't written the type, didn't act the type. Setting aside all the back story of being on his last strike and Sinclair basically saving him with the gig... I wasn't buying. I actually don't think I got over that until Sheridan showed up in Season 2 and we got rid of that Jeff/Michael stuff. I'm not really blaming Doyle for it. He was cast, and he acted it as it was written and directed... and made the character his own, and what it seems everyone wanted. It just wasn't believable to me, even his interaction with Londo which is such a big thing in contrasting where Londo was and where he's going. That said, I've come to accept it. He's Garibaldi, Garibaldi is security, he does the job, and key folks trust him. Shows have things like that which you accept: Ryan in Castle doesn't exactly look or act like a cop. You roll with it. Garibaldi is a character I roll with, and accept that of almost all characters in the show, he is pretty much exactly as intented by the creator.

Dr. Franklin: it was *impossible* not to watch the first season and well into the second season and not think that B5 had Dr. Rock in the role. :) Of all the soapy actors, he was just about the soapish... which isn't surprising given his long run on a soap. :) He's grown on me. The addiction storyline they're slipping into is being done reasonably well, and I'm hoping they don't ham it up. Reading his wiki page, I have a strong sense of admiration of Biggs for how far he came with his deafness.. and a massive sense of sadness for his passing. Way too young, and horribly tragic way. :(

Delenn: the actress is game, and JMS throws at her a lot of tough stuff that comes out of her mouth. Since Londo and G'Kar are so intentially written and acted over the top, I with that Delenn and the Minbari were a bit more poker faced in their emotions. There's some irony there: it comes across that they're *suppose* to be more poker faced, especially the religous cast that she and Lennier are from. I grasp that she's trying to bridge between humans and Minbari, but the emotions are there right from the start. It's not that I want here to be Spock / Vulcan, but something *much* more controlled would be her times of pre-transformation emotion more powerful, and give her post-transformation emotion more context. I worry about what I'll think of the obvious coming relationship between her and Sheridan, and the overtones between her and Lennier are enough that there's going to be some uncomfortable triangle aspects as well. Overall, the character is interesting, there's a lot to her...


Londo: clearly Londo is one of the beloved hearts of the show. I didn't find the early buffon aspect that funny, and the now Greek Tragedy aspect is a little high handed and obvious to me through most of seasons 1 and 2. I know it's the point, and JMS in one of the commentary tracks has already said that he is constantly laying all his cards on the table. In season 3, I have liked some of the early flashes: the interview with the Earth Domer about the Shadow ship where he talks about his dream, and then the later scene where he tries to get out of his deal with Morden / the Shadows. None of this should be read as I think Londo is a bad character or that the actor isn't good. On the contrary: good character, and the actor nails it to perfection. Just that I'm not going bonkers for him as much as probably most. I started reading Greek Tragedies in *elementary* school, most of the Bard before I was out of junior high school. They just don't strike me as much as they might some others. In contrast...

G'Kar: is easily my favorite character and actor in the show. Londo's actions lead him on a path of doom, and once down that path there's no turning back. It's big note epic stuff. I prefer G'Kar's simpler ones: he's trapped powerless without hope watching the destruction of all that he knows. He turns from a character full of hate for the Centauri at the start form past horrorfic crimes, intent on doing any harm he can to them... only to watch those horrors come back while he can do nothing about it. Does he have any hope that his current actions will have an impact? Is he just "make working" himself and those who are with him to avoid giving up hope and admitting defeat in his lifetime, or does he really think they have a chance? The transformation of Londo (and the actor playing him) have long been predictable, so don't hit me quite as strongly. The transformation of G'Kar, and Andreas' ability to nail them... he blew me away down the stretch of season 2, and again here at the start of season 3.

Vir: I'm with everyone else, including Bruce & Jerry & Claudia: it's Flounder. It's hard to be of my generation and not think that... or more likely people a bit older than me. Stephen is game. There is promise of more depth. It's hard to dislike the character, and it's likely the right tone for an attache to Londo: a normal, professional aid would never have been trusted by Londo and instead be thought of as a spy or potential traitor.

Lennier: too predicatable early on as the fish out of water, down to the show palling around with Londo. Turning point was the episode where Sheirdan was set up for killing an Minbari and Lennier forced a resolution. I liked how that was plotted out. Don't like the overtones with Delenn that are starting to pop up.

