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Author Topic: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now  (Read 437 times)

Michael Knight

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Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« on: 16 April, 2017, 07:09:34 pm »
What's the verdict now on this show. Anyone done a recent rewatch?

Greg M.

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #1 on: 16 April, 2017, 07:51:42 pm »
I rewatched the whole thing fairly recently, to mark the passing of Jerry Doyle. Some random observations:

Season 1: Doyle / Garibaldi is by far and away the best thing in the first season - other actors and characters haven't quite come into their own yet, but he's got it nailed from the start. Series 1 is probably most interesting as a 'what if?' when you know what the original plan for the series was. (B5 destroyed at end of season 5, Babylon 4 to be setting for sequel series, Babylon Prime.)

Season 2 - 3: From the first moment Bruce Boxleitner appears on-screen, the series gets a massive boost of charisma and energy. The best bits of season 2 are the best bits of the whole series ('In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum', 'The Long Twilight Struggle'), but season 3 is probably the crowning glory in terms of consistency and having a clear direction. Series 2 has some weird diversions that are never followed up.

Season 4: Brilliant season opener ('The Hour of the Wolf') but oddly disappointing as a season. It has some great moments, but something feels flat - probably the need to compress everything. JMS's dialogue was previously hammy but memorable - here it sometimes feels clumsy or repetitive.

Season 5: Very underrated. A slow burner, but some brilliant episodes from the middle onwards. ('In the Kingdom of the Blind' was a surprising standout this time around.) Ivanova badly missed though - frustrating to imagine how it would have played out with her as captain (the stuff with Byron would have been so much better.)

It's still a great series, but the lack of standalone episodes means it's not one you can just dip into, like, say, Star Trek. (The only episode I tend to come back to in its own right is 'Passing Through Gethsemane'.)

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #2 on: 17 April, 2017, 12:34:08 am »
There's so much to love about B5 - I'm getting ready for a re-watch myself. I always start with the "In the Beginning" tv movie - the bit where Londo describes the tail end of the Earth-Minbari war always moves me to tears.

Also, everything Greg said.

Tjm86

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #3 on: 17 April, 2017, 07:37:42 am »
I'm currently mid season 2 on my rewatch.  It still feels a little like it is trying to find its direction at times but is definitely more confident than season 1.  We see the early strands of the Minbari conflict, the full throttle Narn - Centauri war and the slow emergence of the shadows.  The Earth isolationist / conspiracy storyline seems remarkably appropriate for our current times.  It feels very much like the second act where things are being moved into place.  Not completely surprising considering the intent.

What is interesting is rewatching at times in light of what we later see.  Delenn's comment about being present at the death of Dukhat and 'hearing the screaming'.  Considering what we later see in 'In the Beginning' its an interesting take.  It feels like a change was made in terms of how much influence Delenn had.  And on the subject of ITB, not sure when to fit that in.  I tend to watch it about the tail end of season 3 when it was first released, more of a sort of 'fill in the blanks' exercise.

The only thing that niggles for me is that the DVD release of the Gathering has what is for me the wrong soundtrack.  Much as I like the Framke work, the original VHS (!) release had music that worked far better for me.  Never fully understood why they felt they needed to change it and why they never released it in that format. 

Greg M.

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #4 on: 17 April, 2017, 09:19:49 am »
The Earth isolationist / conspiracy storyline seems remarkably appropriate for our current times.

Nightwatch certainly had a greater resonance for me now than they did when I first watched in the 90s. Back then, they were the distant baddies of a dystopian future - nowadays, they're all too plausible (and maybe inevitable.)

Andy Lambert

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #5 on: 14 May, 2017, 02:26:39 am »
Love Babylon 5 - I think it's so much better than Star Trek and it's reset button every episode. SO much more character progression,  the various alien cultures are well thought out, and the story arcs are extremely compelling. You'll also be very hard pushed to find two characters in any other series who have undertaken such huge personal journeys like Londo and G'Kar, both of whom were played by brilliant actors. Every scene which featured the pair of  them onscreen together was pure tv gold.

