Sunday, December 20th, 2009 | Babylon 5, film and tv, mythology, scifi | No Comments
One of my favourite quotes from Babylon 5 comes from the ISN news item where President Clark has declared Martial Law and the Mars colony does not follow suit.
“Mars has rejected Martial Law”
It has always amused me in the midst of all the seriousness of the situation, if you do not know why – think of what is the origin of the term Martial Law.
It refers to the Roman God of War – yes Mars, Martial, so it becomes a sort of a contradictory sentence.
Monday, October 19th, 2009 | authors, Babylon 5, film and tv, scifi, star trek | 2 Comments
Here is a comment I made to Charles Stross’ blog post about scifi genre TV.
I find his views rather extreme, though he has, in part retracted his “hate” of B5, and some of the comments he makes are actually a bit on the comical side. Read his post and judge for yourself. I think he makes some sweeping generalisations that do not hold water.
I will add more comments later (yes I have some comments on the irony of what he has posted)
As someone possibly more dated as you, Charlie, allow me a few comments on your post.
Apologies for the lengthy comment. If you feel the need, please feel free to edit for length. I will be posting on the subject in more detail on my own blog as well.
I met you and had a bit of a chat at the small con in Copenhagen a few months ago, so I was aware of your dislike of space opera. I am, however, a bit surprised at the strength of that dislike.
I, for one actually like space opera. That you do not is not a problem, we just have to agree to disagree on that.
Since you base the main part of your reasoning about the ST:TNG pilot and the of the Trek derivates, I will start there. You saw some of it and hated it. Then you continue :
- “Babylon Five? Ditto. Battlestar Galactica? Didn’t even bother turning on the TV. I HATE THEM ALL.” (my emphasis)
I see your main complaints as the following (here limited to ST, BSG abd B5, since you imply that they all have exactly the same flaws) :
- “Technobabble”. Agreed, my least favourite aspect of Star Trek. ([tech] the [tech], how awful). I think we can agree that it is most often used as Deus ex Machina in Star Trek.
- “…hit the reset switch at the end of every episode”
- “Sometimes they make at least a token gesture towards a developing story arc but it’s frequently pathetic”
All too true for the majority of Star Trek episodes, even though there are some gems where the technobabble is hardly present and not a part of “the resolution”. Example : “The Inner light” where we get the story of how humans dealt with the situation of a dying ecosphere of their planet (even if they did not survive, they were at least able to tell the story).
I find that none of the above points are true for B5 or BSG, though BSG’s arc seems to have been on hold for a season or two.
Babylon 5 has a planned 5 year overarcing story (with a number of sub-arcs), with excursions into the distant past and distant future, this can hardly be seen as “a token gesture”, even if the last two years had to be compressed into one season, making it truly a 4 year arc due to studio decisions. Not ideal, but the arc was, in general, completed. What came after, when the studio revised its decision is a bit of an afterthought, and filling in some blanks in the original story. Actually, B5 has the structure of a novel, it has just been presented in the audiovisual format.
The BSG ending twist is certainly not very original, it literally has the taste of Deus ex Machina.
- “The biggest weakness of the *entire genre* is this: the protagonists don’t tell us anything interesting about the human condition under science fictional circumstances.”
How can you make such a sweeping generalisation if you have not seen them ? In conjunction with the above statement of “hate them all” I fell that it would be akin to saying “20 years ago I met this [insert *ethnic identity* of choice]. He pissed me off to no end, so now I hate all [*ethnic identity*], – after all they are all the same”. I think we all know what this sounds like, and I doubt that was your intention.
Finally, here comes the biggest surprise for me :
- “….modern audiences want squids in space, with added lasers!”
WHAT !? You can not be serious ! … If this is not a massively sweeping generalisation, I do not know what is. I am glad not every TV viewer in the world sees that statement. Are you psychic (and did not tell us), since you seem to know what all of the TV audience wants ?
I should, however thank you, Charlie, since your post here has given me some input to an article comparing B5 and ST, you know, what it has in common and what not.
I have a few more things to say, but it is already a long comment, so that will have to wait.
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 | Babylon 5, star trek, writing | No Comments
I have – slowly – started to write on an article – my thoughts on the comparison between Star Trek (all series and films) and Babylon 5 for the Danish Trekkies Magazine “Subspace”.
I will post some comments along the way
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 | Babylon 5, books, scifi | No Comments
Just ordered the new Asked and Answered (part 1) book, containing an organized archive of J. Michael Straczynski’s communication with the fans on the Internet, regarding the creation of the Babylon 5 TV series.
And now …. we wait …..
Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 | Babylon 5, film and tv, podcast, scifi | No Comments
The last month the Babylon Podcast has been off, ok, they had a few holiday gifts, so we did not miss it all together.
The editor of the podcast has compiled a set of filk episodes, some good fun with B5 as the subject.
