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Author Topic: Wow! Not liking Babylon 5 so far...  (Read 7329 times)
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« on: June 01, 2005, 09:06:07 PM »

So my wife and I have started watching Babylon 5 because it comes so highly recommended by everyone who has seen it.  We've watched the first disc and part of the second disc of Season One and are not impressed so far.

The voice-over at the beginning is annoying and amateurish.  My wife in particular cringes everytime she hears it.  Tell me this goes away soon right?

The CGI.  It looks low-budget.  I know it's over ten years old so I'm willing to give this a pass.  I'm sure it will get better as the show matures.

The aliens.  It feels like I'm watching a mid-70's Dr. Who episode.  The guy with the big hair and the russian accent looks just plain silly.  There was some kind of praying mantis creature in one episode.  Maybe I'll get used to it but for now it just seems hokey.

I'm sure the stories take off but so far they haven't been much to write home about.  I liked the first episode but so far I'm waiting for one of the much-vaunted story arcs to happen.  It will happen right?

Probably I'm spoiled because I just finished watching all 7 seasons of Deep Space Nine and it is probably my favorite sci-fi series along with Battlestar Galactica.  I'll keep watching Babylon 5 as long as I'm certain it will get better.
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2005, 09:16:39 PM »

The first season blows, pure and simple. Skip to the final two or three and you'll be fine. Season 2 is a lot better, Seasons 3 and 4 are terrific for the most part, and Season 5 blows until the final 6 episodes.
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2005, 09:17:22 PM »

It gets better in a lot of ways.  I don't think the narration ever really goes away but it changes and the more you watch the more you'll get into it.  

It's been a while since I've seen season 1 and I think a lot of what gets laid down there is framework which they constantly build off in the episodes to come.  It works out well.

EDIT: Actually thinking about it more, last friend I showed the stuff to I just started them on season 2.  I half regretted it but half didn't as the first season (despite some of the nice building blocks) is tedious in comparison to how much it picks up in later seasons.
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2005, 09:25:40 PM »

Much like DS9, Babylon 5 takes a while to get going.  But once it gets going... Whoa!

Keep watching.  The second season is when the show really takes off, and I'd suggest anyone really finicky start there.  But watching the first season pays off later in many small, satisfying ways.  Remember, Stracynski had the entire five-year arc planned before he even started.  It will show.
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2005, 11:06:01 PM »

I'm pretty sure the opening narration does change since... well things will change dramatically after season one.
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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2005, 11:31:52 PM »

Yeah, season 1 is pretty awful.  I only kept watching because the glimpses we got of the overall story arc kept me intrigued.  Much, much better in season 2.
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2005, 12:56:11 AM »

The narrator and the narration changes for every season.

I'd say hang in there.  My favorite show of all time.  The first season is weaker than the others but I don't recommend skipping it unless it means that giving up on the series altogether.  


I do admit that I enjoyed almost all of the first season.  The CGI is a little rough but both it and the sets dramatically improve in Season Two.  The quality of visuals on the show end up being pretty amazing for the time.  Star Trek actually ended up recruiting most of the visual effects staff for their shows because they were so impressive.

If you *have* to skip episodes then the must watch episodes from Season One are:

Mind Trap (or whatever it was called where Bester is introduced)
And the Sky Full of Stars
Signs and Portents
A Voice in the Wilderness 1&2
Babylon Squared
Chrysalis

Those are all of what JMS calls the WHAM episodes- ie fundamental to the overall arc.
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« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2005, 01:01:05 AM »

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The aliens. It feels like I'm watching a mid-70's Dr. Who episode. The guy with the big hair and the russian accent looks just plain silly. There was some kind of praying mantis creature in one episode. Maybe I'll get used to it but for now it just seems hokey.


On the aliens:

That hair was actually a mistake.  They could never get it to look right early on.  It improves dramatically too in alter seasons.  And that silly guy with the Russian accent ended up becoming one of the more compelling characters of any show I've every watched.  Londo and G'Kar's relationship is a highlight of the series.  

That praying mantis creature disappears in short order.  JMS was never happy with how it came off.  

I'd love it if you kept up updated on your thoughts if you continue on. I think most of your complaints will be rectified.
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2005, 02:01:31 AM »

Seriously, if you can watch the first season, do it.  It will pay off in dividends later on, and things really start to pick up towards the end of the first season.  The amount of foreshadowing involved in the entire series really pays off.

Give it time, it will be worth it.
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« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2005, 03:00:29 AM »

The first season is a carrot on a stick- it creates more questions than it answers.

