Our last, best hope for peace
March 5, 2013 9:04 AM   Subscribe

The strange, secret evolution of Babylon 5 documents the development of the television show Babylon 5, which premiered just over 20 years ago on February 22, 1993 with "The Gathering."

The show made extensive use of the Internet during its development and its run, and a searchable archive of all postings made by the show's creator, J. Michael Straczyinsky is available at JMSNews (search on Babylon 5 or B5).

The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5 is a treasure trove of information about the universe, and the episodes. Each episode summary contains a "JMS speaks" section with his notes and thoughts about each episode.

In Memoriam:

Andreas Katsulas, G'Kar
Michael O'Hare, Commander Sinclair
Jeff Conaway, Zack Allan (he shows up about 40 seconds in)
Richard Biggs, Dr. Stephen Franklin
Tim Choate, Zathras
posted by never used baby shoes (104 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had such a love/hate relationship with B5. I can't believe it's been 20 years.

The biggest problem I had was, being an independent, syndicated show, it kept bouncing all over the dial, being shifted to umpteen different timeslots by the one non-affiliated tv station in my area that was actually showing it. I swear they just didn't air it from time-to-time. It was really hard to keep-up with the show, even with a VCR.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:36 AM on March 5, 2013


Londo: But this…this, this, this is like… being nibbled to death by, uh…Pah! What are those Earth creatures called? Feathers, long bill, webbed feet…go "quack".

Vir: Cats.

Londo: Cats! I'm being nibbled to death by cats.
posted by BeeDo at 9:38 AM on March 5, 2013 [23 favorites]


I'm still waiting for an ending.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:39 AM on March 5, 2013


jeffamaphone: "I'm still waiting for an ending."

You watch the first four seasons, then the last episode of season five. Ending!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:45 AM on March 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


Talking about Babylon 5 always makes me sad. I never felt like the show got the recognition that it deserved, or that it was watched by many people. Even many of my nerdish friends showed little interest. It showed what you could do with a space opera when you planned everything out, and even unforeseen events (like Michael O'Hare and Andrea Thompson leaving the show) could be worked into this larger framework.

Consider Battlestar Galactica (the new one). It became pretty clear that the writers were completely making it up as they went along, that there was no "Plan" and that only characterization and acting really saved that show (if you can excuse the last season and especially finale). Other Sci-fi have made half-hearted attempts at B5's type of plotting (like DS9 and Enterprise creating season arcs). But no one else has ever really made it work over a whole series.

I'm also sad because I think the show could have been even grander if JMS had known that he was going to get a fifth season, so that everything he crammed into Season 4 could have been better paced for two seasons instead of one.

I'm sad because the DVDs are absolute shit. You can read about this on Wikipedia, but basically the video effects were done for the old aspect ratio, and had to be blown up for the 16:9 widescreen, leading to terrible artifacts whenever CGI and live action are mixed. So that becomes another barrier for new people to learn about the show.

I could go on, but I'm getting depressed. Long live B5! Those of us who watched the whole thing, especially as it was being broadcast, with feedback from JMS on rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated and the Lurker's Guide, speculating feverishly on what would happen next, really got to participate in something special.
posted by Palquito at 9:45 AM on March 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm still waiting for an ending.

The last 5 minutes. (That's JMS turning off the lights, btw).
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:47 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those were the days, just before Eternal September when they all had to go into hiding. I wasn't even much of a fan (though I did appreciate the decent physics, which were a real depature at the time) but I once wrote JMS, who made himself pretty available to fans via usenet and email, to compliment him on a particularly good bit of writing and pretty promptly got a really nice email in return. Nowadays the best you could hope for is to be noticed on twitter, and you'd be competing with an awful lot of full-time star-botherers if you tried.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:47 AM on March 5, 2013


Did we not get several endings?

I love DS9 and B5, probably my two favorite series of television. I've still never seen anything like Londo and G'Kar. Poor Londo. Poor G'Kar. I also think I read JMS somewhere saying that when Humans have evolved to Vorlon-like balls of energy, the Centauri and Narn are still the same, still fighting, still learning the same lessons only to forget them in the cycle of revenge.
posted by BeeDo at 9:48 AM on March 5, 2013


I don't think this shows influence can be underestimated. A true space opera with a long term coherent plot. I think if you enjoyed deepspace nine, you have babylon to thank.


20 years? Dayuuum!
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:48 AM on March 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Weird synchronicity - I just re watched (the most awesome) season 3 this past saturday and sunday. Say what you want about how dated and hard to watch it could be sometimes - a lot of good TV owes a debt to B5 and how JMS interacted with his fans. He paved the way with a great example.
posted by Fuka at 9:48 AM on March 5, 2013


Hello, old friend.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:49 AM on March 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


Palquito: "I'm sad because the DVDs are absolute shit. You can read about this on Wikipedia, but basically the video effects were done for the old aspect ratio, and had to be blown up for the 16:9 widescreen, leading to terrible artifacts whenever CGI and live action are mixed. So that becomes another barrier for new people to learn about the show."

And the original animation files were lost, as I recall. I've always thought that re-doing the effects for B5 would be a phenomenal fan project.
posted by brundlefly at 9:50 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fundamental problem with the show is that the acting is really bad. The BSG comparison is a great one because as you noted, it has basically the opposite problem. Really strong acting performances, mostly great FX and set dressing, ramshackle serial plot that falls apart. BSG: some great performances in a sea of painful acting, wildly inconsistent FX, sometimes looks extremely cheap, but has a coherent, well executed serial plot!

That said, this was my favorite show as a teenager that didn't have Star Trek in the title. I still contend DS9 is a better show, but the ambition of Babylon 5 is without peer.
posted by selfnoise at 9:51 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


So... I've never seen it. And as a bad nerd, I only just watched DS9 all the way through. (Looooved it.) Had seen bits and pieces, but never the later-season serialized stuff.

