TV Series Review: Babylon 5

by Steve Lancaster3/5/19
Season 3 and part of 4  •  If you’re a science fiction fan you probably have some strong feelings about Babylon 5. Frankly, some criticism is deserved. Most of season 1 and 2 are rarely interesting and seldom much more than a future based reality show (Jersey Girls in space). However, Season 3 and the first part of season 4 offer some real drama and interesting science fiction with very human concepts. Life, death, religion, drugs and their abuse, growth and the need for parents to let go, and the susceptibility of power to corrupt.

Babylon 5 is a mid-90s series developed by Joe Michael Strazynski, who also wrote the episodes — all 110 and 90+ hours of televised shows not including a 2-hour movie. The series stars Mira Furlan as Delenn, Richard Biggs as Dr. Franklin, Stephen Furst as Vir Cotto, Andreeas Katsulas as G’Kar, Peter Jurasik as Londo Mollari, Jerry Doyle as Michael Garibaldi, Bill Mumy as Lennier and Bruce Boxleitner as Captian John Sheridan. Over the course of its 5-year run almost every character actor in Hollywood made an appearance.

Walter Koenig, June Lockhart, Malissa Gilbert, Michael York, Brad Dourif, Robert England, Bryan Cranston, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr are among the most notable. The series won various awards during its run, including Hugo and Bradbury awards. The series lists Harlan Ellison as a consultant. That the mercurial Ellison did not take his name off is more important than his consulting and friendship with Strazynski.

Babylon 5 is set in the 23rd century. Space travel is as common as airplane travel today. The problem of long distances is solved with hyper-space travel. The Galaxy is filled with sentient races with all too human vices and virtues. Babylon 5 is a station in a critical section of space, established as a trading location and diplomatic locus. It is five-miles-long and holds 250,000 humans and aliens.

Politically, the humans and aliens on Babylon 5 are representative of human virtues and vices. The Centari are a combination of Rome at the time of Caligula and the USSR. Londo coolly negotiates, to his own benefit, between the humans and other alien races. G’Kar, the Narn ambassador, is the enemy of the Centari who have invaded Narn and enslaved the population. If you close your eyes, the Narn can remind you of Soviet-occupied Poland.

Delenn is the ambassador from Minbar, an advanced race with contradicting values. It is easiest to think of the Minbari as Shaolin Monks, technologically advanced and on the surface peaceful but fully prepared for war. Earth and Minbar fight a first-contact war that earth was about to lose when, for unexplained reasons, Minbar surrendered. The explanation develops throughout season 3 in the two-part episodes 16 and 17, “War without End,” some of the best televised science fiction on television ever. The special effects are top of the line for the mid-90s TV. But do not expect high quality CG common today.

In season 3, there are some very interesting episodesL Number 4, “Passing through Gethsemane,” stars the well-known Brad Dourif as a reformed serial  murderer who now lives as a monk. It explores the quality of forgiveness and the hope of redemption.  On a similar note, number 13, “A Late Delivery from Avalon,” features Michael York as a man with the delusion he is King Arthur returned to save humanity. Also, in season 3, Walter Koeing (Chekov from Star Trek) as an intermittent regular. Season 3 ends with the disappearance of Captain Sheridan on the home planet of the enemy, Z’ha’dum, and the possible breakup of the coalition he formed to fight the coming interstellar war.

Season 4 covers the “shadow war” which the coalition wins and the beginning of the eventual earth/colonies war with Babylon 5 leading humans to overthrow a corrupt government. One world government: Who would think it would be fascist? The balance of the series has some interesting episodes and eventually ties-up lose ends. It’s not horrible but unless you are sold on the plot lines it can get tiresome. Currently, the entire series is on Amazon Prime.

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19 Responses to TV Series Review: Babylon 5

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Let me say that Steve has caught the flavor of it: Interesting but it can be tedious. From a purely objective standpoint (even about subjective matters), it’s clear he’s seen the same series that I have. There’s a lot to like. And there’s some other stuff you have to just sit through.

    One area where I differ is about the first couple of season, especially season one. I shouldn’t like the performance on paper, but I like Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (played by Michael O’Hare). This seems like the guy who has been forced (as the show plots it) who has been given a shit assignment that nobody else wanted. And he does the most with it. He is constantly in over his head. But being a truly decent man, he stays true to himself and finds a way through.

