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The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, Vol. 1 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the dawn-of-the-third-age-of-mankind dept.
chromatic writes "It's hard to overestimate the influence that Babylon 5 had on American television, especially science fiction and dramas. When it debuted, it was a smaller, scrappier competitor to Paramount's revitalized Star Trek franchise. When it ended, it had proven that not only could you tell a complex, layered story over multiple years (and through the demise of syndication, yearly struggles with funding, and often frustrating and unexpected troubles with schedules and actors), but that a lean, creator-driven show could succeed artistically." Read on for chromatic's review.
The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, Vol. 1
author J. Michael Straczynski
pages 454
publisher Synthetic Worlds Publishing
rating Worth reading for B5 fans and television students.
reviewer chromatic
ISBN none
summary Notes on and scripts to the first half of Babylon 5 season 1.


Through the course of the show, its creator J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) wrote 92 of the 110 episodes filmed, including every episode of seasons three and four and all but one episode of season five-- a record-breaking achievement. Now he's publishing all of his scripts, as written, in multiple volumes from Babylon5Scripts.com.

There are plenty of books about screenwriting and many include a few examples of actual scripts (another book from JMS himself reprints the script to the Hugo-award winning second season episode "The Coming of Shadows"). Yet what other book or series of books even promises to show the development of a series from inspiration to the final frame of the final episode? What's in the book (and the forthcoming volumes) for a Babylon 5 or sci-fan, let alone someone interested in the mechanics of television?

The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, volume 1 includes the first five JMS-penned episodes from season one, as well as the unfilmed draft of the pilot movie "The Gathering". Each episode includes a short essay with notable information about the writing, planning, or filming of the episode. There's also a short section of photos at the end, along with seven memos from the start of the project through the filming of the pilot.

Subsequent volumes reportedly will include similar information. The second, including the remaining seven episode JMS wrote for season one, is out and shipping now. The rest will follow every few weeks. Positives

The big draw, of course, is the scripts themselves. In particular, the draft of the pilot episode, "The Gathering", has a few major changes from the filmed version. Delenn, the Minbari ambassador, is still a masculine character in this draft. Kosh, the Vorlon ambassador and victim of an assassination plot, has a lifemate travelling with him on the station. For the most part, the changes made before filming are obviously for the better. (Though cutting Kosh's lifemate was the right choice, losing a line of dialogue about one reason for the Vorlons's obvious paranoia about their biology was a pity.)

The scripts appear as written, including typos and, occasionally, vague hints to what will occur later in the series. For example, the first appearance of a First Ones ship (the Walkers at Sigma 957 in the episode "Mind War") has an explicit note that the as-yet unmentioned "Shadowmen" ship will look very different. Another suggestion during the scene of the battle with raiders recommends using real-world physics for the Starfury crafts to differentiate from other dogfights-in-space shows.

If you're interested in scriptwriting, directing, acting, or editing, comparing the script to the finished product may be very educational. Straczynski writes sparse action, leaving most of the interpretation out of the script. Of course, the episodes so far are mostly character and background pieces with comparatively few action or effects scenes needing guidance. It may be that larger battles and flashbacks have more description; it's too early to tell.

The new material is interesting, and in a few places tells stories that never actually left the set. One explains why the change of station telepath from Lyta Alexander to Talia Winters took place between the pilot and the first episode. Another expands on the trials of pitching a show to television executives, especially during the first few attempts of the late '80s. None of this is essential to enjoying the show, but it does provide background for why things in the series happened the way they did. Drawbacks

Other scripts contain scenes that never actually aired. It's not always obvious whether this was due to time constraints, edits, or other decisions. Aside from a few mentions in the episode introductions, there are no notes in the scripts themselves related to what did and didn't make it to the screen. This may not be a drawback; they're much more readable this way and serious students may want to watch and read the episodes simultaneously anyway.

Though the scripts represent the bulk of the show and the introductions and memos provide some detail, there are plenty of decisions made during filming that don't actually have explanations in the book where you might expect them. Walter Koenig's character of Bester, the Psi-Cop, has a crippled hand, yet the book doesn't mention this at all. It's difficult to know how much detail to include -- and the permissions and availability of the material may make it difficult to include (production notes? director notes?) -- but this is by no means the whole story. Keep the Lurker's Guide handy for more details.

The book itself is solid but not remarkable. The script formatting reproduces faithfully an actual shooting script in length and layout. The print quality is good.

