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[Babylon 5] Our Last, Best Hope For Victory

TaminTamin Registered User regular
edited June 2013 in Debate and/or Discourse
These are the voyages...

er, wait, that's wrong.

It was the dawn of the third age of mankind.


( A compilation of all five title sequences for Babylon 5. Most shows make, at best, minor changes to their title sequence. Babylon 5 recorded (or stitched together, for the last two) a brand new sequence and voice-over for each season. My favorite is 3, because Ivanova is the best. The rest are ranked thusly: 4,2,1,5. )

Intended to be the first show that had a defined beginning, middle and end with novel-esque dramatic structure, Babylon 5 told the story of the titular station across 5 years; with each season encompassing a year in the life. The important distinction, for me, is this: going in, there was an outline of all five seasons. The brains behind the operation, one J. Michael Straczynski (hereafter referred to as JMS for obvious reasons), was also the primary screenwriter for the show. Famously, he wrote the entire third season. In fact, according to wiki, of the 110 episodes aired, he wrote 92; 59 of those in an unbroken streak. Most shows could be called shared-world, in the vein of comic books (and a niche style of book); many writers sending the same set of characters on various adventures. Babylon 5 belongs to JMS, through and through.

JMS recognized and prepared for many of the potential pitfalls of the television medium. Actors left the show and guest stars took other jobs. These had replacements (with unique personal arcs) ready and waiting. The show was almost cancelled in the fourth season; barely saved by TNT. The planned 5-year arc became condensed and both major conflicts were resolved by the end of the fourth season. This had two results: first, the fifth season meanders a bit and isn't as strong as the middle three; second, we got the fantastic Deconstruction of Falling Stars as a new season 4 finale.

TNT, as an aside, did not do well by Babylon 5. The sequel (or spinoff, maybe) show, Crusade (and stop me if this sounds familiar) had episodes aired out of order followed by TNT pulling the plug due to low ratings and viewer confusion early in the first season.

Back to B5: The first season, with Commander Jeffrey Sinclair is widely regarded as the worst season. If you can struggle through, there's quite a bit of information in the background that sets up the future conflicts.

Dramatis Personæ ...selection, as of the third season.

aitMpXB.jpg

Starting in the back row, left to right:
Vir Cotto: attaché to Londo Mollari
Londo: Centauri ambassador to Babylon 5
G'Kar: Narn ambassador to Babylon 5
Lennier: attaché to Delenn
Delenn: Minbari ambassador to Babylon 5 (why does she look different than Lennier? Watch the show!)

middle row:
Marcus Cole: Human Ranger, posted to Babylon 5
Zack Allen: a security guard
Dr. Stephen Franklin: Chief Medical Doctor

front row:
Lt. Cmd. Susan Ivanova: the second-in-command.
Captain John Sheridan: the commander of Babylon 5
Chief Michael Garibaldi: security chief.

Background

There are five major races: Humans, Narn, Minbari, Centauri and Vorlon. There are a fair number of other minor races.

About 10 years before the show begins, the Humans and Minbari had a major conflict. Roughly 2 minutes before the Humans were genocided, the Minbari stopped. Why they stopped is the central mystery of the first season.

The Centauri used to occupy Narn. The Narn were not happy about this, and eventually made it too expensive for the Centauri to stay.

With the Earth-Minbari war on one side and the Narn / Centauri grudge match on the other, Humans decided to try the UN thing again. They built Babylon stations to serve as council chambers and attendant facilities. The first three stations blew up; the fourth vanished; number five survived. Each of the major races sent an ambassador to Babylon 5; each ambassador has one vote. The minor races form the League of Non-Aligned Worlds; together, they get one vote. The resident commander of Babylon 5 doubles as the Human ambassador; the Minbari sent Delenn; Centauri Prime gave Londo Mollari the job; G'Kar represents Narn; and Kosh (not shown) is from the Vorlon Empire.

Lennier and Vir were tapped to help out their ambassador - Lennier is happy to serve; Vir is just wondering how he ended up with a good job. G'Kar goes through a few. The Rangers aren't given an official introduction for quite some time; consider them a spy network for the good guys.

I found a map. It looks pretty fannish, though
6VSUPYK.jpg



Hyperspace

Where Star Trek has warp speed; Stargate has the titular artifact; and Farscape has both wormholes and starburst; Babylon 5 uses hyperspace to travel the stellar distances.

