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Quality, Sci-Fi and Babylon 5 as an example

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  • Isis Black
    replied
    i was into Start Trek too well apart from Voyager oh dear that was a bit off the only really good thing about that was Chekotay!!

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  • Doktor
    replied
    Originally posted by Isis Black
    my boyfrined (who is now my hubby) wasnt interested at the time, he was well into Star Trek
    You knew he was into Trek and yet you still married him?!? Love truly does know no bounds

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  • Isis Black
    replied
    not exactly new!! signed up ages ago made a cople of posts then had my youngest so she sort of took up my time!!

    but it is nice to be back here though!!!

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  • jal
    replied
    Originally posted by Isis Black
    blimey i remeber watching B5 when it all first started on channel 4!!!
    you and me both!

    welcome to the forum.

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  • Isis Black
    replied
    blimey i remeber watching B5 when it all first started on channel 4!!! my boyfrined (who is now my hubby) wasnt interested at the time, he was well into Star Trek but i must say i loved it riht from the begining, ok it was a little wooden but it was still fun and different. My hubby got into it once i started to get them all on video (now replacing with DVDS) so he now loves it all!!
    I do like alot of sci fi and think B5 and DS9 are the best so far in my opinion!!
    When B5 started over here we had 3 diffrerent sci fi series start at the same time!! B5, DS9 and Sea Quest, never really got into sea quest thought it was a big pile of POO but DS9 i did enjoy too probably as it was sort of on the same line as B5 with on going stories
    Crusade i loved to as i found Galen really funny and with his dry wit was wonderful my fave episode being (i cant remeber the name) but it was one with a race taking body parts and Galen sent a holgram of himself down he was sooo funny!!
    Legend of the Rangers well it was ok and could have possibly got better with time but unfortunalty wasnt given the time

    ok i am going on and not getting far now!!! never mind

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  • Capt.Montoya
    replied
    Originally posted by Sigma
    First, let me say that Babylon 5 (along with Farscape) is my favorite SciFi and TV series.

    But it's also far from perfect. Some people said here that B5 is "unique" or "what scifi should be about"...to me that is total crap. In a way every book or every piece of art is unique.

    What B5 is to me? JMS is great "worldbuilder" and that for me is B5 biggest strenghts. Maybe thats why Telepath trilogy is my favorite B5 novel. Total opposite is Farscape. All about John-Aeryn and no backstory. I love both shows.
    I agree for the most part, except that I don't think Farscape was only about John and Aeryn (though it did concentrate on that, sometimes too much). I have to note that Farscape did have backstory (the Peacekeeper-Scarran conflict, the Nebari, Scorpius, the "healers," the Leviathans and their Pilots, etc.) and did devote some good episodes to other characters.

    But... the background stuff in Farscape is neither as good nor as consistent as in B5. Which is to be expected, because B5 was planned from the beginning, while Farscape was being written and developed as it was filmed.

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  • sketh
    replied
    I think that the real strength of sci-fi and what is key to b5's succes is the ability of a sci-fi show (if it chooses) to take very real human issues that everyone can relate to in some form or another then transplant these into a unfamilar setting. This, i think, helps in exploring the issues with greater understanding and meaning because they are free from the general baggage associated with them in more "conventional" fiction.

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  • Jan
    replied
    KaCHING64, WillieStealAndHow,

    Welcome and thank you both for posting. I love reading how people discovered the show. Thanks for delurking to tell us.

    As you both noted, B5 is the product of all of the people involved, not JMS alone. While the stories and scripts are great, the dedication of the crew and cast really raised it from a fairly low budget show to one that's enduring and gaining fans years later.

    I always thought it was cool that JMS also encouraged them to interract online with the fans, too. A long time ago (in a nearby universe <g>) on the AOL B5 forums, one of our favorite posters was Matt , one of the set painters. He'd come on and tell hilarious stories of floors and blue screens and fun everyday things. As I've emailed folks in search of scripts, each has expressed that working on B5 was a positive and/or rewarding experience for them. Nice folks.

    Hope now that the ice is broken you'll be posting more.

    Jan

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  • David Panzer
    replied
    Now I already know what some of the seasoned veterans of this board are saying right now...Dang it, not another newbie's first post. I've been a lurker here for almost a year, but lost and forgot my password and username. Now, hopefully a not-too-long first post on here.