Given the issues, is Babylon 5 worth it?
posted by supercres at 9:51 AM on March 5, 2013


"Severed Dreams" is still the only time a sci-fi show has really made me care about a space battle. Knowing none of the main characters are going to die, knowing that the station won't really be destroyed, knowing that it was just a show... I still really, really cared.

That was some good writing.
posted by BeeDo at 9:54 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I never felt like the show got the recognition that it deserved, or that it was watched by many people.

Yeah, I got to it pretty late - I watched some episodes as a kid but it seemed much more boring than Star Trek. But when I watched the whole thing a few years ago... I don't think any sci fi show has made me as engaged or as frustrated.

(Also, does B5 have the biggest quality ratio between pilot and series? The pilot is almost criminally unwatcheable.)

Given the issues, is Babylon 5 worth it?

I couldn't get into DS9, but it always seemed to me that B5 is what DS9 was trying and failing to accomplish. It is often a very frustrating show because it reaches so far and fails, but when it reaches and succeeds, it's almost sublime. I'm never bothered by the 'terrible acting' except in the pilot and some S1 episodes.
posted by muddgirl at 9:54 AM on March 5, 2013


I loved B5.

I cried so much at the end.

G'Kar is the first and so far only alien I have ever considered an heteroxeno relationship with. I was so in love with him by the end.

Lost and BSG really did let me down. B5 did have an entire story arc and it was awesome.
posted by sio42 at 9:55 AM on March 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I feel a lot like Palquito - I loved the show (warts and all) while it was on, but never managed to get my friends interested. It sucked me into the internet to share ideas and thoughts with other folks; honestly, looking back on it, my involvement on r.a.sf.tv.b5.mod is probably one of my formative experiences with the internet.

For me, B5 came at a tough time in my life - I was finishing my first undergrad degree, my career prospects were dim, I had just had a fairly serious long term relationship end...and B5 opened up my mind as to what could be done with SF on TV - it didn't have to all be Star Trek (though I loved that too), there could be long story arcs and character development. And the fan community that developed online was amazing. I spent hours on the Lurker's Guide.

Season 5 was hard to watch, and it was hard to see it end...when I saw it had been twenty years I felt old and sad.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:55 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Delenn: "Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari Fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else! "

I still remember dialogue from this show having watched it through only once. Superb TV that holds up surprisingly well.

Good times. Good times.
posted by Faintdreams at 9:55 AM on March 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is Babylon 5 worth it?

Absolutely worth it. Just... expect the stand-alone episodes in the first season to suck, and the maybe be pleasantly surprised. Also, as a result of JMS being a total badass writer, there are always little hints and clues in even the randomest episode.
posted by BeeDo at 9:57 AM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


If the Star Trek franchise annoys you because it doesn't really work as SF, you'll probably like B5 a little better. The universe hangs together a bit more, there's way less moping and sniveling and they at least acknowledge the existence of real-world physics.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:58 AM on March 5, 2013


expect the stand-alone episodes in the first season to suck

S01E16: An internal affairs investigator arrives to test the crew's loyalty to Earth Force with the help of a telepath. Lennier helps Garibaldi assemble a 1990's motorcycle.

That's basically a TNG Season 8 plot, right there.
posted by figurant at 10:01 AM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Given the issues, is Babylon 5 worth it?

Yes.

It will fail you. It will leave you frustrated and angry. It will make you wince, because it tries to achieve things that are simply out of its reach. I seem to recall JMS observing once that the budget for one episode of DS9 would cover his budget for most of a season.

It will give you moments of greatness, of sublime achievement, when the story and acting and everything comes together for a moment and you realize how truly great this show could've been.

It reached for the stars, and often failed. But, it changed how SF was done on TV, and made it possible for other SF shows to try different things as well. And I will always remember it for that

and for how it made a very lonely and depressed twenty something undergrad feel connected to something larger, and that there were dreams still worth dreaming and fighting for.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:05 AM on March 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


BTW, this show did produce my personal favorite stone cold thing to say to a fella:

"The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."
posted by selfnoise at 10:09 AM on March 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


I was such a Babylon 5 dork as a teenager. But hey, it was a great show.

B5 taught me web design. The show had a huge online presence, dozens upon dozens of fansites, shrines, critiques... most of these now gone, thanks to the Geocities shutdown. As a spunky teenager with a copy of Photoshop, I was lent a domain name by someone from IRC (draal.com!) and went nuts with it. My first real website!

(It used to be available on Internet Archive, and I always meant to make a mirror of it, but then some squatter took over the domain, put "Disallow: /" in robots.txt, and that was that. Sigh.)

Re: watching the show now, I'd recommend it to any sci-fi fan, of course, but with some caveats:
  1. Season 1 is very uneven. There are only a handful of episodes even worth watching in there.
  2. The DVDs are pretty mediocre quality because of the special-effects issue referred to above. I wish they'd just release it in the original 4:3 aspect ratio instead.
  3. Skip all the movies. In the Beginning is okay, but has some spoilers for the series in it, and most of the material is covered (via flashbacks) throughout the series.
  4. The show has not dated very well. Not just the showy CGI, but also the constant use of CRTs in the future! and such. DS9 has fared much better in this department.
  5. When the show's good, it's really fucking good. When it's bad, well... it's pretty fucking bad. (on preview, what never used baby shoes said.)
posted by neckro23 at 10:11 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anytime my husband is on the phone or Skype and says "Can you hear me?" I always say "I can hear you! We're in here!"
posted by source.decay at 10:13 AM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


supercres: "Given the issues, is Babylon 5 worth it?"

Yes, absolutely. I love this show despite any and all of the flaws mentioned upthread. I rewatch it every so often... it's like returning to a good book.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:13 AM on March 5, 2013


Who am I?
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:20 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also loved B5 and was blessed to be in the middle of a large, like-minded community. And now I feel old.
Delenn and Ivanova had the best lines by far.

"No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody's got to have some damn perspective around here! Boom. Sooner or later. BOOM!"
posted by pointless_incessant_barking at 10:20 AM on March 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


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 ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this. *waves*
posted by entropicamericana at 10:21 AM on March 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


BeeDo: "the Centauri and Narn are still the same, still fighting, still learning the same lessons only to forget them in the cycle of revenge."