To enter hyperspace, one must be able to "punch through" the barrier to it. The resulting portal resembles a wormhole:
PWWsSRp.jpg

The opposing action opens a blue wormhole.
YtTtbBR.jpg


It takes a massive amount of energy to enter or leave hyperspace. While this is fine for cruisers and certain other large ships, smaller vessels need to rely on Jump Gates.
Jump gates are reactors capable of generating and then focusing the energy needed to open a portal to hyperspace.


edit: One of the best resources is The Lurker's Guide. Episode summaries, questions about the larger story, and a (badly formatted) section with old usenet postings that JMS posted while the show was on the air. /edit


I've seen a bit of Babylon 5 discussion popping up over the past several weeks. As B5 is one of my favorite shows, this pleases me.

Scattered conversations are one thing, though; a thread is something else.

Will it survive?

Faith. Manages.

Tamin on
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Posts

  • BogartBogart I Will Cure You Registered User, Moderator mod
    The AV Club are doing club classic reviews of the show from the beginning. They're almost up to the end of season 2 now, and have been pretty good so far.

    rockrnger
  • TaminTamin Registered User regular
    Oh, cool. I shall have to read these!

  • Kipling217Kipling217 Registered User regular
    Babylon 5 had me hooked from the first tv movie. A show where the humans had fought a war with aliens and lost? That was unheard of back in 93. The intros where cool too, at least until S4.

    blastr.com/2013-5-28/straczynski-reveals-moving-story-why-michael-ohare-left-babylon-5

    This is new though. Its JMS talking about why Michael O'Hare left the series. Turns out he had schizoprenia of some sort and it was really acting up on him.

    Communicating from the last of the Babylon Stations.
  • evilbobevilbob Registered User regular
    Still one of my favourite shows ever. I rewatch it every couple of years or so. I recommend slogging it out through season 1 even though it's a bit crap in parts, or at least getting a list off someone of the important s1 episodes to watch. There's way too much to miss if you just skip to season 2.

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  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    is this up on any of the streaming services?

    YOLO. Swag. Whatever. Fuck it. Lets do this.
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  • TaminTamin Registered User regular
    Deebaser wrote: »
    is this up on any of the streaming services?

    WB's website has the first season and a rotating selection of the second.

    I haven't found it on any of the others, no.

  • JacobkoshJacobkosh Gamble a stamp. I can show you how to be a real man!Moderator mod
    Kipling217 wrote: »
    Babylon 5 had me hooked from the first tv movie. A show where the humans had fought a war with aliens and lost? That was unheard of back in 93. The intros where cool too, at least until S4.

    blastr.com/2013-5-28/straczynski-reveals-moving-story-why-michael-ohare-left-babylon-5

    This is new though. Its JMS talking about why Michael O'Hare left the series. Turns out he had schizoprenia of some sort and it was really acting up on him.

    Holy cow.

    evilbobHarry DresdenCindersPLAShadowfireUnbreakableVowShadowenkedinikMatev
  • jefe414jefe414 "My Other Drill Hole is a Teleporter" Mechagodzilla is Best GodzillaRegistered User regular
    evilbob wrote: »
    Still one of my favourite shows ever. I rewatch it every couple of years or so. I recommend slogging it out through season 1 even though it's a bit crap in parts, or at least getting a list off someone of the important s1 episodes to watch. There's way too much to miss if you just skip to season 2.

    I had introduced a couple of friends to this show a few years back. They couldn't sit through the first 3 episodes of season 1. As a result, I gave them a cliff notes version of it and we all hopped into season 2. It quickly became one of their favorite sci-fi shows.

    "but where's Mr. Garibaldi?!"

    Oh G'Kar.


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  • NaphtaliNaphtali Null Registered User regular
    If you have to skip Season 1, at least watch the following episodes

    Midnight on the Firing Line
    Mind War
    And the Sky Full of Stars
    Signs and Portents
    A Voice in the Wilderness (Parts 1 & 2)
    Babylon Squared
    Chrysalis

    I know its almost half the season but important stuff happens in them, or set up for things down the road.

    And who can skip the introduction of Bester?

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  • DivideByZeroDivideByZero Social Justice Blackguard Registered User regular
    God I love this show. But it going back and watching it now it can seem really dated at times. Not just the clunky CGI that was OMGrevolutionary at the time, but some of the plot details:

    In the episode where the crew is trying to catch a terrorist bomber, someone posits that
    the bomber is probably returning to the scene of his attacks and has been caught on security camera video. But there's just too much footage! They'll never be able to process all the images in time! It's too much for even the computer!

    So they bring in a bunch of monks whose years of study have given them a nearly supernatural attention to detail and sit them in front of monitors until they recognize the same guy at multiple scenes.

    Ahh, the 90s.

