Thursday, 7 March 2013

A Nostalgic Trip to Babylon 5

I'll recuse myself right away.  I love the series Babylon 5.  I think JMS is one of the best character writers out there and I have a great deal of admiration for how he handled the extended plotline through at least three of the five seasons.

Having finished rewatching Angel on DVD over the last few years (we would watch an episode when our current TV shows went on hiatus or if we ran into a night with nothing ready on the PVR.), we needed a new show to re-explore.  I suggested and Dave enthusiastically agreed to see if Babylon 5 was as good as we remembered.

We began with the TV-movie pilot, The Gathering.  It's rough.  I won't lie.  It was intended as a self-contained plot but JMS wanted to have threads there that he could pull through the rest of the series: the mystery of the Vorlons, the commander's girlfriend with her shipping company, even the doctor's use of stims to keep himself going.

Watching it in hindsight, I think I can decipher what the storylines would have been.

The mystery of the Vorlons is the big reveal of the second season.  It was set up nicely and didn't need much tweaking.  Commander Sinclair would have been taught the same way Captain Sheridan was taught, drawing him in and then we would have made the big discovery.

I am betting that Commander Sinclair was originally going to abscond with Babylon 4 after 20 years in this timeline.  It probably would have been the last episode of the series.  He would have returned to the past and begun the Minbari-Human crossovers.  This would mean that his girlfriend would have played the part Anna Sheridan played.  She would have been lost in the systems on the Galactic Rim and taken over by the Shadows.  Then she could have returned when Sinclair and Delenn had gotten together.  That would have been a nice bit of tension.

There are some brilliant bits which shine even despite the rough cuts and slightly incomprehensible story line.  Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas as Londo and G'Kar seem to be very comfortable very quickly with their characters and their relationship is full of explosive chemistry.  Jerry Doyle as Garibaldi isn't quite there yet but you can see he's working on it.

Michael O'Hare never quite seemed to pull Commander Sinclair out of limbo.  Sometimes the character would be an aggressive commander, in the style of Captain Kirk, and other times, he followed a more priestly path, like Morpheus in the Matrix.  The two didn't blend well.  It's too bad.  With a little more uniform direction for the character, I think he would have done well.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the series and really, that's the best endorsement I can offer for something I can practically recite the dialogue with.

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