Interestingly enough I always had a feeling that at the heart of it B5 was about the battle for the souls of G'Kar and Londo.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:25 AM on March 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Fasten, then zip, or zip, then fasten?
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:25 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I couldn't get into DS9, but it always seemed to me that B5 is what DS9 was trying and failing to accomplish.

I hate linking to Wikipedia, but at the moment it does have a dispassionate and succinct summary of the so-called controversy, so I'll just leave this here.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every line of dialogue somone has quoted in this thread has reminded me why B5 was one of the few SF show I couldn't tolerate.
posted by biffa at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hairy Lobster: Interestingly enough I always had a feeling that at the heart of it B5 was about the battle for the souls of G'Kar and Londo."

I think JMS agrees with you; he's famously said that any thought of a continuation of B5 ended when Andreas Katsulas died.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:28 AM on March 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is B5 available streaming anywhere? It doesn't seem to be on hulu or netflix.
posted by HumanComplex at 10:28 AM on March 5, 2013


I hate linking to Wikipedia, but at the moment it does have a dispassionate and succinct summary of the so-called controversy, so I'll just leave this here.

I don't tend to believe that DS9 is a direct intentional rip-off of B5, but I still think that if you want "Diplomacy on a Space Station," B5 is the superior product. I also think it's undeniable that DS9 producers were watching B5 and taking notes.
posted by muddgirl at 10:31 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is B5 available streaming anywhere? It doesn't seem to be on hulu or netflix.

http://www.thewb.com/shows/babylon-5
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:31 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I even liked most of the Season 1 episodes.
posted by grouse at 10:36 AM on March 5, 2013


I also think it's undeniable that DS9 producers were watching B5 and taking notes.

It's always been my understanding that the DS9 episode "Bar Association" was a direct response to the B5 epiosde "By Any Means Necessary" and particularly, JMS' statement that it was a story that ST "would never, ever do".

So, yes, they were both very much paying attention to each other.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:38 AM on March 5, 2013


That wasn't an ending. A ton of things were left unresolved. That was just... stopping.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:41 AM on March 5, 2013


I'm most of the way through my B5 rewatch, so this is very well-timed.

selfnoise: "The fundamental problem with the show is that the acting is really bad."

I disagree -- for me, the show's biggest flaw is that JMS can't (or at least couldn't) write dialogue to save his encounter-suited butt. He can write big speeches quite well sometimes, but any time two people are talking in the show, I have to mentally superimpose what that would sound like if two actual people with natural language were talking. I have to mentally edit out all the bizarre turns of phrase, weird exposition, reuse of the same word three times within two sentences... and keep track of the overall plot, which is brilliant. And to be fair, other people don't do much better with the writing (Neil Gaiman's episode with the very unfunny Reebo and Zooty being the main example here). Some of the actors' delivery is lacking at times, but mostly, I think, it's just that they have poor material to work with.

A friend and I have been thinking of doing an RPG set in the time after the Great Burn. There's a lot of really amazing worldbuilding behind B5, and it holds up very well. And the overall plot arc was very well handled, or at least as well as it could be with network uncertainties looming.

And finally:

.

Richard Biggs was a regular at a Twin Cities SF convention I go to, and was apparently a great guy.
posted by jiawen at 10:44 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Given the issues, is Babylon 5 worth it?

Yes.

(Vir, the Centaari assistant to the Ambassador, was played by the same actor who played Flounder in Animal House. One of the few actors on the show who could actually, you know, act... but oh, those few...)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:46 AM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a really thoughtful (and unfortunately, really intermittent) blog about B5 based on an ongoing rewatching. Recommended for fellow B5 fans. Gives me more appreciation for the intricacies of the storytelling.

I loved that show. I subscribed to cable just so I could keep watching it after it was shunted off broadcast TV.

The acting was kind of broad, and I have mixed feelings about the dialog. A lot of it was cliched. But every character had an instantly identifiable voice. I read a transcript of a GEnie roundtable where JMS participated as the characters—people could pose questions of the characters and the characters would respond. I was impressed that JMS could switch gears so quickly and smoothly, and that I could hear each character, in the actor's voice, with no false notes.
posted by adamrice at 10:47 AM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mr dlugoczaj is a devoted B5 fan, and he converted my stepdaughters. They just got finished with their second go-round with the DVDs a couple months ago.

I've never quite been able to go there, despite how he raves about the coherent story arc and the special effects that were ahead of their time for televised special effects. I still can't get past the fact that it looks and sounds like community theatre all too often (and I even like community theatre).

That said, I'll still go into the room to watch (and cry a little) any time this scene shows up on our TV.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:55 AM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


B5 was very popular in the UK at the time - the story arc really caught on. I remember meeting Pat Tallman at a book signing back then and she was absolutely lovely. I especially loved the Psi Corps, even if it did bring about that whole gut punch betrayal thing with Susan and Talia. Real shame Claudia Christian and JMS parted company for S5. Ivanova rocked so hard.
posted by toadflax at 10:59 AM on March 5, 2013


What was the name of the alien race that was all covered in tentacles, and existed partly in another dimension? Back in the day I worked at an SFX shop that was hired to build 2 or 3 costumes for Babylon 5, and for a couple of weeks I did nothing but pour hot melt vinyl tentacles which were then affixed to unitards... the end result was actually pretty effectively alien and creepy looking.

I was really psyched to see my work in the finished episode, but when they finally appeared you couldn't really see anything because they had applied a cheesy CGI blur all over them in an attempt to denote their interdimensionality.

I loosely followed the show during its original run, and from what I remember "reaching beyond its abilities" is a pretty apt description. I always kind of admired it for that, except when they wrecked my tentacle monster costumes. That was kind of a bummer.
posted by usonian at 11:06 AM on March 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can't believe it's been 20 years... man, I should rewatch the good bits.

What was the name of the alien race that was all covered in tentacles, and existed partly in another dimension?

