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Babylon 5 is the greatest science fiction show in the history of
A bold statement I know, especially when one considers the original series of Star Trek which is certainly the genre's most celebrated. It's true to say that Star Trek has had a much greater cultural impact and has lasted longer than any other SF show, but when watching it again, it has dated. I'm not questioning the brilliance of some early episodes - they're still well written and thought provoking - season 1 of the old series is still fantastic. However, Babylon 5 is the Star Trek for today in that it deals with issues in a modern context. Whereas ST was a bunch of cleverly disguised morality plays about 1960's issues like communism, nuclear war and racial prejudice, B5 deals with social control, economics, war, governmental corruption, social psychology and spirituality. Although the issues discussed in Star Trek haven't gone away, they're not foremost in the psyche of mr average anymore.
Alongside the fact that B5 discusses issues at the forefront, it has many other virtues. The main one is that the story continues from episode to episode - even now when I re-watch season one (just released on DVD) I can see events taking shape that will lead to major plotlines in future years. I'm not just talking about Data gradually becoming more human or Worf tussling with the dying Kilingon Empire every 7 or 8 episodes ... I'm talking about characters and plots that can be seen to be evolving each week without an obvious good guys vs bad guys scenario.
I can't remember how many times I've watched a B5 episode and had a flashback to an earlier one - the sudden realisation of the importance of an event that seemed insignificant is very satisfying. Even in the 5th series, you'll be thinking back to an episode in series 1 and feeling smug that you got it.
'Ahhhh! That's what it meant!' You'll be saying that a lot.
The characters are wonderfully fleshed out by some great actors. They're complex beings who have to deal with temptations and failings as well as triumphs and successes. Sometimes things go deeply wrong and (get this Trek Fans) IT'S NOT SORTED OUT BY THE END OF THE EPISODE!! That's right - people change realistically - everything's not reset each week! Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge Trek fan myself, but it's always irked me that everything is just so hunky dory (don't people have arguments on the enterprise?)
It's very satisfying to see a character that you've come to know and love wrestle with their morals and sometimes make the wrong choices (just like we all do.) In the end, we all knew the various crewmembers of the Enterprise would do the right thing. You can't say the same for the characters on B5 - they're fallible and thus much more interesting.
There's many other great things about the show, but for me, the story and the characters are the most important. Sure, I know it doesn't look as expensive as Star Trek and yes I know it's hard to get into because it's not a whole load of 'one shot' episodes! If you like Star Trek and consider yourself intelligent - step up to the next level and watch B5!
I guarantee that if you stick with it for a while, you'll be glad you did because the payoffs are enormous. If My girlfriend can like it - anyone can....
Well, what to say? For starters, I'm a die-hard Classic Star Trek fan,
who had until recently been aware of B5 without ever having seen it.
Then, about four months ago, my best friend lent me his B5 DVDs of
season 1. And I have to admit, I'm impressed.
To be fair, it took a little while - I was a little wary at first, but it quickly grew on me. Once I got a feel for what was going on, and how the characters worked, yes. It grabbed me. I especially liked Jeffrey Sinclair as a leader-type - someone more thoughtful than your bog-standard action-hero.
Then, after a long wait, my friend lent me seasons 2-4. Again, I was a little wary at first; it had been a while since I'd seen season 1, and I knew that Sinclair had been replaced by John Sheridan. Out of the two leaders, I prefer Sinclair, and for the first few episodes of season 2, I was unconvinced. Then, about a third of the way in, the pace quickened up - considerably. And while I still prefer Sinclair as a leader, by about episode 8 of season 2, I found that I didn't have the time to miss him, things were moving that quickly, there were so many plots unravelling . . .
And therein lies the hook. The amount of detail is extraordinary, the way all the characters and plots became intertwined is amazing. The series is so intense - I was watching up to eight or nine episodes a day, for a week solid! And might I say again, I was a Star Trek fan who had never seen B5 before in my life! As many people before me have said, this show isn't a nice neat everything-gets-resolved-in-the-space-of-one-episode type. Details get carried over. There are long story-arcs. There are things happening all the time. Everything has a reason. You see an insignificant detail in season 1, suddenly it is explained in season 3 as being very relevant for reasons you didn't even know about back in the first season.
