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ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






In regards to Believers, it's not that great an episode, but you do have to keep in mind that it aired for the first time in 1994. While the ending isn't that shocking once you've seen a lot of what aired in the 2010s, the only reference that we had for science fiction on television was Star Trek, and you know their writers would've tied up everything in a neat little bow if they'd been given that setting. It's one of a few things that I think JMS did to establish that B5 was not Star Trek, and even if he did go a little far, it was necessary at the time.

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ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The technomage novels were pretty good. I wouldn't recommend reading anything about those until you've finished the series, though.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Those of you who are watching the series for the first time on Amazon are actually missing out on some information that people who were online during the show's original run or who bought the box sets would've had. This does give some hints as to which episodes are particularly significant, but I've made it hard to accidentally get the information if you don't want it.

One of the unusual things that Babylon 5 did was that they gave the seasons titles in addition to each of the individual episodes. Each of the seasons did share a title with one of its episodes, so that was a pretty big sign that that episode was particularly momentous. Since the titles were shared ahead of time online and printed on the box sets, I think it's reasonable to give them here as well. I've removed the spaces and translated them into al Bhed, but you can easily find a translator for that if you look.

Season 1: CEKHCYHTBUNDAHDC
Season 2: DRALUSEHKUVCRYTUFC
Season 3: BUEHDUVHUNADINH
Season 4: HUCINNAHTANHUNADNAYD
Season 5: FRAAMUVVENA

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Since a few people are coming up on the latter part of season 2, it's worth mentioning that episodes 16 and 17 were originally intended to air in the opposite order. It's fine to watch them either way, but there is something that works slightly better if you take the intended order.

After season 2, every episode aired in the intended order.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Mira Furlan was also a very experienced stage actor. Babylon 5 is basically what happens when the theater kids get a budget and special effects.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






There are a lot of adjectives you can use to describe JMS's writing, but "subtle" is not one of them.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






VideoGames posted:


I wonder how old Minbari can reach.


Roughly 140 in human years. This never comes up in the series but JMS mentioned it online at some point.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






TheAardvark posted:

Okay, I'm mostly inured to the bad CGI at this point, but I actually LOL'd at beginning when Sheridan and Ivanova are looking at the sub-PSX level Vorlon ship and call it "beautiful"


It really was quite impressive at the time. Also, the PSX was released right around the original air date of season 2, so you're not too far off.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The_Doctor posted:


Was that Ivanova?


Yes.

quote:


This episode raises questions about how the various races communicate. Sheridan and the Narn seem to be able to talk just fine (although there was also miming), while with the Drazi (I think?), he was saying random phrases in another language? It all muddied the waters on how it works.


The convention is that everyone who spends any time near the station speaks English. There's probably some in-universe justification for it, but really that's just because it's an American TV show. If there's a shot with a group of aliens who would all speak another language, you can assume that they're speaking some other language and that it's just being presented in English for the convenience of the viewers.

Since not everyone in the galaxy is a regular on B5, people who spend time in space elsewhere tend to pick up at least a few words in other languages for whatever business they're on. Sheridan was a starship captain, and it's plausible that he picked up a bit of the Drazi and Narn languages during that time.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Ambassador G'Bear

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






TheAardvark posted:

Not sure. Spoiler it for me?

There's a "subliminal" message that lasts for four frames. It's a real blink-and-you'll-miss-it type thing. It also may not be in the Amazon version, as they had to cut it for some non-American markets.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Might want to break that link in case anyone's reading on mobile. The Awful App likes to inline a lot of images.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






TraderStav posted:

Still a record unbeaten by anyone in the WGA, by miles.

I think at some point JMS said that he wouldn't have done it if he'd known exactly what he was signing up for. TV writing is a lot of work.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






TheAardvark posted:

S2E18 - Confessions and Lamentations


...holy gently caress, the reveal of the quarantine room. Delenn and Lennier holding each other. I was not expecting that at all. This show gets dark

The entire planet wiped out?!?!?!?!