I'd say the Vorlons, based on that description and the CGI blur, but there were a few tentacled critters.
posted by tautological at 11:34 AM on March 5, 2013


Maybe the cthulu-like aliens from Thirdspace?

Apparently the Vorlons refer to them as Harbingers, which is funny.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:35 AM on March 5, 2013


This blog is awesome, adamrice, thanks for the pointer.

One of the things it is has reminded me of is the fact that during the first season, it is often the B-plot that contains the truly important elements of the larger arc and story, which I think is interesting. It also reminded me of the scene that truly hooked me on B5 and let me know this was going to be different from Trek.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:45 AM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've always been a devoted fan of a handful of sci-fi and fantasy universes, but I've also always been the sort of fan who secretly thought it was weird and overly dorky to own and display memorabilia from a favorite show or movie in one's home. Until my partner bought a lovely framed copy of the Declaration of Principles, and I proudly hung it in a prominent place and stop to read it in full at least once a month.

I'm often in complete awe that the show ever got made, or continued past the first season. There's no way it would have survived past the first few episodes were it a new show today. I'm really glad it came out when it did, and survived its arc.

tautological: man, I should rewatch the good bits

Every time I sit down to re-watch B5 I think this, and then every single time I can't help but just watch it all anyway. Though the last time I watched I may have played games on my phone throughout most of season 5...
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:58 AM on March 5, 2013


Other people have described bits of it as sublime, and I can only agree. There is something about a plot point being hit that has the weight of three seasons of considered development behind it that I can only describe as transcendent, unmatched prior and rarely reached subsequently.

But yes, myriad flaws. I had a drinking buddy for a couple of years before we discovered a mutual love of Babylon 5. We resolved to watch the next season together at her place on Saturdays, but it was season 5, so we ended up looking at each other sheepishly a lot. And JMS's speechifying, though a brave attempt at showing how even speech patterns were different in the future, could be mawkish at times. But when it fired on all cylinders it hit hyperspace. It COHERED!

If you let JMS write the arc and Whedon write the dialogue, you'd be in Nerdvana.
posted by Sparx at 11:58 AM on March 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Being a Babylon 5 fan in its original run was difficult (hard to find, constantly pre-empted by other things, always not sure if this would be the last season or what), but your patience would be rewarded. An offhand line or the appearance of a prop in the first season would have a payoff years down the line.

It was also one of the first fandoms I really remember from online. The Lurker's Guide was one of the first URLs that I remember, and the USENET group was full of fans of Dome Tech #1.

While some of the acting was... not great (Byron, I am looking at you, even if you went on to voice the Medic in TF2), it had its moments. When the dialog worked, it worked. From "Parliament of Dreams" (which is one of my favorite episodes):
Londo Mollari: [singsong] Everybody's cute, everybody's cute, even me. But in purple, I am STUNNING!
[collapses]
Vir Cotto: Ahh, he has become one with his inner self!
Michael Garibaldi: He's passed out.
Vir Cotto: That too.
(Full version)

And the sequence that never used baby shoes points out above was also something I was going to point out as a standout moment of the show. "This... ant" gets me every time.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:00 PM on March 5, 2013


I loved this show! I have every episode on my media server and rewatch the whole thing every few years. Even the terrible episodes are great! (confession: I love terrible/cheesy television)
posted by Arbac at 12:06 PM on March 5, 2013


It became pretty clear that the writers were completely making it up as they went along, that there was no "Plan"

Yes!!! Yes. Yes. Yes. Same with LOST.

I became addicted to BSG and LOST. I defended them to people who wouldn't watch these types of shows, because the storytelling, the acting, the production values, were so incredible! And then it ended. And I had to tell people who refused to watch: you made the right choice. Because the it may be "the journey, not the destination," but when there is NO destination, the journey is pointless.
posted by MoxieProxy at 12:32 PM on March 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


And JMS's speechifying, though a brave attempt at showing how even speech patterns were different in the future, could be mawkish at times.

It's a little known fact that DS9's larger budget was primarily used to repair the scenery after every one of Avery Brooks' speeches.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:35 PM on March 5, 2013 [19 favorites]


God, I loved that show. But I'm not sure I could watch it again; my good friend Allan, who turned me on to the show and with whom I watched many of the episodes and discussed all of them, died of leukemia a month before the final episode aired. Too much stuff all tied in there. But I've never seen a show with that kind of arc, involving not just character but culture, history, and religion (and I don't really give a damn about special effects or technology, so the failings in those areas didn't bother me). If you love sf, you should watch this show, and just treat the occasional bad patches the way you'd treat potholes in a gorgeous mountain road. Nothing's perfect.

> when there is NO destination, the journey is pointless.

I hate to break it to you, but in that case, life itself is pointless. (And if death is a "destination," then so is the end of a show, however random or unsatisfying.)
posted by languagehat at 12:41 PM on March 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Jodie Foster won't come do her presentation at the MTV Movie Awards.

Jack Black and Will Ferrell can't convince her to come out.

At 3:00 minutes in, they hit her in the geeky bits.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:58 PM on March 5, 2013


I rank Londo and G'Kar as two of the greatest tragic characters in science fiction cinema.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:02 PM on March 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


I hate to break it to you, but in that case, life itself is pointless.

Yeah, that's why I turned to SciFi soaps, my friend. I have different expectations for life's narrative.
posted by MoxieProxy at 1:08 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a little known fact that DS9's larger budget was primarily used to repair the scenery after every one of Avery Brooks' speeches.
Captain Sisko Yells At Everyone

I didn't watch the two shows when they were on, and watching them now, it's easy to see the superficial similarities and the major underlying differences. I like them both. The Londo/G'Kar spiral was my favorite character arc.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:09 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I rank Londo and G'Kar as two of the greatest tragic characters in science fiction cinema.

