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20th Anniversary Re-Watch - Season 1

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  • 20th Anniversary Re-Watch - Season 1

    Anybody care to join me? Last night and this morning I watched the first three episodes (mainly because my disk of "The Gathering has gone AWOL and I didn't feel like waiting). In a way, it's fitting since I never saw the pilot until it was on TNT.

    Midnight on the Firing Line: Original air date: Jan. 26, 1994

    Though topheavy with exposition, this was a good episode to start off with. You get a good overview of the then-new universe. One thing I often forget is the first scene in the Council Chamber where G'Kar is at least playing his role as Ambassador by offering his condolences over the attack on Ragesh 3. While he's happy enough to drop that facade once the Narn involvement is revealed, he did keep that mask up up until Londo revealed that he knew. Londo's hair is distracting. I liked Ivanova's look when she talked to Talia in the Zocalo. A great episode to get one up and running on the new show.

    Soul Hunter: Original air date: Feb. 2, 1994

    We'd only seen her briefly in 'Midnight' so it was nice to see Delenn more in this episode. I'm also stunned at how many people complain about the effects in Season One. While every once in a while I'm conscious of a ship that looks a little simplistic, When I see how they managed the soul globes in this episode, that seems silly to me (though, granted, I'm only watching on a 'teensy' 32" screen). I was far more jolted by the 'bear trap' contraption that was supposed to be draining Delenn's blood and the foil thingies holding her wrists.

    I enjoyed the obvous friendship between Sinclair and Delenn. it was also fun to see the arrival of Dr. Franklin. His easy demeanor and way of traveling light were mirrored when he left B5 later on. His slight scorn of anything not provable by science was obvious from the beginning.

    Born to the Purple Original air date: Feb. 9, 1994

    This has always been one of my favorite episodes! We learn that there's a genuine romantic in Londo and that his dissatisfaction with the culture of his homeworld isn't just because of their fallen 'greatness', it's due to the "mask I'm forced to wear". We see in this episode the negotiations that are pretty much what you'd expect on a diplomatic station, something I missed later on when the larger story was in full swing.

    The sloppiness of the DVD makers bothered me particularly this episode since [Julie] Caitlyn Brown was credited instead of Mary Woronov who played Ko D'ath.

    More later. Hope some of you will join me? Even if you don't want to watch the entire run, I'm figuring on having a thread per season so you can jump in whenever you wish (even ahead of what I'm posting if you want).

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

  • #2
    The generic use of title sequences across an entire season becomes a real pain in season two, when Delenn's transformation is spoiled in the openings of both "Points of Departure" and "Revelations." What I would give to be in a position to re-do Babylon 5's DVD release with even a slight bit of attention to detail...

    Comment


    • #3
      I will attempt to do this if I get time... I never need much convincing to re-visit B5!
      Captain John Sheridan: I really *hate* it when you do that.

      Kosh: Good!

      Comment


      • #4
        And now for the much-maligned...

        Infection Original Air Date: Feb. 18, 1994

        Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say two mildly controversial things. 1) This isn't a bad episode at all and 2) The people who complain that Michael O'Hare was 'wooden' are nuts - I think perhaps they don't notice that much of the emotion he conveys is with his eyes and his voice rather than his mouth and hands.

        Yeah, there's a guy in a monster suit. But it's the first appearance of Marshall Teague (a really nice looking man out of prosthetics!!) and he did a nice job despite the handicaps of being cast as a generic kind of thug and then stuck behind a rubber mask. I didn't care for the reporter (or her acting) at all.

        Something I noticed this time around is that Richard Compton (or John Flinn) used some camera angles I don't think were common later on. For instance, there's a shot in C&C where the camera looks across the pit into Sinclair's office so that you notice the door on the back wall.

        The heart-to-heart talk between Sinclair and Garibaldi is definitely a favorite of mine. As well as the final interview.

        My only real complaint is that the whole 'racial purity' thing was used as a sledgehammer. Sure, it was the way that Sinclair defeated the Nelson/Ikarran but there were so many references to the Nazis and pro-Earth and Santayana that I just kind of want to say "Okay, I get it already!" It did do a good job of setting up the idea of organic technology, though.

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

        Comment


        • #5
          I'd recently seen Midnight on the Firing Line, so decided to re-watch Soul Hunter.

          A fun episode. Some of the soul hunter's dialogue is a tad on the over dramatic side, but I've developed a love for that type of thing anyway. Makes me smile every time. That said, it's far more nuanced a performance than Martin Sheen's ham-tastic turn in River of Souls.

