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The Long Term Outlook for B5

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  • The Long Term Outlook for B5

    The current, and ongoing, unpleasantness surrounding Mongoose's series of novels has got me wondering what (if any) are the prospects of us getting anything new, and substantial, in the official B5 universe.

    First, let's look at how the ground lies ...

    JMS
    He said back in 1995 (ish) that as far as he was concerned, B5 was the story he wanted to tell and if it was allowed to run the full 5 years he would have said everything that he wanted to in television and would withdraw completely.

    Thankfully he went back on withdrawing from TV, allowing us to get a hint of Crusade, and the brilliant (and too-short-lived) Jeremiah, but he did stick with the other statement that the main B5 story was what he wanted to tell and anything else was just a bonus, hence he has no intention of trying to sell a new B5 project (probably ever) but will consider any approach from someone else trying to get something off the ground (a la TMoS).

    Television
    The serial format is actually the format in which I believe JMS' story-telling works best, hence his success in the comic form. I believe it is extremely unlikely that there will be any hint of a B5 related TV series in the foreseeable future, given both what happened to Crusade and LotR, and the current move away from alien-populated SF shows.

    Movie
    Whilst the fact that JMS retains the rights to a B5 movie is a positive as far as keeping it within his vision is concerned, I believe it makes it almost a certainty that it will never happen, for all the reasons that TMoS fell apart.

    It will require an independent production company with a very large wad of cash to make the movie in the first place, and somewhere along the line they will still need to involve WB as it just doesn't seem very likely to me that they would allow a movie version of a property they own (and as the owner of copyright in all the names, logos, etc.) to be distributed by someone else.

    Novels/Graphic Novels
    I think this is perhaps most likely. However, it seems clear that B5 novels haven't sold well in the past, otherwise Del Rey (who still own the US/Worldwide(?) licence for B5 novels, I believe) would surely be exploiting that licence and producing an ongoing series of books, rather than having stopped with the three inital trilogies.

    I seem to recall between the release of the Centauri and Technomage trilogies that Del Rey as much as said that they were disappointed with sales, and the final trilogy would have to sell better than the others for there to be any chance of more.

    To truly gain the acceptance and enthusiasm of the fans, however, JMS would have to be involved on some level ... even if only to say "I reckon these are great, fun and exciting books, but don't expect me to be bound by their events in the future". Canon books would be nice, but fun and exciting and set in the B5 universe would be OK by me, provided they were also OK with JMS ... rather than the current debacle created by Mongoose.

    There has also been a Graphic Novel on the cards for the best part of 3-4 years now, with no sign that it is coming any time soon.

    In Summary
    I am not desparate for new things at all costs and, frankly, I can even live without any new B5. After all, I have the entire series and movies on DVD, my collection of the B5 mags and now the script books to get my fix.

    However, given the impact that the show has had on SFTV in general ... ongoing story arcs, CGI, style of story-telling, coming in on budget(!) to name just a few ... it would be a shame if B5 disappeared completely from the consciousness of the SF community. Sure, we on this board and others like it will keep it alive but, ultimately, it would be nice to see the show get the recognition it truly deserves.

    What does anyone else think?
    Last edited by Garibaldi's Hair; 05-22-2006, 02:17 AM.
    The Optimist: The glass is half full
    The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
    The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

  • #2
    Personally, I am desparate for some new B5. I think this mostly comes from the fact that I only got into B5 a couple years ago and things that were never tied up (Crusade, Telepath War) are driving me up a wall and I need closure. Give me another couple years and I might be a bit more laid back about the whole situation and not be fiending as much.

    Realistically, I think the best option for continuing the B5 universe, at this point in time, would be the comic route. I'd much rather see plot lines wrapped up via a tv mini/movie, but I wouldn't be against the comic route at all. Economically, it seems the most feasible, and I would prefer a visual medium over a novelization for something like B5. The books would just need a good artist, as I haven't like any artist jms has worked with at all other than John Romita Jr. That being said, I'd take new novels just as quickly as comics.

    As far as chances of a tv series/movie or a feature, while they are slim, it could happen. What types of shows people want to watch on tv changes from year to year, so while a B5 type show might not be able to survive in the current tv environent, I wouldn't completely rule it out in the near future. One of the biggest Qs would be whether jms could handle going through the process of starting a live action thing up after the whole TMOS debacle. That easily could have stuck a fork in it for jms. He'd probably need some big guarantees from the studio prior to developing something for the small or big screen.

    I'm hoping that jms gets the B5 itch from the current work he has done on the script books, but who knows. I was really hoping there would be a happy ending to the mongoose thing, but that looks completely dead at this point. Regardless, I really need something new. The universe is far too rich and interesting to just leave hanging. Hopefully, jms hasn't given up on it and an opportunity presents itself.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Garibaldi's Hair
      and the current move away from alien-populated SF shows.
      Just for the sake of arguement, I would say that this would create the perfect climate for the return of well made (which we know any B5 production would be) science-fiction show featuring aliens as it would stand out from the other, more homogonized series.
      Got movies? www.filmbuffonline.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Garibaldi's Hair
        The current, and ongoing, unpleasantness surrounding Mongoose's series of novels has got me wondering what (if any) are the prospects of us getting anything new, and substantial, in the official B5 universe.