    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKERS
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  • BrewBrew Registered User regular
    I watched this show back in the 90s, probably up till 3rd season or so, then the TV schedule got muddy and I lost track. I recall really enjoying it though, with the season being very dry and kind of formulaic. What's a best way to watch the whole thing from beginning to end? DVD pack?

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  • TaminTamin Registered User regular
    edited May 2013
    Brew wrote: »
    I watched this show back in the 90s, probably up till 3rd season or so, then the TV schedule got muddy and I lost track. I recall really enjoying it though, with the season being very dry and kind of formulaic. What's a best way to watch the whole thing from beginning to end? DVD pack?

    Amazon and iTunes sell the individual episodes for $1.99 each.

    The DVD collection is marked down currently, at $112. Probably the best deal - only a dollar per episode, plus any special features.

    Tamin on
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    Best quote from B5, or just about anything else ever. Spoiled, for having to wait years for the pay off.
    Vir wrote:
    I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes and wave, like this. Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?

    Seriously. Just absolutely love it.

    This machine kills threads.
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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    Best quote from B5, or just about anything else ever. Spoiled, for having to wait years for the pay off.
    Vir wrote:
    I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes and wave, like this. Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?

    Seriously. Just absolutely love it.
    Made even better a few seasons later, when he actually did look up into his lifeless eyes and waved, just like that.
    Such an entertaining series. Real shame what happened to it after the initial 5 seasons though.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • boogedybooboogedyboo Registered User regular
    edited May 2013
    I'll just leave this here:


    boogedyboo on
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  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    see317 wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    Best quote from B5, or just about anything else ever. Spoiled, for having to wait years for the pay off.
    Vir wrote:
    I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes and wave, like this. Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?

    Seriously. Just absolutely love it.
    Made even better a few seasons later, when he actually did look up into his lifeless eyes and waved, just like that.
    Such an entertaining series. Real shame what happened to it after the initial 5 seasons though.

    There are 5 seasons of B5. Anything after that is literally a different show. I'm not, like, nerd raging 'aliens 3+4 don't exist'; it was not the same series. And frankly, even in B5, anything after the shadow war is kinda disappointing, though there are some good moment.

    This machine kills threads.
  • curly haired boycurly haired boy Your Friendly Neighborhood Torgue Dealer Registered User regular
    ah, this show was pretty awesome. :D

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  • KneelKneel Ten thick coats Registered User regular
    Best show ever. Loved it as a teenager and re-watched the box set recently.

    Also:

    Want to see more of Kneel's slapdash slatherings?
    Visit him at Monstrous Pigments' Instagram and Facebook pages!
    3EnCIQg.jpg
    evilbob
  • boogedybooboogedyboo Registered User regular
    For those interested, there's a fan-made B5 space combat sim using the FreeSpace 2 open project that was finalized back in 2008.
    http://babylon.hard-light.net/

    There are people working to bring it up to date with the newest FS2 open release.
    http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?board=180.0




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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    see317 wrote: »
    redx wrote: »
    Best quote from B5, or just about anything else ever. Spoiled, for having to wait years for the pay off.
    Vir wrote:
    I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes and wave, like this. Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?

    Seriously. Just absolutely love it.
    Made even better a few seasons later, when he actually did look up into his lifeless eyes and waved, just like that.
    Such an entertaining series. Real shame what happened to it after the initial 5 seasons though.

    There are 5 seasons of B5. Anything after that is literally a different show. I'm not, like, nerd raging 'aliens 3+4 don't exist'; it was not the same series. And frankly, even in B5, anything after the shadow war is kinda disappointing, though there are some good moment.
    Yeah they're different shows, but in the same way that Voyager and Enterprise are still Star Trek; B5 Crusades and the other made for TV movies that are thinly veiled attempts at pilots are still Babylon 5. I suppose I worded it poorly there, my bad.
    I was speaking in particular about Crusades though, which was intended to have a 5 year plot arc and would have resolved the whole nano-plague thing after the first season or two then gone into other stuff like the psi-war on earth and mars and Mars eventually gaining it's own independence. Instead it was shafted by Network interference demanding more sexy and more 'splosions to fit in with the TNT lineup of (IIRC) monster trucks and professional wrestling.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • MazzyxMazzyx Comedy Gold Registered User regular
    I love B5.

    I met Bruce Boxleitner last year at Denver Comic Con and talked to him for about half an hour. There was no line. The man has a huge chip on his shoulder with how they treated B5 at TNT. One story he told us is how they forced JMS to change the captain of the Excalibur. It was originally suppose to be Sheriden but one day they called him in, gave him the proverbial watch and pat on the back and said he wouldn't be.

