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Why does Babylon 5 go offline?

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  • Why does Babylon 5 go offline?

    Let me preface this that I am a huge lover of the show etc etc so this is not a troll or nit pick, but it is something that has always bothered me.

    Why does the station go "offline" and have the Command and Control shut down for a period each day? There are numerous references to it and on a number of occasions we see Sheridan (in particular) having some alone time in the C&C while all is quiet etc.

    Given that B5 is a port for the movement of goods, a military base, an airport (including traffic control for the sector/region), a small city, and in some respects it is analogous to a "ship it sea" - it makes no sense to me that it is not a 7x24 operation. In particular it is the port/airport/military aspects which seem to be the specific responsibility of the C&C that all seem to run 24 hours today on earth right now with a defined night and day, it makes less sense to have a defined shut down in space. This is just at a practical level, let alone at a plot device level - if the out of control soul hunter ship showed up when the station was offline it would have crashed into the station because nobody was in C&C to order it destroyed (let alone have Sinclair go get it). Plus whatever baddies or goodies show up unshcheduled.

    I realize that the cast is already big enough, but there could have easily been a "third watch" officer who was referred to in passing but never seen. In some ways Ivanova and then Corwin filled this role originally. I was even prepared to suspend disbelief and assume that there must be somebody else there, we just are not following that person's story.

    However, there are still the inexplicable - explicit references to the station being "offline", or "coming online soon" and scenes of an empty quiet C&C.

    Whenever this happens something just goes clank with me and it takes me out of the story.

    Does anybody have a theory or reference from JMS explaining this? Given the attention to physics, courts, religion and other *realistic* details that JMS invested in the show, this fairly obvious one just seemed out of place to me.

    Thanks

  • #2
    JMS posted this about the time that 'Points of Departure' aired. I grabbed it off of the Lurker's Guide rather than finding it in the archives:

    As noted elsewhere...we have previously established that the Dome is periodically on Standby Mode, when the system is performing autmoated (automated) backups, routine maintenance, that sort of thing. It was in "Midnight," when Garibaldi informs Ivanova that that's where he likes to go, when it's on standby, and is quiet. It was in "Sky," when Ivanova asks Tech 1 if there are any more ships due in for a while, is told no, and she puts her feet up on the console, nobody else around.
    Also, B5 tends to run on human cycles of day and night, something we try to reflect in the sets and effects, showing the Garden bright during day times, and dark during night stuff (as around dinner time in the Fresh Air Restaurant). Maintaining such cycles has been found to be critical in these kinds of environments.

    The standby mode only happens every 36-48 hours, for about an hour. Most departments also have their own control areas, using C&C mainly when command personnel are required. In addition, there are folks monitoring C&C, and if anything *should* happen, someone could be there within seconds.
    Jan
    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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    • #3
      In addition wasn't it said that babylon 5 had a 26 hour day, nto a24 -hour one? Don't recall where I saw the refernce though.
      Phaze
      on the "hoping Jan can use her encyclopedic knowledge to assist" ID
      "There are no good wars. War is always the worst possible way to resolve differences. It degenerates and corrupts both sides to ever more sordid levels of existence, in their need to gain an advantage over the enemy. Those actively involved in combat are almost always damaged goods for the rest of their lives. If their bodies don't bear scars, their minds do, ofttimes both. Many have said it before, but it can't be said to enough, war is hell. "

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      • #4
        If so, I don't remember it at all. Now I have a vague memory that one of the other races had a longer day but I'm not sure which.

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

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks Jan for the JMS post, but it still does not solve my problem. I was watching Objects at rest the other night and it was what prompted me to ask. I just went and found a synopsis online and here is what they wrote about the opening scene. It does not ssem to support the idea that 2% of the time C&C shuts down. There are lot's of other scenes like this one -in my mind at least

          OBJECTS AT REST
          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          C&C

          It's very early in the morning and Sheridan can't sleep. He's not the only one. He finds Lochley there too. The new Alliance HQ are almost finished and he and Delenn can go at any time. He can't believe it's been almost a year since she arrived on the station. Where does the time go? Sheridan indicates out the window, into space.

          Sheridan: That way.
          Lochley: And what's out there?
          Sheridan: The Rim.
          Lochley: And beyond that?
          Sheridan: The truth.
          He tells her that when they leave for Minbar, he doesn't want any ceremonies, brass bands or speeches. He just wants to leave quietly. She understands and thanks him for bringing her to B5. The first few days, she didn't know if she really wanted the job, but the place grew on her. He agrees. It's going to be hard for him to leave. He thought that he was prepared, but when the reality of it came... It's more difficult than he thought.

          C&C goes online in an hour, so Lochley excuses herself so she can have breakfast. Before she leaves, he tells her it's been good having her there. Knowing that B5 is in good hands makes the leaving easier

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          • #6
            Rangers can't find Zach?