The amazing thing about it is that nothing which happens is insignificant; once you know what is going on, you can go back and watch it, and say 'ah-ha! so thats what he meant!'
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2005, 03:11:28 AM »

I always tell people to just start on season 2.  There's a couple of important things you'll miss (you'll get flashbacks of a couple of them when they matter), but season one really is crap.
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2005, 03:29:44 AM »

I too, watched about 2 episodes of Season 1 and thought it was absolutely awful. I mean, terrible. A very very bad Star Trek knock-off.

Worth trying again?
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2005, 03:31:11 AM »

In a word: YES!
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« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2005, 04:00:43 AM »

Quote from: "whiteboyskim"
The first season blows, pure and simple. Skip to the final two or three and you'll be fine. Season 2 is a lot better, Seasons 3 and 4 are terrific for the most part, and Season 5 blows until the final 6 episodes.

That's my thoughts entirely as far as the seasons go. But others are right too - things that happen in season one are used in later story arcs.

Babylon 5 is one of my most favorite TV series of all time. The middle three seasons (and especially 3 and 4) are just so fantastic, you won't know what hit you.
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« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2005, 04:15:52 AM »

Tonight's episode was the main commander guy for the space station meets his old girlfriend.  Hilarity ensues culminating in the classic line:
"Don't touch me unless you mean it!"

Ugh.

I did like the assassination subplot for the Gekar guy.
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« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2005, 08:21:25 AM »

It gets really better, although I haven't watched a lot of the series, episodes in later seasons are simply phenominal, very worthy of the awards they've gotten.

Right now, in season 1, I suspect the writers are just getting used to the characters and haven't put in all their nuance and subtlety.
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« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2005, 08:36:28 AM »

I hated the first season. Thought the acting was dreadful, the stories tedious and felt it looked incredibly cheap. I have no idea why I brought season 2, yet it's a huge improvement and by season 4 It was one of my all tine favorite series. Season 5 is also rubbish though.
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2005, 10:50:43 AM »

There is no doubt that this show is worth the investment.

That said, most older sci-fi series (well most series in general) suffer from awkward first seasons, and it’s not too hard to appreciate why. The actors have to grow into their roles and adapt to whatever circumstances the show places on them. Typically, the budget starts out low, and grows with the amount of viewers, which again is pretty understandable. The thing with sci-fi is that it greatly relies on SFX, which in turn greatly relies on budget and current technology.

I’ve watched a lot of sci-fi shows, and I’m known among my friends as being extremely critical of them. I had the exact same reaction to the character of Londo at first, which seemed completely ridiculous with that hairdo and accent. He ended up being my favorite character along with G’Kar for reasons which should become evident later on.

But no show is perfect, and the flaw of Bab 5, in my opinion, is the same as its strength, namely the emphasis on a consistent over-arching storyline. It requires extra dedication from the viewer, and the show is not really that interesting after the first viewing, as you know and remember most of the plot. Also, I personally think the writing is quite overrated, mostly because it suffers from taking itself a bit too seriously, without sufficient merit. Much of it is plagiarized from obvious sources, like Tolkien and uses a bit too many biblical references for my taste. Still, it’s much better than the crap we witness on TV today.

To sum up, don’t expect a miracle and be patient, and you shall be well rewarded.
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« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2005, 12:29:22 PM »

Must have B5 Link:

Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5

Best B5 resource on the planet.  I highly recommend reading the commentary for each episode after you watch it, particularly JMS Speaks.  JMS is probably the most active creator wrt his fanbase out there.  

The episode that really sold me on B5 was Believers.  It seems like a typical Star Trek TNG episode style plot but went to areas that Star Trek never would.
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« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2005, 12:32:33 PM »

Quote from: "DArtagnan"
Much of it is plagiarized from obvious sources, like Tolkien and uses a bit too many biblical references for my taste. Still, it’s much better than the crap we witness on TV today.


Plagiarized?  There is certainly a fair amount of inspiration from Tolkein, particularly when he deliberately uses a Tolkein quote in Season Two, but I wonder what you think was actually "plagiarized" from Tolkein which is a pretty serious charge to make?
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« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2005, 12:45:31 PM »

I don’t really consider it a charge as such, and I have no intention of involving the law in this, ok?

It’s just my opinion, and maybe others will see it as an inspiration.

There are direct quotes, there is the Z’hadum (Khazadum) thing, the thing with superior races leaving the universe going to a higher level (grey havens) and leaving mankind to start over. Many other things I don’t specifically remember, but I do remember being pretty amused how much was blatantly “borrowed”. Of course there is a lot of it that’s not from tolkien, and presumably from the writer’s own mind, and I don’t want to belittle what I consider a great show. It’s just that I’m not particularly impressed with the writing, because I felt I recognized a lot of other works. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I doubt it.