Very picky readers may quibble about the length and weight of the book -- most of the non-script material uses whitespace a little too generously, with large top and bottom margins and more than double-spaced type allowing only around twenty lines of text on a letter-sized page. Hopefully subsequent volumes will tighten the layout somewhat. Conclusion

While it's always possible to find bootleg or transcribed scripts online or at conventions, often at vastly inflated prices, the chance to read the official versions as filmed is worth considering for serious students of film or television as well as Babylon 5 fans. The bonus materials are nice, but they're probably more interesting to fans than students; more information about the process of how a script went from the paper to film might satisfy both groups.

The quibbles are minor; if you're already a Babylon 5 fan, you know what to expect here. If you're not a fan or a screenplay geek, this isn't the place to start -- but if you find the creative processes behind television or movies fascinating, this is an easy way to soak up wisdom and hard-earned experience. It's well worth your time to compare a few episodes in script and filmed form.


chromatic's life goals include writing a novel (done), a comic book, and an episode of a television series. Then he can sleep. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, Vol. 1

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  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by flyinwhitey (928430) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:25PM (#14167362)
    "It's hard to overestimate the influence that Babylon 5 had on American television, especially science fiction and dramas."

    No it's not, you just did it with that sentence.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kelson (129150) * on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:36PM (#14167469) Homepage Journal
      Hey, if nothing else, they were able to convince networks to pick up a non-Star Trek sci-fi show. That was one of their biggest obstacles to getting on the air: networks thought there was only room for one space-based science fiction show on the air at a time, and that was Star Trek.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Golias (176380) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:59PM (#14167677)
        Actually, I remember vividly that the networks premiered several other non-Trek sci-fi shows around the same time. It's just the rest of them were flops, while B5 was a (very) modest success.

        SeaQuest DSV: 1993
        Adventures of Brisco County Junior: 1993
        Time Trax: 1993
        Earth 2: 1994
        Sliders: 1995
        Space - Above and Beyond: 1995 ... the list goes on.

        Oh... and then there was this other little sci-fi show which came out a year before B5 which did pretty well. It was about two FBI agents investigating aliens. Maybe you've heard of it.

        In terms of getting sci-fi accepted on TV, I would say that "Quantum Leap", "Alien Nation", and "V", all shows from the 80s, were vastly more important than B5.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kelson (129150) * on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:20PM (#14167901) Homepage Journal
          Um, did you miss the "space-based" part of "space-based sci-fi?"

          And B5 first aired in January 1993 (the network chickened out and aired the pilot as a stand-alone movie, so the series launched the following year), so I'm not sure what you're trying to say with Earth 2 or Space: Above and Beyond.

          As for the big sci-fi launch of '93, all I can remember is B5, DS9 and Space Rangers. JMS had been shopping B5 around for about 5 years, much longer than DS9 had been in development, and I seriously doubt anyone spent much time on Space Rangers.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

          Space: Above and Beyond was my favorite show of all time until Firefly.

          I miss that show.

          B5 had just a little too much "Hercules" or "Xena"-style cheese for me (Andromeda, anyone?), although in general it was much, much better.

          The fact is that sci-fi is a genre: and that means you're always going to have people who try to capitalize on the built-in audience rather than try to tell good stories. Same thing happens with mysteries and fantasies. Yet for some reason, sci-fi fans seem desperate enough to lap up
        • It's just the rest of them were flops...

          And that was a shame in some cases (and not in others - I don't think anyone was sad to see SeaQuest die, I believe Roy Schieder's stated reason for leaving the show was "I don't want to do crap anymore").

          Adventures of Brisco County Junior: 1993
          Space - Above and Beyond: 1995

          These two were actually quite good, or at least somewhat individual. Space Above and Beyond, particularly the later half of the season, was easily the darkest grittiest science fiction to make it t
        • by Cylix (55374)
          Sadly, I've seen every one of these and probably most of every episode...

          Loved E2, watched every episode... not sure why.

          I enjoyed Briscoe County Junior, but I think I missed a few episodes because I was left with some confusion in the end. Of course, it's difficult not to enjoy works by Bruce.

          Time Trax was just bad acting really. For a future guy, he really didn't use much technology at all. That really did annoy the piss out of me.