Original Na'Toth: I really liked her. As much as Vir and Lennier get pushed, I thought that Original Na'Toth actually was the best contrast and compliment to his/her ambassador. Of course it also was the shittiest makeup to put on, so I can see her leaving... but really where they could have taken the character over season 2 and 3 if Brown stayed in the role. You get the feeling that they sensed that Na'Toth #2 just didn't have the same dynamic with G'Kar and eased here on out fast.

Talia: I liked the character a great deal. Her arc coming to worry about Psi Corp, and her pulling the wool over their eyes to support the underground railroad... this was good stuff. I understand the actress wanting to leave: "her" shows were meaty, but in the second season that wasn't a ton of stuff for her to do. Her exist... abrupt, no real build, pretty sucky. Her moment with Susan was handled well, but that it came right as she was heading to the curb was sad. She appears to be on reasonable terms with everyone since she was involved in the 2002 DVD product features.

A side tangent: one thing that series is pretty darn good about is easing the second level regulars (i.e. the people behind Sheridan/Sinclair, Susan and Garibaldi) in and out of the episodes in the first two seasons. G'Kar and Londo aren't there in every show. Delenn seems to be in more, but there are ones where she's not in it. There are episodes where Franklin wasn't on. This is likely to do with the budget, keeping from having to pay everyone for 22 episodes a year. It also has a nice feel of opening up the show: you don't always have to have a "Londo Scene" or a "Londo Plot" in every show. I think that is one of the strengths of the show, and lets things slow build through Season 1, and then get a bit more intense by not oppressive in Season 2. That said, I can see how the could drive Andrea a bit nuts. She got the gig with NYPD Blue, which was more steady work. But I really do wish she'd would have been given more, and stuck around. I think the arc of her going from Psi Corp true believer in the begining to being B5's telepath in the coming battles against Psi Corp would have been a much more interesting arc that Lyta just popping back up.

Lyta: too early to get a sense of her. Haven't cared much for her so far.

Marcus: too early. The "Ranger" concept lifted from JRRT... my general wish is that he didn't do it, but I'm going to try not to be automatically negative about it.

Zack: One gets the feeling that all of the rejects of Earthforce go into Security. Garibaldi looks nothing like an out front security man, and instead more like someone who stays in the office pulling strings. Lou looks like a dumpy Maytag repairman rather than a cop. Then Jeff Conaway shows up, and you wonder how he passed the test. I didn't like Conaway in Taxi and was glad when he coked his way out of that job. The Zack *character* is an interesting one in the sense of getting drawn into Nightwatch... but I can't help but see Conaway in the role and want him off my TV. :/

Keffer: loved JMS killing him off, and his commentary tracks on it are a hoot.

Bester: okay... so it's a mark out moment when Koenig shows up to be Bester. Then he turns out to be fab as Bester... not just that it's fun watching Chekov be a bad guy, but the Koenig really knows how to play the hell out Bester. I'm not saying this is Emmy stuff. It's old school sci-fi acting, but of all the places where it works best, it's with Bester. He's not Shatnering it up either... it really has a good sense of the notes to hit. Just fab, totally digging it and look forward to more as I see in the Season 3 sheet with the disks that he'll be back. :)

Morden: Okay... behind G'Kar, my #2 favorite character to see on the screen. Wasser is terrific... this is probably the only character and performance that breaks out of old school sci-fi into closer to what we commonly see now. Having just seen the Inquisitor episode and "Jack" being used by the Vorlons, I know there is something horrible behind the Shadows using Morden that saved him from Icarus, and I can't wait to see it. And given all the future stuff that's given away ("I always lay my cards out on the table." -JMS), I'm super duper hope that his "What do you want" call & response with Vir ends it being granted. :) Really excellent character, and to me one that JMS has handled perfectly and well thought out. He's a top heel that isn't on the card every night. He comes in, works a major storyline, moves back out... never burning out, and each time he shows back up you're thinking, "Okay... what is he up to this time." This is probably something we should be thankful of that the network was leaving JMS alone, as Morden is the type of character who would get over with the test audiences and the network would be screwing things up: "put him on more, and can we have a face turn?"

More thoughts later when I finish season 3.

