Werthead

Babylon 5

158 posts in this topic

Sad way to kick off a new thread, but Ron Thornton has passed away at the too-young age of 59.

Thornton worked on Blake's 7 and Doctor Who in the late 1970s before moving to Hollywood and working on a bunch of movies, including (hooray!) Spaceballs and Critters.

Thornton was the primary CGI designer on B5, being the head of Foundation Imaging. It was Thornton's 30-second CG reel showing Babylon 5 orbiting Epsilon III that convinced Warner Brothers to pick up Babylon 5 in July 1992. Thornton was the designer of Babylons 4 and 5, the Minbari warcruiser, the Vorlon and Shadow ships and the White Star, as well as lots of secondary spacecraft (such as the Drazi Sunhawk, which he based on the Liberator on Blake's 7, on which he also worked as a young visual effects technician at the BBC). He didn't design the Starfury, but he did suggest the original concept to Steve Burg, suggesting he look at the Gunstar from The Last Starfighter for inspiration.

Foundation Imaging was effectively fired from working on Babylon 5 so the executive producer could steal a bunch of his staff and set up his own, cheap-as-shit effects team, Netter Digital (Straczynski - eventually - realised this was shady as hell and regretted it, but about fifteen years too late) who took over for the last two seasons. You can tell the difference: Thornton and FI put a lot of thought into shot composition, doing things off the horizontal plane and making sure everything worked in accordance with Newtonian physics. The other guys didn't.

After B5, Foundation Imaging worked on the big fleet battles in the last two seasons of Deep Space Nine and became the main provider of CG effects on Seasons 4-7 of Voyager, along with the first season of Enterprise. They also worked on the remastered edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Foundation Imaging went bust in 2002, after which Thornton worked on shows like The New Captain Scarlet and (that notoriously CG-heavy show) Nashville. Some of Thornton's colleagues went on to work on shows like BSG and Lost.

Sad news. B5 had some of the best-ever spaceship designs, period, and Thornton was behind a lot of it.

The Babylon Curse continues...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This totally sucks! This damn curse on this show!!! All of them going too young!

Babylon 5, Animal House, The Dream Team, St. Elsewhere, I've loved him in all his roles, the little moon faced assassin of joy...

RIP Stephen Furst :( 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's six of the main cast, one major recurring actor and the creator of the show's wonderful CG designs (and who pretty much got the show on the air with his demo reel) who've all passed away, all well before their time. This completely sucks.

This did inspire me to mount another rewatch project for the show. Yes, I did it once before and I didn't think it was that long ago, but it turns out it was, er, nine years ago. So time to do this again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is probably the one show I have never seen, but most feel like I should, because I would probably really enjoy it. 

I've been waiting for years for some online streaming service to pick it up so I can watch, but it still hasn't been. Does anyone know if there's a reason for that? Seems like between Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc., someone would pick it up and offer it for streaming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

24 minutes ago, MisterOJ said:

This is probably the one show I have never seen, but most feel like I should, because I would probably really enjoy it. 

I've been waiting for years for some online streaming service to pick it up so I can watch, but it still hasn't been. Does anyone know if there's a reason for that? Seems like between Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc., someone would pick it up and offer it for streaming.

It's on something called Go90 network in the U.S.

This page also lists a bunch of ways to watch it.  I have no idea if it is still accurate.  It is available on Amazon and Youtube, and iTunes, though it seem you'd have to buy each episode or season.  I don't know if that's on top of having Amazon Prime.  iTunes looks like cheapest option.

 

I do not disagree with this suggested viewing order below, but could just watch the "The Gathering" then the entire series without interspersing the other movies in there.  And no reason to watch Crusade since it got cut short, and would just lead to disappointment.

Quote

Here is an Amazon reviewer's suggest viewing order of the series and additional movies:

  1. Watch the B5 movie "The Gathering" The Babylon 5 pilot movie The Gathering was originally broadcast in 1993 a full year ahead of the regular show.
  2. Season 1
  3. Season 2
  4. Season 3
  5. Watch Season 4 up to episode "The illusion of truth"
  6. Watch the B5 movie "Thirdspace"
  7. Season 4: continue with episodes 9-22
  8. Watch Season 5 through to and including episode "Objects at Rest"
  9. Watch the B5 movie "River of Souls"
  10. Watch the B5 movie "In the Beginning" This is a prelude set 10 years before Babylon 5. Against the logic of the title, I would strongly recommend seeing it at this stage. Should one see it before Season 1, much of the suspense in the main series would be ruined.
  11. Watch the B5 movie "A Call to Arms" This movie lays the groundwork for the spin-off TV series "Crusade".
  12. Watch the B5 movie "The Lost Tales" [Thanks to Eric Pregosin for his comments to build on the original list]
  13. Watch the B5 movie "The Legend of the Rangers" [Thanks to Lisa for her recommendation]
  14. Watch Crusade Series
  15. Season 5: watch final episode "Sleeping in light"

 

Edited by SpaceChampion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to watch it, as well, and will start to watch it on Go90, where apparently you don't even have to sign up to watch it.

