Werthead

Babylon 5

180 posts in this topic

Well JMS's Sense8 project has been cancelled, maybe he'll consider pushing a new B5 story of some kind with Netflix. 

I agree though that it would be in his best interest to get B5 on Netflix/streaming, rights or no rights.  DS9 and Star Trek/etc have HUGE ratings on Netflix, I remember a couple years ago when I was campaigning to get the Star Trek 4 TV series added to the Canadian Netflix library (back during the big VPN crackdown, US Netflix had the 4 TV series, but not Canada), Netflix told me themselves that TNG and DS9 were 2 of the higher used programs in their catalogue.  B5 would be similar I'll wager.  It would show Netflix that there is interest in the stories, characters, and creators still.

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It's been 25 years since Babylon 5 aired,  and he's in his sixties.  So, right now, he's got total control over nothing.  

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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.

 

No. The TV show is the property of Warner Brothers and they control monetizing it. Apparently Netflix wouldn't keep paying them what they wanted, so it's instead moved to something called Go90.

Straczynski retains the theatrical film rights to the franchise, however.

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

No. The TV show is the property of Warner Brothers and they control monetizing it. Apparently Netflix wouldn't keep paying them what they wanted, so it's instead moved to something called Go90.

Straczynski retains the theatrical film rights to the franchise, however.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Sense8  evidently didn't do that well for netflix?

Went to Go90.  Other than B-5 there's nothing there I would ever watch, and I can watch, yet again, B-5 on dvds from netflix.  It would be nice if it streamed on netflix too, but there ya go, which is why I keep the dvd services as well as the streaming service.

Edited by Zorral

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19 hours ago, Werthead said:

Wert, where did you get all the dates for your article there? Some were mentioned in the show as I recall but was there also official supplement material back then that elaborated more on the back story of the various races?

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19 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Wert, where did you get all the dates for your article there? Some were mentioned in the show as I recall but was there also official supplement material back then that elaborated more on the back story of the various races?

There was an official CD-ROM with lots of dates and backstory written by J. Michael Straczynski himself. It came out between Seasons 4 and 5, IIRC.

Helpfully, JMS later retconned some of that material in Crusade and the spin-off movies and some of it conflicted with info in the series and the show itself had a habit of contradicting itself. For example, the date that the Centauri withdrew from Narn the first time has never been pinned down and that causes some issues in trying to get things to fit together (the withdrawal was in G'Kar's lifetime, as he was old enough to be a "resistance leader" before the Centauri pulled out, but it was far enough back for the Narns to build up a significant interstellar empire in the meantime).

Another part of the issue is that JMS and his assistant Fiona Avery created a lot of more detailed lore which they gave to Mongoose Publishing for their RPG supplements and signed off on stuff Mongoose invented themselves, then JMS got annoyed with Mongoose and declared all of their material non-canon, even though some of it later was re-confirmed in material produced for other venues (like the script books, I believe).

That leaves a lot of worldbuilding for B5 in a rather uncertain state, and fans generally have to go with whatever gets repeated more often (the alien ship classes - Minbari Sharlin, Centauri Primus, Narn G'Quan and so on - were created for the Babylon 5 Wars miniatures game and have remained constant in all material since then) and what makes sense, although given that JMS is under the impression that you can build a 5-mile-long space station in about two years, even that is a rather elastic notion.

There's also the problem that JMS would get someone else to come up with some figures and then contradict them. Babylon 5, for example, was never meant to be 5 miles long. It was actually 11 miles long and all the CGI was scaled with that in mind. Only the carousel (between Red and Grey sectors) was supposed to be 5 miles long and weigh 2.5 million tons. JMS later said that the entire station was 5 miles long, which you can tell is not really possible in The Fall of Night (as that would make the Garden less than half a mile wide rather than it's intended 1 mile, and Sheridan would have gone splat long before Kosh saved him), even if it's far more plausible.

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@Werthead

Well, then the whole thing is pretty much mess.