Overall, I'm enjoying it. Like I say, the series length plot is good and what pulls me along for the ride. It is something that I'd carefully recommend, making sure that folks aren't expecting BSG style modern "sci fi". This is very much old school, and the type of thing I'd want to make sure someone likes the old Star Trek and TNG type of series. In that context, it's something of the next leap for that genre, or perhaps the full maturation of it. If you can accept / get back into old ST and TNG type of sci fi, this is something to eat up on DVD because to can chew up 3-4 episodes a night easily, and more on the weekend.

Thanks to Jeremy and Tomer for the recommendation... I'm looking foward to knocking more of them off.

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll try to make this short... :)

Didn't mention this in the last post, but my new current favorite scene of the entire series (so far) is the second part of the Elevator Scene between Londo and G'Kar in the bombing episode.

First part is where Londo sees G'Kar in the elevator, says he'll take the next, then the bom goes off and forces him to make the choice to go in... with of course them getting stuck.

The second scene is the longest one, with Londo being desperate to get out, getting across that the smoke may kill them, etc. It's Londo being Londo, which is good stuff. What makes the scene great is G'Kar. Andreas acting largely with his eyes and a bit of head movement, getting across his glee of the situation and Londo's panic well before articulating why: he'd love to have Londo dead, but if he kills him, 500 Narn will get executed (under the surrender terms that Londo himself read in council) along with his entire family being put at risk. Instead, he can simply watch Londo die in the elevator, even if it means he himself dies.

There's nothing over-the-top about it, at least relative to the standard acting and writing of the show. Andreas is just freaking great, and frankly whoever directed it did a great job of shooting it. It's blocked out in the "small space" perfectly, with G'Kar never even getting up, just sitting there in the background with his back to the side all. Londo is the one in the foreground, eating up the scene getting across the danger, risk, transitioning from fear of being in there with his enemy to fear of the fire and smoke to wanting G'Kar's help to escape... he's designed to draw out attention. But if you watch closely, Andreas is ripping it up in the background, sitting there, watching Londo, acting through his eyes and slight movements, understanding what's going on... enjoying the thought that he's going to watch his enemy slowly die.

Awesome stuff.

The episode after, where the Narn Colaborator comes out to replace G'Kar and send him back to a sure death, is quite good out of Andreas as well. I loved having the Narn that Sheridan ran into earlier come back, and hope that we'll see more of Ta'Lon. Thought he was very good in his scenes as well.

Like I said above, I'm only three episodes into Season 3, but the show is really hitting its stride well.

John
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some thoughts after wrapping up Season 3:

The stretch leading to "Severed Dreams" is very well plotted out. I'm not a huge fan of the Nightwatch storyline, especially with Jeff Conaway in the center of it, but even that serves its points. JSM did a good job of getting across the tough decision(s) being made, and the stress on everyone.

The handling of Franklin's addiction was better handled than I thought it would be. Symbolic, theatrical and philosophical in how he deals with it, and I could see that annoying some. I found it hit the mark for the tone of the show, and the character.

I was a little sad to see Lord Refa go, and the "ease" with which Londo dealt with him. On the other hand, I've watched the first two episdes of Season 4 and know the clearing Refa out lets the focus move to another person, higher on the food chain above Londo. Still... Refa had been around for so long, I'll miss the bugger. :)

On Marcus... I still kind of wish they hadn't lifted the Ranger concept from JRRT. The character of Marcus, and the performance of the actor, is at times a jarring thing. Serious, philosophical... then cracking jokes and not exactly dry ones. Heroic wise ass, though not really a Han Solo style wise ass either. Don't dislike him, and thought they've done some nice things with him (stepping in to protect Delenn from Neroon was well done). He just... doesn't come across as a disciple of Sinclair, which is more of what I would want.

Even knowing it was coming, when Half Pint shows up as the Late Mrs. Sheridan, it's up there with Chekov as Bester in my mark out moments of the series. They did a great job with her, and most remarkably avoid _all_ aspects of playing it towards Sheridan emotionally trying to "save" her from what had happened to her. There wasn't one drop of that, which is amazing since it's the obvious hacky angle that 95% of writers would go for.

The "War Without End" two parter was pretty staggering in plotting, tying things together, bending time, playing off so much of what had come before and most amazingly giving away the Big Finish (as if we didn't know the Good Guys would win the Shadow War) but also several longer term finishes: the long foretold Londo-G'Kar finish, the not even yet revealed Keepers, the Sheridan-Delenn marriage + Son, the coming of something to Centauri *after* the Shadows... I'm probably forgetting a few more. It has the big payoff for Sinclair. Hell, it explained Zathras to the point that what looked like a fuzzy comic relief character in B-Squared turned out to be a really goo character here.