    I like him better than Bruce Boxleitner who, admittedly, is the best actor they could have brought in to replace him. Commander Sinclair still weaves into the plot in a complicated (and quite big) way. But I can’t say anything more.

    Character study:

    Delenn: Often annoying and insufferable, yet is a good example of one of the three classes of the Minbari. She’s of the priest class. The other two classes are the soldier and the workers. Overall, I like this character although the romance that blossoms seems patched-on. As Steve noted, there are some terrific episodes in this series that take on some big themes. But there’s also a lot of pedestrian writing,

    Londo: One of the most well-defined characters despite using an accent which I still think is dumb and a bad choice. Unfortunately (and I can’t give anything away), this Hitlerian character (as it turns out) is still given a wuzzy-fuzzy soft-focus treatment as if we are watching the kid-oriented Battlestar Galactica. There’s a dichotomy here that’s never resolved, much less faced. Much of the writing can be seen as rushed TV writing. One season (season 4 or 5) is self-admittedly rushed because they thought the series was coming to an ending. That leaves the following season (which they did get) thin….and one that ends about as stupidly as any show I’ve seen.

    Susan Ivanova: Girl power in concentrated form. But you get used to her — and realize just how good she was when the completely terrible actress/character of Capt. Elizabeth Lochley (played by Tracy Scoggins) replaces her. Ivanova comes back for a couple of TV movies, but the series was never again the same. I admit…this is the one character I didn’t like at the start but I did warm to her.

    John Sheridan: Good.

    Lennier: A very nuanced and heartfelt Mimbari character played by Lost-in-Space Bill Mumy. At times he’s a bit feckless. And his hero-worship and love-from-afar of Delenn can get annoying. But he’s one of the more fleshed-out characters, and one that you can care about.

    Michael Garibaldi. A lot of people really like this character. And the problem isn’t with the actor. It’s that the series doesn’t know what to do with this character. He’s security chief but it’s the most lax security you’ll ever see. He’s a likable character and yet the material they give him is always one-dimensional and shallow. He seems more like a character they throw in just to take up some time.

    Sinclair: Good, but in a strange way.

    Alfred Bester: Walter Koenig surprisingly (as least to me) fleshes out a bad-ass Psi Cop character. He’s perhaps the best semi-recurring character in the show

    Talia Winters: Speaking of Psi Cop, this is a good character who develops as the show does (to the extent that it does). And then she’s lopped off. There’s a missed opportunities here.

    Lyta Alexander. Meh. She’s okay. Nothing special. Another mind reader.

    Vir Cotto. Played by Stephen First (“Flounder”), this is likely the most realistic character of the show. He’s very likable as well. It’s as if First has his pulse on the tone that Babylon 5 wanted to be: serious and with depth, but also identifiable and with some humor, but always believable and with no gadgets or bland stereotypes. He does more with what he’s given than any of the other actors.

    Stephen Franklin. The Doctor. He’ll never make you forget Dr. McCoy from Star Trek. He’s a sort of plastic, cookie-cutter type of character. More like what you’d see in a bad soap opera.

    Zack Allan. This is Bobby Wheeler in a subsidiary role. Jeff Conaway is a tragic case himself. But in this show, he usually adds some sparkle to a scene. But he’s more of a sidekick character and never developed to any extent. He certainly could have been.

    G’Kar: This show is arguable about Londo vs G’Kar. This is one of the better-written characters fleshed out by an extraordinarily deep and consistent performance by Andreas Katsulas (the one-armed man). He anchors the alien aspect of the show much as Spock did in Star Trek. You eventually see many sides to this passionate Narn from an interesting race. Katsulas weaves it all together and never does it look as if he’s reciting lines that have been stuffed into his mouth. This might be the best actor of the entire bunch.

    Babylon five is an ambitious show with pretenses of the sophistication of 2001: A Space Odyssey but with one foot firmly planted int Battlestar Galactica. There are some one-off episodes that are terrific. I would offhand say about 8 or 9 shows are of very high quality and probably another 15 to 20 that are “good enough.” And there are some overall story arcs that play out okay. Some others are stinkers. They either make no sense or weren’t worth the wait.

