Not Sensing an Arc (Babylon 5, s 1, ep 2-6)

I am enjoying watching Babylon 5. It reminds me of a time when sci-fi was a lot less grim dark, so it is a welcome break between episodes of The Expanse or Colony. But I had been under the impression that this show was written intensionally to be only five seasons long, and that this structure afforded it the chance to have a very particular arc to it. So far, I’m not seeing it, or the setup for one. But I don’t wish to judge it too quickly. Most shows don’t kick into their major arcs this early, or at least, they didn’t used to. Nowadays, with the speed at which cable channels cancel them, most shows have to perform insanely well from the beginning. Really, I appreciate the chance to just get to know the characters in the show, and find out about their backstories without some huge disaster hanging over them.

The Psi Core story continues to satisfy, and the last episode, Mind War, actually had Walter Koenig (aka Chekov from the original Star Trek) as one of the Psi Cops there in pursuit of a renegade telepath. There was an episode (The Parliament of Dreams) about cultural exchange, the main mission of the station, touching the main religious beliefs of each culture. Interestingly, though they had a similar issue that many sci-fi shows are accused of, that of presenting an alien race as a monolithic culture, they made it purposeful. Rather than presenting one main belief to represent humanity as the other alien races did, they had a chain of people representing as many beliefs as possible.

There were soul eating aliens, a creature that was a cross between a Dalek and a Cyberman from a long dead civilization, and a slave girl plot that felt like it should have involved Orions.

So far, the show feels very much to me like the original seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And I’m not seeing anything insanely original that makes it stand out above other sci-fi shows. Its interesting, so I mean to watch all of it. But so far it’s not hitting me as anything amazing.

Finally Watching: Babylon 5 (ep. 1)

Babylon 5 came out in 1994, about the same time as my favorite sci-fi show, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Which is probably why I haven’t seen much of it. I have always heard great things about it from friends with similar tastes, so now that it is available on Amazon Prime, I’m finally watching it. I will try to post my thoughts as I go.

My first reaction was – wow, I remember how terrible CGI used to be. The space scenes and ship graphics aren’t that great. Certainly not as good as Star Trek was by that time. The aliens were colorful, though, as was the setting inside the station, so I stayed interested.

The story, though, the idea, is pretty cool. The last space station dedicated to keeping peace between various alien cultures, along with strong, moral leaders who really want to see that happen, and a fun somewhat snarky sense of humor is a combination I enjoy. I like the space travel through warp points kind of thing, something different than the warp drive or hysperspace from other shows and movies.

But the thing I like most? Well, actually a few things. Telepaths – telepaths being treated the way humans really would treat them – as dangerous beings that need to be controlled, registered, and watched for their whole lives. The other thing, was the first officer. Through the whole first episode she is straigh laced, hard, competant and respected in her position. But at the end they show her relaxing at the bar, with her hair down, looking beautiful. And no one thinks anything of it. Usually someone would comment on one side or the other, but the fact that this lady can be both and not get teased or hit on or have her authority questioned is awesome.

Having the fighter pilot introduce aliens to Duck Rogers was just sugar on top of a good first episode. Can’t wait to delve into the series even more.