        Movie
        Whilst the fact that JMS retains the rights to a B5 movie is a positive as far as keeping it within his vision is concerned, I believe it makes it almost a certainty that it will never happen, for all the reasons that TMoS fell apart.
        Remind me.....What were these reason for it all falling apart again? I am not saying it is true but a person that I have never known to lie to me before,
        and whom I consider 'in the know', has said that the idea to recast the show was all at the feet of JMS, and that Andreas (RIP) did not want to come over to the UK for what amounted to a 5 minute cameo.

        If there was anything else, could someone remind me as it was a long time ago and because we seem to have had no definitive answer from JMS himself, and all the legalities of a now 'long dead' project must have been worked well and truely out by now.
        Last edited by DGTWoodward; 05-22-2006, 12:04 PM.
        http://www.lddb.com/collection.php?a...er=dgtwoodward
        Yes, I still collect Laserdiscs!!
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        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by LightStorm
          Remind me.....What were these reason for it all falling apart again? I am not saying it is true but a person that I have never known to lie to me before
          and whom I consider 'in the know' has said that the idea to recast the show was all at the feet of JMS, and that Andreas (RIP) did not want to come over to the UK for what amounted to a 5 minute cameo.
          The short version is simply that the person/company who optioned the rights and commissioned the movie couldn't put the financial package together without WB's involvement. WB only is interested in blockbusters with big names. At a *very* late hour, offers were made to the original cast (ie. after the option had expired and JMS had given an extension). I never heard who was interested or who wasn't. As for the recasting decision being JMS's, my understanding was that casting sides were sent out without his approval.

          If there was anything else, could someone remind me as it was a long time ago and because we seem to have had no definitive answer from JMS himself, and I all the legalities of a now 'long dead' project must have been worked well and truly out by now.
          Not necessarily but I don't know of any details if there were any legal issues. Bottom line was that the financing wasn't there.

          Jan
          "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

          Comment


          • #6
            kinda sad when you think of what JW did with 'Firefly'.

            Good Science Fiction without a TREK in sight.

            If only................

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Spikey thing
              Kind of sad when you think of what JW did with 'Firefly'.

              Good Science Fiction without a TREK in sight.

              If only................
              Actually, I liked what JW did. He killed any possibility of a continuation or future abuse of his Firefly show.

              Had JMS cleaned up and closed any possible story arcs being exploited by other writers in the form of comic books, novels and/or television cartoons (ala Clone Wars), then this dispute would be moot (when it came to canon based stories) and the fans would have had their fix with an ending.

              While it would have kept JMS working on Babylon 5 way after his intended attention warrantedà he would have close the timeline, closed the stories and hopefully answered all the questions regarding the main characters to the whole of the story.

              Note: I would have taken a pay cut (and have from time to time) to close any outstanding issues presented to me to avoid losing face and/or control of my projects, but that is just my opinion.
              "The world is a dangerous place---not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it" --Albert Einstein

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rallytbk
                Had JMS cleaned up and closed any possible story arcs being exploited by other writers in the form of comic books, novels and/or television cartoons (ala Clone Wars), then this dispute would be moot (when it came to canon based stories) and the fans would have had their fix with an ending.
                You know...one of these days I'm going to save this in Word so all I have to do is cut and paste it and not have to type it any more:

                HOW do you propose he clean up any possible story arcs?!?! Do you have a list of the comic publisher, novel publisher, animation studio or anybody else who were willing to allow him to do what you suggest? Who were willing to pay WB for the license? And pay all of the artists, animators, typesetters etc. that it would require for any or all of those suggestions? Because I sure don't.

                Even if JMS wanted to to it for *free*, he can't now and never could without somebody willing to pay for and produce the physical product.

                Jan
                "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rallytbk
                  Had JMS cleaned up and closed any possible story arcs being exploited by other writers in the form of comic books, novels and/or television cartoons (ala Clone Wars), then this dispute would be moot (when it came to canon based stories) and the fans would have had their fix with an ending.
                  As Jan alluded to, this is not a problem of JMS' making. Sure, he left unresolved plot threads in the main series, and elsewhere, for a number of reasons.

                  1. He specifically stated that he was taking the approrach of dropping in on these characters for 5 years ... they had lives before and after. My life isn't nearly as interesting as the B5 characters, but there isn't a single point in my life that I can point to as having all my story arcs closed off at the same time.

                  2. He was asked to produce Crusade, which was then cancelled before it had really got going, and just as the box of story threads had been thrown on the floor.