I'm not sure if your dates in relation to the founding of the Minbari and Centauri states makes a lot of sense. For one, we know the Minbari played a role in the last Shadow War - which the Centauri did not - which means they must have spaceships and jumpgate technology some time before the Centauri. It is hardly likely that the Shadows or Vorlons would have drawn the Minbari in their experiment if they had not reached a certain level in cultural development.

If you only mean the founding of the present Minbari Federation it makes sense.

Another thing is the distances you mention. The planets all seem to be rather close to each other, merely a few dozens light years away from each other. In light of the fact that not every system should have intelligent species and the fact that all of the major powers - and some of the lesser powers, too - do have a number of colony worlds makes it exceedingly unlikely that Earth was discovered as late as it was.

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

@Werthead

Well, then the whole thing is pretty much mess.

I'm not sure if your dates in relation to the founding of the Minbari and Centauri states makes a lot of sense. For one, we know the Minbari played a role in the last Shadow War - which the Centauri did not - which means they must have spaceships and jumpgate technology some time before the Centauri. It is hardly likely that the Shadows or Vorlons would have drawn the Minbari in their experiment if they had not reached a certain level in cultural development.

If you only mean the founding of the present Minbari Federation it makes sense.

Another thing is the distances you mention. The planets all seem to be rather close to each other, merely a few dozens light years away from each other. In light of the fact that not every system should have intelligent species and the fact that all of the major powers - and some of the lesser powers, too - do have a number of colony worlds makes it exceedingly unlikely that Earth was discovered as late as it was.

The Centauri Republic was founded a thousand years before the events of the series, as per several episodes. One question mark is if the Republic was founded before the Centauri became a spacefaring civilisation. One idea is that the Centauri defeated the Xon as an industrial/pre-modern society, the Republic was founded under the first Emperor and then the Republic became spacefaring later on. We know they were in space and had an empire 500 years before the time of the series, but not when exactly that all happened.

The problem is that the first Emperor consulted three technomages before founding the Republic (as per Geometry of Shadows) so either the Centauri were spacefaring or they were visited by aliens quite openly before becoming spacefaring themselves. One way around this was provided in the CD-ROM and other sources, which stated that the Centauri discovered an abandoned alien jumpgate in their system, so they actually became interstellar at a far less technologically-advanced level than other races, like humans. So if the Republic were interstellar 1,000 years before the series, their technology was not very advanced and certainly nothing like at the level of the Minbari.

Modern Minbari society was founded by Valen along with the Grey Council; the Minbari were technologically advanced and interstellar long before that (maybe even another thousand years earlier), under the rule of the Council of Caste Elders, but the Great War was when the Minbari Federation as we know it came into existence.

The distances in the show are refreshingly realistic in the first two seasons, but they got thrown out the window in Season 3 when JMS started using galaxy maps and switched from saying that Z'ha'dum is on the "Rim of Known Space" (a rather amorphous concept) to the "Galactic Rim", which is considerably further away. Here's an interesting article which explores the problem in greater detail.

Edited by Werthead

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

The Centauri Republic was founded a thousand years before the events of the series, as per several episodes. One question mark is if the Republic was founded before the Centauri became a spacefaring civilisation. One idea is that the Centauri defeated the Xon as an industrial/pre-modern society, the Republic was founded under the first Emperor and then the Republic became spacefaring later on. We know they were in space and had an empire 500 years before the time of the series, but not when exactly that all happened.

The problem is that the first Emperor consulted three technomages before founding the Republic (as per Geometry of Shadows) so either the Centauri were spacefaring or they were visited by aliens quite openly before becoming spacefaring themselves. One way around this was provided in the CD-ROM and other sources, which stated that the Centauri discovered an abandoned alien jumpgate in their system, so they actually became interstellar at a far less technologically-advanced level than other races, like humans. So if the Republic were interstellar 1,000 years before the series, their technology was not very advanced and certainly nothing like at the level of the Minbari.