    Intermixed with a lot of throw-away plots you’ll find some good episodes. But there is certainly an overall guiding hand to where the show is supposed to go. But it’s in the finer details where it loses its way. It helped when, after season 1, they got a bigger budget. But even then, it got to the point where they were just recycling the same types of scenes in the same types of places.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Straczynski also had a libertarian reputation, and for a while he was up there with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. I never saw the show myself, having pretty much stopped watching series TV about that time.

    But it’s interesting to see the SF TV connections of some of the listed performers, such as Star Trek (Koenig, who also had a notable appearance in Ellison’s “Memos From Purgatory” on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour) and Lost in Space (Lockhart and Mumy, who also had 3 appearance on The Twilight Zone).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Straczynski also had a libertarian reputation

      One of the damnedest things is that Firefly, by extreme libtard Joss Whedon, who has lost entirely whatever cinematic taste he had, is a very good series. And even those there is the token girl, the token black, etc., none of the characters are actually written that way.

      Wash’s black wife, played nicely by Gina Torres, is allowed to be a person instead of a stereotype (whether positive or negative, it’s all the same in terms of a good and realistic story). We forget that she’s black and, frankly, we don’t care that she’s black. She like Uhuru.

      Stracyznski may be the biggest Libertardarian in the galaxy. And one could take any series and cherry-pick (or mal-interpret) it so that your ideology works out. But I remember no overt political tracts playing out in the show.

      I think they tried to make a good show and didn’t have the malarky of “diversity” or “virtue signally” in mind. And would a libertarian have made the solution to the galaxy’s problems some well-meaning all-powerful commander with a fleet of kick-ass alien ships enforcing his cosmic (although likely better) vision of how things should be?

      Maybe, if only because libertarian philosophy is such a mish-mash of back-filled, make-it-up-as-you-go stories and rationalizations. Certainly Roddenberry had a libtardish “Progressive” view of mankind and space. But such labels in the 60’s have very little to do with the poison of Leftism (although it was often the seed for the excesses). Yes, there were a variety of races and sexes. But within the confines of the show, they were fleshed out and were not just placeholders for virtue signalling. We soon forgot that Uhuru was black, although wiht that thick accent, I don’t think we ever forgot the Chekov was Russian.

      With Star Trek, we say the world through alien eyes a time or two. We saw good white people and bad white people. Good Vulcans and (well, at least) dodgy Vulcans. We saw good races (Organians…or maybe they’re just a “better than thou” race) and bad races (Andorian, Romulan).

      The ability to tell a story without worrying about how some political kook is going to react is being lost. That’s primarily why the recent Star Wars movies sucked so much. It didn’t help that some extremely libtard woman at Disney was in charge of it.

      Who can just tell a good story anymore and not worry how some freak or Snowflake is going to be offended because there isn’t a non-stop positive image being portrayed for their political viewpoint of choice? Catering to these societal leeches sucks the life out of all art.

      Look at how the clown, Spielberg, went back and removed the guns from E.T. Things have gotten stupider and stupider since then.

      Koenig isn’t just acceptable in his role as Bester, it really seems a shame he didn’t find more roles for himself like this. He breath 100% malignant life into that character even though he ought to be thoroughly stereotyped as the Beatlesesque mop-topped young heartthrob yute on the bridge of the Enterprise who wouldn’t hurt a flea (although he would be glad to fire a full spread of photon torpedoes at the Klingons).

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Then perhaps you’d like Koenig as the JD gang leader in “Memos From Purgatory”. I would say that in the original series, Klingons were more evil than Romulans, though this obviously changed later.

        During the first season of Star Trek, someone in Russia noticed that they had all these different types on the ship — but no one from Russia. So they added Chekov for the second season, and had some fun by making him a stereotype of a Soviet Russian.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        One thing I like about Babylon 5 is that it is the antithesis of Star Trek. The original ST was less utopian but the elements are there world government, economic magic tricks that would make AOC jealous and no dissent. That is not to say I don’t like ST but I take it with a grain of salt. Next Generation is a progressive romp of political correctness. ST and all its spinoffs present an unrealistic world where everyone sings kumbyah to the same music and beat.

