asher63 (asher63) wrote,

Hello, old friend!

'According to a report from TV Wise, Babylon 5 showrunner J. Michael Straczynski will shortly begin work on a rebooted big-screen version of his 1990s sci-fi TV series. Straczynski made the announcement at San Diego Comic-Con last week.'

OK, drop whatever you're doing. This is more important.

For those of you too young to remember, or who simply didn't have the good fortune to see the original series when it aired, B5 was simply a stunning achievement in SF drama. For its day - a decade before the BSG remake - it was cutting-edge both in visual effects and in dramatic sophistication. Unlike BSG-R, the B5 story followed a carefully plotted trajectory and was consistent and coherent throughout.

The show also featured some superlative actors, including the late Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar and Peter Jurasik as Londo. The two characters were mortal enemies but their roles and performances had an amazing degree of sophistication.

One innovation JMS introduced to the show's basic scenario was to have each of the alien races - Minbari, Narn, and Centauri - represented by not only an ambassador but also by an aide or attache to the ambassador. This allowed the story to capture the cultural traits of each alien civilization while allowing the characters to retain their own individuality: the mystical G'kar, for instance, was a very different personality from the pragmatic Na'toth. So the characters never became one-dimensional, stereotyped representatives of their cultures.

If B5 was the model for DS9, it probably also deserves credit for moving TV drama away from the "procedural" model (i.e. shows like 'Lost in Space' and the original 'Star Trek', where each episode is a self-contained and interchangeable story) to the "serial" model, where each episode tells a story but also forms part of a longer plot arc. This is the norm for popular shows of our day such as "Breaking Bad".

Another thing that stood out for me about the show was its use of humor. B5 was a serious, serious drama and could be extremely dark. But JMS had a knack for introducing just enough comic relief to make it bearable. And some of the lines were really funny.

Londo Mollari: You know, Vir, you have what the Earthers call a negative personality.
Vir Cotto: No, I don't.
Londo Mollari: There, you see?

I loved BSG-R, but it was B5 that really set the standard for science-fiction drama.


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