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Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

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Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Old 03-05-20, 05:10 PM
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Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

So, I finished the first season of B5 and MY GOD was it an endurance trial to sit through. Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasik pretty much carry this show (and they're not even in every episode). The production values are chintzy, the directing is pedestrian, the pacing is glacial, and the sets, costumes and the like are just ugly to look at. It's an obviously intelligently written series, but I'm not sure if I can make it to season 3 where the show is supposed to get better.

Am I the only one who has felt this way? I hear it's the work of genius, but I keep checking the elapsed time on the DVD player.
Old 03-05-20, 05:13 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

That is what I've heard from everyone, even those that love the series. The show supposedly becomes great during its second season, building upon the foundation laid out in season one.

Never found the time myself to binge all five seasons.
Old 03-05-20, 06:22 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

It does get better. Watched the whole series when it was on broadcast tv. Also owned all the DVDs.
Yes season 1 was slow but stick with it. By season 3 you will be on the edge of your seat. And wow season 4.
Old 03-05-20, 06:37 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Originally Posted by TheOne View Post
It does get better. Watched the whole series when it was on broadcast tv. Also owned all the DVDs.
Yes season 1 was slow but stick with it. By season 3 you will be on the edge of your seat. And wow season 4.
Definitely.

I went through the same thing and pressed on and so glad I did.
Old 03-05-20, 09:17 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

I watched it for the first time maybe 10 years ago and enjoyed. At the time, the graphics were definitely dated. I can only imagine what theyíre like today.

However, the characters and plot as I recall are great. There are some interesting shifts, and really ďoh crap!Ē plot changes. Itís a shame like half of the actors are dead now.

Note, if I remember correctly, I screwed up and watched a tv move first even though it came out - I think - between seasons 4 and 5. So donít pull the same mistake!
Old 03-05-20, 09:36 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

On a first watch, one should watch through it sequentially in spite of the tediousness of season 1. I also found season 5 was tedious to watch too.

Though on a re-watch, I skip seasons 1 and 5 altogether. I start with the "In The Beginning" telefilm and go straight to season 2 -> 4 in sequence.
Old 03-05-20, 09:40 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

I was in the same situation several years ago, and someone on this forum recommended sticking with it (I think it was das Monkey), and I was glad I did. Been a while since I've seen it.
Old 03-05-20, 09:42 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Absolutely! You’ve already gotten through the hard part. Season 2 still takes a few episodes to really take off but once it does you’ll be completely hooked. And all the shit you thought was filler earlier will come back, and you’ll realize how meticulously the puzzle pieces were laid out.
Old 03-05-20, 09:48 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

BTW- did you watch The Gathering? It should have been watched prior to season 1. If not, definitely watch it prior to season 2, since a character from the movie comes back as a main cast member.
Old 03-06-20, 05:54 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Yeah, I remember buying the Season One DVD and being super skeptical after watching the first few episodes and almost gave up. Managed to finish the season and then bought the second season and was hooked. So many plot threads are followed up in Seasons 2 and 3 and the show just really picks up momentum. Only problem I have with the show is now whenever I start rewatching it, it's pretty much the only thing in my DVD player for the following three weeks...It's that addictive (although I always skip the last season...Season Five was extremely weak and not necessary...)...
Old 03-06-20, 06:05 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Yes, it's worth it.
Old 03-06-20, 07:38 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Stick with it. You will be so glad you did.
Old 03-06-20, 07:55 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Babylon 5 is one of the first series that was attempted as a 'novel for television' and a huge influence on later serialized television - and, while I don't like to use the term ripped off...was a huge huge influence on Deep Space Nine.
Londo and G'Kar DO carry the show not just because of their enormous acting chops but, frankly, their antagonism drives so much of the plot.

Season 1 isn't as bad as season 5 in my opinion - you can skip S5 if you want and just watch the series finale "Sleeping In Light" but I think Season 1 has some very pertinent episodes that seem like throwaway scenes/episodes but come back in a big way later. However, S2-4 are some of the finest most thrilling science fiction ever on television even today in my opinion. Only series I rank more highly in the realm of sci-fi is Farscape, but this show has my favorite episode of ANY show which is the S3 finale.