We also have the stuff to consider about the early Emperors being deified. That sounds like something they would have done prior to becoming a spacefaring race. And we also know that there were Emperors fighting the Xon. In fact, a good way around that could be that there were Emperors before the Centauri Republic, with their Empire only becoming a republic of sorts when they first established (more distant) colonies.

2 hours ago, Werthead said:

Modern Minbari society was founded by Valen along with the Grey Council; the Minbari were technologically advanced and interstellar long before that (maybe even another thousand years earlier), under the rule of the Council of Caste Elders, but the Great War was when the Minbari Federation as we know it came into existence.

Yeah, that's clear. The odd part is still that the Centauri apparently weren't touched by the last Shadow War at all. The Narn were, and as far as we know from Earth's history the Shadows didn't drag the humans into it the last time, despite the fact that there were Shadow ships in the system.

2 hours ago, Werthead said:

The distances in the show are refreshingly realistic in the first two seasons, but they got thrown out the window in Season 3 when JMS started using galaxy maps and switched from saying that Z'ha'dum is on the "Rim of Known Space" (a rather amorphous concept) to the "Galactic Rim", which is considerably further away. Here's an interesting article which explores the problem in greater detail.

Yes, that's somewhat of a problem. But I guess this galaxy-wide thing makes somewhat more sense in like of the freakish physics of hyperspace and the fact that jumpgates could technically be around pretty much everywhere in light of the fact that the Elder Races would have created the first. That would mean that there corridors and vast regions of space that are very easily and quickly reached as soon as you have figured out how to use those jumpgates. The only real obstacle I could see preventing space exploration is if you have to pass through a powerful race's territory. The Minbari or Vorlons wouldn't allow that. Another problem could be the absence of beacons in certain areas of hyperspace. 

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Yeah, that's clear. The odd part is still that the Centauri apparently weren't touched by the last Shadow War at all. The Narn were, and as far as we know from Earth's history the Shadows didn't drag the humans into it the last time, despite the fact that there were Shadow ships in the system.

 

I think it's stated (in at least the spin-off material) that the Vorlons and Shadows weren't interested in primitive species like the Centauri and humans at the time. They only got involved with the Narns because their mindwalkers attacked them.
The Centauri were visited by the technomages, who were derived from Shadow technology, so that may count as an influence on the Centauri, if at a remove.
 

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6 hours ago, Werthead said:

 

I think it's stated (in at least the spin-off material) that the Vorlons and Shadows weren't interested in primitive species like the Centauri and humans at the time. They only got involved with the Narns because their mindwalkers attacked them.
The Centauri were visited by the technomages, who were derived from Shadow technology, so that may count as an influence on the Centauri, if at a remove.
 

Oh, okay, then I'm just not aware of that. But then, didn't the Shadows have a base on Narn back then? If they can have one on Narn they sure as hell could have had interest in a place like Centauri Prime or even Earth.

I mean, it is made clear during the Shadow War that there are planets in which both the Vorlons and the Shadows are deeper invested in than the big powers. And there is also no hint that they have some sort of a Prime Directive - far the opposite, actually.

And as to the telepath thing - didn't the Vorlons create those as weapons against the Shadows? Since the whole thing isn't a proper war but rather, say, a struggle between two pedagogic concepts that got somewhat out of hand we have to ask ourselves what the purpose of those 'weapons' actually is. The Vorlons and Shadows don't attack each other. Instead, the Shadows try to undo or sabotage the projects of the Vorlons, and vice versa.

A Vorlon success seems to be if an all-out war between the younger races can be prevented and a significant number of the younger races submit to Vorlon control and adopt their ideas of order and discipline. A Shadow victory would have all the races in conflict as long as the Shadows deem it necessary, and pretty much nobody following the ideas of the Vorlons.

The Minbari are already very much a race strongly shaped by Vorlon ideals with the rigidness and stasis of their culture just as the Drakh - perhaps even to a much higher degree since they were actually living the the Shadows - are the best disciples of the Shadows.

