Babylon 5 (through end of season 4)

This series was so delightful! It had so many delightful things going on – I will try to exalt over them without giving things away to those who may not have had a chance to watch yet.

  1. Pay offs: There were a great many of these. I have two favorites, but I can’t really give either away without a lot of explanation. After all, it took about two seasons to get to them. But really, being able to watch two Centauri’s visions of the future come true in such satisfying ways, ways that were not what you expected but completely fit in and completed story arcs, was amazing.
  2. Character changes: Rather than simply kill characters off, as many shows do now in an attempt to be real and gritty, this show took the hard road. It turned trusted characters into villains. And it did it in completely convincing and realistic ways. The conflicts it produces between characters that used to be friends or allies drives the story forward and still comes to a great conclusion.
  3. The final episode of season 4: Ok, I’m not sure if this was created because JMS knew the network had messed him up or what, but I like to think it is. It’s basically a wide overarching look at what happens after the events of the show, filled with humor, satire, drama, and a great stick it at the end.

Over all this show was a great surprise. Though at first I was worried about having to compare it to Star Trek: DS9, and the not so great CGI graphics, there were many things that were just so unique and good. The aliens, in costume, makeup and acting, were superb. The story branches off so differently that DS9 that I had stopped comparing them after half a season. It holds its own, even twenty years later. So if you haven’t watched Babylon 5, I say you should.

Now I just have to decide if I want to watch the 5th season. JMS had five seasons planned, was forced to squish it into four, and then was given a fifth season anyway. So . . . we shall see.

This isn’t what I expected: Babylon 5 (ep 16-33)

I didn’t think of all characters that Londo (the Centauri Embassador) would be the one seduced by the promise of power enough to start a war. He is such a jolly, simple vices sort of guy. I’m now convinced that the guy who was offering each of the ambassadors exactly what they want, is basically the devil. At least he seems uncomfortable with his new position and is having moral qualms.

I never would have thought of Ambassador Delenn, the mysterious Minbari woman (who by the way I think is one of the best acted characters on this show) would sacrifice her position and go into a chrysilis and become human. Let alone that we would get a episode of her trying to figure out human hair and cramps. But she and Lenier are great, and I love their relationship growing through all of this.

I really never thought that the new captain had an ulterior motive and was gearing up for the coming war. I didn’t want to like the new captain when they switched them for the second season. I really like Sinclair. But Sheridan came aboard, with his love for real oranges and his speech, and endeared himself to the crew and to me. And then to find out he’s a conspirator . . . I’m hoping it’s all for the good.

I suppose however, I should have expected something like this to start up. The main premise of the show is the Babylon 5 was designed to create peace between the aliens, so of course the main conflict should involve a big war. Something larger and darker seems to be coming as well, as certain characters are aware, so I imagine it will be halted or inturrupted by the Darkness. Either way, I am now officially hooked.

Now we’re getting somewhere – Babylon 5 (s1, ep7-18)

I think I’m finally getting a sense of the beginning of the big story here. But first, some new favorite episodes.

One is Ivanova mourning the death of her father (TKO). The other plot is neat, sort of an alien fight club. But still grieving for the loss of my father a year ago, this one hit me in the feels. It was beautifully done, especially as Ivanova is a no longer practicing Jew, and it is a visit from a Rabbi that is an old family friend that triggers the mourning.

In Grail, David Warner plays a very interesting character, a person actually on the search for the Holy Grail. I love how this show continues things from earth into the future that I would not have thought of continuing. The Minbari honor this gent greatly, and he really does act like a chivalrous knight of the round table.

But I think my favorite, and the best promise of things to come, is from Signs and Portents, which introduces a mysterious character who keeps asking the major players on the station what they really want. And manages to fulfill some of those desires. Also, there are some big things going on behind the scenes with the raiders, and Sinclair, the tough but fair commander of the station (with the sexiest voice ever!) was chosen to be commander, not because Earth thought he would be good for the job, but because the Minbari requested it. I am looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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.