Going back to the earlier post of how I got use to Sinclair by the end of Season 1 and sort of missed him when he was gone, this episode was funny in that respect. When he showed back up, it was once again jarring to watch his wooden performance/character... and that took a while to get past. Yet by the second part, esecially down the end run, I was once again getting use to him and am sad to see him go.

The whole Z'ha'dum thing felt heavy handed as the season when on, especially the Countdown aspect. The actually "Z'ha'dum" episode was well done... really quite well done with Half Pint and Sheridan decision. Heck, it had Morden show up, and that's always great. :)

The role of telepaths and use as a Weapon is... not entirely satisfying. That the Vorlons created them... yeah, I'm not looking forward to seeing this thread play out. I've enjoyed Bester, know more Bester is coming, liked much of what they had done with the telepaths concept up to a certain point, but that Super Weapson Against The Shadows aspect... I think it's goofy as all heck. :)

Really one hell of a season. Hard to imagine Season 4 topping/matching it, though I know from the above post of Jeremy and Tomer that it isn't until the first half of Season 5 before the show hits the rocks.

John
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El-P



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
Posts: 117

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was never a big sci-fi fan, never watched Star Treck, but I remember stumbling onto Babylon 5 in the 90's, probably because it was programmed not too far off my wrestling TV, and became hooked right away. I loved that show. I'm enjoying reading your posts about it, it brings back some good memories.

jdw wrote:
In season 3, I have liked some of the early flashes: the interview with the Earth Domer about the Shadow ship where he talks about his dream


Funny, this is one of the scene I remember the most. I loved that moment.

jdw wrote:
G'Kar: is easily my favorite character and actor in the show. Londo's actions lead him on a path of doom, and once down that path there's no turning back. It's big note epic stuff. I prefer G'Kar's simpler ones: he's trapped powerless without hope watching the destruction of all that he knows. He turns from a character full of hate for the Centauri at the start form past horrorfic crimes, intent on doing any harm he can to them... only to watch those horrors come back while he can do nothing about it.


Agreed, G'Kar was also my favourite character of the entire series. I can't really judge the performance's actor because of the costume and make up, but the French actor who did the voice is just great and did an amazing job. So kudos to the actor and to the voice-over.

jdw wrote:
Talia: I liked the character a great deal. Her arc coming to worry about Psi Corp, and her pulling the wool over their eyes to support the underground railroad... this was good stuff.


Loved Talia. I was sad to see her go after season 2.

jdw wrote:
Lyta: too early to get a sense of her. Haven't cared much for her so far.


Loved Lyta. Yeah, I loved those hot Psi Corps agent.;)

jdw wrote:
Bester: okay... so it's a mark out moment when Koenig shows up to be Bester. Then he turns out to be fab as Bester... not just that it's fun watching Chekov be a bad guy, but the Koenig really knows how to play the hell out Bester. I'm not saying this is Emmy stuff. It's old school sci-fi acting, but of all the places where it works best, it's with Bester. He's not Shatnering it up either... it really has a good sense of the notes to hit. Just fab, totally digging it and look forward to more as I see in the Season 3 sheet with the disks that he'll be back. :)


That guy was gold. Such a great bad guy. From what I remember, tons of great stuff involving that character.

Man, this would give me the urge to watch that series back again. I wonder how I would percieve it after a decade watching 24 and Weeds. Speaking about Weeds, season 5 finally showing up in France. Yipee !;)
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jdw
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Closing in on finishing Season 4: up through episode 4-17 where Garibaldi has (i) set up Sheridan for capture by Clark's folks, (ii) Edgars & Co. get wiped out, and (iii) Garibaldi finds out he's been worked hard by Bester & Co.

Some thoughts...

I understand that Season 4 was overly packed due to the death of the network and major concern over there being a Season 5. That sadly made the wrap of the Shadow War come about in a fashion that felt too quickly / too easy relative to the pacing of the first three seasons. In addition, the War For Earth also feels rushed though, along with the final part of Garibaldi's plot... and the Minbari Civil War... Centauri Mad Emperor / Prisoner G'Kar arc. There was "a lot going on" in the first three seasons, but this one just was forced to throw a lot at the wall. It handles almost all of it extremely well, but whereas things in prior seasons had time to develop, here they were put to a boil fast.