Think of my opinion as you will, I don’t really get worked up over this.
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« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2005, 12:48:09 PM »

Got it.  Plageurized has very specific and negative conotation to it.  JMS is pretty upfront about his inspirations and LOTR certainly was one but it doesn't really go any farther than what you mentioned.
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« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2005, 01:47:24 PM »

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
That praying mantis creature disappears in short order.  JMS was never happy with how it came off.

The praying mantis dude was in the episode I watched last night.  I expected Jon Pertwee to show up at any moment.

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
I'd love it if you kept up updated on your thoughts if you continue on. I think most of your complaints will be rectified.

I'll do that.  I'm willing to give it a shot because of the good things I hear about later seasons.  I've worked hard to get credibility with my wife on TV shows.  Lately I can tell her "Hey this is supposed to be good!" and she's right there with me.  I just hope this first season doesn't blow all my street cred with teh wifey.
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« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2005, 03:34:34 PM »

And so far it's the only self contained American TV series I can think of. It's one great story, with a beginning and a end. I wish more TV series were like this.
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« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2005, 05:05:56 PM »

Quote from: "whiteboyskim"
The first season blows, pure and simple. Skip to the final two or three and you'll be fine. Season 2 is a lot better, Seasons 3 and 4 are terrific for the most part, and Season 5 blows until the final 6 episodes.


Yes, the first season is lame -- but this is terrible advice. DO NOT SKIP anything. The show builds as it moves forward. Skipping will leave you lost, confused and unhappy. Suffer through. Its worlds better in Season 2.
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« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2005, 05:12:03 PM »

Quote from: "JayG"
I hated the first season. Thought the acting was dreadful, the stories tedious and felt it looked incredibly cheap. I have no idea why I brought season 2, yet it's a huge improvement and by season 4 It was one of my all tine favorite series. Season 5 is also rubbish though.


Well, the first half of Season 5 is rubbish. The latter portions are actually very good. Sigh... I need to go back and watch my B5 DVDs again. I forget sometimes how much I loved this show (and how much I hated Crusade). Londo Mollari is by far one of the greatest characters in television history.

"You are touched by darkness, ambassador. I could warn you, but you would not listen. I could kill you, but another would simply take your place."

Babylon 5 rocks.
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« Reply #26 on: June 02, 2005, 05:13:13 PM »

And even if decide to skip the first season (DON'T!) you must watch Babylon Squared!
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« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2005, 07:18:36 PM »

One other thing about the special effects.

B5 was shot in widescreen.  However, the special effects were done in the dimensions of the "normal" TV screen to save money.  Since the DVD's are done in widescreen, the special effects have been stretched to widescreen, so that's why they don't look very good on the DVd.
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« Reply #28 on: June 02, 2005, 07:32:34 PM »

I can't blame ya for not liking it warning. I never got into the series and the first season eps I have seen (its been awhile) remind me of TNG's first 2-3 seasons. I can at least go back at watch most of DS9 at the start but B5 and TNG are ugh.. horrid. I can see why some liked the show based on the latter seasons and movies etc. but it just never clicked for me. Much like some people and Farscape.
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« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2005, 08:22:45 PM »

Quote from: "Rage"
I too, watched about 2 episodes of Season 1 and thought it was absolutely awful. I mean, terrible. A very very bad Star Trek knock-off.

Worth trying again?



Uh you do know that DS9 is a knock off of Babylon 5 right?


Babylon 5 in its middle years(2-4) is light years better than just about anything Star Trek except TNG series at its best.
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« Reply #30 on: June 02, 2005, 08:56:39 PM »

Quote from: "Fireball1244"
Quote from: "whiteboyskim"
The first season blows, pure and simple. Skip to the final two or three and you'll be fine. Season 2 is a lot better, Seasons 3 and 4 are terrific for the most part, and Season 5 blows until the final 6 episodes.


Yes, the first season is lame -- but this is terrible advice. DO NOT SKIP anything. The show builds as it moves forward. Skipping will leave you lost, confused and unhappy. Suffer through. Its worlds better in Season 2.


I agree with another poster that he should hit the high points of season 1 if he absolutely must, but other wise he's fine starting with Season 2. Most everything really kicks into gear with Sheridan arriving and the Season 1 back stories are all referenced later such that Season 1 is basically filler. The meat of the B5 story is seasons 2-4.
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« Reply #31 on: June 03, 2005, 02:48:41 AM »

Saw the episode Mind Trap tonight and I generally liked it.

It was nice to see Chekov from Star Trek.  I had no idea he was on this show.  I'm assuming a recurring role.