If there is one stumbling block for B5, I would have to say that some of the computer-generated images (CGI) are not always up to standard. This is especially true of planet surfaces, in particular Mars. But that's quibbling. The key to good science-fiction is believability. The characters have to act as if the basic premise of the series is perfectly normal to them. That's what makes it work. That's why in the original series of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry made a point of not explaining the workings of anything. For example, Captain Kirk picks up a phaser and fires it without stopping to explain what it was or what it did - after all, in a contemporary series, nobody goes out of their way to say how a gun. We know how it works - so by watching Kirk fire his phaser, we understand implicitly that it is a weapon. The same principle applies in B5 - although to a lesser degree.
Moving on to the acting - this show was blessed with some wonderful people. In particular, Mira Furlan as Delenn is worth watching; she is possessed of a presence and an aura most actors can only dream of. She is one of those people that when she is speaking, becomes the absolute centre of attention without really trying. Also, as stated above, I am a fan of Cmdr Sinclair - and I think Michael O'Hare's portrayal of him is wonderfully underplayed. It would have been so easy just to play him as an action-hero, but no. I really do miss that character. Another favourite would have to be Stephen Furst as Vir - DS9 fans just think Rom, and you're halfway there. Not to mention the "odd couple" of Peter Jurasik (Londo) and Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar) - wonderful.
Actually, that's another point - the aliens. The aliens in B5 are more real than the aliens in Star Trek. Their agendas are much better fleshed out. We understand the whys and wherefores much more than the stereotypes of so many Star Trek races (and remember I'm a longterm Star Trek fan). To use Trek parallels, the Minbari are like the Vulcans and Bajorans combined in temperament, the Centauri are probably most comparable to the Cardassians, and the Narns, well, I'd say Klingons, but that's selling them short. Klingon-Bajoran, perhaps. Any hardcore B5 fans offended by those descriptions - sorry, I'm just using them as guidelines to the uninitiated Trek fans. These B5 races are much more real, less stereotyped. (Although the less said about the Drazi, the better!) To summarise, then - I think this is the best sci-fi since Original Star Trek. Watch this show! Star Trek fans will not be disappointed!
One of the few examples of what television CAN be.
While I could offer many accolades for this series, I will reduce it to the statement that we have never seen better or more intelligent writing on television. Period.
I'm lost lost in blind fandom. Rather, I've come to loathe the lack of intelligence used in most television programs today (largely because of the networks' catering to the lowest common denominator). This is one of the few exceptions.
It is a true shame we cannot see intelligent writing like this elsewhere in this age of miraculous special effects.
WOW is the word which best describes this program! It is an epic story of legends in a world that is believable interpretation of the future two and a half centuries from now. It is set in a world where humans are now a space faring race, capable of crossing the galaxy in months using a technology called a Jumpgate. The people of Earth have at this point come together in corporation to form a world government known as EarthGov. The humans aren't alone; they occupy the universe with mysterious races like the Vorlons, Shadows, and Minbarie. The leading heroes, Jeffery Sinclair and John Sheridan are captains in EarthForce, but they soon prove to be much more. I dare not enter into the plot since it is redundant on account of it being available at this site and elsewhere. All I will say about the plot is that over its five years, it is an extremely wealthy arc of sadness, joy, comedy, and horror! It is also not without substance, full of philosophy about life, existence, war, and hope. Each episode represents a coherent story, but incomplete since each builds upon the rest. The series is essentially an extended mini-series. Like Star Trek before it, most if not all episodes are constructed with a moral or lesson attached to it. Each episode also addresses some aspect of real human experience. The quest for power, revenge, love, and corporate power to mention a few. I believe that the episodes "Z'HA'DUM", "War Without End 1 & 2", "Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi?", and "Endgame" are some of the best of the series. It is also the only television series that I am aware of that was made better than most Hollywood movies! Watch it, or I will get you.
B5 is in all respects a revolutionary piece of work. It was the first
SF TV-series that actually had all the episodes and story-arcs in place
before shooting(as opposed to StarTrek and the likes). Although I have
always been a Trekkie I consider Babylon-5 to be much better. This is
SF on TV as you would read it in a good book. The actors do a fine
job(especially Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasic) and although almost
all of the aliens are of humanoid shape they manage to behave quite
This is required watching for every self-respecting ScienceFiction-fan. In that respect it is on a par with StarWars and StarTrek.
B-5 just goes deeper that the Paramount-format or the eternal battle of good versus evil. In B-5 there are hardly any absolute evil creatures, all the characters have their dark side, just like you and me.