Tim has selected some fine moments from the 2008 Babylon Podcast, with a few mixups etc.
The first Live feed recording on January 7th was canceled, and so was the one on the 14th, the recording was made in the Los Angeles studio, and could not be heard live.
Waiting for the edited podcast was well worth it, however. The news of Majel Barrett Roddenberry’s departure from this world was honored, including an amusing anecdote from Jeffrey Willerth.
We had a beautiful interview with Ed Wasser who plays the mysterious, evil Mr. Morden. He was close to unstoppable in his enthusiasm and has obviously had a great experience with B5.
Sunday, January 11th, 2009 | Babylon 5, Doctor Who, film and tv, general, scifi | No Comments
I am now well back from my holidays, having celebrated Christmas and New Year with family and friends.
Apart from getting to see the people “back home” I and a needed restful day or two, I also got to see my oldest friend one I have known since 1969 – so this year will see our 40th anniversary of friendship. I spent some days there watching a fair amount of Scifi:
A modern continuation, set in the present day, of the classic story by Robert Louis Stephenson. I liked it already, and the renewed viewing even improved on my impression. Link to a review from the earlier viewing.
Dr Who Season 4 :
A lovely season with rather good episodes, only “The Doctor’s Daughter” is a little weak, but not really bad. Reviews of single episodes will follow later.
Dr Who S1 The Beginning :
I recently got the box “The beginning” with the first Doctor, played by William Hartnell. We watched the first two stories of the series, “An unearthly Child” and the very first “Dalek” story. I am surprised how well written the stories are, nicely acted, the early Doctor Who has more of the “mystery sense” than the modern ones, even if the special effects are not up to modern standards. The story becomes more important than “big explosions” etc. More detailed reviews later.
Babylon 5 :
We remembered Majel Barrett Roddenberry by watching the episode “Point of No Return” where she plays Lady Morella, third wife of the late Emperor Turhan, and a seer. Wonderful performance from the “First Lady of Star Trek”.
Having seen that a few more of Season 3 episodes was what we wanted, so we ‘watches some selected ones finishing with “Z’Ha’Dum”. It is always good to rewatch Babylon 5, so a worthy way of finishing the visit (sort of a “2 person mini convention”)
Finally I found some time to be alone and read Kevin J. Anderson’s “Last Days of Krypton”. It is a good read, the disparate elements of the legend have been weaved well into a single story, linking The Phantom Zone, Jor-El’s science -experiments, the Jor-El and Lara story, General Zod and his companions, the folly of the Council, the fate of Kandor, and finally the fate of the planet Krypton itself. There is a nice surprise in what finally causes the destruction of Krypton.
Now for some more reading : I am a member of the Live Journal group hp_in_depth (Harry Potter), and we just started reading, two chapters per week, “The Goblet of Fire”, so I will be busy reading some evenings of the week.
I have been off the net for a few days, so here is my entry on this : Majel Barrett was the widow of Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame, and passed away on December 18 at the age of 76. Her family was there with her. More details at the official homepage.
For me Star Trek was a breakthrough in Science Fiction on TV and gave rise to a new trend – stating social issues in SF on TV. Actually, it was, at the time, the only way of tackling issues as racism, discrimination etc in TV series, by disguising it as “alien versus human” encounters. Majel is best known by SF fans from a multitude of roles in the Star Trek universe, and a single beautiful role in Babylon 5.
While it is sad to see someone pass beyond the Rim we should also remember the things she gave to us , in Star Trek : “Number One” from the original pilot, Nurse Chapel from the original series, Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation, and the computer voice in all the “new” series, and from Babylon 5 the Lady Morella, seer and a wife of the deceased Emperor of the Centauri Republic.
With Starstuff I will quote the wonderful line she was given by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski : “There is always choice. We say there is no choice only to comfort ourselves with the decision we have already made. If you understand that, there’s hope. If not ..” – Lady Morella, Babylon 5, »Point of no return«
Rest in peace Majel Barrett, and may you meet your Gene in a place where no shadows fall.
Tuesday, November 25th, 2008 | Babylon 5, film and tv, scifi, space | 1 Comment
Exactly 10 years ago, November 25th 1998 the final episode of “Babylon 5″, “Sleeping in Light” was aired for the first time, completing the epic story.
Interesting is that just a few days ago the ISS had its 10th anniversary, too (the first module Zarya was launched). An imaginary space station was decommissioned and a the building of a real life space station was initiated.
B5 is a show I have watched several times by now, and one of the few shows (scifi or otherwise) that I recommend to lots of people. One of the things is that every single time I have seen it, there is something new – a new connection inside the story, a detail that has gone unnoticed before etc.
I have introduced it to a few people, watching it together with them and seen them come to love the show as I do. Not many shows can do that, and none other has done this for me.
Saturday, November 8th, 2008 | Babylon 5, film and tv, scifi | No Comments
As a fan of Babylon 5 I have also become a fan of the Babylon Podcast.
