Friday, August 5, 2011

Babylon 5 Mayhem Week Preview!

Hokay! So I'm back after three days and rarin' to go. Here's the plan. I'm going to do a comprehensive series review of the TV show called Babylon 5. I'm also going to be out of town/away from Internet access from tomorrow until Monday, so I'm posting this preview now as a brief introduction to the show. The tentative schedule next week will be as follows: 

Monday: The best characters in B5. 
Tuesday: The worst characters in B5. 
Wednesday: The best aspects of the show (production, acting, philosophy, writing, etc.)
Thursday: The worst aspects of the show. 
Friday: The worst aspects of the show, continued. (Based on the list I made, I doubt they're all going to fit into one reasonably sized post.)
Saturday: Sum up, final evaluation and grade.

Your Babylon 5 Basics

The best thing you can say about Babylon 5 is that it won’t break your heart. It won’t give you a terrible episode, it usually won’t resolve a storyline in an unsatisfying way, and the worst it gets will be ‘mediocre’. The worst thing about Babylon 5 is that it’s consistently mediocre. Occasionally there will be amazing episodes that transcend the usual tedium and rise to awesome heights, but these are extremely rare and it’s hard to guess when they’ll occur.

I recently finished watching the entire five-season run (110 episodes) of B5, in large part so I could do this review. I’m going to provide a brief summary of the series, talk about the good things, talk about the bad things and try to get a handle on what all of it means. I’ll also introduce you to the best and worst characters on the show.
Spoiler alert: one of the best.
Briefly, Babylon 5 was a TV show created by J. Michael Straczynski that aired 1994-1998. It depicted human-alien diplomatic relations, and occasional wars, on board an enormous space station named Babylon 5. The show takes place within a version of our galaxy that harbors dozens of alien races, who get around by “jumping” in and out of hyperspace. Earth has colonies on Mars, Io and elsewhere, and owns the B5 station. Everyone is in diplomatic contact with one another and most of the races trade with each other, when they’re not at war.

 At the beginning of the series, the five most powerful races are humanity, the Centauri (who have huge frilly hair and colonized the Narns in the past), the Narns (orange with black spots, who detest the Centauri for it), the Minbari (bald with bone on the outside of their heads; fought the humans 10 years prior to season 1 in the Earth-Minbari War) and the Vorlons (who wear encounter suits at all times; nobody knows a thing about them). A sixth race, the Shadows, appears in Season 2. Other, minor races are introduced and fleshed out a little as the series goes on.

The series was frequently described by Straczynski as TV’s version of a novel. B5 generally sticks to long, planned story arcs that can stretch over several seasons. Everything in the show was planned well in advance of its being aired; there’s not a lot of ‘made up on the fly’ stuff. Each season of the series corresponds exactly to one year in real time, with the season finale often being mentioned in-episode as New Year’s Eve.

The B5 franchise included five TV movies, one of which introduced the series in February 1993. A second was set between Seasons 4 and 5, and the rest followed after the series' run. The spin-off series Crusade ran for 13 episodes in 1999 and is essentially a continuation of story arcs from the original series (it includes Daniel Dae Kim of Lost fame). Some of Babylon 5's obscurity comes from its network. It was aired on the Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN), which began in 1993 and folded in 1997. TNT picked up the final season of Babylon 5, and also aired Crusade and three films. The Sci-Fi Channel aired the fifth movie, Babylon 5: Legend of the Rangers.

I hope you enjoy the forthcoming week-long review. If you have questions, insults or comments, please feel free to share them!



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