        Babylon 5 takes all the qualities of humanity, good and bad, into the 23 century. People do horrible things and wonderful things. I don’t think it is possible to separate these two dimensions of the human character and Babylon 5 retains the good and the bad.

        Where ST celebrates the size and complexity of government “for the good of all”. Babylon 5 explores the downside of government. Perhaps, that is my inner libertarian but if I could chose which world to live in I prefer the near chaos of Babylon 5 to the structured sterile cocoon of ST.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          The Nitpicker’s Guide for Next Generation Trekkers had a small section looking into all their attacks on humans, and especially those of our day. My favorite may have been the planet with “late 20th Century technology” that included . . . disintegration as a means of execution. They also had a weird legal system. None of it had anything to do with us, even less than Lilliput and Laputa did with European civilization.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The original ST was less utopian but the elements are there world government, economic magic tricks that would make AOC jealous and no dissent.

          LOL. Good point. If you stop and take even a glancing look at the Federation utopia, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Unless they were able to implant a new human nature into each and every individual, all of the same issues would apply. There’s no utopia as long as human nature is in charge.

          Next Generation is a progressive romp of political correctness.

          Oh, boy, isn’t it ever. It got worse with Voyager. My brother told me just yesterday about a generally conservative, intelligent, and normal (the greatest compliment of all these days) person he knows. How it came up in conversation, I don’t know. But he mentioned to my brother that he liked Voyager.

          We can all have different tastes. But, I’m sorry, if you like Star Trek Voyager, there’s something wrong with you.

          And I think you’re obviously correct when you say that Babylon 5 explores the downside of government…at least big government. In this series, Mars becomes the liberty-loving people who are resisting the bad King George of the illegitimate president of Earth Alliance, William Clark.

          Although it is here we get some really stupid libtard plotting from the creator. To quote Wiki (spoilers):

          Clark became president when EarthForce One, carrying President Luis Santiago, was destroyed in 2258. He was complicit with the assassination, in order to take office. He believed Earth to be in danger of being overrun by extraterrestrial races, and so the Nightwatch, a fascist, paramilitary organization, was formed to find out people suspected to be alien infiltrators or sympathizers.

          Yawn. This is the kind or programming from leftist assholes that has left this country open to a true invasion of illegal aliens. The indoctrinated idea (including this stupid plot line) is that if you oppose “aliens” of any kind, you’re a loony fascist who is just seeing things. Europe is slowly killing itself from this poisonous doctrine. It won’t be too long until the Islamists are playing ball with the queen’s head.

          What I liked about the general setup of Babylon 5 was that the station is the same sort of pie-in-the-sky, international, Kumbaya-esque libtard icon as the International Space Station. But Babylon 5 was much more practical in this regard if only because it was so damn big.

          In fact, there were about 250,000 inhabitants of the station. That made it not only large enough for a real exchange of cultures (and commerce) but make it next to impossible for Garibaldi to control. Some days it didn’t even look like he bothered to try.

          Yes, Star Trek was very often a structured sterile cocoon. Good point. In the original series, not so much.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            One thing that has come up is the Federation’s notion of money. Sometimes they say they don’t use it, and really don’t even have an economy. But anyone who looks at the career of Harcourt Fenton Mudd would know that this wasn’t always the case. How else do dilithium miners get rich? What did Mudd sell patents (that he had no rights to sell) for, and in what did he own royalties for them?

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              One of the more interesting episodes of The Next Generation was right after Picard’s two-parter with the Borg. He’d been through the ringer. I think it’s the very next episode (or soon after) having unplugged from the Borg collective that he returns to earth to spend time with his cranky brother in France on his brother’s vineyard.

              This is the liberal utopia. No one has to work. It’s all about doing your hobbies. This is Nancy Pelosi’s dream world. (Why his brother is so unhappy is an interesting question.)

              There’s a lot to be said for doing what you like and making money at it. And a lot of people do that rather successfully. It’s not hard to imagine that many would do just what they’re doing now, and with no compensation other than the joy of doing it.

