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  • Babylon 5, Season 1, condensed

    Hi everyone,

    I'm thinking of showing B5 to some non-science fiction fans. I hope if I can get them past some of the weaker and less arc-significant episodes of the first season, they might come to like it.

    I found this article http://www.geek.com/geek-cetera/baby...piece-1613627/, but I think that condenses the first season a bit too much.

    On the other hand, I missed much of the first season during its initial airing, but thankfully did see the following essential Season 1 episodes right before Season 2 started:

    Signs and Portents
    A Voice in the Wilderness part 1
    A Voice in the Wilderness part 2
    Chrysalis

    My current plan is to show the following episodes from Season One ("Signs and Portents"):

    # Title
    1 Midnight on the Firing Line
    2 Soul Hunter
    3 Born to the Purple
    5 The Parliament of Dreams
    6 Mind War
    7 The War Prayer
    8 And The Sky Full Of Stars
    11 Survivors
    12 By Any Means Necessary
    13 Signs and Portents
    17 Legacies
    18 A Voice in the Wilderness part 1
    19 A Voice in the Wilderness part 2
    20 Babylon Squared
    21 The Quality of Mercy
    22 Chrysalis

    That's 16 out of 22 episodes (73%). Do you that's too many? Too few? Are there any episodes you would add to the list above, or cut? Please let me know. Thanks.

  • #2
    Tough, tough call because I love them all. I honestly think you should show them all, especially if you are going to watch it with them and will be there to answer questions or explain things. If you feel you must cut some out then all I can say is I think there are at least two you should add to the list.

    Deathwalker is critical because it goes back and establishes why Earth rose to power so quickly. It isn't really obvious about it, but it gives back story to why Earth became one of the big 5 races despite coming into contact with other races only recently by comparison.

    Believers is a big one because it establishes choices and conflicts the Command staff have to deal with running such a large community. TKO, Grail, and even Eyes also touch on these themes, but I think Believers does it best when it comes to those aspects. Of course Eyes does do a whole lot of pointing out that there is something behind Sinclair being appointed to his position, so there is that to consider. Plus it has Jeffrey Combs in it as a character I wish they had brought back at some point. Sorry, I really don't want to make it more difficult, but I just can't imagine skipping any myself especially if I am watching with the new viewers.

    I hope that helps in some fashion. I know you probably wanted to hear more to cut, but I can't imagine cutting any of them because they all have their own merits in their own ways. Like take Infection for instance. As I have said here before, I feel Infection suffers from trying to condense too much story into one TV episode. There is really an epic story behind that episode and I feel like it would have been awesome if it could have been fleshed out more as a two part episode or TV movie. Actually that is kind of true with many B5 episodes, but that could just be me being greedy and wishing there had been more.
    Susan Ivanova, "I'll be in the car."

    Comment


    • #3
      Alpha,

      I did a similar thing for one or two of my friends who were sceptical and it helped immensely. Once they're hooked in, they can always go back and re-watch if they so desire. Some folks will argue you need to watch everything, but I think the show (initially at least) can be a hard sell if you didn't see it at the time and in the context of what SF TV was back then.

      Your list looks pretty good to me. "Infection" is the one that made multiple friends switch off and never come back. Even I agree, that episode is just a real stinker. 'Eyes' is another one that suffers from chronic chewing of the scenery and over-acting. Just my humble opinion though.

      I would perhaps add in 'TKO' just because it's got a really great Ivanova B-Plot, plus you can have some fun with it... "look, look it's "Bloodsport" in space"! Plus the buddy cop vibes make it totally worthwhile if they can appreciate 80s/90s cheese. I try to make the cornier aspects of the show fun, in fact I think it's half the charm if taken in the right spirit.
      Last edited by Ubik; 02-07-2017, 02:24 AM.
      Captain John Sheridan: I really *hate* it when you do that.