Yes, yes, yes. I can't believe it's been twenty years. Me and my brother and my Dad really enjoyed B5. It had its faults, but episodes like the real time interrogation were genuinely trying to do something new. Those little glimpses of the future you got, like Londo with the parasite round his throat - they invested a lot of lighter scenes with poignancy, because you knew what was coming. And knowing that Earth ultimately gets reduced to a second Dark Ages... it was kind of fascinating how they managed to wrest a tragic optimism out of the jaws of 'welp, people are going to go on being people'. Very fond memories indeed. Thanks so much for this post.
posted by RokkitNite at 1:22 PM on March 5, 2013


I always Love B5 But now as then... WHY ARE THE doors shaped like that? Round is impractical BUT I understand in water or space... squared makes sense but the doors they are angled. I have heard the pivot thing... I get that BUT they are still impractically shaped still... I have always wanted a Hobbit door even knowing it was %50 unusable and I would trip constantly crossing the threshold but not once have I wanted a Babylon 5 door. I may obsess over doors too much I need a lie down.
posted by mrgroweler at 1:30 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the things I liked about Babylon 5, at least in its middle couple of seasons, was that it gave us Kosh, an alien who actually felt alien--he wasn't just some guy in the latex forehead appliance of the week. (ST:TNG, I am looking at you.) At his best, Kosh gave you the feeling that you were dealing with something that (in the words of John W. Campbell) thought "... as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man". Yeah, he said "man", but the dude was born in 1910. Kosh's weird howling, chirping voice underneath the English translation was the icing on the cake.

The writing could get pretty bad, yes, but it reached its heights in some small, quiet scenes like this one, which I remember vividly almost two decades later.

(Some SPOILER-y context for that if you're not familiar with the show:

The Centauri Empire, the guys with the odd hair, have declared war on the Narn, who are the sort of reptilian looking ones. Not long before this scene, the Centauri used mass drivers to bombard the Narn homeworld with asteroids, killing millions before invading the planet and subjugating the survivors. The Centauri entering the elevator is Vir, assistant to the Centauri ambassador. Already in the elevator is G'Kar, the Narn ambassador and something of a spiritual leader to his people.

/SPOILER)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:30 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I disagree -- for me, the show's biggest flaw is that JMS can't (or at least couldn't) write dialogue to save his encounter-suited butt.

This is exactly my problem. JMS' reach badly exceeded his grasp. Don't get me wrong; I'd rather watch a noble not-quite-success than a safe but bland show any time. But JMS just wasn't as good as he thought he was.

Also; you'll never convince me O'Hare leaving didn't massively change the show. Babylon Squared should have been the last episode of the series. It is what the story demanded.
posted by Justinian at 1:34 PM on March 5, 2013


While I was a fan of the show when it first aired, I watched it a second time about ten years later when my kids were old enough, +-10. I want to say it was around 2005. While it does have its blemishes as a tv production there was something else that attracted me to it. One thing that drew me in was that it dealt with those high-level questions (the ant) that, as the Vorlon/Shadows story emerged, really drew in the kids. They started making connections back to incidental things in the early shows just as baby skates mentioned.

I love long-arc fiction, and in as much as there was some bad dialogue and cardboard acting, it did manage to engage on a lot of levels that I never really saw in, say, the ST franchise. It is interesting to see a lot of people here asking "should I watch it," if you are parent asking that question then I would suggest making it a family-watches-together show. When everything came together at the Battle of Coriana VI everyone in the room was rapt in attention. Darkness/light, order/chaos, a 10,000 year story arc - I would like to give it some credit as a gateway for my kids into cerebral fiction and sci fi.
posted by cgk at 1:58 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I had to pick a favorite television show, I think B5 would be it, even more than Arrested Development or the Wire, even though the latter two are probably much better.

I didn't watch the show in it's original run but rather watched in a set of marathon viewings in the early part of the last decade when it finally came out on DVD. Slightly spoilerific stuff follows...

Watching the show at that time, in the shadow of 9/11, gave an interesting perspective on the story arc of the humans and their political situation. Apparently, JMS had a time machine and wrote the human arc as a near parallel to the US in the aftermath of the attacks, with the President of Earth becoming very much like a Cheney in the heart of darkness. Something happens, what seems to be a terrorist attack, and the Earth Republic loses its collective head, becoming much grimmer, repressive, and implements summary executions and torture (the episode depicting this is one of the best fictional televised views on the subject that I've ever seen, sci-fi or not). But, and this was one of the beautiful things about the show, the changes in Earth's government come gradually. It's not one day a peaceful, happy democracy and a fascistic nightmare the next.

And the episode depicting the terroristic act, the final episode of season 1, the news channel shows their footage on endless loops, CNN-style, while the humans on the station sit around a table, watching it, and looking in shock or talking quietly about the now very uncertain future. I'd never seen a show before where the characters have a very realistic reaction to a tragedy such as this. Usually, especially in visual sci-fi or actiony flicks, everyone immediately rushes into action with their catchphrases ready, or they act like whatever happened is no big deal. But, in this show, the characters reacted mostly the same way as my friends and I did on 9/11. There was nothing we could do, we're shocked and angry, and yet we still sit around together, talking quietly and wondering what the hell is going to happen next.

That was the moment that completely sold the show to me, even with the very dodgy Season 1 episodes I had just watched.
posted by honestcoyote at 2:39 PM on March 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I love what JMS was going for with this show. I loved that he HAD a plan, and had all the trapdoors built in, and managed to do a lot of saves where things could have gone wrong (for the most part). I really wish more TV showrunners would do that sort of thing, but I gather these days it is impossible to do so--or at least, not to the extent that JMS did it. The like of this will never be seen again, sigh.

Comparing B5 to Lost and BSG....especially those two the way they wiped out at the end... I wish more writers would at least have an idea of where they are going with something, even if they change their minds later. Don't just throw out stuff like "Opera House" with no clue as to what you're going to do with it, hoping that Future Ron will take care of that problem for you.

Though I will admit that I never watched it when it was live. I saw one clip of Londo in a commercial and thought, "What the hell is that, a space vampire? That HAIR!" and figured it must be bad. And yet, when you actually watch the show, Londo....go figure, eh?
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:50 PM on March 5, 2013


Further advice for watching it- the first half of the fifth season is really uneven, with plenty of stuff that should have been compacted into only a few episodes, but was stretched because of Season 4 becoming compacted. The second half is pretty good.

