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  • Kloreep
    replied
    Originally posted by NotKosh
    Um, you are wrong on some of this.
    Actually, we're both right. Yes, as you say and link to, he's stated the resolution of the Earth Civil War would have been moved to the fifth season, ending on a cliffhanger.

    And as I said, he only moved things up by four episodes to reign the conclusion back in from S5 to S4; if he had known there would have been a fifth season, the S4 finale would have been Intersections in Real-Time, what become the 18th episode of Season 4 rather than the 22nd. See http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-288...ions%20+%20418

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  • NotKosh
    replied
    Here we go
    http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-6929&query=season%205

    __________________________________________________ __________


    There's been a fair amount of speculation and concern about the fifth
    season, and how the story is laying out to handle the possibilities of
    renewal vs. no renewal. Though the ratings have continued to improve
    despite the shifts and changes in the syndication marketplace -- it's a
    very different market than it was when we first debuted -- nothing is
    certain yet about a fifth season. Some at WB say yes, some say no. My
    job is to pick my way through this minefield and make it all work, and
    assure the story ending where is was meant to end. So how does one do
    this?

    Here's the skinny.

    First, you have to understand that writing is a *process*, and that
    process is constantly changing. Ask any writer, and they'll tell you
    that many times they've been working on a short story, or a novel, and
    they have to edit for space. This applies to both fiction and
    nonfiction writers. Sometimes it's done by the writer, sometimes by
    the editor. On my second novel, the editor told me at the halfway mark
    that we'd have to keep the book down to 100,000 words, which was about
    75-100 pages less than I'd been planning on, so the story had to be
    adjusted to fit. As a journalist, I've often walked into the office
    with a story in hand and been told, "Okay, you've got 15 column
    inches," or 25 column inches, or 10 column inches...and you just learn
    to write to fit. Every writer goes through this.

    And in most cases, the average person never knows. Done properly, it
    should be seamless. Look at Stephen King's The Stand, cut by almost
    25% by the editors at first, then later released with all the ancillary
    material replaced. I've read both, and the latter is not appreciably
    better than the former...if you didn't know the material was there, you
    would never have missed it.

    This also happens on a per-episode basis. At LosCon, I showed a
    finished scene from 405, and the daily of the master shot of the same
    scene, which had another minute or so of material cut from the finished
    scene. We cut material all the time; if you added up all the material
    cut from the third season, you'd have enough for almost two episodes.
    And we often slide material from one episode into another; we slid
    Ivanova's scenes in 402 into 403, and another scene from 405 into
    406...we've done that in prior seasons as well. Sometimes you go back
    and you *add* material. Again, it's all part of the process.

    (Interestingly enough, I just bought the new laserdisk of "Young
    Frankenstein," which has about 15 minutes of material cut from the
    movie for time. I watched it the other night, and of those 15 minutes,
    13 were easily expendable...only one scene was fairly interesting, but
    not really necessary.)

    Okay, so how does all this relate to B5?

    My obligation as a storyteller is to get to the end of the story in a
    satisfying way. So after we got the year 4 renewal, and knowing that
    the PTEN business situation had the potential to impact us (when the
    network that supports you is no longer there, so now your entire
    structure is shot out from under you...you've got a problem), I looked
    at the structure for the story, and began planning adjustments so that
    it could go either way without padding anything, and without
    shortchanging the story.

    First thing I did was to flip out the stand-alones, which
    traditionally have taken up the first 6 or so episodes of each season;
    between two years, that's 12 episodes, over half a season right there.
    Then you would usually get a fair number of additional stand-alones
    scattered across the course of the season. So figure another 3-4 per
    season, say 8, that's 20 out of 44. So now you're left with basically
    24 episodes to fill out the main arc of the story.

    Now, that arc is very intensive, and has three primary threads: the
    resolution of the Shadow war, the situation regarding Earth, and a
    series of smaller sub-threads that feed off those main threads. But if
    you charge right from one to the other, it's going to feel rushed,
    you're going to need some breathing room between major movements,
    particularly after the shadow war. Not so much stand-alones as episodes
    that let you begin to rearrange your pieces for the next major
    movement. So now you're back up to about 27.

    Okay, so *now* what do you do? The solution to that came in several
    unassociated pieces.

    First came the word of the two B5 TV movies for TNT, which were
    envisioned as taking place within the arc of our main story. Suddenly
    I had 4 hours into which I could slide some of this material. One
    sub-thread I'd been planning on was a 3-episode arc that would look at
    how the Earth/Minbari War started, and Delenn's situation at the start
    of the war, joining the Council, that sort of thing. Now I was able to
    split that out. So in the series I can, in an episode, get into
    Delenn's role in the war and go into the background of how she got to
    know Dukhat, how she got into the Grey Council, and so on...all the
    stuff you'd need to see prior to the war. Then the two hours covering
    the rest, the progress of the war itself, could be covered in the
    two-hour movie.