      Kosh: Good!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Looney View Post
        Tough, tough call because I love them all. I honestly think you should show them all, especially if you are going to watch it with them and will be there to answer questions or explain things.
        Yes, I will be there to answer questions and explain things.

        Originally posted by Looney View Post
        Deathwalker is critical because it goes back and establishes why Earth rose to power so quickly. It isn't really obvious about it, but it gives back story to why Earth became one of the big 5 races despite coming into contact with other races only recently by comparison.
        That is true. But as I said, they aren't science fiction fans. So, I'm initially trying to maximize the human drama and minimize the outrageous sci-fi elements. So while "Deathwalker" gives the back story of the Dilgar war, it also has a guy with a funny hat and an exposed brain underneath.

        Originally posted by Looney View Post
        Believers is a big one because it establishes choices and conflicts the Command staff have to deal with running such a large community. TKO, Grail, and even Eyes also touch on these themes, but I think Believers does it best when it comes to those aspects. Of course Eyes does do a whole lot of pointing out that there is something behind Sinclair being appointed to his position, so there is that to consider.
        Those are good points, but from my perspective "Confessions and Lamentations" is similar to "Believers", i.e. medical drama with a twist ending, and does it better. As for pointing out there is something behind Sinclair's appointment that's done in an episode I've seen in my preliminary Season 1 rewatch (I can't remember which one right now) where Garlibaldi flat out tells Sinclair that the Minibari rejected every name on the command list until they got to his.

        Originally posted by Looney View Post
        I hope that helps in some fashion. I know you probably wanted to hear more to cut, but I can't imagine cutting any of them because they all have their own merits in their own ways.
        I do appreciate your input. Thank you.
        Last edited by alpha128; 02-07-2017, 06:58 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ubik View Post
          I did a similar thing for one or two of my friends who were sceptical and it helped immensely. Once they're hooked in, they can always go back and re-watch if they so desire. Some folks will argue you need to watch everything, but I think the show (initially at least) can be a hard sell if you didn't see it at the time and in the context of what SF TV was back then.
          I agree.

          Originally posted by Ubik View Post
          Your list looks pretty good to me. "Infection" is the one that made multiple friends switch off and never come back. Even I agree, that episode is just a real stinker. 'Eyes' is another one that suffers from chronic chewing of the scenery and over-acting. Just my humble opinion though.
          I didn't rewatch "Eyes" during my preliminary Season 1 review, but I knew I had to cut it because it mentions "Deathwalker" which also didn't make the cut.

          Originally posted by Ubik View Post
          I would perhaps add in 'TKO' just because it's got a really great Ivanova B-Plot, plus you can have some fun with it... "look, look it's "Bloodsport" in space"! Plus the buddy cop vibes make it totally worthwhile if they can appreciate 80s/90s cheese. I try to make the cornier aspects of the show fun, in fact I think it's half the charm if taken in the right spirit.
          Personally, I don't have a problem with "TKO", but since I've seen it on so many "Worst of Babylon 5" lists, I decided to not take any chances.

          Thanks for your input.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hmmmmmm . . . . As far as Deathwalker goes I can see you might just explain to new viewers how Earthforce rose to power. But I disagree that Confessions and Lamentations covers what Believers did. Yeah medical drama with a twist that both have religious overtones, but they are different animals. Plus Believers really establishes big character traits for Sinclair and Franklin. Plus it is great because it shows two main characters who are supposed to be on the same side at odds with each other over a crisis that is in a very grey area.

            Something else I find very interesting about Believers is what would Sheridan have done? I've always wondered if JMS would have been able to write this episode the same way if Sheridan were in charge. Say you take Believers and put it in the middle of Season 3, 4, or 5; would John Sheridan have been able to do what Sinclair did without the audience questioning that character making that move? And say we throw his relationship with Delenn into that mix and see how it effects the outcome? Oooooo now all I can think about is WWJSDISO - What Would John Sheridan Do In Season One?