It was a miracle that Warner Bros was so supportive of JMS. You can tell by the result that this was somewhat of a lovebaby. I wonder how many years it will be before something better will be made, I fear it will take years and years to top this series.
Babylon 5 is one of the TV shows we all wish we had come across sooner. as a massive star trek fan i saw the first few episodes of b5 in its initial run and immediately thought it was below par. at the urging of a friend i came back to it a few years later.... wow! to say i was impressed was an understatement, i immediately began to re-watch the whole series and saw he genius of the story arc and character development. in addition to this the use of aliens that looks alien, use different gasses to breath, are more advanced technologically and (shock) actually speak a language other than English was a joy! the battle scenes were wonderful, well beyond anything i had seen before and as for londo and g'kar, if there are 2 finer characters in all of television then that TV show is doing well. funny, awe inspiring, intelligent and emotional b5 has it all, the only drawback being that sometimes the walls are a little flimsy, sometimes the effects are a little below par, but willing suspension of disbelief is necessary in sci-fi, and b5 is no exception. is b5 a work of genius? definitely, without question yes, but could parts of it be better? those niggly little things that gnaw at us i'm afraid would have brought b5 up a notch, but it remains , without question, one of the finest shows, not just sci-fi, but shows that i have ever seen!
Even though the final season was rather slow, and glossed over a lot of
lines that probably would have been more interesting, it was still better
than most science fiction, and any on television other than the earlier
seasons. Other than the final season and scattered weak episodes, the
is the best television science fiction, and near the best dramatic
television, and competes with the best movie science fiction.
The action in the series is mostly about the Shadow war, but the real key is the intrigue between the characters, and the personal growth of the characters. Londo is one of the best dramatic characters in any series. He starts as an ambitious schemer who drinks too much, but develops a conscience as he learns the consequences of his ambitions, and finally ends up as a tragic character who reached even beyond his early ambitions, but at a cost that he regrets deeply.
Maybe some day there will be a better science fiction series. But for now this is the level of story-telling television science fiction should try to reach.
The early to mid-90's was very average in my opinion for science fiction
shows. Babylon 5 was a breath of fresh air.
Unlike some sci-fi shows, Babylon 5 was an ongoing epic. What happened in one episode impacted on another episode and so on. It was set on Babylon 5 (a space station)where five solar systems who have been at war try to make peace. The representatives of these races are all based on Babylon 5 trying to create lasting peace (not unlike the real life League of Nations/United Nations).
As I said, what happened in one episode impacted on another. There was no jetting off to planets, creating a mess and then jetting off again. There was action, political intrigue and plenty of excitement which made this show stand out in 1994.
J. Michael Straczynski did a great job with Babylon 5. It's actually a very good allegory of life on Earth in the 20th century. There have been two major wars this century. The League of Nations was set up following World War 1 but they soon became defunct and the United Nations were set up following World War 2 to try and bring peace to the world. Of course it's hard to find peace with so many different governments pulling in different directions. That is why I liked Babylon 5. It was realistic; there were no quick solutions for peace and there were setbacks along the way just like we have in real life.
I strongly urge anyone who hasn't seen Babylon 5 to check it out.
I just finished watched the 1st year on DVD. What a treat to see this series again, in a version mastered properly for the widescreen with surround sound to boot. I remember enough from the series to know that the 1st season was both unique and uneven in more ways than the other 4 years, and yet it lets out all the plot threads that play out over the ensuing years. I, for one, liked M. O'hare and it was too bad he couldn't have had a recurring role in subsequent seasons. Even so, this is a great series, possibly the best ever Sci Fi TV series that I've ever seen. Great CGI work that was employed for the 1st time ever, multiple engaging plots, good acting, writing, etc... it goes on and on. My only regret is that no one's figured out a good way to resurrect the B5 fictional world. I'd love to see another good series like this. If you haven't seen it lately, watch it again to remember how good it was. If you've never seen it then you don't know what you're missing.
It's a shame I couldn't get this one from the begginig. This is THE Sci-Fi show (if you don't count The X Files as Sci-Fi). It is way better than Star Trek: it didn't have the technological chit chat; human race was weak and corrompted, yet optimistic and full of potential; realistic to the bone, in 200 and so years that could be our world; an evolving story and characters that made you believe they were real; not as many races as in ST (actually it is better this way) but that differenced each other in something else than the ears; a philosophical, political, chaotic universe. Great acting and writing, many but many characters that carried on a story that was about nothing else than life and death.
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