Eighties and Nineties Message Board >> View Thread

Author
Superman's Pal

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,624




Babylon 5 - Season One (1993-1994)

I've tried to get into this show before. I remember when the pilot movie ran as part of the PTEN package, can't remember if the regular seasons were part of that too (I was a big fan of Time Trax). My friends got into it and I never did. When it was repackaged for TNT in the final season I tried to get into it again, I think they marathoned the whole series and did that little "In the Beginning" movie to try to bring newcomers up to speed. I still didn't get into it. I sort of got into the spinoff Crusade but that was twice-screwed by the network and cancelled quickly. I tried once more when B5 made it to the Sci-Fi Channel and was billed as being returned to the glorious widescreen it was always intended as, although the chat boards said they screwed that up, lost the original films, and had to crop down the full screen version which is why half the time people's heads are cut off. I remember making it past the first season but not very far. Not sure why it never took for me. Now I've got the DVDs, I think based on that butchered widescreen. Heads are cut off. The space CGI looks pretty bad, and I don't mean that as a knock against the technology of the time which is limited, to be sure, but it also looks like it's been blown up for widescreen and it is highly pixelated. It hardly looks like an official release at times. But none of that hurts the story, and this time I am determined to make it through. I made it through 2003 Battlestar Galactica, I can make it through this.

It's the year 2258. Humans have ventured out into space and met up with alien races the Minbari, Centauri, Narn, Vorlons, and a League of Non-Aligned Worlds that I guess can supply any random alien of the week as needed. They have come together to create the Babylon space station which they sometimes refer to as being the size of a small country. Its intended purpose is to provide a common space for the races to work out their differences. Someone doesn't like that so the first three Babylon stations were blown up and the fourth somehow vanished never to be seen again. It's like that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the father talks about building castles that kept sinking into the swamp until finally the last castle didn't sink.

The pilot movie introduces the main players; Captain Sinclair is the human commander of Babylon 5, the rest of the races have ambassadors which meet with him in a council every so often. The movie tells us two important things: first, the Vorlons have never been seen in their true form so they wear clunky "encounter suits" to hide themselves, and second that humans are the only race, I think, that have naturally occurring telepaths. The telepaths are all assigned to Psi-Corps which is a special branch of Earthgov. The plot for the movie has Kosh, the Vorlon ambassador, being poisoned so the doctor has to look beneath his suit to cure him, which provides a nice explanation later when the doctor character was recast (he had to be removed from his position after breaking the taboo).

The season continues and a couple of other characters are recast. We get a new telepath, with Talia replacing Lyta. A new second in command with Ivanova replacing Takashima. And the new Dr. Franklin. Michael Garabaldi was there from beginning, the head of station security. He seems like a tough TV cop when he has to be and cracks jokes the rest of the time, but sometimes his jokes come at inappropriate times and there seems to be something off about the character.

Londo Mollari, the Centauri ambassador, seems like the most well-rounded character. His humor comes from being an old man who no longer sweats the small stuff. He's seen it all and is somewhat content to remain a fat cat in a position of privilege that doesn't work too hard most of the time but is a tough negotiator. Not too hard to see why he's in most of the episodes. Even though he does an accent that no one else from his race seems to have, and does not belong to the actor either.

G'Kar, the Narn ambassador, is part of a warrior race that are warriors mostly because they were once enslaved by the Centauri and had to fight for freedom. He only appears in a handful of episodes throughout the season and is mostly played for laughs, which seems a little odd.

Delenn of the Minbari is very spiritual and often advises Sinclair on a course of action but soon the backstory tells us that they are also fierce warriors and were Earth's first contact in space and they fought a war with Earth that they would win easily until they decided to surrender to Earth for reasons unknown. That secret starts to become an important plot towards the end of the season.

Each of the three ambassadors has an assistant, Vir for Londo, Na'Toth for G'Kar, and Lennier for Delenn. It's interesting their names appear in the credits for every episode but they each only appear a handful of times. Must be nice to be paid as a regular when you're really guest cast.

Most of the season is episodic adventures around the station. We see there is basically a homeless class lingering on the outskirts of the station. There are people cutting deals and the station is a hub of commerce in the sector so all sorts traipse through. Midway through the season Talia gets some kind of mental upgrade from another telepath and I'm assuming it pays off later, because it's not mentioned again this season. We also find out part of what happend to Babylon 4, lost in a time storm of some kind. A mysterious helmeted figure arrives to unstick it in time and is revealed to be an aged Sinclair.

The biggest recurring plot, which really involved just a few episodes towards the end of the season, concerns friction between B5 and the Earthgov. There is a growing movement called the Home Guard who don't want human resources helping aliens. There is Earthgov management cutting B5's budget (maybe that's an analogy for the network?) And then the potential assassination of Earth's president which may be a bigger conspiracy.