              But there is a distinct difference between a hobby and a profession. The good or lucky can mix the two, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone would be so productive or inspired without the thought of compensation.

              And as far as the vision of an artsty-fartsy utopia for everyone, the fact is that you’ll always have chiefs and you’ll always have injuns. You’ll have entrepreneurs and you’ll have worker bees content to do their 9 to 5. And that’s just the way it is.

              How you get a functioning, peaceful society when work is no longer a requirement is an interesting proposition. One could suppose that with machines like the replicator, you could have just about anything you want, when you want it. But I’m not sure how they divvy out living spaces. Who gets the beachfront property?

              In the end, you have to imagine the Earth was run by an all-powerful benevolent dictatorship that had complete mind control of the people from cradle to grave. They told them where to live and how much space they could have. And somehow the Earth’s resources were all perfectly managed and equitably shared. But we all know that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and it’s a real dishonest dodge by the Star Trek creators and writers to never delve into these issues.

              But then by The Next Generation, this was pretty much puff sci-fi. Not that I didn’t enjoy some of it. I did. But it was never to be taken too seriously beyond the realm of monster of the week.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                But there is a distinct difference between a hobby and a profession. The good or lucky can mix the two, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone would be so productive or inspired without the thought of compensation.

                What is rarely mentioned about Marxism, Leninism/Stalinism is the fact that in a communist society everyone who could work, had to work. Only the compensation would theoretically be the same for the dish washer and the doctor.

                “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was not based on sitting around doing nothing.

              • Steve Lancaster says:

                Was the writers of Star Trek and many other shows forget is the Col Jessup factor.

                “And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”

                The hard truth is the world is governed by the application of force often in dramatic fashion. The basic difference between Babylon 5 and Star Trek is the acknowledgement that true evil exists and can only be defeated with violence.

                The writers of A Few Good Men thought they were condemning force and the elements that make it necessary. They will never know how wrong they were.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I don’t have the exact quote, but Orwell once pointed out (during World War II) that the people slept soundly at night because of rough men willing to do violence on their behalf.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the better one-off Babylon 5 episodes is season five’s A View from the Gallery. We see the daily operations of the station (even if in yet another crisis…and that was sort of a daily operation) through the eyes of two low-level technicians. Neither technician is a particularly good character. They’re a bit goofball. But the story is solid enough that it works very well.

    This is generally reminiscent of the Star Trek: Next Generation episode, Data’s Day where we see a chronology of his life for a day. This episode itself pays (or owes) homage to perhaps one or two M.A.S.H. episodes, including the one where the doctors are racing the clock to find an organ donor and the clock is ticking away in the upper corner of the TV screen.

    Read no further if you don’t want any spoilers. But I’d be interesting in the thoughts of anyone whose seen all 5 seasons.

    The main overall story arc (as it turns out) is about two advanced and opposed galactic coalitions which (much like Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton) want to run the lives of all the lowers species, and for their own good — but in quite different ways (one Darwinian, one managerial).

    The really tiresome character of the “Let’s manage them for their own good” faction is Ambassador Kosh of the Vorlon Empire. This character, more than any other, shows the weakness of this series. Kosh is enigmatic to the degree that it just gets silly. And he (it?) is from such an all-powerful race that he can’t even defend himself in his own quarters (a McGuffin event if there ever was one).

    The Vorlons (along with some other races, I believe) are outed as having made some sort of deal (I forget the details) with The Shadow forces. The Shadows are an advanced coalition of races (we never do find out much about them) who wish to improve the galaxy via survival of the fittest. So they from time to time help the most ruthless and aggressive races to make war on their weaker or more peaceful neighbors.

    And apparently the Vorlons and their coalition have at one time fought (and defeated) the Shadows for control of who controls. But in the era of Babylon 5, these Shadow forces are regrouping and setting out again to try to “fundamentally transform” the universe.

    The conclusion of all this is riveting if not entirely convincing. John Sheridan (Boxleitner) basically gives a powerful Kirk-like speech to the Vorlons of the essence “We’ve grown up now and don’t need you.” Okay. That convinces the Vorlon and, much like the elves in Lord of the Rings, decide to head off to greener pastures in some other galaxy, universe, dimension, or whatever.