            But now that I have that out of my system I would definitely not give your friends any summary of Believers. Save that as one they know nothing about so they can come back to it later. Just like they will want to do with Grail when they want to know Deuce's origin story after seeing Thirdspace.
            Susan Ivanova, "I'll be in the car."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Looney View Post
              Something else I find very interesting about Believers is what would Sheridan have done? I've always wondered if JMS would have been able to write this episode the same way if Sheridan were in charge. Say you take Believers and put it in the middle of Season 3, 4, or 5; would John Sheridan have been able to do what Sinclair did without the audience questioning that character making that move? And say we throw his relationship with Delenn into that mix and see how it effects the outcome? Oooooo now all I can think about is WWJSDISO - What Would John Sheridan Do In Season One?

              But now that I have that out of my system I would definitely not give your friends any summary of Believers. Save that as one they know nothing about so they can come back to it later. Just like they will want to do with Grail when they want to know Deuce's origin story after seeing Thirdspace.
              Believers is definitely a quality episode IMHO. I only really came to appreciate it on my recent re-watch. It's great in that it breaks all the rules, it does something a show like ST: TNG would have never done, it allows things to play out without a happy ending. For that, it deserves credit. As far as human drama goes, I'd say this one is very good.
              Captain John Sheridan: I really *hate* it when you do that.

              Kosh: Good!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Looney View Post
                I disagree that Confessions and Lamentations covers what Believers did. Yeah medical drama with a twist that both have religious overtones, but they are different animals. Plus Believers really establishes big character traits for Sinclair and Franklin. Plus it is great because it shows two main characters who are supposed to be on the same side at odds with each other over a crisis that is in a very grey area.
                I'm not saying that "Confessions and Lamentations" and "Believers" are clones of each other. I'm just saying that the two are similar, and I prefer "Confessions".

                Perhaps I prefer it because the stakes are higher in "Confessions" - our regular characters, not to mention an entire species, are threatened with death. In "Believers" it's just Shon who is fighting for his life.

                But I'll give "Believers" another watch to see if I change my mind.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by alpha128 View Post
                  Perhaps I prefer it because the stakes are higher in "Confessions" - our regular characters, not to mention an entire species, are threatened with death. In "Believers" it's just Shon who is fighting for his life.
                  Very true. All and all "Believers" is mostly about character development, so really it is just important with regard to knowing where the characters are coming from. "Confessions and Lamentations" is definitely a 'BIGGER PICTURE' episode, though I will say a complaint I have about what happens in that episode is that it isn't referenced enough in later episodes. It was such a big event there should have been more mentions of it in episodes down the road, i.e. Markab refugees and setting up a safe place for survivors to try save what was left, because they do reference that there are likely isolated pockets on other planets so all hope was not lost.

                  Personal note: I love talking about this stuff. Keep me posted when you start this screening alpha128. I just started a re-watch on the 24TH, but I am not too far in.
                  Susan Ivanova, "I'll be in the car."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Looney View Post
                    "Confessions and Lamentations" is definitely a 'BIGGER PICTURE' episode, though I will say a complaint I have about what happens in that episode is that it isn't referenced enough in later episodes.
                    The only later reference I can recall is when they blow up the Markab jumpgate to destroy a Shadow vessel.

                    Originally posted by Looney View Post
                    Personal note: I love talking about this stuff. Keep me posted when you start this screening alpha128. I just started a re-watch on the 24TH, but I am not too far in.
                    We've been watching "Person of Interest" (a more contemporary series in every sense) and we have only two episodes to go. After that, I hope it will be "Midnight on the Firing Line".

                    P.S. Although I do own "The Gathering", I don't want to start with that. I'm sure the cast changes and makeup changes from pilot to series would confuse them. I'll give them a little recap. And actually there's a nice little recap in "The War Prayer", which is one of the reasons it's on my list.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by alpha128 View Post
                      The only later reference I can recall is when they blow up the Markab jumpgate to destroy a Shadow vessel.