          It was interesting seeing Ivanova this early on, and it made the transition her character undergoes all the more apparent. I like how straight laced and Russian she is here.

          Of course, some nice bits of foreshadowing going on at the end. 'Would you plan such a thing?'.

          Jan, agreed on the FX. The soul spheres looked great, although one thing I did note is that some of the footage on my DVDs looks a bit grainy and aged at times. I'm sure a cleaner transfer would be possible, but I somehow doubt that'll ever happen!

          I'm now sorely tempted to watch 'Infection' but need to go to bed otherwise I'll be a zombie at work tomorrow.
          Last edited by Ubik; 01-06-2013, 04:18 PM.
          Captain John Sheridan: I really *hate* it when you do that.

          Kosh: Good!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jan View Post
            1) This isn't a bad episode at all
            One of my favorites! Every time I watch it I think to myself, "how do people not like this?" I especially like Sinclair in this episode. He and Garibaldi have a great rapport too. You can really feel that these two characters have a genuine friendship.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JoeD80 View Post
              I especially like Sinclair in this episode. He and Garibaldi have a great rapport too. You can really feel that these two characters have a genuine friendship.
              Completely agree.

              Final episode for today:

              The Parliament of Dreams First aired: Feb. 23, 1994

              This is one of the reason why B5 is so much better than other shows - it varies the mood from one episode to the next. There's plenty of meat to this episode because we learn a lot about the other races, a lot about Sinclair and we even meet three new characters without the episode feeling like work.

              And it's fall-down funny in spots. While I know that Delenn's "Be somewhere else" speech is the #1 favorite quote, I think everybody loves "But in purple, I'm stunning! almost as well.

              Those little pieces of red fruit? Probably one of the biggest red herrings ever. I have no doubt that something might have come of the 'rebirth ceremony that also doubles as a marriage ceremony' if Sinclair hadn't been reassigned but as it was, it sparked endless speculation but never amounted to anything.

              Then end scene of all of the people of different faiths stretching out along the corridor? That one left me grinning ear to ear the first time I saw it. I'd seen enough SF to expect some way of weasling out of any demonstration from Earth so this solution was totally elegant. At the risk of crossing shows, I couldn't help but think of the Vulcan IDIC (infinite diversity in infinite combinations).

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

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ubik View Post
                Jan, agreed on the FX. The soul spheres looked great, although one thing I did note is that some of the footage on my DVDs looks a bit grainy and aged at times. I'm sure a cleaner transfer would be possible, but I somehow doubt that'll ever happen!
                DidnÆt know this until Ron (and Kevin) brought it up, but apparently the DP had a tendency to add a lot of grain to the shots. Which, of course, got blown up during the widescreen conversion of the 4:3 composited shots, so the visual noise for those scenes was even worse.

                On the off chance anyone finds this kind of stuff of interest, hereÆs a couple of quotes relating to a couple of things previously mentioned about Soul Hunter.

                Everett Burrell
                Some of the greatest English character actors appeared on the show and had tons of great stories. My favorite was William Morgan Sheppard as the Soul Hunter. While he was reading the script I asked him what he thought about it and he said ôMy boy it takes an English actor to make bad dialogue sound good." I never told J.M.S that, but it was pretty funny and very true about most American television.

                Paul Bryant
                Take the soul hunter in season 1 and those levitating spheres. Originally they were to be built as physical props and practical FX was going to rig them with integral lights and wire a bunch of them so they could be filmed floating in front of the Soul Hunter. Ron suggested to John Copeland that we could do the shot digitally. So we got the one and only (I think) sample sphere back to the shop in Valencia and created the model using Lightwave in less than half an hour (it was a sphere so not exactly difficult). When we got the plate (the filmed footage) we comped the whole thing together in Lightwave - we couldnÆt afford a Harry and didnÆt have a copy of After FX at the time. Ran the final shot onto Abekas Exabyte and sent it over to the post group for inclusion in the show.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Triple F, that William Morgan Sheppard quote is pure class. He does wonders with some occasionally very OTT dialogue. If there’s one thing JMS does both very well AND very badly, it’s dialogue. I think the actors all deserve credit for making the occasional bit of clunky dialogue work, especially Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas. Then again, they did get a lot of the best dialogue. Claudia Christian gets a lot of stuff that doesn’t quite seem to sit right with her acting style. I was never quite convinced that she was wholly suited to comic relief type lines, or maybe I just don’t always share JMS sense of humour!