Also, the Ranger's Oath is pure badass.
I am a Ranger.
We walk in the dark places no others will enter.
We stand on the bridge, and no one may pass.
We live for the One, we die for the One
I want another show that knows that it will end and how it will end. That is prepared to make that gamble. Is there anything else like that out there?
posted by Hactar at 3:07 PM on March 5, 2013


I was raised, like all the rest of my family, on a diet of Star Trek. It was my father's fault. He was a professional programmer, and he'd been a geek before being a geek was a thing. So of course we watched Star Trek--I saw my first episode of TOS when I was so young that my primary surviving memories consist mostly of me being scared by various aliens on the show. (That damn wavy-faced alien in the closing credits haunted my dreams.) But I loved it, and so did the rest of my family.

When TNG aired, we watched that, too. Like TOS before it, we didn't watch it regularly, maybe just a few times a week, but it still became the most important television show in my life. To clarify my love for Star Trek, you need only know this: I owned the technical manual. Which I read. Often enough to be able to explain how every fictional device worked. This was a level of dedication and insufferableness that was only usually found together in the form of Wesley Crusher.

This kind of abiding love meant that when DS9 was announced, I was giddy. I bought magazines with stories about it before it even debuted. There was counting of days, excited speculation, all the things you'd expect. But when we finally watched the first episode, it didn't go over well. It didn't grab me in the same way that TNG had and, worse, my parents didn't really approve of it. So, eventually, we turned to the other science-fiction show airing at around the same time.

To this day, I'm not sure why my parents disapproved of DS9 so strongly and yet allowed us to watch Babylon 5. But they did. And if it weren't for that happenstance, I sometimes wonder if I'd have become a completely different person. If DS9 had been the last show of my childhood, how would it have shaped me? More importantly, if it hadn't been Babylon 5, would I have been doomed to a future of being able to explain how warp drive works?

For all its flaws, Babylon 5 was engaging enough that it broke my Star Trek infatuation (I still love Star Trek, but we see other people). I also think Babylon 5 forever imbued me with a love for serialized storytelling. And an affection for subtle lesbian romances. And whenever someone mentions the word "Shakespearean" I automatically think of Londo and G'Kar. And Ivanova, you will always and forever be the lady of my heart.

(P.S. When I went back to re-watch all the Star Trek shows some years ago DS9 ended up being my favorite by far.)

(P.P.S. I do still remember how warp drive works.)
posted by amc.concepts at 3:34 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


"No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody's got to have some damn perspective around here. Boom, sooner or later...Boom!"
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:39 PM on March 5, 2013


"Zathras have no-one to talk to. No-one manages poor Zathras, you see. So Zathras talks to dirt. Sometimes talks to walls, or talks to ceilings. But dirt is closer. Dirt is used, through everyone walking on it. Just like Zathras, but we've come to like it. It is our role. It is our destiny in the universe. So, you see, sometimes dirt has insects in it. And Zathras likes insects. Not so good for conversation, but much protein for diet. Ha!"
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:42 PM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Confirmed, Survey 1. Upon arrival you will report for debriefing. And just one more thing, on your trip back I want you to take the time to learn the Babylon 5 mantra. Ivanova is always right. I will listen to Ivanova. I will not ignore Ivanova's recommendations. Ivanova is God. And if this ever happens again...Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out! Babylon control out.
Civilians. *looks up* Just kidding about that God part. No offense.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:23 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apparently, JMS had a time machine and wrote the human arc as a near parallel to the US in the aftermath of the attacks, with the President of Earth becoming very much like a Cheney in the heart of darkness.

I'm gonna just leave this here.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:26 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hactar: "I want another show that knows that it will end and how it will end. That is prepared to make that gamble. Is there anything else like that out there?"

"The Shield" feels like that. I'm pretty sure they had some sort of idea where Mackie's arc would lead when they started out.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:37 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


HZSF, thanks for reminding me about Ivanova. Since I'm watching season 5, she's not on my mind so much, but... wow. That is a great character. A strong bisexual Jewish woman with some of JMS' best dialogue? Yes, please. I'm not sure what happened with Claudia Christian, and I'm not sure we ever will be, but it's definitely sad that she left the show.
posted by jiawen at 4:38 PM on March 5, 2013


jiawen, Claudia Christian is active on Facebook (that's actually her posting and interacting with people), and has a memoir out.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:43 PM on March 5, 2013


I'm gonna just leave this here.

I had forgotten that post but I now remember reading it. Not on USENET but on that website (on JMSNews) which collected JMS's posts.

Thanks for the reminder.

This was almost as shocking as finding out Bush loved The West Wing.
posted by honestcoyote at 4:47 PM on March 5, 2013


America We Stand As One

That aside, I loved Babylon 5. Had nothing better to do (exciting life and all) and watched entire seasons in one go. So cheesy, but so genuinely good and ambitious.
posted by dumbland at 4:56 PM on March 5, 2013


I consider Babylon 5 my comfort television. Have the flu? Babylon 5 marathon it is. Wisdom teeth out? Babylon 5 marathon. I know it's not great in so many ways, but GOD it sucked me in as such a spectacular sci fi soap opera. I love Star Trek, and I enjoyed DS9, but there was something magical about the way B5's overarching plot comes together.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 4:58 PM on March 5, 2013


I saw one clip of Londo in a commercial and thought, "What the hell is that, a space vampire? That HAIR!" and figured it must be bad.

Before I started watching it sometime in season 1, I referred to the Centauri as "the Napoleons" because of Londo's outfit.

I'm not sure what happened with Claudia Christian, and I'm not sure we ever will be, but it's definitely sad that she left the show.