    Kosh never was a good character. He was mysterious for a while but he was enigmatic to a fault. And the story arc of Sheridan (after defeating the bad earth president) taking off in his fleet of Mimbari-made “White Star” ships and correcting every evil in the universe isn’t plausible nor does it fit the scale of the show. Suddenly we are tied to Big Things that happen All the Time and the human (or alien) dimension is gone. Well, if the Vorlon couldn’t manage the universe how can Sheridan with his White Star ships do so as the central authority? Didn’t they learn anything?

    The series does thus eventually devolve into incoherency. And when Garibaldi (who I did like) leaves his security post on Babylon 5 for another role (which never made any sense) and Ivanova (like her or hate her, she did eventually advance beyond the mere stereotype of “girl power,” although that aspect never left her) is replace by the atrociously awful Second Coming of Girl Power, the show becomes unwatchable. It devolves (as Star Trek:The Next Generation did) into non-stop warm-fuzzy “relationship” pastiches of buddy-buddy garbage. “Oh, isn’t it so nice that we all like each other here in outer space.”

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Only the compensation would theoretically be the same for the dish washer and the doctor.

    Babylon 5 appears to be a quite free-market station, Mr. Kung. It’s so free-market that smuggling plays a major theme in many of the episodes.

    But it’s hardly a utopian free-market internationalist station. Law and order is quite dodgy in many of the districts. We get a general philosophy early-on from Commander Sinclair that this is kinda-sorta a feature, not a bug. I get the general idea (he may have stated so plainly) that for Babylon 5 to fulfill its function as a way for different races to work together instead of fighting each other that he can’t clamp down things too tightly.

    This certainly suits security chief Michael Garibaldi who is an old friend of Sinclair’s but whose competence at this job (from the viewer’s standpoint) is dodgy at best. Still, he’s such a nice guy, loyal, true-blue, and all that.

    The three bridge stars — Sinclair/Sheridan, Ivanova, and Garibaldi — are generally in sync and work together on things. They don’t (thankfully) throw in a lot of forced adversarial stuff. That can get tiring in a program. More than once Sinclair/Sheridan has asked them to accept completely unusual and bizarre circumstances under the umbrella of “trust me,” and they usually have

    It’s just as well that they get along. Their hands are always full taking care of the latest disease/smuggled-weapon/smuggled-drug/espionage/external attack/whatever that’s effecting the station.

    What hurts the show is sloppy writing. A few episodes are tight. Many seem to be full of filler. Still, there does come through a sense of reality that you don’t get with the Kindergarten-minded Deep Space 9. That Star Trek spin-off had some good qualities to it: Odo, Quark, and . . . ohhhh . . . well, they have Odo and Quark. Oh….they do have the Cardassians who are a bad-ass species. Although introduced in the 1991 Next Generation episode, “The Wounded,” it was Deep Space 9 that put that race into prime time.

    But mostly is was just gratingly either PC or too Kindergarten. Nana Visitor as Major Kira is a prime example. Ostensibly this could be a good character but there isn’t much edge to her. It’s all “Let’s be friends in space” stuff. Commander Sisko is boring. Dax is another cookie-cutter soap opera type of character. The same with Doctor Bashir, although amongst all these character, he at least seems a bit more real.

    They try to inject some magic into this series by dumping half the Enterprise crew in it: Worf, Chief O’Brien, his annoying wife, Vash, the Borg, Lwaxana Troi, Riker, and some others.

    But I digress. Regarding labor, there was a show that stands out where the longshoreman (the loading dock workers) were going on strike. This was one of those instances where Sheridan gave a Kirk-like speech along with Kirk-like decisiveness. Boxleitner is good in the role of the second commander of Babylon 5.

    Things I wish they had done differently:

    + Had the balls to really resolve the Londo/G-Kar situation. It’s soft-peddled….even despite the flash-forwards in time that suggest that Londo does eventually meet justice.

    + The Vorlon ambassador should not have been made such a McGuffin. He did little but spout obscurities. And, yes, there are a couple good scenes where Sinclair, Sheridan, or someone called him on his arrogant BS. But we don’t get enough of that. We could also have seen behind the scenes with the race to deepen the show.