I started listening to podcasts in 2006, and due to an accident late June that year I had some more time than usual at hand, so I started to look for more particular podcasts. Imagine my delight when I found that there was indeed a podcast about my favourite show. They had, at the time, “aired” about 40 shows. I downloaded the first few and listened, found it delightful and downloaded the rest, and listened to the first 42 (!) Babylon Podcasts in about two weeks.
Episode 1, a longer introductory episode “aired” in February 2006, with the hosts Summer and Tim telling why they were drawn to B5 and what kept them hooked, and Jeffrey telling about guests that could be expected to be featured on the podcast.
Show #2 had the first guest interview with Stephen Furst (“Vir Cotto”). He was a blast to both the hosts and to me to listen to, so the first hook was there …
Not just the Stars (actors) were interviewed, many of the crew as well. #3 brought us Bear Burge, the Master Prop Fabricator, and the first episode discussion on “Midnight on the Firing Line” (episode 1). Later this episode discussion segment got the title “Deep Geeking”, with it own “jingle”.
Many people have been interviewed on the podcast, a few names worth mentioning : Patricia Tallman, Bruce Boxleitner, Wayne Alexander (“The Inquisitor”, “Lorien” and a few other roles), John Iacovelli, Walter Koenig (one of my absolute favourite bad guys, the Psi Cop “Alfred Bester”), Producer John Copeland in a two part interview, the list is not endless, but quite long. Almost all of those interviews have been a joy to listen to, enriching the experience of the series.
A segment of feedback, at times *very* amusing, also brought out a “spin off” of the Babylon Podcast, called the “Three Edged Sword”. It all started as an in-joke between three of the most active feedback’ers, who finally agreed to make a story line out of their contributions. More about “Three Edged Sword” in a later post.
In the latest “Deep Geeking” (ep. #135), “No Surrender, No, Retreat” was discussed how Sheridan’s approach to the conflict was entirely different from the end of the Shadow War.
This week’s episode (#136) had an interview with the Babylon 5 script team members “Captain” Jaclyn and Jan, telling a part of the story of publishing the scrips for every single Babylon 5 episode, and the approach to doing it. Jaclyn stressed that J. Michael Stracynski had stated “It’s all about the fans!”
Of course, it is well known to many fans that the customer service of the scripts team has been legendary, more about the script books and the scripts team later
In addition to the compliments from the fans, Jaclyn had compliments to the fans and their behaviour when dealing with the scripts team.
For me one of the highlights was when Jaclyn who came into this as a business – a specialist in “print-on demand” books with no interest in SciFi – telling about her experience of watching B5. In short, she was blown away by the story. She told that she was surprised how much she could be moved by 1) a piece of art, 2) a television series, and finally 3) a SciFi series. High praise indeed.
The Babylon Podcast
Thursday, November 6th, 2008 | Babylon 5, film and tv, scifi | No Comments
By Internet standards I will probably be regarded as old. I remember seeing Arthur C. Clarke/Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001, a Space Odyssey” when it came in the cinemas in the late 1960′s, and, of course the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. I was allowed to stay up the night to see the first footsteps on the moon (some time around 2 AM local time). No internet, no NASA TV, just some blurred live black-and-white pictures on the telly.
My interest in scifi and space exploration had obviously started some time before, along with an interest in UFO’s and “X-Files” like stuff.
Fast forward to 1989 (yes – the year the Berlin Wall came tumbling down) I moved from Denmark to The Netherlands to work there.
At work, in the early 90′s we formed a group of “Star Trek” fans coming together watching a few episodes in an evening. We had come one evening to watch some “Deep Space 9″, and after that it turned out that one from the group had brought the “Babylon 5″ pilot episode “The Gathering”.
I have to say that I did not like the pilot, thinking that it would not lead anywhere. How wrong I was … but I still consider the pilot under par, compared to what followed.
When the local TV started showing B5 I took another look, and lo and behold – that I found *much* better than the pilot.some season one episodes had the quality I was expecting from Trek, but soon the thing changed … this was not single episode stories – well. some of them were – but a longer story.
I was hooked.
I followed the 5 year arc to its end – sometimes at odd times of the day (or night), and soon found myself seeking out the VHS tapes.
After having watched the story several times I still get a thrill seeing it again. It has grown to be my all time favourite scifi story on TV – and there are many good ones out there.
I soon looked into more information about B5, on the net, books etc. – and got myself a few B5 goodies. But more about this later. Yes – I have all 15 volumes of J. Michael Straczynski’s (JMS) script books for all the B5 episodes he wrote. I still need to work myself though the about 7000 pages, but in time I will come though them, and as the completist in me told me, I got the “Other Voices” 3 volumes with episodes written by other writers, as well as the “Chronology” book and the quote’s book. There is enough reading for a while.
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