I saw her at a con - season 5 was still screening in the US so it must have been pretty soon after she left. (Ahhh, the days when we had to wait for weeks for someone in the US to send us videotapes, rather than just being able to download...) She was very funny but obviously not happy with the way things had gone down - she mentioned a lack of pay parity with the male actors and some communication issues. By the end of the day people began chanting "I'm not bitter!" along with her when one of her B5 issues came up. And god, I missed Ivanova so much in season 5, when she was effectively replaced by barbie-doll Lochley who had no personality. Not to mention Byron, possibly the closest thing to a universally loathed character in SF history.

For me B5 is still the only SF show where the alien characters were far better-written, better acted and more compelling than the humans. Londo and G'Kar were the most brilliant character dynamic.

We rewatched the entire thing last year and it was uncanny seeing how the storyline paralleled some of the events after the 9/11 attacks. Also uncanny seeing how much of season 5 I'd just blanked out.
posted by andraste at 5:04 PM on March 5, 2013


rhiannonstone: "jiawen, Claudia Christian is active on Facebook (that's actually her posting and interacting with people), and has a memoir out."

Yep, I knew about the memoir. And her Facebook page reminded me that she was at an SF convention in town this weekend. I almost went, save for money and stress levels. Oh well, hopefully she'll come to another local con sometime.
posted by jiawen at 5:41 PM on March 5, 2013


For me, B5 came at a tough time in my life...

B5 was almost like a religion for me in those days. Thinking back about it is a bit of a complex nostalgia trip. Sighs...

Given the issues, is Babylon 5 worth it?; Yes. yt; (Vir, the Centaari assistant to the Ambassador...


Yeah, there were some lovely flashbacks and foreshadowing going on all through the time line...

I think that the later TV movie 'Babylon 5: In the Beginning' is a decent way to start out if one is new to this whole narrative.

My favourite single episode is 'Ship of Tears' from Season 3.
posted by ovvl at 5:42 PM on March 5, 2013


I was a big fan of Christopher Franke's music for the show, and few things can top the impact of seeing the new introduction as the seasons progressed.

Season one is fairly generic and nondescript.
Season two: "Hey, they got some better hardware. 'The year the Great War came upon us all' What?"
Season three: "Hey, Ivanova's doing the narration this year! WHAT?" *begin drums*
Season four: "OK, so now EVERYONE is doing the narration." *begin the best opening theme music ever*
Season five: "Babylon 5: the last four seasons in 60 seconds"

The year is 2258. The name of the place: Babylon 5. (All five intros in one clip. Contains massive spoilers)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:58 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That one scene is the best, because you get to see Vir as a Centaari, fierce and ruthless and uncompromising, and you suddenly understand the elaborate layers of manners Centaari culture veneers over that savage core... the sweet bumbling idiot is not sweet, not bumbling, and not an idiot, he's an alien, and we don't understand him as much as we thought we did.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:32 PM on March 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Vir and Mr. Morden. That, to me, was the breakout scene for Vir. He knew more of what was going on with this dude than anyone else in his camp.

And he gets what he wants!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:37 PM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those times when I feel like nothing is under my control and I just need to sigh and submit to the forces around me and stop trying to herd the cats, I go back and read jms' write-up on spoo. And I'm not sure why, as it is certainly not uplifting, but it makes me feel better.

"When spoo harvest time comes, the air is full of the sound of whacking and sighing, whacking and sighing. Even an experienced spoo rancher can only harvest for brief periods of a time, due to the increased volume of sighing, which even the sound of whacking cannot altogether erase. Some have simply gone mad."
posted by girlhacker at 8:41 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vir and Mr. Morden. That, to me, was the breakout scene for Vir. He knew more of what was going on with this dude than anyone else in his camp.

Vir is classic crouching moron, hidden badass. He's playing the long game for survival and eventual power at a time when being a Centauri like Vir is extremely dangerous.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:06 PM on March 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what happened with Claudia Christian, and I'm not sure we ever will be, but it's definitely sad that she left the show.

She was a guest on The Highlander as one of the try-outs for a female spinoff, Highlander: The Raven, but I guess she lost out to Elizabeth Gracen, and never got to star in TV.

I'm also disappointed that Patricia Tallman/Lyta never got higher billing in tv/film.
posted by porpoise at 9:26 PM on March 5, 2013


Vir is classic crouching moron, hidden badass.

Abrahamil Linconi.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:47 PM on March 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I finally watched B5 about 4 years ago at a friends' urging. When it first aired I saw one part of one episode (the one that ends sort of like "menstrual periods! haha!" from Season 1, and decided it wasn't my cup of tea.

I'm glad I went back and watched it recently, though I've still only seen it through Season 3. I expected some complete schlock and instead I got plot and character arcs, where people who were clearly the good guys end up being not as good as you maybe thought, and the bad guys not so bad as you thought, and in the end, they're all just big, nuanced, shades of grey muddles. Even Bester had motivations that made complete sense to me; however much I disagreed with his decisions, I could see why he made them. This is true in very very few shows, and mostly TV just gets on my nerves.

Long story arcs have become the norm, especially with the HBO shows like Deadwood and Game of Thrones, but they were rare back then. I can't think of any others that I saw.

And angels have a completely different meaning to me now.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:50 PM on March 5, 2013


20 years? Oh, my lost youth!

Londo and G'Kar were truly Shakesperian in their scope - I loved them both so much. The rage, the history, the conniving and backstabbing, the final tragic understanding of why things are the way they are between them and their people.

I really think B5 is responsible for my abiding love of fiction/art that is overweeningly ambitious yet fatally flawed. JMS was pushing the limits of what could be on tv, not in terms of sex or violence, but in subject matter and form. And I watched each week (in Australia it was shown nearly at midnight after the always-overlong AFL Footy Show on Thursday nights, a month or two behind the US I think) with a small group of very good friends who showed me the internet and how to get to the Lurker's Guide and all the other conversation online.

If you can handle old series Doctor Who, or S2 of Twin Peaks, then I'd recommend watching Bab5 for sure. The AV Club is doing a watch-through, and if you're not sure if it's for you, they've got one of those 10-episode showcase articles up that does a pretty good job of picking out the groundbreaking moments and stellar plot changes.