          I think I caught about every episode of Seaquest DSV and their newish seaso
    • I was going to reply with the same quote and then something or other about Reality TV but I like the way you did it better.
    • by brarrr (99867)
      Yes he did. Hell, I've never even seen it or know anything about the story. Didn't even both to read beyond that sentence. This means I'm PROUDLY saying that not only did I not RTFA, but that I didn't read the summary of the review of TFA.

      Here's to overstatement.
    • Are you kidding? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_kress (99356) on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:53PM (#14168244)
      Nearly every show now has a multi-season arc. These were inexistent when B5 was created (aside from the occasional and rare cliffhanger). Joss picked it up for Buffy, Angel and Firefly. The last few seasons of the X files started to concentrate more on scripting ahead. DS9 and Enterprise started making use of larger arcs (although still lacked any sense of long-term continuity), and it enabled the multi-season dramas like Lost. It heavily affected/enabled nearly all the following sci-fi series like Stargate, farscape and Battlestar Galactica.

      The thing nobody has been able to match is to have an END. This sounds stupid, but it implies closure and a pre-written script that arcs over multiple seasons. It allows you to set up character attributes in season one that they will not make use of until season 4, and when done right it makes for a fantastic viewing experience.

      Pre-scripting the story arc also allows for a continuity that would stop you from making a mish-mash of abandon technology and general stupidity like you always get in the Star Trek universe.

      And I'm STILL understating it.
      • by argStyopa (232550) on Friday December 02, 2005 @06:02PM (#14169480) Journal
        The thing nobody has been able to match is to have an END. This sounds stupid, but it implies closure and a pre-written script that arcs over multiple seasons. It allows you to set up character attributes in season one that they will not make use of until season 4, and when done right it makes for a fantastic viewing experience.

        More importantly still, it allowed his characters to develop like real people, ie. permanently. What Hollywood still doesn't really get is that this adds verisimilitude that you can't SIMULATE. People change, and change in permanent ways. With a finite arc (in X years, we are DONE), you can kill characters, change them radically, do whatever, and (here's the key) they don't return to their original "character concept" by the end of 45 minutes or a couple of episodes. Really, as a viewer you never know when you're going to be handed a major character change...which is neat.
        • by Kelson (129150) *
          I've been re-watching B5 with friends who haven't seen it before, and it's been interesting watching their reactions to, say, G'kar over time. The intertwining destinies of Londo and G'kar form one of the best arcs in the show.
  • It seems a bit after the fact to be reviewing a show that everyone who ever had an interest in it probably already knows as well as the reviewer. Or was this just a Slashdot story that stayed in Pending too long. :^)

    And while MJS may have written the vast majority of the episodes, the very best one was written by David Gerrold! That's my review.

    • by gilroy (155262)
      Blockquoth the poster:

      It seems a bit after the fact to be reviewing a show that everyone who ever had an interest in it probably already knows as well as the reviewer.

      Indeed. That's probably why the reviewer didn't review the show. He/she reviewed a book about the show.
    • And while MJS may have written the vast majority of the episodes, the very best one was written by David Gerrold!

      Okay, so I looked it up. Believers? Puh-lease!
      • Ah, yes, "Believers."

        "Next week, on a Very Special Episode of Babylon 5..."

        Though it did have one of the best Kosh quotes ever.

        "The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote."
  • Fifth Post! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:28PM (#14167396)
    The first 3 posts were sabotaged, and the fourth disappeared.
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GmAz (916505) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:29PM (#14167402) Journal
    I tried so hard to get into that show, but just couldn't. I saw it as corny just too out there. I do like Star Trek, but am not a devouted trekkie thinks everything else sucks, but that is just my opinion.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)
      I can't say as I blame you, actually. Despite the fact that I think B5 was some of the best TV ever produced.

      The problem is, most of the episodes in series 1 sucked badly in many ways. And watching the rest without season 1 is difficult, because it relies heavily on backplot that you pick up in the early stages of the show to have a clue what's going on.

      I don't have a solution. Perhaps just try to ignore the low budget, bad acting and clunky scripts. And skip the worst episodes (TKO stands out, in my op
  • come on... (Score:3, Funny)

    by mangus_angus (873781) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:29PM (#14167409)
    When you have Will Robinson in your show you know it's going to be a hit!
  • by daeley (126313) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:29PM (#14167412) Homepage
    including all of seasons four and five and all but one of season five -- a record-breaking achievement.