And yes, I can't watch the final episodes without shedding a few tears.
Just brilliant.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #6 on: 14 May, 2017, 07:12:10 am »
I couldn't agree more. B5 is probably my favourite tv show, from any genre, of all time. I've never re-watched anything else from start to finish so many times.

Londo and G'Kar are superb characters, with G'Kar being (for me) especially moving.

The "Declaration of Principles" should be taught in schools (with a few minor tweaks such as replacing alien languages with terrestrial ones) and is a great example of what makes B5 so brilliant.

"The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The language is not Narn or human or Centauri or Gayam or Mimbari. It speaks in the language of hope; it speaks in the language of trust; it speaks in the language of strength, in the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. And always it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors speaking through us and the voice of our inheritors waiting to be born. It is the small still voice that says, 'we are
one'. No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the world, no matter the star. We are one! No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear. We are one. Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule: that we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and enables us and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the universe, the soul of creation, the fire that
will light the way to a better future. We are one. We are one."

And if listening to the much-missed Andreus Katsulas reading that out doesn't move you, you're made of stone!

Andy Lambert

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #7 on: 14 May, 2017, 09:28:54 am »
Completely agree, from a bombastic trouble maker to a deeply spiritual person, Katsulas made the transition look natural , believable and effortless which is all the more impressive given he was under heavy prosthetic makeup. Huge talent and greatly missed.

Andy Lambert

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #8 on: 14 May, 2017, 09:39:18 am »
"The Declaration Of Principles" reads beautifully on its own - when it's read aloud in Katsulas' voice, you become converted yourself...

Tjm86

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #9 on: 14 May, 2017, 09:57:05 am »
Just reached the mid point of season 3.  Martial Law, split from earth, major battle, CGI a go go!  The early days of G'kar's transformation.  As people say, his performance was outstanding and I love the outfit transformation.  From formal to motley.  Nice.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #10 on: 14 May, 2017, 10:50:56 am »
IIRC, the "Declaration of Principles" has been adopted by at least one minor religion (Wicca, I think), which just goes to show how good it is!

Tjm86

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #11 on: 31 May, 2017, 12:04:26 pm »
Finally got to the end of the fourth season and I would have to agree with comments about inconsistency.  For me the Minbari civil war storyline was an unwelcome distraction that seemed to come out of nowhere.  The one that has really got me again, perhaps for the same reason as some of the earlier storylines, was the final episode of season 4.  The 500 years on scene in particular with the info tech developing 'good facts'.  I guess it shouldn't come as any surprise at all that current events are nothing new!

Greg M.

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #12 on: 31 May, 2017, 12:36:23 pm »
The problem I have with the fourth series is that it sometimes feels like an exercise in swiftly moving pieces into place - probably because JMS is trying to tie up as many plot threads as possible, in the belief that he's not getting a series five. In the effort to deal with the demands of plot, some of the charm or emotional impact gets lost. There's still some great stuff though, not least the unexpected appearance of Bryan Cranston as Sheridan's sacrificial pawn, a small role which he lends a surprising degree of gravitas. The introduction of the Drakh is also superb - indeed, the first Drakh we see is actually quite scary. And Ivanova's reaction to what Marcus does for her is Claudia Christian and JMS at their best. "All love is unrequited, Stephen."

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #13 on: 31 May, 2017, 04:47:12 pm »
That scene gets me every time.


Greg M.

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Re: Babylon 5 - Rewatching the series now
« Reply #14 on: 31 May, 2017, 05:12:34 pm »
And another thing about season 4 - Corwin's only in one episode! He's been a near-constant presence for the first three seasons and then he almost completely disappears. (Thankfully he gets a bit more to do in season 5 as Executive Officer - I always liked his mix of general anxiety and steadfast reliability.)