    Of course he and JMS have an interesting relationship. They get along but JMS works best when he has a lot of time to write. He didn't with Crusade and that is partially why it was jumbled also.

    The other thing he said they had one more full series after Crusade mapped out already. They had another 9 years of shows with scripts and such planned. There was much more in the Babylon universe ready to be made but because of TNT it never was.

    03x29di.png
  • Knuckle DraggerKnuckle Dragger Explosive Ovine Disposal Registered User regular
    Kneel wrote: »
    Best show ever. Loved it as a teenager and re-watched the box set recently.

    it wasn't just "best", it was...
    B5_bester.jpg

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  • NaphtaliNaphtali Null Registered User regular
    Mazzyx wrote: »
    I love B5.

    I met Bruce Boxleitner last year at Denver Comic Con and talked to him for about half an hour. There was no line. The man has a huge chip on his shoulder with how they treated B5 at TNT. One story he told us is how they forced JMS to change the captain of the Excalibur. It was originally suppose to be Sheriden but one day they called him in, gave him the proverbial watch and pat on the back and said he wouldn't be.

    Of course he and JMS have an interesting relationship. They get along but JMS works best when he has a lot of time to write. He didn't with Crusade and that is partially why it was jumbled also.

    The other thing he said they had one more full series after Crusade mapped out already. They had another 9 years of shows with scripts and such planned. There was much more in the Babylon universe ready to be made but because of TNT it never was.

    Sounds about right.

    Though, the other shots at doing new Babylon stuff (Legend of the Rangers, direct to video dvds) were also not great so who knows.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    I really wish they would do a new B5 series. With blackjack! And Hookers!

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    Heffling wrote: »
    I really wish they would do a new B5 series. With blackjack! And Hookers!

    Put it on Starz or HBO.

  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Heffling wrote: »
    I really wish they would do a new B5 series. With blackjack! And Hookers!

    Put it on Starz or HBO.
    I think with the success of GoT, there's a better chance for a new B5 now then there has been for years.
    Still won't be getting my hopes up, though. No good comes of getting my hopes up. Ever.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited May 2013
    Heffling wrote: »
    I really wish they would do a new B5 series. With blackjack! And Hookers!

    I know. It is supposed to be an human station. I don't understand why the cassino can't have earth gambling. "wooooo, it's in space, so we have to have weird games with strange looking cards and light." Christ. And Courtesans? on a station of several million people in the middle of nowhere? WTF. I don't understand why they couldn't just have an old fashioned, honest, sawdust on the floor whorehouse.

    redx on
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  • evilbobevilbob Registered User regular
    If they did a kickstarter for re-rendering the effects in widescreen and hd for a blu ray release I would back it in a second.

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  • HefflingHeffling No Pic EverRegistered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    I really wish they would do a new B5 series. With blackjack! And Hookers!

    I know. It is supposed to be an human station. I don't understand why the cassino can't have earth gambling. "wooooo, it's in space, so we have to have weird games with strange looking cards and light." Christ.

    Londo was all about the hookers though.

    Maybe they'll install Dabo tables.

    If a movement doesn't have someone that can sit down opposite those in a position of power and strike a deal, how can that movement achieve success?
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    see317 wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    I really wish they would do a new B5 series. With blackjack! And Hookers!

    Put it on Starz or HBO.
    I think with the success of GoT, there's a better chance for a new B5 now then there has been for years.
    Still won't be getting my hopes up, though. No good comes of getting my hopes up. Ever.

    It's owned by Warner Bros. so premium channel options are not on the table. Though it'd be nice to have a reboot or continuation series on cable. JMS might not be involved if it gets off the ground - he's had a rocky relationship with WB over Babylon 5. That said, you're right. The chances that anything will happen are astronomically poor.

  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    netflix should buy babylon 5

    Knuckle DraggerTaminDivideByZero
  • TaminTamin Registered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    Heffling wrote: »
    I really wish they would do a new B5 series. With blackjack! And Hookers!

    I know. It is supposed to be an human station. I don't understand why the cassino can't have earth gambling. "wooooo, it's in space, so we have to have weird games with strange looking cards and light." Christ. And Courtesans? on a station of several million people in the middle of nowhere? WTF. I don't understand why they couldn't just have an old fashioned, honest, sawdust on the floor whorehouse.

    Quarter. A quarter of a million.

