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Why B5 Had Such a Tough Time Attracting Viewers

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  • Why B5 Had Such a Tough Time Attracting Viewers

    I just found this years-old reference to B5 on TVGuide.com and realized that they chose episodes at random to highlight. Not the best form of advertising. Who else would choose the five listed "Classic episodes?"

    Airs: Check local Listings.

    Premiered: February 22, 1993, on Syndicated

    Starring:
    Michael O'Hare (Jeffrey Sinclair)
    Richard Biggs (Franklin)
    Bruce Boxleitner (John Sheridan)
    Andrea Thompson (Talia)
    Claudia Christian (Ivanova)
    Jerry Doyle (Garibaldi)
    Stephen Furst (Vir)
    Bill Mumy (Lennier)
    Mira Furlan (Delenn)
    Peter Jurasik (Londo)
    Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar)
    Patricia Tallman (Lyta Alexander)

    Premise: In the year 2258, Cdr. Jeffrey Sinclair and his crew try to keep the peace on an intergalactic space station.

    5 Classic Episodes:

    Secrets of the Soul: Franklin uncovers a centuries-old mystery while pulling together data on inter-species diseases; and a meeting of the minds between Byron and Lyta also yields a puzzle.

    And the Sky Full of Stars: Sinclair (Michael O'Hare) is trapped inside a computerized reality, where he is tortured by mysterious figures from his past.

    Late Delivery from Avalon: Arthur, King of the Britons, on Babylon 5? That's the claim of a stranger (Michael York) who turns up aboard the station. Meanwhile, Sheridan looks for allies to help "in the ongoing defense of Babylon 5."

    Divided Loyalties: A telepath (Patricia Tallman) who worked on Babylon 5 suddenly returns with a message for Sheridan and his staff: "One of you is a traitor."

    Soul Mates: Londo must decide who will remain "by [his] side for future state affairs" after the Emperor grants him permission to divorce two of his three wives; Delenn asks Ivanova for help on a bad-hair day.
    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.

  • #2
    When B5 was new I thought TV Guide did a fair job of promoting the series.

    Where I live a local CBS affiliate bought the rights to show B5...which they did after midnight on Saturdays. Later they started moving it around the same as all syndicated shows. It was VERY difficult to find.

    I must admit, I took one look at Londo and decided the show would be dumb. I am so very, very grateful to a friend who told me good aspects of the show. I've been hooked ever since!
    Michael Malloy

    Never forget:

    Moscow; Beslan 2004
    Kosovo: 1999, 2004
    New York City: September 11, 2001
    Smyrna: September 9, 1922

    http://www.hri.org/docs/Horton/hb-title.html
    Armenian Genocide in Turkey: 1915-1917
    http://www.armenian-genocide.org/

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    • #3
      Oh, I hear you. I remember having the debate with my then-business partner about whether or not the show was worth watching after the pilot debuted. I thought the show was silly and "magic-dependent" (I was focussed on the rings that Delenn revealed) and i wasn't re-convinced until he made me watch the re-run of "And a Sky Full of Stars" (which remains a favorite to this day). THAT was when I knew I was hooked, but even to this day i don't pretend that (emotional attachments aside) it is even top 30, let alone top 5.
      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        Personally I hated Babylon 5 when it first came out because it pushed back Star Trek TNG to 11:30 on sat which was a lot harder to stay up for when I was in 6th grade it wasn't til I seen "call from the wilderness" that I started to like the show.
        "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand - strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOW - What a RIDE!"

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        • #5
          I started to watch Babylon 5 simply fot the reason that there were not much other Sci-Fi shows around. Trek, yes, but I wanted to watch something *new* and *fresh*. For quite a long time Babylon 5 wasn't my favourite show (that has been X-Files) though I was quite astonished by some of the details of the show, for example when G'kar rescued Catherine and did this ant - thing.

          Finally, I got hooked with "Babylon Squared". From that day on, I just wanted more, more, more!

          Comment


          • #6
            My first encounter with B5 was scan reading an American magazine at Victoria railway station. It played on Ivanova's nationality alot so I made the mistake of thinking B5 was a Russian made rip off of Star Trek. when Ch4 started showing it I still thought it was going to be a rip off of Star Trek TNG (which I couldn't stand because at the time that show had all the camp and nonsense of the original series, without the great story telling...it got better) Then a friend told me about the migration of souls, the weird invisible aliens that followed that guy around, and the tenticle things in space and being a HP Lovecraft fan I dutifully checked out the show from series 2 onwards. And then boy, oh boy was I hooked in.
            I have the wings for Bingo.

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            • #7
              I almost completely skipped even trying B5 because I'd gotten tired of starting to get engaged in series only to have them disappear without a trace. Based on reading about the 'novel for television', I watched a few episodes but nothing struck me. One week, though, my then-husband mentioned that if I cared at all about the show, I really needed to make sure to watch the encore presentation. I think that one was 'Signs and Protents'. Talk about truth in advertising! After that I was hooked.