Yes, the show has some cheap production values to us now, but some of the SFX were pretty good cgi 'for the time' but don't look as good now on DVD or upscaled or whatever you are watching it on now...and many of the side characters in an episode look like they got picked up off the street for the day...but that doesn't matter with how epic the plot of the show becomes.

The plot of the show does start to wind down about half way through S4 because the showrunners thought they were being canceled and ended up getting an S5 anyway which affected the quality hugely so if you ever want to rewatch it later, you'll probably have a running order of your own to get the most out of it.
Old 03-06-20, 09:23 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Yes, yes, yes. Londo and G'Kar are two of the greatest characters ever written. I still get chills just thinking about their scenes.
Old 03-06-20, 07:14 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

I'll add one more yes. Season 1 is kind of a slog (except for a few good episodes such as "Signs and Portents," "Babylon Squared" and "Chrysalis") but stick with it. Season 2 starts picking things up, and about halfway through s2 it becomes one of the best damned stories ever told on television.
Old 03-06-20, 10:09 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Originally Posted by fiver View Post
Babylon 5 is one of the first series that was attempted as a 'novel for television' and a huge influence on later serialized television - and, while I don't like to use the term ripped off...was a huge huge influence on Deep Space Nine.
Youíve got that last part backwards. JMS shopped the show around to different studios, one of which was Paramount. They liked it but passed, but then turned around and took many of the ideas from JMSí pitch and rewrote it to fit into Star Trek lore. So DS9 is actually a rip-off of B5. Unfortunately Paramount managed to get DS9 on the air before B5, which made it look even more like B5 was the copy cat.
Studios do this shit all the time, which is why we get so many movies close together that seem to have such similar plots, like Armageddon/Deep Impact, Volcano/Danteís Peak, Antz/A Bugís Life, etc.
Old 03-07-20, 01:11 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Originally Posted by Tom Banjo View Post
Youíve got that last part backwards. JMS shopped the show around to different studios, one of which was Paramount. They liked it but passed, but then turned around and took many of the ideas from JMSí pitch and rewrote it to fit into Star Trek lore. So DS9 is actually a rip-off of B5. Unfortunately Paramount managed to get DS9 on the air before B5, which made it look even more like B5 was the copy cat.
Studios do this shit all the time, which is why we get so many movies close together that seem to have such similar plots, like Armageddon/Deep Impact, Volcano/Danteís Peak, Antz/A Bugís Life, etc.
That's what I meant. I enjoyed DS9 despite knowing how Paramount treated JMS, but I've rewatched Babylon 5 several times and still haven't gone all the way through DS9 more than one full viewing.
When B5 really kicks into the full shadow arc, it is absolutely edge of your seat, binge watching at its finest.
Old 03-07-20, 01:44 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Originally Posted by fiver View Post
That's what I meant. I enjoyed DS9 despite knowing how Paramount treated JMS, but I've rewatched Babylon 5 several times and still haven't gone all the way through DS9 more than one full viewing.
When B5 really kicks into the full shadow arc, it is absolutely edge of your seat, binge watching at its finest.
Interesting. I've watched Deep Space Nine many times over the last several decades. The parts are stronger than the sum. Individual episodes are some of the most incredible in the Trek canon: "Duet", "Necessary Evil", "Past Tense" parts I and II, "The Visitor", "Hard Time", "Trials and Tribble-ations" (which is absolutely genius), "Far Beyond the Stars" and "In the Pale Moonlight" just to name a few. The show makes things up on the fly and doesn't have things pre-planned as I could see. The Mirror Universe saga is completely pointless. However, the Dominion is probably the greatest antagonist in Trek since the old school Borg. It's a great show and acquits itself well, rip-off or not. In fact it's easily the best of the post-Roddenberry spin-offs.