On Amazon, it's only available for purchase, so even if you're a Prime member, you still have to buy it. I went to the help page on Netflix, and requested it to be added. Maybe if enough people do it, Netflix will add it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In a world awash in bad remakes, it's a wonder no one has remade Babylon 5, isn't it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Werthead said:

That's six of the main cast, one major recurring actor and the creator of the show's wonderful CG designs (and who pretty much got the show on the air with his demo reel) who've all passed away, all well before their time. This completely sucks.

This did inspire me to mount another rewatch project for the show. Yes, I did it once before and I didn't think it was that long ago, but it turns out it was, er, nine years ago. So time to do this again.

I assume you mean Tim Choate (Zathras) as the major recurring actor. However, we also lost Efrem Zimbalist Jr. a few years ago, at least he had a full life, something that sadly does not seem true for the rest. But he is another (somewhat) major recurring character of the series that has passed.

50 minutes ago, Corvinus said:

I would like to watch it, as well, and will start to watch it on Go90, where apparently you don't even have to sign up to watch it.

On Amazon, it's only available for purchase, so even if you're a Prime member, you still have to buy it. I went to the help page on Netflix, and requested it to be added. Maybe if enough people do it, Netflix will add it.

I requested it on Netflix just a few days ago.

I've got the entire series on DVD, also on VHS that I recorded, every episode, every movie, and Crusade as well. I even recorded the episode "Chrysalis" on its first run so it has the error when they forgot to add the CGI background in one scene, where Londo is talking to Morden in the garden, in the background instead of the station's garden vista it's all sound stage and an "Exit" door. Exit to where? Out into space? :lol: 

I've been thinking of digging out my DVD's and doing a rewatch.

1 hour ago, SpaceChampion said:

And no reason to watch Crusade since it got cut short, and would just lead to disappointment.

 

Except any fan of X-Files should watch the Crusade episode "Visitors From Down The Street" it is so worth it. Also, if you really enjoyed B5 and really wanted more of that universe, I'd say go ahead and watch Crusade, especially if you went ahead and watched the movie "A Call To Arms". The first half of the series which had most of TNT's meddling is tedious, but the second half is not bad, the B5 centered episodes have much the same feel as watching the lesser B5 TV movies. Just prepare for it to end without resolutions and even then you could pick up the "Legions of Fire" book trilogy by Peter David that is canon for a modicum of closure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Cas Stark said:

In a world awash in bad remakes, it's a wonder no one has remade Babylon 5, isn't it?

Not as long as JMS has a say in it. He does want to reboot B5, or at least he has at one point, but he wants it to be his way and JMS and Warner Bros. haven't really got around to working out how to get started on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

In a world awash in bad remakes, it's a wonder no one has remade Babylon 5, isn't it?

Warner Brothers and JMS did get into discussions at one point. WB wanted to remake it as a TV show, which JMS didn't want to do (he'd been there, done that). JMS wanted to do a series of movies instead, but WB weren't keen on that. JMS put the movie into development with his production company and, although it didn't go anywhere, it forced WB to back off.

WB let JMS keep the theatrical film rights to the series, something I suspect now they rather regret.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

I do not disagree with this suggested viewing order below, but could just watch the "The Gathering" then the entire series without interspersing the other movies in there. 

Yes, I'd strongly suggest leaving the movies till after the series (aside from the pilot, of course). The list is chronologically accurate (mostly - Lost Tales comes after Crusade, and Legend of the Rangers before A Call to Arms), but it interrupts the flow of the series. And for within each season, there's a recommended viewing order for the episodes.

The pilot isn't all that great, and some people aren't fond of the first season either (I'm a fan, though!) so persevere if the show doesn't grab you immediately.

6 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

And no reason to watch Crusade since it got cut short, and would just lead to disappointment.