    I can see why no one had ever been able to do that before! ;)
    • Re:Well, no wonder! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kelson (129150) * on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:33PM (#14167448) Homepage Journal
      It darn near killed him, too. I'd seen him at various conventions during Babylon 5's run, and it was clear the stress was getting to him. I saw him again at this year's San Diego Comic Con -- 5 years after the show ended -- and he looked 10 years younger.
    • Me too- but it's interesting that nobody else seems to have noticed that 100% of season 5 scripts is NOT equal to 100% of season 5 scripts -1.
      • I think it's one of those things like the joke/mind teaser about the sign that says:

        KEEP OFF THE
        THE GRASS

        If you know what it's likely to say (3, 4 and 5, rather than 4, 5 and 5) and you just skim it, you're not going to notice the typo.
    • Ridicule aside -- this achievement broke what record?
      • Ridicule aside -- this achievement broke what record?

        The most Babylon 5 scripts penned by one man. No one previously had managed to write as many scripts for Babylon 5. It also seems likely that no one in the future will ever beat this record - though I guess if you include "fanfic scripts never filmed" the record is probably already held by someone other than Mr. Straczynski.

        The whole tone of mindless breathless worship tended to detract from the review badly. Couldn't have just had something like "Stracz
    • I noticed that too. The poster meant "all of seasons three and four and all but one episode of season five." And also failed to note that he only stepped aside in season five for Neil Gaiman.
  • I haven't read any of the actual scripts yet, but I've read the entire 40-odd-page intro and the memos. The introduction is fascinating not only for the "making of" information and the stories it tells, but for the self-deprecating, occasionally humorous writing style.

    I'm not sure I'd spend $40 just for the background material, but I have no regrets about spending $30 for the combination of background and the scripts themselves. (There's a $10 discount on each volume for the first week that it's on sale.)
    • I'm not sure I'd spend $40 just for the background material, but I have no regrets about spending $30 for the combination of background and the scripts themselves. (There's a $10 discount on each volume for the first week that it's on sale.)

      Holy crap. $30+ for *one* of these books? With the implication that there are going to be more than ten of them for the complete set? That's worse than the Star Trek DVD set pricing.
      • Yeah, it's pretty steep. But to put it in perspective, apparently people have been selling photocopied scripts at conventions for $20+ each. With that price in mind, $30 for 6-7 scripts plus the commentary, memos, and photos doesn't look quite so bad.

        I was still reluctant at first, but there's enough in the first volume that I'll probably keep going.
  • Through the course of the show, its creator J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) wrote 92 of the 110 episodes filmed, including all of seasons four and five and all but one of season five -- a record-breaking achievement.

    I'm normally not one to gripe about things that should be fixed by an editor, as I'm one of the worst offenders, but I'm at a loss here to figure out what this sentence was intended to mean. Can anyone clarify?
    • by Kelson (129150) *
      Just a typo. He wrote all of seasons three and four, and all but one episode of season five.

      So with one exception (Season 5's "Day of the Dead," written by Sandman writer Neil Gaiman) he wrote three entire seasons in a row -- plus more than half of the first two seasons' scripts.
    • This proves that the author doesn't preview his articles either:

      The rest will follow every few weeks. Positives

      None of this is essential to enjoying the show, but it does provide background for why things in the series happened the way they did. Drawbacks

      Hopefully subsequent volumes will tighten the layout somewhat. Conclusion

  • B5 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tenchiken (22661) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:32PM (#14167445)
    It's easy to forget in the world of Firefly, Stargate, Farscape, etc just how hard it was to get any real sci-fi series that were not named Trek on the air prior to B5. Babylon 5 struggled it's entire existance with ratings, but the fact that someone actually aired a 5 season arc without having to dumb it down, and change it radically to accomidate the Least Common Denominator is impressive.

    My dream is that some day we will get JMS and Joss Whedon to sit down and do a sci-fi series together. With JMS's strengh in plotlines and story development and Joss's characters it would be one of the best series ever. Certainly better then the upcoming SW:TV series. Han with wookies indeed.
    • In the UK, Babylon 5 suffered the same fate as Firefly - Channel 4 moved it around a lot, and put it on at idiotic times (e.g. 12:40am) for a lot of its run, making it impossible to follow. A few years later I downloaded a few of the episodes from the Internet and then bought the whole thing on DVD so I could watch it in order.
      • by jandrese (485) *
        Fox did the same thing in the States. I missed well over half of the shows when it originally aired because the timeslot kept jumping around so much that my local newspaper's TV listings were always out of date.