At the center of it all is Sinclair. I've heard the story from showrunner JMS about how the actor Michael O'Hare was ill and barely made it through the season, but it doesn't really show. At the time we thought he was maybe recast as the lead because the network wanted a better actor. It's debatable whether Bruce Boxleitner who arrives in season 2 is better, but he's more expressive I think. O'Hare, I'm sure a very nice fella, he's sort of limited. Maybe it's his monotone speech. I don't know, I sort of like him like I like John Wayne. Not a very good actor per se, but a strong presence? It's a pity the man had health issues that took him out of the game, luckily he was able to come back for some guest spots later I understand (haven't seen them yet).

The seams show on this series, but I don't think it matters. It seems like what it is, a show shot on a shoestring with a bunch of relative newcomers who are trying to do something big and they aren't quite equal to the task yet, but they are trying. I do realize writers JMS and Larry DiTillio had a lot of Saturday morning cartoon credits, I actually downloaded Captain Power, but this was their first big shot at network TV (syndicated, at least). I don't think it's as polished as Star Trek TNG or DS9's first seasons but the fact that it can be mentioned in the same sentence is high praise.


Attachments

B5_S1.jpg (339 x 474)
Posted with Google Chrome 81.0.4044.129 on Windows 10
Iron Man Unit 007

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,139


The character development in B5 was fantastic.

Also in this series, actions do have consequences and you don't always get the ticker tape parade, and sometimes you don't get to walk away from the consequences.

Londo and G'Kar especially will evolve over the series. While they both have comedic moments, trust me they both get VERY serious as well. Just wait for the ep in Season 2 where they are trapped in the elevator.

As to Sinclair, yes the actor was very ill and did what he could to film his scenes but behind the scenes there was a lot of tension. Only he and JMS really knew and they were pals so JMS promised that he would keep the secret unless/until the actor died, then per his request he would reveal the truth, which he one day did:

Acute Paranoid Scizophrenia and the medication wasn't helped by the demands of the shooting of the series.

Sinclair will appear in Season 2 and his story arc wraps in Season 3.


Delenn will undergo a major change.

Kosh and the Vorlons get revealed as does the major enemy.

Marcus will join the show

Bester the Psi-cop will return, he is the "Q" of the series as in the character you hate and want to see dead but want him to keep coming back.

After you finish all 5 seasons, go read the B5 Novels, Psi Corp trilogy and the Wheel of Fire Trilogy


Posted with Mozilla Firefox 76.0 on Windows 7
swmcbf


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 3,392


Yeah beginning with the second season everything really gets interesting. However the pilot and first season do have some good episodes are decent and has things that are necessary to the overall understanding of the series. I applaud JMS for his actions with Michael O'Hare. I liked most of the related movies as well. The show looks a bit dated and the cgi especially. The lack of money for wardrobe and set design probably will hurt for a modern audience. Never the less I loved it and recommend B5 to people. I consider it to be slightly above STDS9.


Posted with Google Chrome 81.0.4044.138 on Windows 10
Iron Man Unit 007

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,139



Posted with Mozilla Firefox 76.0 on Windows 7
Superman's Pal

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,624



    Quote:
    The character development in B5 was fantastic.



    Quote:
    Also in this series, actions do have consequences and you don't always get the ticker tape parade, and sometimes you don't get to walk away from the consequences.

I'm partway through season 2 now. I don't know, I'm too familiar with the TNG/DS9 style maybe. This show just seems smaller and more amateur, I guess, but I applaud the effort. Other than Sinclair/Sheridan, Ivanova, Garibaldi and the doctor, there doesn't seem to be anyone else. Earthgov is mentioned but barely seen, the station staff is barely mentioned besides Garibaldi's #2. I guess I'm looking for more evil admirals, ensigns roaming around, other ship captains. The universe seems a little bare. I just saw the "GROPOS" episode and it did a good job of what I'm talking about, filling in the universe a bit more.


    Quote:
    Londo and G'Kar especially will evolve over the series. While they both have comedic moments, trust me they both get VERY serious as well. Just wait for the ep in Season 2 where they are trapped in the elevator.

G'Kar makes a lot of noise but hasnt really done anything yet. Londo is ten times the character he is so far. Londo is funny, has humanity, is corrupt, at times despicable. Multi-faceted.


    Quote:
    As to Sinclair, yes the actor was very ill and did what he could to film his scenes but behind the scenes there was a lot of tension. Only he and JMS really knew and they were pals so JMS promised that he would keep the secret unless/until the actor died, then per his request he would reveal the truth, which he one day did:



    Quote:
    Acute Paranoid Scizophrenia and the medication wasn't helped by the demands of the shooting of the series.

JMS is to be commended for his handling of it, although he was also saving his own skin to an extent. He said if it got out, the show probably would have been cancelled.


    Quote:
    Sinclair will appear in Season 2 and his story arc wraps in Season 3.



    Quote:

    Delenn will undergo a major change.

I bet Bill Mumy was jealous, he seemed to hate the makeup. She got a much easier appliance to wear.


    Quote:
    Kosh and the Vorlons get revealed as does the major enemy.

Not even a hint yet with Kosh but Morden and the Shadows have a nice buildup so far.


    Quote:
    Marcus will join the show

Who's the other kid, Kessler? Another guy in the opening credits of every episode and yet he's only appeared about twice so far out of ten or so eps I've seen.