They picked up a lot of new viewers in season 2 and had to clarify that B5 isn't Star Trek.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Polaron posted:

Confessions and Lamentations: I'm pretty sure it was intended to be a direct reference to the AIDS epidemic, given what was going on when it was made and the reference to the disease being associated with "unclean/deviant" members of society

Absolutely.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The UK got the episodes a month or so earlier, I think.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Jedit posted:

No, that was the last season. The UK got the world premiere of the final five episodes.

No link cause this is the blind watch thread, but per the Lurker's guide, s2e19 aired in the UK on July 25 and in the US on October 11.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






e: Nothing here.

ultrafilter fucked around with this message at 15:49 on Jul 16, 2020

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






SlothfulCobra posted:

The Gathering

Spoilers through the end of season 2 here: The Psi Corps mole was planned from the beginning, but obviously it couldn't have been Talia since she wasn't there. Instead it was intended for one of the characters who didn't make it to season 1. There's enough information in the pilot to figure out who originally had that plotline if you watch certain parts closely enough.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The_Doctor posted:

S2ep16 - In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum


They talked around it slightly confusingly, but Delenn said there’s only one First One remaining - Kosh. So he’s not a Vorlon? Or he is, and the rest of the Vorlons aren’t First Ones/as ancient as he is? Or the First Ones are a bunch of races and the only remaining race are the Vorlons?


It's the last one. The dialogue there is confusing and it tripped up enough people that JMS felt the need to clarify in the ensuing discussion. The intended message is that the Vorlons are the remaining First Ones, and that Kosh is one of them.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Go as a Centauri.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Nipponophile posted:

It was a technical glitch. One of the FX guys was doodling on a still of Garibaldi's face while waiting on the scene to render, and he accidentally saved that frame instead of discarding it.

No actual spoilers but a reflection inspired by what was quoted here: The scene in question featured a bunch of PPG shots. In 1994, that took time to render.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Spoilers through Divided Loyalties: It's really interesting to see the difference in how modern viewers react to various things in the show vs. how we looked at them at the time. Garibaldi's a completely standard 90s TV cop and Franklin's behavior in The Long Dark was completely in line with soap opera doctors at the time, so none of us batted an eyelash at either of them. But most of us had never seen a same sex relationship portrayed on television, let alone one in which the people involved were presented as fully three dimensional characters with a physical relationship, and that really stuck out. I wouldn't say it was controversial because the fandom was generally liberal and the general public wasn't really paying attention, but it was definitely notable, and JMS took a little heat for including it. Now new viewers don't even even realize that it was ever even a topic of conversation.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Looks like vudu doesn't actually have the movies (other than the pilot). It's still considerably cheaper to buy that and get those from Amazon.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The_Doctor posted:

S2ep20 - The Long, Twilight Struggle


The mass driver bombing of the Narn homeworld felt a bit toothless as it was just shown as some bland clouds forming, instead of the powerful feeling it should have evoked. This should have been Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and instead it was ink clouding in water. Show me the people element, buildings falling, merely inferring the destruction feels weak.


Per the Lurker's Guide, the five minutes of CGI in this episode took about a month to produce. Given the production deadlines involved, what we got is probably at the absolute limit of what could be done.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The_Doctor posted:

Don’t tell me how to watch TV, thanks. Unless it’s a better episode order like earlier this season or something. Then tell me how to watch it.

In season 3 episodes 4/5 and 12/13 were swapped for various reasons. There's no real reason not to watch them in broadcast order, but the option is there if you feel like it.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Wait until you hear about Deep Space 9.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The Fall of Night: I have some issues with JMS's writing, but the man is a master of pacing. There's a lot that happens in this episode and none of it feels rushed. I think a lot of television writers would have trouble pulling that off half as well.

TheAardvark posted:

I hate you for getting the Childhood's End guess right. I don't know why I was so resistant against it. I think I had totally convinced myself the Vorlon were AI.

If you go back and watch the Vorlon stuff from season 2 after you know that, you'll see a lot of hints in that direction. It's not obvious if you don't already know it, but it's definitely not out of left field either.

ultrafilter fucked around with this message at 03:19 on Aug 18, 2020

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Grand Fromage posted:

The CG does get better as the show goes on. IIRC S3 is where it makes a big jump and at least the ships look great from now on. Still kind of low-res texturing but B5 CG has lots of color and really good composition, so it still looks good despite the obvious technical limitations.