        It wasn't until years later when TBS aired the series in order and in a stable timeslot that I was able to really appreciate it.
      • Uhm, no they didnt. I watched most of Season 1 and 2 in the same slots, mid week early evening, and the rest in either midweek mid evening or sunday mid evening (9pm ish) slots. Being the young nerd i was then, I only missed one single episode, and I didnt watch any 'late night'.
    • You can actually see the influence that B5 had on other shows. I'm convinced that DS9's writing staff learned as their series progressed from what B5 was doing. As B5's methods and approaches to television became clear, you could see them echoed in DS9. (Note that the longer plot arcs didn't appear in DS9 until after B5 was on the air, for example.)

      The creators of Farscape openly acknowledge B5 as an influence in creating their show, and I think that that shows, too. Stargate also seems to have picked u
  • Syndication was poor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by saskboy (600063) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:36PM (#14167473) Homepage Journal
    "(and through the demise of syndication, "

    I had wondered as a kid why CTV suddenly stopped showing Bab 5. It used to be on right before Star Trek TNG on my CKCK TV station, then poof it was gone, or moved to Saturday afternoon. Then it was on here and there, and I realized they were trying to kill it off. There were times when I felt I couldn't go on, not knowing what was going to happen next on Bab 5, but I sadly got over my addiction and ended up not watching most of the last two seasons since they weren't readily available to me. One of these days I'll have to get ahold of the DVDs and watch the series in its entirety...
    • You NEED to watch seasons 4 and 5.. they are by far the best... JMS even has a cameo appearance as a maintenance engineer at the very end.
      • Most of the interesting plot elements were actually resolved at the end of Season 4 (TNT nearly killed the series, and all the good stuff ended up going into Season 4 instead of both 4 and 5), but you're right that the series finale was really good. Gave me the same sort of emotional response that I got when I reached the end of LotR (the books, I mean) and realized I'd reached the end of a truly epic story. I think that was what JMS intended, too.

    • by Jardine (398197)
      I had wondered as a kid why CTV suddenly stopped showing Bab 5. It used to be on right before Star Trek TNG on my CKCK TV station, then poof it was gone, or moved to Saturday afternoon.

      For quite a while, the regular time slot for my local station had it at 5pm on Saturdays. One week I turned on the TV and tuned to the same station to watch it and this show I'd never seen was on. They had replaced Babylon 5 with Homeboys in Outer Space [imdb.com].
  • by podperson (592944) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:39PM (#14167497) Homepage
    When it ended, it had proven that not only could you tell a complex, layered story over multiple years (and through the demise of syndication, yearly struggles with funding, and often frustrating and unexpected troubles with schedules and actors), but that a lean, creator-driven show could succeed artistically." Read on for chromatic's review.

    It seems to me that Babylon 5 was an attempt to produce something a little like Hill Street Blues in space. It wasn't as well written, acted, or ... good as HSB. By the time Babylon 5 appeared, there were numerous TV shows imitating HSB's layered stories, mixture of short and arc plots, ensemble casts, etc. -- including thirtysomething, St. Elsewhere, and so forth. Almost all of these shows were better than Babylon 5, they just weren't science fiction.

    • C'mon HSB?! Everyone here knows T.J Hooker was the best! :)
    • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:49PM (#14168781) Homepage Journal
      Well, by the same token, Hill Street Blues was a non-SF Blake's 7... and of course there were other ongoing stories before that... BUT, for the most part they weren't multi-season arcs that were designed as a single story. That was a first, and so far, there are very, very few other examples of that style of storytelling. Firefly was designed around a loose arc, but was cancelled. Nothing else I can think of has used that model in the U.S.

      HSB was a great show, and yes, everything that came after it drew from that greatness, or was the worse for not having learned its lessons. I don't think that changes the impact that B5 had, though.

      It was a splash of cold water to the networks. They were SURE that the SF&F markets had no interest in stories. They wanted phasers and green babes as far as they could tell. When the B5 audiences swelled, the big question was: why? When it started to win awards, there was a sort of cautious optimism. When it went a full 5 seasons, and swithched to a real network, "non-episodic" became a hollywood buzzword, and "B5-like" was a phrase applied by the marketing teams behind quite a few shows that you heard about and would never think had any connection.