                  Interesting to learn that the FX process sometimes grained up the footage a bit. I found all that stuff fascinating, so please keep posting anything of that ilk.

                  Jan, I will try and keep pace, but you are racing ahead. I can manage a few episodes a week. Regardless, the discussion will be fun. It’s always interesting discovering what people liked and disliked about individual episodes. Season one can be a bit bumpy in places, so this should be fun.
                  Last edited by Ubik; 01-07-2013, 01:57 AM.
                  Captain John Sheridan: I really *hate* it when you do that.

                  Kosh: Good!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Funny thing about the soul globes. There's a memo in Volume 2 of the script books about them. Apparently in a meeting with Ron Thornton and John Iacovelli there was some concern so JMS clarifies when practical props can be used and when CGI will be needed:

                    We will require CGI soul stones only twice: when one floats before the Hunter's face, and when they rise up to confront him at the very end. We need not see anyone touching them either time. We can handle these scenes in discreet shots. For instance: a hand holding the soul stone (prop); a shot of the Hunter's face; his face inches from the floating stone (CGI); the stone back in the Hunter's hand (prop).

                    In two cases it would be nice if we saw something within the soul stone, though it's only actually required in one scene, and that's the climactic moment with the Hunter.
                    I'll probably be slowing down considerably, Ubik. I want to enjoy this, not turn it into a sprint. Chalk this first spate down to to enthusiasm. I haven't done a full re-watch since doing the Joe Cuts for the script books. That was a really intense experience.

                    I'm also doing something I don't think I've done since I first got the DVDs - watching the promos. This early on, it's interesting to see the mix of episodes they took images from. And some of them are really funny once you know what's actually going on.

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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jan View Post
                      Those little pieces of red fruit? Probably one of the biggest red herrings ever. I have no doubt that something might have come of the 'rebirth ceremony that also doubles as a marriage ceremony' if Sinclair hadn't been reassigned but as it was, it sparked endless speculation but never amounted to anything.
                      Well, it does amount to something - it foreshadows the Valen story. The marriage part isn't important, but the rebirth is.

                      Then end scene of all of the people of different faiths stretching out along the corridor? That one left me grinning ear to ear the first time I saw it. I'd seen enough SF to expect some way of weasling out of any demonstration from Earth so this solution was totally elegant. At the risk of crossing shows, I couldn't help but think of the Vulcan IDIC (infinite diversity in infinite combinations).
                      It is, quite possibly, the most important scene in the entire series - a visual demonstration of the show's central principles.

                      A very good friend of mine is currently teaching a class on science-fiction and postcolonial studies; he started the first session by showing that scene.

                      Some of the greatest English character actors appeared on the show and had tons of great stories. My favorite was William Morgan Sheppard as the Soul Hunter. While he was reading the script I asked him what he thought about it and he said “My boy it takes an English actor to make bad dialogue sound good." I never told J.M.S that, but it was pretty funny and very true about most American television.
                      He seems to have liked the part, though. He's mentioned it as something he enjoyed several times, such as in this interview, where he says it's his favourite work in prosthetics.
                      Last edited by Jonas; 01-07-2013, 06:41 AM.
                      Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jan View Post
                        I'm also doing something I don't think I've done since I first got the DVDs - watching the promos. This early on, it's interesting to see the mix of episodes they took images from. And some of them are really funny once you know what's actually going on.

                        Jan
                        "Things blow up and people looked concerned as the station faces an indistinct threat the promo department didn't understand...on the next Babylon 5."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Triple F View Post
                          DidnÆt know this until Ron (and Kevin) brought it up, but apparently the DP had a tendency to add a lot of grain to the shots.
                          The film stock used on B5 (Kodak 5298) is particularly grainy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JasonDavis View Post
                            "Things blow up and people looked concerned as the station faces an indistinct threat the promo department didn't understand...on the next Babylon 5."
                            LOL! Ain't that the truth!

                            Well, it does amount to something - it foreshadows the Valen story. The marriage part isn't important, but the rebirth is.
                            That's something I've always wondered about. There's no mention of Valen in the Vol. 15 memo synopsizing all five years (the one that included a potential sequel). I've always wondered a bit when the idea for Sinclair's transformation ocurred to JMS and if this might have been a first seed in his mind when it turned out that Sinclair was to be replaced by Sheridan.

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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Isn't the rebirth referring to Delenn's coming transformation? She uses the line "and so it begins" which is the same line Kosh speaks to Sinclair once Delenn is in the Chrysalis.

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