                  3. It was clear from B5 and Crusade that a war/crisis between telepaths and normals was going to/did happen, but he left that story to be told in a movie. A movie that, to date, hasn't happened.

                  4. He was asked to do a pilot for another show, LotR, which was also cut off before any of the hints made in the pilot had a chance to be developed.

                  5. He was asked to produce a script for a movie that didn't happen. We don't know much about the story, but it seemed to build on some of the story threads left hanging from earlier stuff.

                  If JMS did close off all the hanging story threads, anyone wanting to do stories in the B5 universe would be free to do that, and just invent whatever they wanted ... extrapolating from what was known and already established. Given that JMS has worked out the history of his universe for 100 years each way in detail, 1,000 years in general terms and 1,000,000 years in sketch form, I'm sure he prefers the threads to be left hanging so that we, the fans, can see some of that great tapestry of stuff.

                  This, in turn, (deliberately or otherwise) gives us an incentive to discuss where these hanging threads may have lead us, and that helps to keep the show alive in the minds of the fans.
                  The Optimist: The glass is half full
                  The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
                  The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Garibaldi's Hair
                    If JMS did close off all the hanging story threads, anyone wanting to do stories in the B5 universe would be free to do that, and just invent whatever they wanted ... extrapolating from what was known and already established. Given that JMS has worked out the history of his universe for 100 years each way in detail, 1,000 years in general terms and 1,000,000 years in sketch form, I'm sure he prefers the threads to be left hanging so that we, the fans, can see some of that great tapestry of stuff.
                    Hey, yeah! They're not loose threads...they're *fringe* around the tapestry.

                    Running away very quickly in case Garibaldi's Hair sends the Narn Bat Squad after me.

                    Jan
                    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      All of this brings up something I've been thinking about for a while. What happens when JMS finally retires? We know how much of a workaholic he is, but will he still want to spend 12 hours a day writing scripts when he's 90? Is there any plan for handing off the B5 universe to someone JMS trusts to keep up the story quality that we've come to expect, or does the whole B5 universe retire along with him? I think a lot of us would become certifiably insane if we lost what hope we have left of seeing more of the stories in the B5 universe resolved.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, from what he's said, writing is What He Does, so I'm not absolutely sure he can retire. As for passing the baton to somebody else, I don't think that subject has come up except when the show was on. However, this thread from 1995 seems to pretty much say that when he's gone, so are any plans he had.

                        Jan
                        "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jan
                          HOW do you propose he clean up any possible story arcs?!?! Who were willing to pay WB for the license? à
                          This will be in a subtle way, when ever someone asks JMS to write a (leaning towards canon based) story featuring one or more of the main characters, he writes a wonderful rendition of how their paths ended in a series of books.
                          i.e. Susan Ivanova and Marcus Cole ending up on the paradise planet Chryn III 300 years later.

                          http://www.worldsofjms.com/b5/characters/index.htm

                          Originally posted by Jan
                          Even if JMS wanted to do it for *free*, he can't now and never could without somebody willing to pay for and produce the physical product.

                          Jan
                          Not do it for free, but if it takes getting licensing problems off his back then yes, take control of the direction of the publication and answer the questions the fans want to hear, close what ever holes other writers may think of (at the time) in a series of short stories and constantly remind them about canon if they go in another direction. Someone will re-image the whole story anyway in the future, but at least he will not be accused of not going deeper or loosing interest of the show.
                          Last edited by rallytbk; 05-24-2006, 09:35 AM.
                          "The world is a dangerous place---not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it" --Albert Einstein

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Garibaldi's Hair
                            If JMS did close off all the hanging story threads, anyone wanting to do stories in the B5 universe would be free to do that, and just invent whatever they wanted ... extrapolating from what was known and already established. Given that JMS has worked out the history of his universe for 100 years each way in detail, 1,000 years in general terms and 1,000,000 years in sketch form, I'm sure he prefers the threads to be left hanging so that we, the fans, can see some of that great tapestry of stuff.
                            Originally posted by JMS
                            So better to leave it unfinished, with that part which *is* finished being 100% what you wanted it to be, than let it be completed by others, and not necessarily as well.
                            And thatÆs the beauty and problem with this situationà Everybody now wants to assume what everybody else thinks should be the direction of the future path the characters would make. Now the question is will JMS loose control of his show due to licensing problems and have other people muddy up his creation?
                            Last edited by rallytbk; 05-24-2006, 08:09 AM.
                            "The world is a dangerous place---not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it" --Albert Einstein

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't mean to pick on what you're saying, rallytbk, but...take control of what publication? Amazing Stories is dead. The Babylon 5 magazine is dead. Del Rey still holds the rights to US books (as far as I know) and they're not interested. DC still holds the rights to comics and, at least right now, they're not interested.

                              So if you're going to pin your hopes on anything, the only thing I know of that might reawaken interest in published B5 stories *by* JMS would be if there's a huge success whenever the long-awated B5 graphic novel should come out.

                              Jan
                              "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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