      Granted, there was no real, general understanding of what they had on their hands. The sequel series (Crusade) was horribly broken from day one as a result of a torrent of "notes" from TNT that destroyed any sense of what the original concept was. The suits also misunderstood the nature of the structure. They thought that X-Files and B5 had the same structure, and any attempt to explain the book-like structure of B5 was met with blank stares (I'm generalizing, this was not a universal failure, of course, just the norm). Still, there was a real change in the way Hollywood made TV, and every SF show and MANY of the non-SF shows to air since have had B5 to thank for that change. Buffy, The West Wing, Farscape, Firefly, and many other shows would likely not have been possible without B5s influence on the BUSINESS as well as on the writers, costume designers, make-up, special effects (call it cheesy now, but NO ONE thought you could do computer-generated effects for a series on-budget before B5 came out, doing it initially on Amigas).

      B5 changed so much that, in retrospect, it's almost impossible to understand. You just can't bring yourself to accept that one show pushed the envelope in so many areas. JMS is an obsessive, territorial, hard-ass who many people in the industry have come to dislike, but credit where credit is due: his show was a turning point.
  • From the article title, I thought the book would contain all of the scripts from "Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors"!!!

  • B5 was fun, but.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by penguin-collective (932038) on Friday December 02, 2005 @02:41PM (#14167531)
    B5 was fun and entertaining, but I wouldn't hold it up as an example of great writing. I think in the end, the show was just taking itself too seriously, and I could never quite shake the suspicion that JMS seriously believed that he was conveying some profound philosophical message with B5.
    • by ab762 (138582) on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:50PM (#14168219) Homepage
      I always thought that the hidden message of B5 was remedial 20th Century history for the Slashdot generation (and others who weren't listening.) People who thought 1984 was out-of-date, and didn't twig to "Ministry of Truth". People who never heard of the Reichstag Fire or the Beerhall Putsch.

      Ignore the spaceships and the funky haircuts on the aliens. Who is G'Kar? Who's asking you "What do you want?" in that seductive tone of voice. Who's being held in who's cellars, out of sight and out of mind? And remember, B5 had come and gone before any of us heard of Abu Ghraib!

  • It's hard to overestimate the influence that Babylon 5 had on American television

    WTF? I thought I filtered out JonKatz stories years ago.

    Yes, Law and Order, CSI:*, and all the other top-rated shows that everyone knows about owes deep allegiance to... what was that again?

  • by Lord Satri (609291) <alexandreleroux@gma i l .com> on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:00PM (#14167689) Homepage Journal
    Interesting. B5 changed my life at the time. It helped me see things differently. Even it this is the past and I'm focusing on other issues now, B5 will always have place in my heart.

    Some great links:
    Babylon 5 Lurker's Guide
    http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/lurker.html [midwinter.com]
    B5 quotes I gathered (and published in an open book):
    http://www.alexandre.leroux.net/quotes/quotes_e.ht ml#b5-anchor [leroux.net]
    Free B5 great game:
    http://ifh.firstones.com/ [firstones.com]

    Cheers :-)
  • "It's hard to overestimate the influence that Babylon 5 had on American television" Sorry pal, it ain't going to be THAT easy for you to validate those hundreds of hours you wasted watching TELEVISION.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:04PM (#14167717) Homepage
    One of the biggest things I loved about B5 was that this is the first Sci fi show I could remember in a long time that copious amounts of sarcasm, quips, snide insults, clever philosophy, and unique circumstances. JMS tried to do something new, and that's what sci fi fans want. Your hard core sci fi fan doesn't want what they saw before and they want something edgy with good dialog, good plot, and a healthy dose of snark. Before B5, the snide sarcasm was something left for the last 3 minutes of a Star Trek episode.

    Have you noticed just how much snark made it's way into original sci fi series these days? B5 started it. SG1 made it a sci-fi standard. Joss with buffy/firefly turned it into a fine art worthy of hanging in the l'ouvre, if one could hang such things. Even Andromeda, which is an okay sci fi series, still has loads of snark. Snark and sarcasm are the highest forms of humor (I feel) and require intelligence and attention span to get. US TV executives of major networks shoot for the lowest common denominator and these are not traits most Americans have.
  • Straczynski's The Real Ghostbusters episodes come out? :) That was ABC's number one rated animated series at the time when he was on the staff. After the network tried to come in and change the show, Straczynski gave them the finger and quit. The show went downhill soon afterwards.