At the risk of causing a B5 vs DS9 pissing contest--which I'd like to avoid, *so far* there's been no episode of B5 that I want to revisit and indeed found the first season punishing to sit through. That may change as I watch the rest of the series.
Old 03-07-20, 01:54 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

As boring as you might think the first season is, don’t skip it because many plot points are referenced later on when things start getting good.
Old 03-07-20, 02:03 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Originally Posted by Eric F View Post
As boring as you might think the first season is, donít skip it because many plot points are referenced later on when things start getting good.
I finished it. I'm on to season 2!
Old 03-07-20, 04:18 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Originally Posted by PatD View Post
Iso far* there's been no episode of B5 that I want to revisit and indeed found the first season punishing to sit through. That may change as I watch the rest of the series.
You haven't seen how some of those earlier episodes matter later on, too. I don't want to delve too close to spoilers but, trust me, a couple of them will probably be on your rewatch list when you see how they affect the story arc in later seasons.
Old 03-07-20, 06:44 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

What happened to Sinclair during the Battle of the Line, and why doesn't he remember?
What is inside Kosh's Encounter Suit?
What happened to Babylon 4? Where did it go, and why?
Why did the Minbari end the Earth-Minbari War as they were about to destroy the Earth?
Who is Londo's mysterious friend, and who does he work for?

Old 03-07-20, 07:58 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Originally Posted by PatD View Post
Interesting. I've watched Deep Space Nine many times over the last several decades. The parts are stronger than the sum. Individual episodes are some of the most incredible in the Trek canon: "Duet", "Necessary Evil", "Past Tense" parts I and II, "The Visitor", "Hard Time", "Trials and Tribble-ations" (which is absolutely genius), "Far Beyond the Stars" and "In the Pale Moonlight" just to name a few. The show makes things up on the fly and doesn't have things pre-planned as I could see. The Mirror Universe saga is completely pointless. However, the Dominion is probably the greatest antagonist in Trek since the old school Borg. It's a great show and acquits itself well, rip-off or not. In fact it's easily the best of the post-Roddenberry spin-offs.

At the risk of causing a B5 vs DS9 pissing contest--which I'd like to avoid, *so far* there's been no episode of B5 that I want to revisit and indeed found the first season punishing to sit through. That may change as I watch the rest of the series.
I won't get into a contest between B5 and DS9 - I do like DS9 a lot but whenever I start a rewatch, I just stop before I get to season 3 when things start to get good.

I don't want to get too far into spoiler territory to try and entice you to watch but one of the highlights of the show, too, is Walter Koenig as Bester - seemingly a villain but what are his true motives?

I think watching B5 can be done from several different angles but my favorite way, and I don't think this is that much of a spoiler at this point, is watching it as a Greek tragedy of Londo Molari...
Spoiler:
Londo is an aging distant member of the royal house who spends his days banished to a god-forsaken assignment that noone wanted pining for a return to the days of empire and to see every member of G'Kar's race wiped out of the Universe....who makes a deal with the devil to get everything he wants....and who would give it all back when he realizes just how far he was used to cause the deaths of millions.....


Old 03-08-20, 07:16 AM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

I think I just realized something, but Iím quite foggy on the matter. Re: Londo and GíKar

Spoiler:
Doesnít GíKar end up in essentially an internment camp at the hands of Londo, and have to watch the Shadows obliterate his race and home world?

If so, I just realized how much - to a degree - that mirrors Nero and Spock Prime in 2007 Trek film...
Old 03-08-20, 10:09 PM
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Re: Watching "Babylon 5" For the First Time--It Get's Better, Right?

Babylon 5 may have been dark and edgy entertainment in the placid 1990s with its storylines dealing with the rise of fascism, endless war, and oppressively bleak class stratification. In our present time with the rise of fascism everywhere, endless warfare, and growing poverty and income inequality the worst it's been in a century; watching it in the 2020s is akin to cutting. I'm pretty close to done with this show. I could only make it to the 5th episode of season 2 and it feels like getting my teeth scraped. I might pick it up when I'm less depressed about the world and less persnickety about things like directing and pacing in a television show.

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