    + Fix Garibaldi’s character. Many of his actions are superficial. Give the man something to do. And when he does go to Mars colony, we see what could have been done with this character but wasn’t. But at least they had that.

    + Ease off a bit on the centrality of Delenn. She just has way too much Minbari estrogen (if that’s what they use) oozing in her scenes. But that’s not at all to suggest that she was Counselor Troi. Oh, good god, no. Delenn often had a lot of good plot lines and scenes. Her battle with the forces on her home planet is very well done.

    + Ease off on The Grand Plot Lines and make it more one-off episodic television. The Grant Plot Lines generally didn’t amount to squat and weren’t worth all that you have to go through to get to the resolution. And more than one of the resolutions was pretty lame.

    + Quit shooting every other scene in the same one bar or arcade. Goodness gracious, they over-did that.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The basic difference between Babylon 5 and Star Trek is the acknowledgement that true evil exists and can only be defeated with violence.

    Steve, me might at least give Captain Kirk the benefit of the doubt. He would try to talk his way out of a confrontation. But he wouldn’t shy away from shooting from both barrels (and from the hip as well). Never (as far as I can remember) did Kirk molly-coddle himself to inaction by excessive navel gazing and self doubt.

    That was pretty much Dr. McCoy’s role. I forget the episode. I might have been the one were they first met the Romulans and were attacked by them. Kirk thought it absolutely vital that they pursue and destroy lest worse effects come from a sign of weakness. Even Spock agreed. But McCoy was often the libtard on the bridge. I remember him being the one who opposed arming the innocent civilians who were being bullied and killed by another tribe that was being armed by the Klingons. A great episode

    Even The Next Generation didn’t quite go “Can’t we all get along?” The Borg were unadorned evil and Picard and others had no qualms about blowing them out of the sky. But there was the fuzzy-wuzzy episode where they capture a Borg who they named Hugh. I forget who exactly was in Hugh’s corner. Picard at this point had been in and through the ringer of being “assimilated” by the Borg. He was all for using Hugh in any way possible no matter what happened to Hugh. But someone (likely the doctor) was going all squishy and fuzzy.

    Still, it was an interesting episode. I believe they did end up using Hugh to send some kind of self-destruct message to the Borg. I don’t think Hugh survived it

    In many respects, the episode has something to teach us as we try to live with the Leftist collective. Hugh had been momentarily disconnected from the Borg (or something like that) so his humanity (or whatever creature he was) was allowed to seep through and one was able to see him as an individual caught up in a shit-storm not of his own making.

    Even so, he was a deadly component of that storm, as are the multitudes of Leftist cranks, boobs, activists, and just plain useful idiots. Give me a sci-fi series with the balls to take on these subjects. It would be a huge and immediate hit.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      Brad, don’t get me wrong. I like both, but for different reasons. Star Trek is slick, technology oriented, and a few shows are excellent, about the same number that terrible, say 10% on either side. Babylon 5 is not slick. The tech is work-a-day and gritty but it works.

      Both Babylon 5 and ST original and NG fit Stugeons law. 90% of every thing is crap. Voyager is an anomaly, 100% crap. Babylon 5 might have been much different with the millions of dollars spent on ST in its budget. No guarantee it would be better except the special effects would have a lot less stock footage.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I’m not sure how much money Star Trek had, at least for the TV series. David Gerrold discussed the budget issues he encountered doing “The Trouble With Tribbles”.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Babylon 5 is not slick. The tech is work-a-day and gritty but it works.

        I definitely agree with that assessment, Steve. And sometimes shows do get too slick.

        I would have loved to see a spin-off show with Londo and G’Kar. Having been kidnapped and marooned on some distant planet, they have to band together and fend for themselves. Maybe they open some frontier bar trying to get money enough to ferry their way back to the civilized galaxy.

        Maybe they’re both on the run from the law, and for different reasons.

        And there’s something wrong with me, because as soon as I found out that the one mind-reading chick was a lesbian, she instantly seemed more attractive. But that was just one passing reference, almost assuredly being little more than virtue signally.

        Heck, Chekov could have anchored his own show about the psi cops. But ultimately everything needs a good cast and great stories to succeed.

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