    With the *benefit* that we'd have a little more money for the movie
    than we would for two conventional hours, so we could do *more* in the
    way of EFX, production value, and so on, which you're going to need to
    really sell the E/M war. So strangely enough, and as tends to happen,
    this has put us in the position of doing it *better* than if I'd
    dropped it into two standard-budget episodes, as was my original plan.

    Another sub-thread wouldn't have been introduced until late in year 5,
    in part to set up the possibility of a sequel (which, as I've stated
    from the very earliest days of the show, was always in the back of my
    head) and which would stand on its own in any event; a thread designed
    to illustrate the notion that the duration tends to be a lot longer
    than the war. (You'll understand that one later.) That sub-thread
    would've filled about 3-4 episodes.

    Now, again, having the second 2-hour movie lets me slide that piece of
    story into that category and cover nearly all of that ground in doing
    so. The remaining material could (and will, one hopes) be covered in
    the actual sequel itself. (If the sequel never ends up going, the
    material will be sufficiently stand-alone to still work on its own.)

    Then, finally, you take the stand-alones you pulled out earlier (which
    nobody would miss, not knowing what was in them), and the final couple
    of sub-threads (not yet introduced or implied in the main series) and
    slide them into the sequel series, CRUSADE.

    So if we *had* to collapse everything into a fourth year, it would all
    fit perfectly. If word came that there *was* going to be a fifth year,
    you commission some scripts early, drop some of the stand-alones back
    into the slot, and bring up the sub-threads that would otherwise have
    been transferred into the sequel.

    Bottom line is...you're covered either way. You end up where you
    wanted to end up, the main threads get dealt with, secondary or
    tertiary threads have other venues in which they can be dealt
    with...you're solid.

    There's nothing particularly extraordinary or amazing in this...this
    is how all writers work, since there are always going to be varying
    constraints in length or venue. Writing is a process, and that process
    is such that it is infinitely variable while still proceeding where you
    want it to go.

    So that's where I am currently. If I know the fate of the fifth year
    by late February or early March, I can then flip either way and get out
    cleanly. Worst case scenario is that I might have to write alternate
    scenes or alternate endings for scenes in the last few episodes if the
    word comes much later than that, just to give me the flexibility to
    adjust the story in editing, which would definitely take place after we
    wrapped, at which time we have to have word by contract.

    None of this could've been done in three seasons...we had to have a
    minimum of four to give us the flexibility of cutting either way.
    There's no point to reading a book that leaves you hanging for an
    ending, and B5 was meant to have an ending. At this juncture,
    finishing off script 15, I feel very comfortable with the way all this
    is laying out. The flow is there, and I know we'll get where we need
    to. No matter what happens, we're covered. We can handle year 5
    without padding, and handle year 4 without shortchanging the
    storyline. Granted it took only slightly less planning than the
    invasion of Normandy, but it works, and that's the crucial thing.

    Anyway...I've gone on for longer than I'd intended. I hope that this
    will answer some of the questions and concerns raised about the
    situation, and explains how you do some of the planning for this kind
    of thing. Again, this online experiment is about letting people
    understand the process of telling a story like this, and of making a TV
    show in general. As I've noted before, telling a story of this nature
    for television, with all the exigencies and real-life surprises
    involved, is like doing an elaborate step-dance while people are
    throwing live chickens and chainsaws at you...but I knew that would be
    the situation going in, and it was only a matter of whether or not the
    story was worth the grief involved in telling it.

    And it most definitely has been.

    jms

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  • NotKosh
    replied
    Originally posted by Kloreep

    Edit: And now that I've got to the end, don't get me started on the common, and mistaken, statement that JMS collapsed a whole season in to 4 and threw things together for Season 5. It was just 4 episodes, people... if the Byron arc is bad, it's simply because it's bad.
    Um, you are wrong on some of this.
    I remember reading in a JMS post, that if he had known he would have had 5 years, then the resolution of the taking back Earth thread, and possibly the minbari civl war, would have happened in S5. If you think about it, the last half of S4 is pretty intense, there are no fluff episodes in there. That is usually not the case. He spaces out the arc episodes with non-arc episodes.
    Compare any of the other season and how they are constructed.

    He also pulled out all the stops to resolve everything, so that if there was no S5, the story was resolved. How many loose strings were dangling at the end of S4? Knowing JMS, he would have kept them going through S4 and into S5.