                      We've been watching "Person of Interest" (a more contemporary series in every sense) and we have only two episodes to go. After that, I hope it will be "Midnight on the Firing Line".

                      P.S. Although I do own "The Gathering", I don't want to start with that. I'm sure the cast changes and makeup changes from pilot to series would confuse them. I'll give them a little recap. And actually there's a nice little recap in "The War Prayer", which is one of the reasons it's on my list.
                      I really hope your friends enjoy B5. It's a gem of a show, but few people are willing to put in the effort initially, and the overall quality increase in modern TV with story arcs being the norm makes it harder to explain just how different B5 was. Of course, you can put it into context, but I have to concede that the 'novel for TV' is the norm now.

                      Gotta admit, I started out watching Person of Interest as a 'switch brain off' show, and boy did it surprise me in the later seasons. Was very attached to the cast when it concluded. If you have any thoughts when you finish up with that, there's a thread here.
                      Captain John Sheridan: I really *hate* it when you do that.

                      Kosh: Good!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ubik View Post
                        I really hope your friends enjoy B5. It's a gem of a show, but few people are willing to put in the effort initially.
                        Agreed. Hence, my desire to condense the first season.

                        Originally posted by Ubik View Post
                        Gotta admit, I started out watching Person of Interest as a 'switch brain off' show, and boy did it surprise me in the later seasons. Was very attached to the cast when it concluded. If you have any thoughts when you finish up with that, there's a thread here.
                        Thanks for the link. I didn't realize there was a POI thread on this board. I know how POI ends and posted some comments there.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When I used to try and get people hooked I usually asked them to give me 5 episodes, and it almost always worked! :-) While I understand your desire to give them what they need to move forward in the story, you might want to think about reducing the number. Get them hooked first, then go back and fill in the story elements needed for later. I did usually try to get them to do consecutive episodes.

                          You have more of a challenge than many since your friends isn't a Sci-Fi fan. Sadly, you're also facing a challenge due to the standards in production values today. People expect a lot more, especially lacking a hi-res version.

                          I'd be tempted to focus on the human stories where SF is more back ground. I was thinking about Survivors through Legacies with maybe Parliament of Dreams to kick it off as more of an introduction to who's who.

                          At any rate, just some thoughts.
                          "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by WorkerCaste View Post
                            When I used to try and get people hooked I usually asked them to give me 5 episodes, and it almost always worked! :-) While I understand your desire to give them what they need to move forward in the story, you might want to think about reducing the number.
                            OK. I reviewed this article (Babylon 5 condensed) again, and also looked at the A.V. Club grades for each episode on my initial list. This brings me to the following list of 12 out of 22 episodes (55%). What do you all think of this?

                            Season One ("Signs and Portents") - REVISED LIST

                            # Title Grade
                            1 Midnight on the Firing Line B
                            5 The Parliament of Dreams B+
                            6 Mind War B+
                            8 And The Sky Full Of Stars B+
                            12 By Any Means Necessary A-
                            13 Signs and Portents B
                            17 Legacies B-
                            18 A Voice in the Wilderness part 1 B+
                            19 A Voice in the Wilderness part 2 A-
                            20 Babylon Squared A
                            21 The Quality of Mercy B
                            22 Chrysalis A

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by alpha128 View Post
                              We've been watching "Person of Interest" (a more contemporary series in every sense) and we have only two episodes to go. After that, I hope it will be "Midnight on the Firing Line".
                              I love PoI. I have not yet seen the final season, not yet available here, but I am introducing it to a friend of mine, having a day of watching 6-10 episodes each month.

                              As soon as I can get my hands on a DVD/BluRay season 5 set playable here I will get to it.

                              Looking forward to your friend's reaction to B5. Your revised list is not bad at all, if you find that you *must* reduce it.
                              Jan from Denmark

                              My blog :

                              http://www.babylonlurker.dk

                              "Our thoughts form the Universe - they *always* matter"

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