I think the one that was boiled extremely fast was the Minbari Civil War. While we had signs of this (Warriors vs Religious) going back seasons, once it hit... it was a steamroller. I like the content of what is essentially a two parter in "Rumors, Bargains and Lies" and "Moments of Transition"... it's really well plotted out and acted in a Minbari way... but lord does it cram a lot into 80 minutes with a large chunk of those 80s minutes carved off for a Station side plot in each episode. It very much feels like there are threads there that should have / would have taken 5-6 episodes to run through, with some of it being the lead plot in some episodes, while some of it would be the secondary plot in another.

Side note: move Neroon high up on the list of favorite supporting characters during the course of the series. From character growth/development/arc over the course of several seasons, to how he interacts/contrast Delenn and Lennier, to how he not only "double turns" down the stretch but also gets an awesome heroic send off both literally but then symbolically. One of JMS's great characters, and perhaps one of the things of the compression of the Minbari Civil War arc that we were most robbed off: more time with his character.

On the compression of the Shadow War, this is a bit of a double edge. Sheridan's "solution" comes across when thinking about it as the one that JMS was always going to use, so that either works for you or not. I don't have a problem with that... works for me. But the Shaddow War ending 6 episodes in, with the first three eaten up by Sheridan becoming un-dead and returning... really fast... too fast.

But the double edge is that once the Vorlons were involved and Blowing Planets Up, one does really wonder how long the war could have gone on. You just can't keep having a planet an episode get blown up, and you also can't stretch it out much by having it go slow: they've already gotten across over the seasons that Warp Drive is super duper fast compared to say some other SciFi. The Vorlons weren't going to spend a month in hyper in route between each planet they blow up. So once you get to that point (Vorlons Blowing Shit Up), it needs to wrap fast.

I do wonder from the original Note Cards how JMS planned to string those things out.

From arc / storyline standpoint and granting all were likely greatly compressed...

Shadow War:

Logical conclusion. It seemed obvious that Sheridan wasn't going to blow the two up, so there was going to need to be a "trick" end to the whole thing.

I liked Morden coming back, and them heading to Centauri. I didn't care for Kosh II, but I suppose that was the point.

I would have liked a clearer articulation of the Kosh I vs Kosh II types of Vorlons, and the concept that just as the other races have their own internal debates/philosophies (as literally as Warrior vs Religious for one race), the Vorlons do/did as well. It seems clear for all his mystery that Kosh I is closer to the "good angle", while Kosh II is the "bad angle". While Vorlons at their most explicit are "Order" opposite the Shadow's "Chaos", it seemed clear that Kosh I's method of Order was entirely different from Kosh II. Then a simple explanation of why the Kosh II types (who seemed to lead the War effort) won out over the Kosh I types (who seemed to be leading the Vorlon plans in the first three seasons)... which as a viewer not knowing anything else and making shit up would seem to be that the Volons went a bit crazy after Kosh I got ripped to bits by the Shawdows. There are little hints that it had been a long time since a Vorlon died and they didn't quite know how to react, but something more would have been nice.


War For Earth

Knew this would eventually come. Generally handled well, though quick. It would have been nice with more time to see Sheridan initially gathering back some of the earlier ships that had ditched Clark (i.e. ones we saw in earlier seasons), and even peel off a few in earlier propoganda efforts. Instead, we get shops leaving Clark onces the fighting starts. That's handled pretty well given the need to move things along... just would have liked to see what he had in mind with more time.

I'm a few episodes away, but when there's an episode called "Endgame" coming up and it's easy to ready the brief booklet with the DVD's, obviously this is ending real soon. Strategy of taking back some colonies, and outposts, and more on taking Mars since there was the early set up in the season... yeah, more time would have been great. The threads are all there really solid, it just would have been awesome at Season 1-3 pace.


Garibaldi's Plot

This has me really divided. I HATED the first half of this: *everything* that took place on the Station relating to this. Garibaldi's turn on Sheridan just wasn't believable... so sudden, abrupt and over-the-top that it wasn't realistic. He was such an asshole, and his going after Sheridan so quickly... blah. JMS tried to cram in some Saint Sheridan stuff to play to Garibaldi's changed personality, but it came off really bad. When I say bad: Garibaldi was so over-the-top that there's no way anyone would have left him loose running around the Station, nor failed to suspect that something bad had happened to him (i.e. getting brainwashed) while he was MIA. It was just way too obvious.