If we connect this to telepath thing then the Vorlons have had a very specific plan when they chose to seed many or all of the younger races with telepaths. A possible explanation could be that the telepaths were supposed to enforce Vorlon ideology on the non-telepathic peers, or at least help with that. A possible side effect could also be that telepaths interfere with Shadow technology, making it less likely that the message of the Shadows will be heard on worlds where there is a strong presence of telepaths.

To counter this the Shadows developed a way to make use of the telepaths with the help of the Psi Corps.

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Babylon 5 Rewatch: Season 1, Episodes 1-2: Midnight on the Firing Line and Soul Hunters

This is a metric ton more work than the Lost rewatch was last year, so I might have to limit it to two entries a week. That means we're going to be here for a bit over six months.

Anyway, G'Kar is a git at this point, Londo is shambolic, Delenn is being cool and mysterious and the viewers are going "AREN'T STARFURIES AWESOME?"

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I have started a watch of this show on go90. While I did watch some of it when I was a kid, I can't say I remember anything other than a couple of characters and the overall design of the station. Therefore, @Werthead I will not be reading your blog entries of the episodes, since I found some spoilers already in there.

I just finished episode 6 of season 1, Mind War.

At this point I am intrigued, and trusting that it does get better, but not wholly impressed. The episodic plots are good, and so are the characters, though right now their development and participation in the story is uneven. A lot of focus on Cmd. Sinclair, which is understandable, but little or pretty much nothing on Garibaldi, some about Ivanova, and this last episode did have something about Talia. On the alien side, Londo got his due plenty, particularly in the first episode, and G'Kar in the last couple of episodes. Again, very little for Delenn, but she is supposed to be the mysterious one of the bunch.

My biggest gripe with the show right now is that in some aspects, the show lacks imagination, and its production is certainly under par considering its contemporary "rival" Stark Trek DS9. Right now, just thinking of DS9's first seaon, I consider it a superior show in all aspects. Granted, DS9 already had a universe it could build upon, while showcasing a universe was part of B5's season 1, no doubt.

But going back to the imagination thing. First, this does look like a lower budget show than DS9, but while I'm not bothered by the space CGI at all, and that's where I think the show's imagination is strong (the Earth starfighters, for example, are awesome), half the sets that represent the interior of the station seem to be just decrepit warehouses. That's a bit disappointing. But the biggest one is that JMS and the rest of the producers essentially transposed the 90s in the mid 23rd century. I am not talking about the plotlines, where ideologies, social and politcal issues are explored, that is understandable, every SF show does it. I'm talking about the details, the crafting of the world; space faring technology advanced, military technology, obviously, but other than that everything seems to be the same. The way people talk, their fashion, the little hobbies etc. When people make analogies, they reference only stuff from real history - did nothing else happen between the 90s and 2258 worth bringing up? That's how you build up a universe. The one eye roll moment I had was when Garibaldi was reading a newspaper at his work desk. With the WWW and the Internet commercially in use by 1994. it's too bad JMS did not have the foresight to see that reading news from a piece of flimsy paper would be a thing of the past.

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1 hour ago, Corvinus said:

When people make analogies, they reference only stuff from real history - did nothing else happen between the 90s and 2258 worth bringing up? That's how you build up a universe. The one eye roll moment I had was when Garibaldi was reading a newspaper at his work desk. With the WWW and the Internet commercially in use by 1994. it's too bad JMS did not have the foresight to see that reading news from a piece of flimsy paper would be a thing of the past.

There are plenty of references to post-1990s history, some plot-relevant and some just background colour - the bombing of San Diego, humanity's first contact with the Centauri, the Earth-Minbari War, the destruction of the first Mars colony, the Centauri occupation of Narn, etc. And the newspapers are more sophisticated than they look; they're print-on-demand, customised to reader preferences, and can be returned to the dispenser for recycling/updating.

