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Peter T Chattaway

Babylon 5

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Very insightful analysis of this episode, Peter. But I had to use your blog link to find it. The link in your post comes right back to the post itself, making me feel like Alice in Wonderland.

Everyone should read it here instead?

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:(

Some co-workers and I have been getting together to watch Babylon 5 regularly, and G'Kar is/was one of my favorite characters. I always thought Katsulas did incredibly fine work with his character, probably some of the best of any actor on the show.

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My favorite, my absolute favorite part of the show dealt with the story arc between G'Kar and Londo... Katsulas and Jurassik had such amazing chemistry when they were playing off each other. I always hoped, even though I knew it wasn't likely, that I'd get to see them reprise their roles and share a scene again.

Sigh.

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Andreas Katsulas, the character actor known to SF fans as G'Kar on Babylon 5 and a familiar face from Star Trek and other SF&F TV shows

Well, I don't know how familiar a face he was. :) I did enjoy picking out his voice under various alien makeup effects, though.

Of course, as visual as I am, for some reason I've always been much better with voices than faces, anyway.

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More Babylon 5 adventures ... going straight to DVD?

Babylon 5: The Lost Tales--available on DVD, July 31

Press release--includes mild SPOILERS

Edited by BethR

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TVSquad's "Babylon 5 starter kit"--six episode introduction to the series, filtered from season 1.

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This one finally came up on my Netflix queue. Obviously made on the cheap, with only six or eight main actors, only three from the original series, and immense quantities of green-screen work. However, the computer-generated backgrounds and effects generally look quite good, to my amateur eye, so that most of the time I was paying attention to the scene/story, rather than thinking "Oh, they were saving money there!"

It's really sort of two stories linked together by a common theme of a moral/spiritual dilemma, and I was struck to find, in the first part particularly, that JMS brings some quite explicit Biblical and Christian concepts in. B5 is notable for being one of the first sci-fi shows to include and treat religions with respect, even though

the Vorlons & Shadows, initially implied to be supernatural forces, are revealed to be only "ancient" races representing order and chaos

. In the first "lost tale," his inspiration seems to have been C.S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet/Perelandra.

On the topic of making movies cheaply--JMS spoofs the process in the special features, with his "director's cut" version with sock puppets instead of actors.

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I've been meaning to drag this thread out of the mothballs for a while. I've been a here-and-there fan since the original run; when it hit DVD I rewatched seasons 2-4 with my dad and it grew into my favourite sci-fi show ever. That was several years ago and it's only been in the last few months that I picked up seasons 1-4 cheap and have begun watching it from the very beginning. Initially I was concerned about what I'd heard about Season 1 - that it's too corny, too talky, to slow in setting things up, etc - but I've been pleasantly surprised again and again with how much a joy it is to settle back into the rhythms of these characters and this universe. The pacing is just right for an arc that is getting things in motion and it really does feel like that novel for television that JMS says he imagined while creating it.

I recall sometime during BSG's run that I wound up lamenting the qualities of B5 that I thought in hindsight kept it from achieving the sort of emotional connection that I was experiencing with BSG: 90s-TV acting, stagy camera set-ups, an overall earnest hamminess, etc. But what I forgot was how rich B5 really was in character, in its multitude of such characters, and the depth of themes that each episode tackled, even if they didn't always succeed. BSG may have brought a much appreciated focus on realism to sci-fi television, and I prefer the mannerisms of its acting to B5's, but I'm hard pressed to think of a BSG episode that, on average, had as many intrigues and moving parts contributing to the ongoing arcs, big and small, as B5 did.

"Passing Through Gethsemane", mentioned previously in this thread, is still one of the most powerful marriages of science fiction and religious themes that I've seen in film or television, and that's going off a viewing I had maybe seven years ago. I can't wait to get to it on this run and see how it holds up. BSG also had a lot of chewy material regarding spiritual matters, but it didn't include real religions, making such development kind of broad. I love how JMS tackles the development of Christianity into the 23rd century and leaves room to wonder about how developments in space exploration and other future matters may have affected it.

Anyway, I've just finished the "Voice In The Wilderness" two-parter, and part two is one of the finest episodes from any season of B5 that I can recall. Watching it twigged a memory of reading about Solaris (I haven't seen it but hope to catch up with it this summer), particularly that the planet at its centre is itself alive. This B5 episode concerns that planet that the station orbits turning out to actually be a gigantic machine that will self-destruct if its sentient guardian doesn't mind meld with it. Anyone know if there is a direct connection between the two?