The station commander's (I can never remember his name - not a good sign) girlfriend looked like she was going to die.  She's such a horrible actress I was hoping that Gekar was going to order a hit on her.  Oh well.

The uber-psychic guy turning into Cosmic Space Spirit at the end was way hokey.  "I'll see you in a million years...."  Right-o.

I did like Gekar's discussion of the great space creatures (?) and how we are like ants compared to them.

Overall this episode showed promise.

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
Must have B5 Link:

Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5

Best B5 resource on the planet.  I highly recommend reading the commentary for each episode after you watch it, particularly JMS Speaks.  JMS is probably the most active creator wrt his fanbase out there.

That is a cool site.  I hope I'm safe from spoilers.
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« Reply #32 on: June 03, 2005, 03:07:51 AM »

Quote
That is a cool site. I hope I'm safe from spoilers.


Generally if you stick to the episode you have just watched you'll be fine.  You might want to avoid the speculation sections though- they are just that:  speculation on possible future events at the time the episode aired but sometimes they are correct in their predictions and could spoil some events.  

Glad you enjoyed Mind Trap.  That was really when the crew started feeling their groove and if you read the JMS Speaks section on the Lurker's Guide I think you'll find that he was pretty happy with the episode.

Bester does indeed become a recurring character although I can't remember if he has anymore episodes in Season One.

Sinclair's girlfriend has minimal appearances on the show.  

"And the Sky Full of Stars" should be coming up soon and that one's pretty good too.
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« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2005, 03:17:42 AM »

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
"And the Sky Full of Stars" should be coming up soon and that one's pretty good too.

Wow that episode rocked!  Saw it tonight and both my wife and I were impressed!  This was probably the first episode where there were no sour notes, no silly dialogue, no bad acting.  I'm intrigued by the backstory to the series.  I loved the headline on the paper about Psi-Corp.  I'm wondering why the Minbari decided to surrender and how Sinclair was involved in this happening.

And then I read in that Lurker's Guide that Patrick McGoohan from The Prisoner was originally supposed to play one of the interrogators?  I'm sold.
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« Reply #34 on: June 06, 2005, 12:10:09 PM »

Great to hear that you enjoyed that episode so much, warning.  If you enjoyed that, there are many, many more episodes to come that are better.  Season One will still have some ups and downs though (Season Two is much more consistent).

You'll get your next major chunk of back story in "Signs and Portents."
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« Reply #35 on: June 15, 2005, 02:55:09 PM »

Been watching this pretty heavily.  "Signs and Portents" was indeed very cool.  I loved the "Rod Serling" character.  Very mysterious.  I'm not sure exactly what he wanted but I'm sure he'll show up again.  I'm actually going to watch the episode again with the commentary by JMS.

Grail and Eyes were also good, but not great.  Last night we watched the first of the two-part "Voice in the Wilderness".  Very interesting stuff.

I can certainly see how a lot of this season is set up for what's to come.  I still think Sinclair is a very wooden character, love Garabaldi and love Ivanova.  Lando's hair still gives me a migraine but otherwise I think he's funny.

My wife says that so far it's pretty good but not addicting for her like Stargate and Deep Space Nine was.  Hopefully that'll change for her.
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« Reply #36 on: June 15, 2005, 03:17:51 PM »

Quote
Been watching this pretty heavily. "Signs and Portents" was indeed very cool. I loved the "Rod Serling" character. Very mysterious. I'm not sure exactly what he wanted but I'm sure he'll show up again. I'm actually going to watch the episode again with the commentary by JMS.


NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

The commentaries are very heavy on spoilers.  They were all recorded after the show was off the air and JMS and crew aren't shy about spoiling upcoming seasons.  I recommend you hold off on all of the commentaries until after watching all five seasons.  

I think your wife will find it more addicting in Season Two.  If you're enjoying what you're seeing now you are almost sure to love Season Two and beyond.
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« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2005, 03:37:17 PM »

Season two is where things really heat up, and then season three is pretty much non-stop thrills start to spectacular finish. The way they end season three is my favorite moment in the series.

And as noted, stay away from the commentaries until everything is watched. You'll hear JMS in a season 1 commentary say something like "and this is where we set up "Important Character X" only to kill them off in Season 4." So please avoid for the time being. biggrin
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« Reply #38 on: June 15, 2005, 04:02:56 PM »

Yikes!  Ok ok no commentary then!  Even though I can already tell Sinclair has man-love for Garabaldi I don't want to have anything spoiled for me.
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« Reply #39 on: June 15, 2005, 07:08:31 PM »

Ok so there are also two special features on the Season One discs: “The Making of Babylon 5” and “Back to Babylon 5”.  Are these safe to watch?
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