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5 hours ago, Corvinus said:

I have started a watch of this show on go90. While I did watch some of it when I was a kid, I can't say I remember anything other than a couple of characters and the overall design of the station. Therefore, @Werthead I will not be reading your blog entries of the episodes, since I found some spoilers already in there.

I just finished episode 6 of season 1, Mind War.

At this point I am intrigued, and trusting that it does get better, but not wholly impressed.

The problem IMO is that season 1 is just far less interesting than what comes after, especially season 2, 3 and 4. I did not rate season 1 at all, even though B5 is one of my three favorite SF shows.

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8 hours ago, Corvinus said:

At this point I am intrigued, and trusting that it does get better, but not wholly impressed. The episodic plots are good, and so are the characters, though right now their development and participation in the story is uneven. A lot of focus on Cmd. Sinclair, which is understandable, but little or pretty much nothing on Garibaldi, some about Ivanova, and this last episode did have something about Talia. On the alien side, Londo got his due plenty, particularly in the first episode, and G'Kar in the last couple of episodes. Again, very little for Delenn, but she is supposed to be the mysterious one of the bunch.

Trust me if I tell you that this is going to change. This series has very well-developed characters. You will get a lot on Ivanova, Garibaldi, and Delenn. By the time of season 4 they will as close to you as your family and friends. Even more so, perhaps, with G'Kar and Londo. You actually get real character development and growth in this series because the writer actually had a five year plan for all of them.

The first season focuses a lot on Sinclair because of the mystery surrounding 'the hole in his mind' and the end of the Earth-Minbari war.

Take the first season really as the setting of the stage and the introduction of the characters. Like, say, the first half of AGoT where essentially nothing of importance happens until Robert Baratheon and Viserys Targaryen die. Then things get interesting and you get a feeling as to why you should care about all this politicking.

8 hours ago, Corvinus said:

My biggest gripe with the show right now is that in some aspects, the show lacks imagination, and its production is certainly under par considering its contemporary "rival" Stark Trek DS9. Right now, just thinking of DS9's first seaon, I consider it a superior show in all aspects. Granted, DS9 already had a universe it could build upon, while showcasing a universe was part of B5's season 1, no doubt.

I must say that compared to Babylon 5 - which is just five seasons - Star Trek with all its incarnations is a much bleaker and less complex world. Babylon 5 actually has a story to tell and makes it clear that important things happen back home or outside the station. No Star Trek series ever covered or cared for the internal politics of the Federation, say, but you'll see something of that sort in Babylon 5. DS9 eventually had a bigger scope when it got around to the Dominion War but before that it was basically just covering backwater politics in the Bajor region.

8 hours ago, Corvinus said:

But going back to the imagination thing. First, this does look like a lower budget show than DS9, but while I'm not bothered by the space CGI at all, and that's where I think the show's imagination is strong (the Earth starfighters, for example, are awesome), half the sets that represent the interior of the station seem to be just decrepit warehouses. That's a bit disappointing. But the biggest one is that JMS and the rest of the producers essentially transposed the 90s in the mid 23rd century. I am not talking about the plotlines, where ideologies, social and politcal issues are explored, that is understandable, every SF show does it. I'm talking about the details, the crafting of the world; space faring technology advanced, military technology, obviously, but other than that everything seems to be the same. The way people talk, their fashion, the little hobbies etc. When people make analogies, they reference only stuff from real history - did nothing else happen between the 90s and 2258 worth bringing up? That's how you build up a universe. The one eye roll moment I had was when Garibaldi was reading a newspaper at his work desk. With the WWW and the Internet commercially in use by 1994. it's too bad JMS did not have the foresight to see that reading news from a piece of flimsy paper would be a thing of the past.

If you double-check you will realize that they mention political developments and historical figures of the 21st and 22th centuries on occasion, just as they do mention important historical events. And not just in the field of politics but also science, medicine, and art, if I recall correctly.

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