    I was in high school when Babylon 5 first aired, and I passed over it. I watched some of DS9, but mid-way through the second season lost interest in it since I liked the original series and Next-Gen. Voyager bored me after the first few episodes, so my sci-fi viewing was mostly Twilight Zone and Outer Limits reruns when they were on and staying up till the small hours to catch some MST3K before the station switched to C-Span. Yes, my cable company had it half Comedy Central and half C-span.

    Skip to college, and my friend introduced me to Babylon 5. I then proceeded to kick myself for passing over a great series, but alas, he graduated shortly after. Skip ahead to April 2003, when I purchase Season 1 and 2 on DVD. I wanted to get B5 on DVD, but I wanted a double piece on my first go. Since then, I own the other 3 seasons, the TV-movie set, but still unsure about Crusade.

    What hooked me onto B5 was a realistic portrayal of the future. It wasn't a utopian type future as shown in Star Trek (which I still enjoy but has moved to strictly the original series), nor a pessimistic outlook of the future as some recent sci-fi films have portrayed. It showed a future that can actually come to pass, but still leave hope for something better. A future that had the necessary technological advancements over today's, but left me thinking that maybe some of them either exist in some sense, or either in planning stages or in the minds of the unborn generations.

    Yes, all that and the episodes...well they were damn good. I was familiar with JMS' work as having read the Rising Stars comics (well, those that had been released except for the last 3 issues) and his work on Amazing Spiderman. JMS thankfully never dumbed down the show, he knew that the audience had brains and made use of that biological fact. There were quite a few times where I thought things were figured out , then I was left on the floor wondering what the hell had just happened. Great scripts combined with the great talents of the cast and the hard work of the crew made a series that is still better than a majority of what you find on television, except when my favorite sports teams play (Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, and University of Michigan football).

    Thanks for reading to those who chose to. Hope you liked. Not the best but I was honest

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  • KaCHING64
    replied
    Joining the fray and delurking to respond to this post (which was nicely written and with which I concur) - please pardon a newbie for a word or two...

    There is no question that quality is the key ingredient to the success of Babylon 5. It begins with the writing, is enhanced by the skill and dedication of the crew, effects and post work, but the cast brings it home.

    Admittedly, it was initially difficult for me to get past some of the makeup and modular sets. Especially when being fed a steady diet of Star Trek TNG visuals which were consistently motion picture quality (but at a production cost nearly 4 times that of B5). However, it was the writing and acting that shined above all. The universe JMS has created is so rich and epic in texture and scale.

    There are very few shows in the history of television that have that high level of writing, casting, production, and acting quality. None come to mind that fall into the Sci-Fi genre that are even close to what B5 achieved. In the non-Sci-Fi world, the first four seasons of The West Wing come to mind. Aaron Sorkin's brilliance coupled with a stellar cast brought a similar level of quality and intelligence to the screen. I would also offer that M.A.S.H. was another show of similar quality.

    Adding an additional dimension to the enjoyment of the B5 universe for me is JMS's willingness to address his fans and critics head-on. His passion, intelligence, and humor are extremely charismatic. I find it refreshing that he tasks people to "show their work" and holds them to it. There is true integrity there that is easy to respect. I am appreciative of the time he takes to interact with his fans and critics.

    Having just acquired the Crusade set (and dutifully purging the old VHSs I dubbed from the Sci-Fi channel marathons), I have now completed my set of the B5 universe DVD boxed sets. I am wondering if there are any plans to release Legend of the Rangers on DVD anytime soon.

    I am particularly impressed with Jan's script collection. I am somewhat of a collector myself and have a complete collection of the toys made for the show (action figures, dolls, micromachines, etc.). Though they don't seem to command much of a price in the marketplace these days (save for the lone Shadow figure), they are priceless to me.

    Lastly, I just wanted to express my personal gratitude to JMS for the world he created. I have been both moved and entertained. Up until just a few months ago, before a recent shift to the biotechnology world, I was employed in the entertainment industry for 15 years in various finance roles; first for a major studio for 8 years before moving to post-production companies. It afforded me a much closer look than the average fan would get at seeing how things are done and what they cost. Having this background gave me a much more heightened appreciation for the B5 universe.

    Thanks for reading,

    KaCHING64

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  • grumbler
    replied
    Good points, Sigma. I think what made B5 so good, among other things, is that JMS planned for how and when it would end. Not many TV types have that luxury or inclination.

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  • elver
    replied
    Amen to that!