    EDIT: OK, he did move the Earth Civil War resolution from S5 to S4
    http://jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-10606&query=season%205
    Last edited by NotKosh; 03-15-2005, 12:21 PM.

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  • Paul
    replied
    I don't know how many watch the Nu Battlestar Galactica but EJO's Adama reminds me alot of Sinclair.

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  • Joseph DeMartino
    replied
    Originally posted by tvih
    A quick search on the subject didn't really give an answer, so can some B5 sage enlighten me?
    While the coffee bean business was a transplant from Takishima to Ivanova, there was a point when JMS had envisioned both characters being on the show at the same time, much as he thought of adding a Sheridan-like character beginning in season two to serve alongside Sinclair and divide the hero role between them, somewhat like Frodo and Aragorn do in The Lord of the Rings. Ivanova would have been Takishima's junior, in something like the role later played by Lt. Corwin, before being promoted as her replacement.

    (JMS knew that Tamlyn Tomita was seriously pursuing a career in film, and assumed that he wouldn't be able to keep the actress more than a season or two, so he intended her to be the one with the artificial personality implant and the one who shot Garibaldi - or at least arranged the shooting. Ivanova - "a rather dour Russian woman" - would have been waiting in the wings to replace her.)

    When Warner Bros. failed to come to terms with Tomita (as with Pat Tallman) JMS made a virtue of necessity and activated Ivanova sooner and introduced Talia and Franklin (in the case of the doctor because JMS and WB agreed after screening the pilot that a younger doctor would work better.) As Jan noted that meant that all three people who had seen the "real" Kosh were transferred off the station within weeks, adding to the mystery. (Sinclair himself never did see the real Kosh, since it was the assassin, not Sinclair, who greeted him at the airlock.)

    It is true that Takishima's departure was never directly addressed in the on-screen dialogue as Dr. Kyle's (heading Xenobiological Research on Earth and advising the president) and Lyta's (returned to Psi Corps HQ Mars) are. (The closest anyone comes to talking about Takishima's absence is Garibaldi's remark to Ivanova when she's looking for Sinclair, "Oh, that's right. You're new.") I don't think this was deliberate, just a matter of time pressure and where/how to establish her absence for an audience largely made up of people who had never seen the pilot in the first place. JMS may well have written a line or two somewhere that ended up being cut, either at the script stage or in the final edit of an episode.

    He did post a message at some point about Laurel being assigned to a secret mission and his hope that they'd be able to have her return for a story involving what she was up to after she left B5, but that obviously never happened. I suspect he planned to get her mixed up with Earth's efforts to exploit and reverse-engineer Shadow technology, perhaps the creation of the hybrid Shadow ships that Ivanova later encountered, or even the Warlock-classs ships derived from them. Since the original plan was for Ivanova to choose command of B5 instead of command of the destroyer Titans , it is possible that JMS's first idea for what became the short story "Hidden Agendas" involved Capt. Takishima of the EAS Titans rather than Capt. Ivanova.

    Regards,

    Joe

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  • Jan
    replied
    Originally posted by tvih
    Erm, maybe a silly question but I've always wondered where the heck Takashima disappeared to?
    I have a vague memory of JMS noting how 'interesting' it was that most of the folks involved in the Gathering and who might have knowledge of what was inside Kosh's encounter suit had been transferred/called back to Earth. Except Sinclair, of course, who we later learned had been chosen as commander by the Minbari.

    Can't say I can find it right now myself, though. I'll keep an eye out.

    Jan

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Erm, maybe a silly question but I've always wondered where the heck Takashima disappeared to? The series itself, as far as I've noticed, didn't explain why Ivanova replaced her (not that I'd be saying she shouldn't have or anything, just wondering the lack of explanation of any kind)? And looks like a part of Takashima was carried on to Ivanova, with the "unauthorized" coffee bean growing and such. A quick search on the subject didn't really give an answer, so can some B5 sage enlighten me?

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  • Jan
    replied
    Originally posted by alex_t
    Lucky one! You have the bible!
    <irresistible brag> No, I have the bible autographed by JMS. </irresistible brag> Sorry....

    Okay, here's the part that seemed to transfer from Lyta to Talia:

    Not to put too fine a point on it, Lyta is wrapped pretty tightly. And could well unravel if pushed too far in the wrong direction. We will do a little of that, and play with an unexpected expansion of her abilities.
    Jan

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  • alex_t
    replied
    Originally posted by Jan
    So it's perfectly possible that she didn't want to leave AND that she requested to leave anyway.
    Well, on the second thought may be she's just chose to act strange way? Afterall, who knows how tips really behave.
    Plus she's really good in "24" (and that's in traditional style of acting).