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

              Comment


              • #8
                My wife and I watched the pilot and thought it was OK, but nothing to get excited about. After the long passage of time before the series began, we almost forgot about it. Then the series began and after missing the first ep we caught up with it again. We figured we'd give it a few weeks to get on its feet and decide after that whether to keep watching. Then the subversion began. There were little things popping up that promised so much more. Things like Sinclair and Garibaldi talking at the end of "Infection" and the ending of "Belivers". Without even realizing when it happened, we became hooked. Even so, it wasn't until "The Coming of Shadows" that we realized we should have been keeping the tapes all this time. That was a real slap-the-forehead moment. I think that's one of the reasons why it had a little more trouble gathering viewers. People had to be willing to give it at least 4 episodes in order to let those subversive hooks grab on to you.
                "That was the law, as set down by Valen. Three castes: worker, religious, warrior."

                Comment


                • #9
                  I really enjoyed the gathering but i think i hooked on straight away to the what the show was doing (maybe cos i was used to the subtle hints of an onging story from the then decent UK tv and maybe because it is what i had craved and craved from a tv show). I was 14 and followed it religiously (every sunday morning in fact =p) until it disappeared after the first series (or maybe i discovered alcohol - who knows ). suffice to say that after a year of drunken debauchery had passed and when i finally refound the 3rd series (thx ch4), i stopped viewing it on tv and went to the videoshop and rented the entire series from scratch like a good little fan )

                  I can completely understand why it didn*t attract viewers...
                  For me, if i watch something i watch it intently, lapping up every detail - i see it as a waste of my time any other way. But to a casual viewer, the implications of the series from the outset would have been missed. So maybe from that perspective the episodes individually would have seemed to lack the panache of the ST *upset and resolve the universe in an hour* syndrome. (Though at the time i was a bg trek fan too). Add in some state-of-the-art effects that were amazing at the time but also were non-comparible aesthetically to the model based effects of ST - and some *interesting* wigs and you have the less-concentrated viewer making rash judgements.....
                  (and of course the crazy programming schedule and lack of advertising)

                  btw if my punctuation sucks in my posts please forgive. i have a new laptop and its driving me CRAAAAAAAAAAZY!!! The pictures on the keys dont do as they are supposed to....
                  *edit that to 'punctuation marks', if my punctuation sucks, it is entirely all me
                  Last edited by LytaaaarGh; 12-17-2004, 08:12 AM.
                  One up for the angry Teep

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would see the commercials for B5, and something about the special effects seemed so computerized that it turned me off. I thought that since ST: TNGs effects looked much better, then clearly B5 was just the poor man's Star Trek. And I didn't understands why someone would have wacky hair like that. Talk about judging a book by it's cover.

                    It wasn't until last year that I gave B5 a chance. I had been turned on to JMSs writing through comics like Supreme Power, Rising Stars, and Midnight Nation. The credit that he was creator of B5 on all these comics never phased me, till one day, while discussing the comics, a friend offered to loan me Season 1 on DVD. I thought 'Why Not'... it was JMS, so maybe there was something there I should check out.

                    I watched it... rather begrudgingly. It was nice, nothing spectacular. 'And The Sky Full Of Stars' made me start watching the show with a bit more intensity. Then, at the end of 'Signs and Portents', when the Shadow ship first appears, I recall saying out loud "What the f--- was that??" and I was hooked.
                    "Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us..."

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                    • #11
                      "And the Sky Full of Stars" and "Divided Loyalties" could count as classics. But the rest of the TVguide list is not.
                      I would suggest the following:
                      "Endgame"
                      "Sleeping in Light"
                      "Messages from Earth/Point of No Return/Severed Dreams" (three episodes that really make one)
                      "Z'ha'dum"
                      "And All My Dreams Torn Asunder"
                      Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
                      James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)

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                      • #12
                        I didn't get into B5 until I watched it on DVD. -_-;; My Mom picked up Season 2 on DVD and I started watching it and it just clicked. Weird huh?
                        The most obvious, yet often overlooked medium for transmitting the message: http://www.planettribes.com/allyourbase/signs.shtml

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MulderLestatBlk
                          I didn't get into B5 until I watched it on DVD. -_-;; My Mom picked up Season 2 on DVD and I started watching it and it just clicked. Weird huh?
                          Not at all. JMS always said that he'd written the show knowing that eventually it would be 'stripped' in reruns, one episode per day, which would give a whole new perspective on it.

                          You, lucky thing, got to do it without commercials, too. I'm jealous!

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

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jan
                            Not at all. JMS always said that he'd written the show knowing that eventually it would be 'stripped' in reruns, one episode per day, which would give a whole new perspective on it.

                            You, lucky thing, got to do it without commercials, too. I'm jealous!

                            Jan
                            Funny thing is, I didn't watch Season 1 until just recently, heh. ^_^ And I still think B5 would make an awesome anime series...
                            The most obvious, yet often overlooked medium for transmitting the message: http://www.planettribes.com/allyourbase/signs.shtml

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I remember first hearing about B5 from Amiga magazines (I was - still am - a big Amiga fan). I think I first saw The Gathering on a Sunday afternoon on Channel 4 here in the UK and was struck by how atmospheric / gritty it was. Despite this, it was really only until midway in Season 2 that I started watching the series and was *incredibly* hooked!

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