Edited by N.W. Douglas

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N.W. Douglas wrote:

: I recall sometime during BSG's run that I wound up lamenting the qualities of B5 that I thought in hindsight kept it from achieving the sort of emotional connection that I was experiencing with BSG: 90s-TV acting, stagy camera set-ups, an overall earnest hamminess, etc.

Heh. Yeah, when I watched a few B5 episodes after watching BSG, I was a bit surprised by the staginess, as you call it -- and also the perfectly lit, carpeted set design etc. :)

That being said, I can't help wondering if the shaky-cam "realism" of BSG et al. will begin to seem like a dated affectation in its own right in a few years.

: . . . I'm hard pressed to think of a BSG episode that, on average, had as many intrigues and moving parts contributing to the ongoing arcs, big and small, as B5 did.

It no doubt helps that B5 was conceived as a story with a beginning, middle and end rather than something that was made up on the go like BSG was.

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It no doubt helps that B5 was conceived as a story with a beginning, middle and end rather than something that was made up on the go like BSG was.

Yes, except Ron Moore pitched the new BSG as a show with that sort of long form storytelling in mind (I posted about that here, highlighting Moore's claim that such an approach hadn't been done in sci-fi before). And while it's clear that they didn't have the whole show planned from start to finish, the first two seasons seem tightly plotted enough to indicate that sort of planning, which evidently went off the rails in season 3. I thought BSG survived its messiness and inconsistencies on the strength of its characters and wasn't too concerned with plot by the time season 4.5 hit, though I have yet to watch it again from start to finish, and friends who are doing so have warned that the show becomes a pretty obvious mess. We can dream of how much better BSG would have been with some more of JMS' approach.

Anyway, even though the great strength of the current golden age of television is its character development, I'm really enjoying a return to such satisfying, old-fashioned plotting.

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Just finished Season 2, and I'm absolutely head over heels for this show. I'd seen the first half of this season before, but not the last, and as I feared for Season 1, I found that first half pretty slow and hammy, largely thanks to Boxleitner's two-pronged approach to every subject (Happy Go Lucky or Earnest Seriousness). Then the 2nd half kicked in with the sort of precise plotting that makes Season 3 stand out in my memory as the best run of any television show I've ever seen. I earlier lamented the lack of grit that's so in demand these days, but I think I'm past that and have accepted the show both within its original context, and as a timeless tale. And as far as timeless tales go, this one hits my cheer button as hard as The Lord of the Rings (which might not be a surprise, given the influence Tolkien seems to have had on B5).

Boxleitner started out pretty bland, but I'm impressed by how he's transformed over the last ten episodes into a leader with genuine authority and determination. I doubted that his performance would have anywhere near the impact on me now that it did years ago, but it's doing it again. And I'm even more taken with Mira Furlan's work this time around. Why has she not had any more prominent roles since Delenn? She's wonderful.

But most of all, I'm grateful for a show where, truly, The Story Is King. Where events move in real-time, and victories are long-awaited. This is such a rich experience, and I wish the creators of today's sci-fi (*cough* Ron Moore *cough*) would learn from it.

Onwards to Season 3. I. Can't. Wait.

Edited by N.W. Douglas

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Mia Furlan had a regular guest role in LOST as Danielle Rousseau, the crazy French lady.

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If I try to get into this show (again), what's the best way to approach it? I know a few TV movies were set before the first season but filmed after the end of the main series. Should I watch everything chronologically, or in the order it was produced?

Edited by Tyler

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If I try to get into this show (again), what's the best way to approach it? I know a few TV movies were set before the first season but filmed after the end of the main series. Should I watch everything chronologically, or in the order it was produced?

 

Coincidentally, I've just started rewatching B5 and showing it to my kids. A friend who knows the show intimately says start with the original pilot film "The Gathering" and then go into season 1, i.e., production order. 

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Yep. Avoid the post-Season 5 films, especially the prequel IN THE BEGINNING, until after you finish season 5.

I finished a runthrough of the show a few months ago. It holds up extremely well.

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B5 is now available for streaming via Amazon Prime. I own all the DVDs, so I haven't actually checked it out, but for anyone who's never been able to see it, now you can--free (with Prime). It's more relevant than ever.

I also recommend A Dream Given Form: The Unofficial Guide to the Universe of Babylon 5 (Guffey & Koontz), from ECW Press. Details & background for each episode (and more), plus interviews with J.M. Straczynski, Peter Jurasik, and others.

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