    Part of the description of Lyta in the B5 bible seemed to relate to Talia. I'll look it up when I get home.
    Lucky one! You have the bible!

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  • Jan
    replied
    Originally posted by alex_t
    And actually, despite what I wrote above - I still think that the main reason for killing Talia was the fact, that Andrea Thompson is just a bad actress. She looks great, but acts very unnatural.
    I also remember her comment on DVD - she said that if she HAD to leave the role, AT LEAST she did it interesting way. It sounds as she did not wanted to leave.
    What she said at a convention last year is that she requested to be released because she'd discovered that her son wasn't doing well in school (reading, I believe) and that she needed, as a mother, to be able to spend more time with him.

    So it's perfectly possible that she didn't want to leave AND that she requested to leave anyway.

    Part of the description of Lyta in the B5 bible seemed to relate to Talia. I'll look it up when I get home.

    Jan

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  • alex_t
    replied
    Originally posted by Ranger1
    Not exactly,if my memory serves me right the traitor was Laurel Takashima,and then when she was replaced by Ivanova,it was Ivanova who was the traitor,but JMS switched that cus she had many fans on the show...or something like that.
    Nope, JMS always denied that Ivanova was a planned traitor. He said that he thought that everyone will assume that Ivanova will get the traitor plot along with the rest of Takashima functions - so he decided to change it (smack us from behind ). So Talia was traitor from the very beginning (for example already in her first episodes she says "I don't feel like a victim" - but she is).

    And it seems to me, that actually the traitor plot was split between Garibaldi's aide and Talia - in different ways of course.

    Garibaldi's aide finished what Laurel started, and Talia got personality implant what Laurel should have.

    And actually, despite what I wrote above - I still think that the main reason for killing Talia was the fact, that Andrea Thompson is just a bad actress. She looks great, but acts very unnatural.
    I also remember her comment on DVD - she said that if she HAD to leave the role, AT LEAST she did it interesting way. It sounds as she did not wanted to leave.

    P.S. Anyway, specilation about OH-SO-POSSIBLE Babylon 5 story twists are endless. For example I have two complete alternative arcs in my mind - both for the case if Sinclair would stay in the series

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  • LytaaaarGh
    replied
    don't know about on the commentary, but he certainly said that Laural and then ivanova were the original sleepers in the 'creating babylon 5' book

    *edit 'certainly* to *pretty sure'*
    Last edited by LytaaaarGh; 02-21-2005, 06:23 AM.

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  • Ranger1
    replied
    Originally posted by cornholio1980
    Now we know that Talia's traitor storyline wasn't simply added to get her out - JMS stated in many occasions that she had always been the traitor.
    Not exactly,if my memory serves me right the traitor was Laurel Takashima,and then when she was replaced by Ivanova,it was Ivanova who was the traitor,but JMS switched that cus she had many fans on the show...or something like that.

    I think JMS stated that on the Gathering DVD commentery,if someone can check it would be cool,im not at home atm

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  • cornholio1980
    replied
    Originally posted by Kloreep
    if the Byron arc is bad, it's simply because it's bad.
    No, it's because Claudia Christian left...

    Concerning this topic: Some interesting speculation! After reading the aforementioned site "B5 that never was" I'm also pretty sure that War without End would have been the Series Finale, with Delenn now being Sinclairs Wife after Catherine went to Z'ha'dum. Still, I think that "SiL" even then was planned to take place some time in the future - since I somehow have my doubts that JMS would have killed of the Station at the end of the "5 year arc" already...

    Concerning the "telepath problem" of B5, JMS had to change his story even twice. I somehow have the feeling that if Lyta had stayed from the beginning, she would have left for Vorlon space at the end of season 1 - which I see as rather fitting, since while she left in pursuit of the Vorlons, G'Kar has left to find the Shadows.

    Probably one of the smoothest cast changes was the 2. change of telepaths, with Talia's leaving accompanied by Lyta's return. Now we know that Talia's traitor storyline wasn't simply added to get her out - JMS stated in many occasions that she had always been the traitor. But I think it's safe to assume that if Andrea Thompson would have stayed, they would have been able to restore her original personality with the "reflections" that were recorded in the episode "Deathwalker".

    Anyway, while I think that it's really fun to speculate about how things would have turned out, I have to finish with stating that except the Telepath Arc in Season 5, I am very happy with the way things turned out.

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  • grumbler
    replied
    Originally posted by Kloreep
    I think JMS has said he introduced Keffer at WB's request for a "hot-shot pilot" and always planned to kill him off at the end of the season.
    I think that is less strong than JMS put it. He stated that he wanted to kill off the charactor at the first opportunity (nothing against the actor, but the style of the charctor did not fit B5). So it was written, so it was done.

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