  • I still want to know who was really behind the poison attack on Kosh in The Gathering [google.ca], but I guess it's a bit late to learn more about Vorlon internal politics, although the comment about "losing a line of dialogue about one reason for the Vorlons's obvious paranoia about their biology" perks my interest.
    • Apparently it was intended to be Laurel Takashima (the second-in-command during the Pilot). She was supposed to stick around on the show for a while, shoot Garabaldi in the back during Chrysalis, then be revealed as the person with the sleeper personality (instead of Talia) later on.

      For reference, here's the explanation from JMS on the Lurker's Guide:

      "Think hard about the pilot for a moment. Whose job is it in the observation dome to monitor incoming ships...but apparently let the spider transport slip thr
    • by Kelson (129150) * on Friday December 02, 2005 @04:19PM (#14168509) Homepage Journal
      I'm not sure it's ever been explicitly stated, but here's one way to connect the dots:

      The assassin was a member of the Minbari Wind Swords clan. The Wind Swords sheltered Deathwalker, the worst war criminal among the Dilgar. The Dilgar have been implied to have been allies of the Shadows. At least some Shadow allies are known to have been active since the Earth-Minbari War or earlier. This suggests that the Wind Swords clan is either allied with the Shadows or has been infiltrated by Shadow agents.

      It's entirely likely that the Shadows, or their agents, recognized Babylon 5's significance -- as they recognized Babylon 4 -- and wanted to destabilize it before it beame a threat. What better way than to strike at a likely pivotal figure (Sinclair) by killing a Vorlon and sparking a potential conflict with the Vorlons themselves?
  • Seriously, avoiding anything related to the show and/or its "competition", do scripts really sell enough or have enough appeal to warrant the paper on which the books will be printed? Not to mention that its not even the scripts for the whole series.

    There were a set of companion CDs for some (if not all) the Star Trek series a few years back. Each CD contained complete scripts for the series, synopsis, the original 'next time on...' videos, and pictures. It retailed for $15-20, which is half as much as
    • People signing up for the mailing list crashed the server. Orders pouring in overwhelmed CafePress' ability to print the first publication run on time. (They've geared up for volume 2, now that they know what to expect.)

      I'd say there's enough interest.
  • B3 & B4 totally ruled, B5 just ripped them off

    Quick, someone call the The Narn Bat Squad
  • That when key actors leave the show before the story is over it can totally destroy what you have built overnight (see also DS9).

    TWW

  • by Nitewing98 (308560) on Friday December 02, 2005 @03:49PM (#14168203) Homepage
    I have seen at least one post here decrying someone's enthusiasm as mistaking their personal opinion for fact. So I won't make broad statements about how B5 changed TV, or Sci-fi, or even the room temperature. That being said, I will say that B5 affected me stongly. It was not just a question of the characters or story lines, but the underlying philosophy. Example, when Sheridan is at Zaha Dum and is being interrogated by (assumably) Lorien. When he's asked if he has anything to live for, he suddenly remembers Delenn, and that turns the tide of things. There are other examples, but that's the most obvious. There was an underlying hope and gentleness to the series that I really enjoyed. nw '98
  • This is good news for anyone who wants to learn how to write riveting, non-cliche riddled dialog. Read these scripts and do the opposite.
  • For one with a low tolerance for cheesy dialog, perhaps even... deadly.
  • by Pancho Pistolas (846302) on Friday December 02, 2005 @05:18PM (#14169039) Journal
    I don't know if you'd know this, but I do remember hearing it from Walter Koenig himself at a Con... Bester wasn't _scripted_ to be played with a crippled hand, but Koenig came up with the idea and suggested it (it was an unspoken thing and didn't in any way change the earlier scripts as they were originally written). JMS decided to allow it.

    It wasn't something JMS came up with or had originally penned, hence I could see how it wouldn't have a place
    in his original notes for season one.

    I have mixed feelings about how it adds or doesn't add to the character, thought it certainly makes Bester _seem_ a little more three-dimensional or "realistic"...
  • Prescient? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mindbridge (70295) on Friday December 02, 2005 @07:51PM (#14170352) Homepage
    I am curious, do people feel that B5 predicted the current political events quite well? Some of the quotes and behavior of the NightWatch, the use of external threats (often exaggerated) to cause and then justify actions that people would not stand for otherwise, the arguments used to rationalize a grab for power, etc.

    Once a viewer said that such features of a dictatorship could never occur in an established democracy. JMS responded that they are bound to happen as long as people think they cannot happen (paraphrased). I fear he was right.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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