The mid-90s was a time of pretty rapid progress in graphics technology. Even though the show's budget and production schedule didn't change too much, what they could get with it did.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Yeah, those two really did steal the spotlight in pretty much every scene they're in. I really wish they'd been able to parlay that into better careers.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Passing Through Gethsemane is another one of those episodes that's really lost its impact over the past couple decades. It's still a neat story, but when it first aired it was light years ahead of anything being done on television. Now everything else has raised the bar high enough that it doesn't stand out so much.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Grand Fromage posted:

I don't think it's spoiling anything to say this but I'll tag it anyway. You may want to budget enough time to watch the next three episodes all at once.

If you don't wait at least a week between episodes you're not getting the original watch experience.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The_Doctor posted:

Oh heck, so there’s tie-in comics, and they’re plot relevant? That makes them fairly unique. Worth tracking down?

There are 14 comics and 18 novels that make up the Babylon 5 extended universe. None of them are essential, but some are nice to have. Here's a quick rundown on when you can read the various bits without spoiling anything:
  • After season 2: comics #1-11, novels #1-4 and #6
  • After season 3: novels #5, #7 and #9
  • After season 4: comics #12-14, novel #8
  • After season 5: novels #10-18
Comics #1-4, novel #9 and comics #12-14 make up a story and are probably the highlight of what's out there. Comics #5-8 and novel #7 are standalone and provide nice background for the show. Novels #10-18 are less closely tied to the show but still generally pretty good. Everything else is summarized on the Luker's Guide and you should probably read those pages after you finish the series.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Horizon Burning posted:

Most of the B5 novels are extremely bad. Like, the author hadn't really watched the show or knew anything about space bad. The exceptions are generally regarded as the Psi Corp trilogy, The Shadow Within, To Dream in the City of Sorrows, the Technomage trilogy (if you like the Technomages), and the Centauri Prime trilogy. But virtually all of these ones should be read after you're done with the TV series, as they're either set after Season 5 or deal with plot elements from the later seasons. I don't know much about the comics, however.

"most of the eighteen novels are bad but there are eleven that are actually pretty good" is certainly a take.

Grand Fromage posted:

The ones I've read have been pretty boring. All the ancillary material is canon though, including all the novels. Those are supposed to mostly be good, particularly the Technomage and Psi Corps trilogies. I again have those and haven't read them.

It's best to regard everything in the EU as canon to the extent that it doesn't conflict with the show.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






Oh, I forgot the novelizations of the first three made-for-TV movies. Those sure are a thing that exists.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The_Doctor posted:

S3ep09 - Point of No Return


Anyway, Lwaxana’s here with secrets!


This is another one of those 90s cultural details that's probably lost on a modern audience. At the time, there was a certain amount of animosity between B5 and DS9 fans for reasons that are too stupid to recount. Getting Gene Roddenberry's ex-wife to come on for an episode was meant to signify that it was OK to be a fan of both shows. That worked on some people, but the rest of us just took it as a sign that we were right.

I'd say something about how that parallels a modern day situation, but I'd probably just be reading too much into it.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The_Doctor posted:

And my take on how B5 hyperspace works is ‘don’t think about it’.

The show is pretty good about having hyperspace follow the rules consistently. I'm pretty sure the rules they laid out were at least physically plausible based on the physics of the mid-90s, but the jumpgates were designed to make the story work. Beyond those and instantaneous communication with faraway places, the human technology shown was all things that could realistically be made to work.

The military aspects of the show were generally realistic, with the huge exception of having ships fight each other within visual range. That's not how anyone even then thought that space battles would work, but you kinda have to do it that way to create something that's interesting to watch.

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






So now that you're halfway through, where do you think this is going?

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The mid-90s were a time of tremendous progress in computer graphics, and the same budget would get you a lot more in 1996 than in 1994.

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ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






The_Doctor posted:

Looking forward to watching some B5 soon.

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