            Since we are on the topic - one last thing that always "clanged" with me was that for Sheridan's final dinner in Sleeping in Light that the all powerful Rangers of the Interstellar Alliance, could not deliver a dinner invitation to someone who was in EarthForce (and therfore not that hard to find) Hell Ivonova could have found Zach in 2 minutes with an order and presumably the Rangers would have their own sources in EarthForce.

            That is it for complaints from me bacuse I love the show.

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            • #7
              I guess I don't see why it *shouldn't* close down at times. Almost every airport does the same, even today. We already have an unseen Command Officer, Major Atumbe (iirc) so maybe he's the one on call for emergencies but prefers not to stare out the window.

              Maybe the real reason is so they can run those floor machines. After all, there's all those corners and nooks and crannies.

              The real life reason would be that JMS needed C&C shut down every once in a while for quiet talks and good luck speeches.

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

              Comment


              • #8
                Also, B5 was built by cutting way back from original plans. A system with scheduled maintenance windows is MUCH less expensive than one without. The more "off-line" time you have the less the system costs.

                As far as Zach goes, I thought the problem was that they didn't know he was back in Earthforce, thus, they didn't think to query Earthforce records. I gathered they thought he was out and about. There have been times that I've lost something by putting it exactly where it should be. Then, convinced I didn't put it back, I look every where else. Maybe that's just me, though.
                "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jan
                  We already have an unseen Command Officer, Major Atumbe (iirc)....
                  Yup, his name is something along that line.

                  I don't see any problem with C&C shutting down during seriously inactive periods for various upkeep proceedures. It's not like the station isn't big enough to have other areas that can keep track of their respective station-keeping duties while C&C is down. Hell, I think it'd be silly to only have one fully-capable C&C area anyway. If it gets damaged -- say in an attack -- it would sure be nice to have a backup somewhere. There's probably all sorts of redudant command stations of varying degrees of influence on the station that we just don't ever see because of that lovely little thing called a small budget to produce the show and don't hear of because there are just honestly more interesting things to spend the show's precious time on.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by phazedout
                    In addition wasn't it said that babylon 5 had a 26 hour day, nto a24 -hour one? Don't recall where I saw the refernce though.
                    Phaze
                    I don't think Babylon 5 did, but Deep Space Nine did have a 26-hour day. They never explained it, but I'm guessing that that's how our hours translated into a normal Bajoran day cycle.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ninja_Squirrel
                      I don't think Babylon 5 did, but Deep Space Nine did have a 26-hour day. They never explained it, but I'm guessing that that's how our hours translated into a normal Bajoran day cycle.
                      That's exactly what it was.
                      Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.

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                      • #12
                        There are a number of reasons why B5's Command and Control would want to go offline, for up to a third of the time:
                        1. Maintenance: you need some time to do preventive and corrective maintenance, and maintaining an operating system is much more difficult than an inoperative one, due to all the coordination needed. It just makes sense to have a time for all of this. Ships at sea run 24 hours because they must, but then shut down while in port for maintenance. B5 is forced to be available over a long, long time.
                        2. Personnel: you would need 50% more people to run a third watch. If there is not enough business to keep three watches busy, then the third watch is an unnecessary drain on resources.
                        3. Reduction in wear and tear. If the system is not being used for a third of the time, there is less wear and tear on the system (hell, even chairs last 50% longer if no one is using them).

                        Major Atumbe, I am convinced, is the second watch commander, not the third. The Captain has too many duties to stand a watch, and when Ivanova and Sheridan are meeting and planning (or when Ivanova is doing her diplomatic stuff), it is Atumbe who has the watch. I think it likely that Sheridan stands a watch when she is off-station; Corwin seems a little junior for that job.
                        I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone .. our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit .. that the part of me that is going .. will very much miss the part of you that is staying.

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                        • #13
                          I see all the reasons B5 would want to go offline, but I do not think realistically it *can* or *should* This is an air force base, or as I said earlier a ship at sea (even if it is at a Lagrange point), and there is always a command person at the bridge.

                          What if the out of control soul hunter ship came through the jump gate 8/9/10 hours later. Presumably nobody could have launched a fighter or brought up the defensive system in time to destroy it and it would have hit the station.

                          Also I was watching the Discovery channel about container ships and how the ships and the ports operate almost continuously - same as cruise ships - so I can't imagine that the docking bay operations - passenger and freight we see during the day at B5 operate at 2/3 capacity. If I am planning an interstellar freight delivery route, I would not want an 8 hour delay while I waited for B5 to open up and cruise liners now often make port in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning.

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                          • #14
                            Then you don't accept this part of the post I copied from JMS's post?

                            The standby mode only happens every 36-48 hours, for about an hour. Most departments also have their own control areas, using C&C mainly when command personnel are required. In addition, there are folks monitoring C&C, and if anything *should* happen, someone could be there within seconds.
                            Jan
                            "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There is the back up control room which was used Thirdspace by the companies representatives.
                              Andrew Swallow

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