I still crack up every time O'Hare pops out from behind a pillar with his tiny gun in the S1 intro though. And get chills when the first Shadow ship we see is in the intro to S3, several episodes before it showed up 'for real', slices through the ship leaving the jumpgate as Ivanova explains that the mission of peace has failed. Even the introductions were used to create suspense and atmosphere.

"I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."
posted by harriet vane at 12:58 AM on March 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh god, oh god, B5. I loved that show so much. Even with all its flaws right out there in plain sight, I absolutely adored it.

The Londo - G'Kar story arc was by far my favourite, but looking back, I think Walter Koenig gets far too little love for his excellent turn as Bester. There's that one S5 episode where Byron and his merry men have staged a sit-in in a vital part of the ship, and they bring in Bester to defuse it? He's all like "Fear me, I'm the Telepath Who Can Act. See my nuanced portrayal! Watch me make this stilted dialogue at least slightly believable! Regard my tour de force of badassery with crucial, perfectly timed moments of vulnerability! Hey Byron, get your ass out from behind that bulkhead, you might learn something."

Also, I've met Peter Jurasik twice now and he was beyond lovely. Fittingly, he teaches acting at degree level. Hell yeah.

All of which is to say: Babylon 5 was one of the best goddamn things about the 90s, and long may it endure.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:41 AM on March 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think that the later TV movie 'Babylon 5: In the Beginning' is a decent way to start out if one is new to this whole narrative.

No. No. No. SPOILERS, man. It just lays it all out there.
I just re-watched The Gathering last week for the 20th.
Man, there was some bad acting in that. Really bad.
And yet it got made. I watched a few episodes and couldn't get into it (and it was often pre-empted by Sam Fucking Newman's Footy show for up to 45 minutes, and it was at the crack-end of midnight anyway) but as soon as I saw Crysalis I was hooked.

B5: Crusade was a noble attempt, but as many have said, JMS over-reached himself *and* the Network used it as practice for fucking over Firefly, but there are some good episodes in there.

And I had the chance of reading the scripts to the unmade three episodes after the show was axed, and my GOD. The things he was going to do ... I've always been annoyed I can't even find recaps online. But I sat there and read the scripts in a single night, and it would have been amazing.

I remain sad we never got to see any of the three film pitches made.

And the less said about LOTR the better. It seemed like he wasn't enthused, but it was a JMS pilot. I always assumed it'd go into the Thirdspace plot.

And the Tales of Babylon 5 series getting axed... well, I've watched it once.
posted by Mezentian at 1:45 AM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just remembered ... I had a Babylon 5 theme for my Windows 95 machine.
"Access Granted" was my log-in noise.
posted by Mezentian at 2:03 AM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Marcus will always be the most romantic figure in the entire series to me.

***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***
Marcus loves Susan. Marcus is also a virgin. Susan is not stupid and figures out how Marcus feels (after he lets it slip in Minbari), but she's just not that into him. In fact, she cracks "Unicorn" jokes around him. Rather than be some "Nice Guy" whining about being stuck in the "Friendzone", Marcus accepts her decision, and continues on. He doesn't whine, he doesn't pester her, he just loves her and accepts that she doesn't love him back. He doesn't pursue anyone else, he just Rangers-on, living and dying for The One.
***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***
Then Susan is mortally wounded in combat and dying in Medical. Marcus finds out about that alien healing/capital punishment device the Doc has had locked away for a season or two.
***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***
And Marcus' last act in this world is to desert his post, go to medlab, leave a trail of unconscious and bloody friends/co-workers (people he knows and has seen treating the wounded in the war they've been fighting), tear the place apart, hook himself and Susan up the the device, and with his dying breath say "I love you" for the first time to someone who probably isn't conscious enough to hear it.
***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***
The moment I saw that scene, it was burned into my memory. Because I instinctively knew that yes, I would desert my post, take a stick, and beat my way through a room full of friends and co-workers to trade my life for that of the woman I eventually married.
***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:43 AM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't watch B5 when it first aired. Last year my husband and I watched it on DVD, and I'll add another vote for "often aggravating, but well worth it." I found Season One to be a hard slog (it didn't help that Michael O'Hare's acting style seemed kind of odd and distracting). About halfway through Season 2, when the arc started to pick up, I got addicted. I loved the G'Kar character arc, and thoroughly enjoyed Andreas Katsulas's performances. It got so compelling for me that I needed to watch at least one episode a day, and possibly more if the arc was getting really interesting.

When you watch so many episodes of a show in such a short time period, you get very aware of the particular writing tics Straczynski had. The most amusing one for me was the large number of episodes that involve Sinclair or Sheridan solving a problem by punching someone at the right moment. They're on a space station with tons of futuristic technology, the purpose of the station is to promote diplomacy, and yet somehow it's vitally necessary for the hero to punch someone a lot of the time.
posted by creepygirl at 11:03 PM on March 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is also well worth noting the large number of people who get shot in the shoulder during the run of the show.
posted by never used baby shoes at 6:53 AM on March 7, 2013


When you watch so many episodes of a show in such a short time period, you get very aware of the particular writing tics Straczynski had

During one marathon re-watch we lost count of the number of times someone said some variation of "spare me the platitudes." Because we made it a drinking game. And got very drunk.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:19 AM on March 7, 2013


creepygirl: "When you watch so many episodes of a show in such a short time period, you get very aware of the particular writing tics Straczynski had."

Sorkin Syndrome.
posted by brundlefly at 11:26 AM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]




Best B5 drinking game is the Hell Game; swig every time someone says that something's gone straight to hell, or comes straight from hell, or looks like hell, or when someone says "Hell". Guaranteed happy drunkenness. Sometimes it's said four times within a couple of sentences.
posted by andraste at 12:46 AM on March 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure Sheridan says "awww, hell" at least once an ep.
posted by Mezentian at 4:47 AM on March 8, 2013


Sam Fucking Newman. ::shakes impotent fist of rage:: You can go straight to hell, and take your footy show with you!
posted by harriet vane at 1:43 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


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