  • gjaustingjaustin Registered User regular
    edited May 2013
    One of my favorite scenes/quotes (starts at 1:20)


    Londo wrote:
    The War. The humans, I think, knew they were doomed. Where another race would surrender to despair, the humans fought back with greater strength. They made the Minbari fight for every inch of space. In my life, I have never seen anything like it; They would weep, they would pray, they would say goodbye to their loved ones, and then throw themselves without fear or hesitation at the very face of death itself, never surrendering. No one who saw them fighting against the inevitable could help but be moved to tears by their courage. Their stubborn nobility. When they ran out of ships, they used guns, when they ran out guns they used knives and sticks and bare hands. They were magnificent. I only hope that when it is my time, I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes in the end. They did this for two years they never ran out of courage but in the end, they ran out of time.

    gjaustin on
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  • DanHibikiDanHibiki Registered User regular
    Everyone in B5 suffers, but then that suffering makes scenes like this all the more enjoyable:

    MrMister
  • jefe414jefe414 "My Other Drill Hole is a Teleporter" Mechagodzilla is Best GodzillaRegistered User regular
    Man I would love to have a miniseries on the Dilgar war. I remember reading about how Humanity, with it's much lower tech, was able to defeat such a more technologically advanced race.

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  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    jefe414 wrote: »
    Man I would love to have a miniseries on the Dilgar war. I remember reading about how Humanity, with it's much lower tech, was able to defeat such a more technologically advanced race.

    I'd like to see the Telepath War, either in a season, mini-series or movie format.

    Tamin
  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    DanHibiki wrote: »
    Everyone in B5 suffers, but then that suffering makes scenes like this all the more enjoyable:

    Or this one, which was one of my favourites when I was a kid. Still awesome today.

    sig.gif
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  • Ninja Snarl PNinja Snarl P My helmet is my burden. Ninja Snarl: Gone, but not forgotten.Registered User regular
    I was a kid when this came out and it never ceases to impress me that I can watch most of it every few years and it's still great. Yeah, it definitely shows its age and the good stuff mostly happens by the end of Season 4, but man, such good stuff. It's pretty amazing what they managed to pull off with the budget and technology available at the time.

    And yeah, to hell with TNT for shitting up what was something that managed to be more impressive in a few years than most of Star Trek had in however-many decades the different series ran. No wonder the stuff outside the main series went to ass; that all happened after TNT got everything, and it suddenly makes a lot more sense as to how their interference wrecked whatever future the series might have had if one of their steps for all that was to bag Boxleitner.

    I honestly wouldn't want HBO or Starz to pick up the franchise, though. They'd just throw tits and ass in there as a cheap draw, and I'd hate to see something like B5 cheapened by low-grade antics like that. Not like WB would give it up anyway, but at least they got to wrap the important stuff before getting the Firefly treatment from a shitty network.

  • cptruggedcptrugged Time Dilated Registered User regular
    edited May 2013
    Love this show. Watched it in college during the TNT airing. God it was so ahead of its time. I mean, these days long story arc shows are common place. But back then before DVR and Tivo, it was crazy. You miss and episode and you didn't tape it? Ouch, you may have missed a crucial part of the story. It was such an amazing experience since most of us were used the episodic nature of ST:TNG.
    netflix should buy babylon 5
    They actually did have the whole shebang up on instant streaming a few years ago. But I guess they lost the rights. It sucked cause I only got to the end of season 3 before they dropped it from Netflix.

    cptrugged on
    Heffling
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    I was a kid when this came out and it never ceases to impress me that I can watch most of it every few years and it's still great. Yeah, it definitely shows its age and the good stuff mostly happens by the end of Season 4, but man, such good stuff. It's pretty amazing what they managed to pull off with the budget and technology available at the time.

    And yeah, to hell with TNT for shitting up what was something that managed to be more impressive in a few years than most of Star Trek had in however-many decades the different series ran. No wonder the stuff outside the main series went to ass; that all happened after TNT got everything, and it suddenly makes a lot more sense as to how their interference wrecked whatever future the series might have had if one of their steps for all that was to bag Boxleitner.

    Agreed.
    I honestly wouldn't want HBO or Starz to pick up the franchise, though. They'd just throw tits and ass in there as a cheap draw, and I'd hate to see something like B5 cheapened by low-grade antics like that. Not like WB would give it up anyway, but at least they got to wrap the important stuff before getting the Firefly treatment from a shitty network.

    HBO and Starz do utilize nudity to a greater degree since they're able to get away with it, but you're wrong about them only using that for cheap fanservice. Especially on HBO with Game of Thrones. Starz isn't as polished with nudity as HBO is though they can produce quality series around it, like Spartacus and Strike Back. It's not like their shows are 24/7 nudity. It's nice to see American shows enjoying sexuality rather than pretending it doesn't exist or hiding it off-screen like we're all children.

    SmrtnikMatev
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