I didn't like Lise showing up. Didn't like Edgars waking him up in the middle of the nights while he was on the Station. Didn't like how he dealt with Zach. Just a lot of not-good.

On the other hand, once they got him off the station to Mars... it was terrific. The stuff at that time with Edgars and Wade was excellent. His stuff with Lise was okay, and since she went missing there will be more. The scene with Sheridan getting captured was well done (though perhaps overly dramatic), but the scene with Bester on the train... fuck me was that great.

So it's mixed: they had to *get* Garibaldi to that spot in Mars for the Mars stuff to work... but I just didn't care for how they handled it on the Station. One of the few things on the show that made me want to fast foward, and took a lot of effort to avoid it in his scenes. :/

Minbari Civil War

I thought this was quite well done, compression or not. Some really good Lennier spots, especially when he took the hit of gas and then dressed down the whole cast for being a bunch of fuck ups. The end result of Delenn's new Grey Council was a good payoff. Did I mention Neroon ruled? :)


Centauri Mad Emperor / Prisoner G'Kar

Young Mad Emperors who want to be Gods... it's too Caligula. As a motivation for madness, I didn't care a ton for it... kind of a cheap heat thing. I thought everyone did well with it, but if you've watched I Claudius, it was pretty lightweight stuff. That said...

The G'Kar-Londo prison scene was one of the best of the entire series. Perhaps Londo's best acting, wonderfully shot... just great stuff.

Much later in the season there was the terrific scene where Londo came to G'Kar's quarters... another exceptional moment in the series. The scene later in the bar was good, but the quarters one was exceptional. But I digress...

I think the G'Kar Prisoner aspect played better than the Mad Young Emperor part, which made for the needed bridge between the two: Londo needing G'Kar's help to kill the Emperor, and the price he was willing to pay.

Going backwards, perhaps one of the reasons that the Mad Young Emperor arc wasn't an HR for me was that it came so close after Londo eliminated Refa, and also via a plot involving G'Kar. This is one where a stretched out Shawdow War through at least half of the season would have given this room to breath a bit rather than be a sprint.

Some thoughts on characters:

Sheridan: I think reborn Sheridan has been doing some fine acting. Writing for him has been solid. Minor complaint might be where he tricked the Stupid League of Non-Aligned Worlds... it really came across as goofy where Sheridan couldn't even let Ivanova in on it, and the League looked like total rubes. It comes across as Season 1-2 "comic relief" subplot, which in general is okay... but the tone of Season 4 is a lot more tense. Anyway, other than that one subplot, Sheridan has been good.

Ivonova: feel sorry with here not getting anything juicy other than the Air Babylon subplot. Garibalidi gets a major storyline... and not for here. Now understand why she was a bit unhappy.

Delenn: really focused storyline that thankfully take her away from Sheridan. Good stuff.

G'Kar: searching for Garibaldi was okay, the prisoner stuff was great. At a pause now, though the interaction with Londo has again been top flight.

Londo: Good stuff... the two great scenes with G'Kar.

Vir: not been given a lot.

Lennier: some of his best stuff

Franklin: really good post-addict stuff. His stuff on Mars has been good.

Lyta: well... not my favorite.

Zach: better this year getting stressed out about his former boss.

Edgars: thought EZJ nailed the shit out of this role.

Bester: remains fantastic

Neroon & Morden: I'll miss these two... among my favorites.

Lorien: Sort of liked... sort of didn't like... then liked... then didn't know what to think... then liked. Perhaps a "trying too hard" moment out of JMS. Could have been much worse, but I think the actor did well with it... props to Boxleitner for doing a good job of getting him over as well.

Kosh II: suck. After several seasons of Kosh I being a very interesting nut to try to crack, there was no "there" there for Kosh II.

Marcus: so far, a kind of thankless season. Franklin was the star on the trip to Mars. Marcus has been given stuff to do in the War, but far too often attached to bigger stars (Sheridan & Ivanova). I know he's not listed in Season 5 and can read the booklet from Season 4... so some type of Big Moment is coming. But there hasn't been anything akin to his Season 3 moment of sticking up for Delenn vs Neroon.

John
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