I like Crusade, though what order to watch it in is a real nightmare due to network meddling (eg there are two different first episodes). If you can tolerate a lack of closure, I'd recommend it. My suggested viewing order:

Spoiler

A Call to Arms
War Zone
Appearances and Other Deceits (introduces temporary uniform)
Racing the Night (originally intended as first episode)
The Needs of Earth
The Memory of War
Visitors From Down the Street
Each Night I Dream of Home
[unwritten episode] (gets rid of temporary uniform)
The Path of Sorrows
Ruling From the Tomb
The Long Road
Patterns of the Soul
The Well of Forever
The Rules of the Game
[To the Ends of the Earth] (unfilmed but script exists)
[Value Judgments] (unfilmed but script exists)
[The End of the Line] (unfilmed but script exists; season finale)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not necessary to re-order Season 1, and is a little silly. The Season 2 changes are much more important: A Race Through Dark Places sets up Soul Mates (at least Talia's storyline). Same for Knives, which directly sets up In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum. It's actually nonsensical to watch it in broadcast order. Both were only flipped on initial broadcast because they both needed an extra week for the CGI to be done, which clearly isn't a problem now.

The changes in Seasons 3 and 5 really aren't too necessary either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Damn.  I'm starting to think the cast is cursed...  It's getting a little ridiculous.  

 

14 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

I do not disagree with this suggested viewing order below, but could just watch the "The Gathering" then the entire series without interspersing the other movies in there.  And no reason to watch Crusade since it got cut short, and would just lead to disappointment.

Definitely the way to go, imo.

 

7 hours ago, felice said:

I like Crusade, though what order to watch it in is a real nightmare due to network meddling (eg there are two different first episodes). If you can tolerate a lack of closure, I'd recommend it.

I remember that as it was airing.  What a freaking mess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can just start with  the first episode: we had no choice, as The Gathering wasn't aired until the end of Season 1 in the UK (yup, that was weird) and Midnight is a lot punchier than The Gathering. It's also a lot more histrionic and not as well-paced.

Although to be frank, watching B5 does mean taking it on faith that Seasons 2-4 are vastly superior to Season 1 on every single level, although Season 1 does have a few good episodes in the early going to keep the flame burning. But Season 1 can be a struggle to get through.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just rewatched "The Gathering" last week.

I remember reading that Stephen Furst nearly lost a foot to diabetes complications, and lost a lot of weight and changed his eating/exercise habits during the filming of the TV series, you can see in later seasons he really trimmed down.  A shame the disease never left him, another great actor and person gone.  So many have gone early from this great series.  I think I'm going to do a re watch too, Wert are you planning a thread for a B5 re re watch?  Such great information in the OP, I loved the ship designs in B5, even some at NASA thought so much of them that they became interested in that "workhorse" Star Fury type ship, I'm sure Werthead knows the name of what I'm talking about, it was featured in one of the TV movies IIRC.

Other ships as well though, particularly the Earth vessels that didn't have artificial gravity, very interesting designs.  Early CGI work was great IMO back when B5 came out.  It was the 2nd sci fi series I discovered, the first being DS9, and having B5 recommended to me by a co worker, and fell in love with it.

I really like  "The Gathering", found it better than most Season 1 episodes in fact.  Delenn's make up and character were very interesting in this pilot or whatever you want to call it - I wish they'd kept some of her traits and look the same for the first season until she "changed". 

 

I read Claudia's autobiography last year, I wish Jerry Doyle had been able to apply the success she had with The Sinclair method to get a hold of his own demons with drinking.  Such a shame.  Doyle's stories about living with Katsulas are hilarious, especially the "free ham" story he's told a few times at conventions.  I remember when Doyle passed JMS said "it isn't fair, how much more are we expected to take".  Now Stephen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does J. Michael Straczynski retain all the rights to the monetizing of B-5 himself?  If this is so, it could explain why it's not available from a large streaming service with a blanket fee like netflix.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Zorral said:

Does J. Michael Straczynski retain all the rights to the monetizing of B-5 himself?  If this is so, it could explain why it's not available from a large streaming service with a blanket fee like netflix.

 

How does that do him any good?  Babylon 5 isn't available on netflix, it's never on reruns, I can't recall if it's Apple TV or not.  Wouldn't it be more helpful for people to be able to see the show and possibly build a new audience that would then help create a reason for a remake?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what many who know him understand about Michael, he's all about forever having entire control over every aspect of what he does.  If there's a big pay-off come in the future, he owns it, not somebody else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now