    Leave a comment:


  • Sigma
    replied
    First, let me say that Babylon 5 (along with Farscape) is my favorite SciFi and TV series.

    But it's also far from perfect. Some people said here that B5 is "unique" or "what scifi should be about"...to me that is total crap. In a way every book or every piece of art is unique.

    What B5 is to me? JMS is great "worldbuilder" and that for me is B5 biggest strenghts. Maybe thats why Telepath trilogy is my favorite B5 novel. Total opposite is Farscape. All about John-Aeryn and no backstory. I love both shows.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jan
    replied
    Re: Re: Quality, Sci-Fi and Babylon 5 as an example

    Originally posted by Von Bruno
    Just because they are often forgotten, I would add in all the production folk who did quality work from set design and construction to costumes to everything else that gave "Babylon 5" its distinctive look and feel. A show like this is just such a team effort to pull off that ALL involved, in my opinion, deserve a standing ovation.
    Very true, Von Bruno. I've been lucky enough to catch some glimpses into some of the details as I've collected various B5 items. Mainly, of course, is the scripts. Seeing ones from different departments is fun. One concentrates on props - how many security set-ups and PPGs or what-have-you are needed for a scene, one does rough sketches in meetings about certain screens or equipment needed. Even some highlighting when doors open or close! Then there were the 'white models' of the sets that show which pieces were 'wild' or moveable, blueprints and recently production sketches. Lots and lots of talented people really worked hard to bring us B5.

    Jan

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  • Von Bruno
    replied
    Re: Quality, Sci-Fi and Babylon 5 as an example

    Originally posted by Omega_46
    I believe that above all it was the quality of the writing, in addition to the ability of the actors to pull off these very unconventional parts that finally won me over.
    I agree. Between the writing and actors, I believe, a wonderful chemistry was created.

    Just because they are often forgotten, I would add in all the production folk who did quality work from set design and construction to costumes to everything else that gave "Babylon 5" its distinctive look and feel. A show like this is just such a team effort to pull off that ALL involved, in my opinion, deserve a standing ovation.

    I began to realize how complex this show's writing was. Plots, within plots, within plots within plots...with sometimes the two or three small stories in each episode linking into larger multiplex dramas, linking into still larger season long and series long plots.
    My rather simple theory is that the very nuances of this show made it clear that there was a direction and purpose here. That TPTB's were telling a very defifinte and deliberate story. It was, for the most part, not a meandering affair (it meandered a bit in S5 but aside from that it generally stayed "on message").

    JSM's aliens were also amazing in how different they were from earlier alien 'stereotypes'. From the Vorlon to the Shadows, we began to realize that perhaps aliens would not just look different but think differently also.
    Again, I agree. There was a depth and complexity to many of the aliens of the show. What made the series a bit more unique was that humanity was not the "top-dog." Our sense of leadership came from the dynamic charcters of Sinclair and Sheridan with the Minbari lending weight and credibility to their position. Earth, as it was, was pretty much just another player.

    It asked deeper questions than many realized, not just about the series but about our world as well. And unlike certain other sci-fi shows Babylon 5 didnÆt try to depend on T&A for audience appeal.
    This, to me, is not so accurate. Many sci-fi shows have been used to make commentary on society and its ill (or at the very least give us something to ponder).

    Jon Pertwee's 'Doctor' (in the long running "Doctor Who" series, for example), for example, was very conscious about the evironment and conservation related issues. Sure they used the fantastic to make a point but other shows have effectively communicated larger issues. So, on this point, I must say that I believe that JMS was upholding a proud tradition of the genre (and refrain from slighting any other creations).

    From the Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone to Star Trek: TOS and Doctor Who up through Star Trek: TNG and Babylon 5 this ideal of appealing to folks higher brain functions has been a proud stapple that we Sci-Fi fans can justify our love of the genre.

    Overall Babylon 5 is what more sci-fi should be about, excellent writing, good actors, and truly æalienÆ aliens. One hopes that JSM can produce more of this type of world class entertainment in a world where studio executives seem intent on only providing shows that appeal to 13 y/oÆs.
    Again, my theory on this point is more basic and rudimentary. I feel folks want a well written show with a sense of purpose and direction. It doesn't have to be a preconcieved novel-for-TV per se, however, it has to know where it wants to go and have a general sense of how it intends to get there. I do agree that Joe raised the stakes with "Babylon 5" and led to an evolution of expectation.

    ... and that's my two cents.

    Leave a comment:

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