    Quote:
    Bester the Psi-cop will return, he is the "Q" of the series as in the character you hate and want to see dead but want him to keep coming back.

I think he had more to do in his first ep of B5 than in 30 years of Trek.


    Quote:
    After you finish all 5 seasons, go read the B5 Novels, Psi Corp trilogy and the Wheel of Fire Trilogy

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Lol



Posted with Google Chrome 81.0.4044.138 on Linux
Iron Man Unit 007

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,139


Stories and plot threads develop starting in season 1 and 2, action starts starting at the end of season 2 and goes into 3 and especially in S4.

The Shadows are indeed the great menace, but you will eventually see that the line between good and evil is a bit jagged and blurry. Also the Shadows have had a LONG time, (1000 years) to prep for their return and have agents in place. This isn't an enemy you can instantly rally the troops and be ready for.

G'kar develops into a spiritual leader for his people, you will see.

Londo: perhaps one of the best examples of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. Did you see the episode with the Technomages? What their leader tells Londo will have an affect on him.

As to evil admirals and ensigns running around......you will indeed see some evil and misguided people running around. The Nightwatch......Earth President Clark and his forces....the Psi Corp....

Bill Mumy commented that he wasn't thrilled with the makeup at first as the first session took a long time to apply it, but with practice it got quicker. Also his character develops in an interesting path also.

Kessler? I think you mean the fighter pilot Keffer, he has a part to play.

Bester: yeah he has far more to do in this series then he ever did in Trek.

Valen: throughout season 1, 2 and 3: anytime Valen is mentioned or anything about him, pay attention. Valen was even mentioned in the pilot The Gathering along with the first mentioning of Entil'Zha


ADDENDUM: Babylon 5 was great for long reaching plots and story arcs, while perhaps not on the level of Tolkien or Frank Herbert Dune it is a great space story.

Star Trek: how many times in TOS/TNG/DSP/Voyager/Enterprise did they get the deus ex machina/happy ending with little to no consequences? Answer: most of the time.

TNG: Picard becomes Locutus, decimates about 80% of the fleet and nearly conquers earth before he is stopped and restored. He passed all physical and mental tests and Starfleet allows him to keep the Enterprise????

Picard should have been immediately assigned to an anti-Borg task force to both assist with making new defenses and also to be monitored just in case. Not many episodes afterwards dealt with him being Locutus, there were some but not many. It was just "oh here is your ship back!" It wasn't until First Contact that he was actually ordered by Starfleet to stay out of Borg conflict even though he did face them in the series after being Locutus. Heck the Shatner novels did a better job of showing his post-Locutus PTSD and dealing with it.


The Psi Corp: they started with the best of intentions but thanks to greed, I think some Shadow corruption and the fact that telepaths know they have the right to survive, well they get a bit corrupt by the time of the series. Also while they do seek to protect their own their methods leave a bit to be desired.

Join the Corp or take the sleeper drugs or go to the internment camps.

Also they check DNA of their members to find suitable breeding matches to create a new generation at least as strong as the previous

Genetic experiments on their own (Jason Ironheart)

Psychic reprogramming of their own to make some of them sleeper agents.

The Corp is Mother, the Corps is Father.......magneto would be so proud!


Posted with Mozilla Firefox 76.0 on Windows 7
The Black Guardian

Moderator

Location: Paragon City, RI
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 26,724


I always saw Londo as the one lacking facets. He's so utterly corrupt and ... not much else. G'Kar is much more human and conflicted.




City of Heroes is BACK!
Posted with Mozilla Firefox 76.0 on Windows 10
Iron Man Unit 007

Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,139


G'Kar and Londo slowly became more human and conflicted over the series.

G'Kar become more humanized and humbled after what happened to his people and planet, but also when he was amped up and went to raid Londo's mind. Then he later becomes viewed as the next G'Quon and is revered as well....a prophet I suppose, yet he didn't want that and realized he had to leave.

Londo.....well, his people by nature appear motivated by greed similar to the Ferengi, but they still have more of a code of conduct then the Ferengi. Londo gets tempted slowly by what he is offered and then partners up with Reefa. But Londo was horrified at what became of their partnership and took steps to end it. First he severs ties with Morden, then after learning Reefa was now working with Morden, he took steps to end that as well

"Your loyalty to the homeworld should be greater then your ambition.....and I have also poisoned your drink!" Now THAT got Reefa's attention in a hurry!

After finally dispatching Reefa in a very intense moment of what could be called poetic justice, Londo is tricked by Morden into working with him again. But he soon wises up, and also takes steps to deal with the lunatic Emperor that Londo himself helped place on the throne.

He gets prophetic warnings on how to try to avoid his fate, but in the end had no choice but to embrace it in full in order to save his people even though it would cost him dearly.

HE and G'Kar start as bitter enemies, then become almost friends until they are frenemies.

The B5 novel trilogy Legions of Fire wraps it all up and covers Londo's fate after the show ended and ties it all together.


Posted with Mozilla Firefox 76.0 on Windows 7

Alvaro's Comicboards powered by On Topic™ © 2003-2021 Powermad Software