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Lennier's Tears February 1st 15 03:56

Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
As I mentioned in my introduction elsewhere on these boards, I am currently marathon-watching Babylon 5. I said in my other post that I was about halfway through season 2. I have watched several more episodes since I posted that, so now I'm getting near the end of season 2.

Whenever I re-watch Babylon 5, I notice new things. I also find that as I get older my perspective changes. One example is how I feel about the ten years that passed between the end of the Earth-Minbari war and the beginning of the show. When I was younger, that ten years seemed like a very long time. I felt like some characters on the show were overly hung up over something that happened so long ago. Now that I'm a bit older (I am 36), ten years seems like nothing at all. It seems entirely plausible that people would have been hung up on the events of the war ... And that war, of course, would have been an incredibly traumatic experience, not just for the people who fought in it, but for everyone on Earth, as humanity was brought to the brink of extinction. Now I almost feel like they seem to have bounced back from that rather too quickly!

Regardless of viewer's age, Babylon 5 is looking a bit dated now. Compared to what's on TV now, it doesn't look so fancy. The special effects aren't much to write home about. All the blue screen scenes look so fake now .. I wonder how I didn't notice that in the past. Is it just that my TV is a lot bigger now? :p That said, I love Babylon 5 dearly, and I don't care so much about the special effects. It's all about the story for me.

The other thing is that it's now "the future". Some technological developments of the past 20 years were not anticipated by the creators of the show (and how could they have been), which makes some elements of the show look a bit ridiculous now. For example, I find it hard to accept that people in the 23rd century get their news from actual paper newspapers and from the TV. Not just the TV, but a single channel on the TV. Social media must not have been invented in the B5 universe. Like when Ivanova is concerned that there was no news from Mars. Wouldn't she just quickly hop on her Facebook (or whatever they have in the 23rd century) to see what was going on? And wouldn't you have loved to see what people were tweeting during the ISN broadcast we see in "And Now For a Word"? I image that these kinds of discrepancies between the imaginary "future" of B5 and the real future will only grow as time goes on. Still, the story will remain and that is plenty good enough for me!

I notice there is a thread for each episode. I'll try to dig them out and stick my more episode-specific comments in there, as I go along. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you on how B5 looks to you now that it's 20 years old.

babylonfan February 1st 15 18:53

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lennier's Tears (Post 450987)
I wonder how I didn't notice that in the past. Is it just that my TV is a lot bigger now? :p

It's probably the difference between HD and regular television. On my previous television I had no problems. But since I have a HD television I definately see the show has aged quite a bit. However, the screen size of the HD television is the same as the screen from my old television!

On the same television I also believe it makes a difference between using a DVD player versus a bluray player. I find the DVD player to have a better result, albeit not much better.

Lennier's Tears February 1st 15 20:26

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
Good point. I remember a few years ago I turned on an old TV for some reason I can't recall. It really hurt my eyes! It's sort of amazing to think we spent hours and hours staring at these types of screens.

Springer February 2nd 15 11:45

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
I've been doing a re-watch over the past year and have just reached the end of season 3 (yeah, it's a slow re-watch... what can I say, I don't get much spare time!). For me the show has held up fantastically in terms of story and characterisation. I do see how arc shows have evolved since then – compare the intricacies of storytelling in Game of Thrones to B5, and B5 does seem more episodic than it did at the time. But that's not a slight against B5 at all. There is a sense of the protagonists and the stage they are on being 20th century Earth reimagined in space, but I also think that's a quite valid storytelling approach. As for the effects, it's hard to say how well they've held up given that the DVDs are awful quality and not representative of how they were originally filmed. Even then, there are shots that still make me go 'wow'. They are not as slick as modern effects but there is something about the composition and poise of the effects shots that make up for it.

Twenty years ago as a teenager it was my favourite show and influenced me a lot growing up – suffice to say it is still my favourite show and probably always will be :-)

PS. By the way Lennier's Tears, welcome to the board and thanks for livening this place up!

Lennier's Tears February 2nd 15 13:56

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
Thanks for the welcome! :) I always get kind of obsessed when I'm watching B5 (and sometimes when I'm not watching, but just thinking about it :p ) and I REALLY wanted to talk about it with someone .. I have plenty of friends who also really like B5, but none near me or available for discussion ... So I came here. I'm very much enjoying my stay, so far!

I have just started the third season, so maybe I'll catch up with you soon! :)

I think you are exactly right about the show reimagining 20th century earth in space. I've always liked that.

There definitely are special effect shots that still look completely fine to me! The wide shots of the station exterior look "real" to me, as do most of the spaceship scenes. Closeups of B5's defense system look a bit more like computer graphics. Those blue screen scenes are the most problematic. The people in the foreground all look a bit blurry around the edges. There is one scene in which the blue Earthforce uniforms look green. But, as I said before, I don't care so much about that stuff. I don't just love B5 in a nostalgic sort of way, I'm sure I would still love it if I watched it for the first time now.

Lennier's Tears February 6th 15 21:09

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
One thing I notice (or am reminded of) now when I watch B5 that has to do with how much time has passed since the making of this show (and not at all with my own age) is how many of the actors have died. I can't help but think of that when I see them on screen. Especially in scenes with, say, Dr. Franklin and Sinclair. It's sad.

Another thing that is more related to my own age and not the age of the show: It wasn't until I was in my thirties* and had gone through many rewatches that I started noticing the "daddy issues" theme. Lots of problematic father-child relationships on display in Babylon 5. Having heard JMS speak about his own problematic relationship with his father, I can see where that might be coming from ... It isn't just the very obvious situations, like with Ivanova and her dad, or the relationship between Dr. and General Franklin, there's also the more subtle stuff, like Kosh appearing to people in the shape of their father. There's just a lot of "father" stuff all around.

*And possibly not coincidentally, had lost my own father.

Psi Cop February 7th 15 11:56

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
I re-watched last year but I don't have the time to watch every episode so I selected those that had arc significance which ended up being 70 episodes with only a few story gaps. I also watched In The Beginning first and skipped The Gathering. I also ended the series with Fall Of Centauri Prime because it was a perfect complement to ITB as series bookends - Londo tells his story from the ruins of Centauri Prime in ITB and we see the fall in FOCP. Basically all the characters destinies have panned out by this point anyway. As for SFX/DVD quality I wish WB would release the original 4:3 version as the SFX would not have been cropped as it is for 16:9 and would have looked a lot better.

Lennier's Tears February 7th 15 17:11

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
I've never tried to watch just the arc episodes, but I do skip The Gathering fairly regularly. I skipped it this time, too. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I originally started B5 without the pilot, and didn't see it until much later?

I can also never decide if I should recommend new people begin with the pilot, or just go straight to the first episode and go back to the pilot at some later point. The pilot certainly has its value, but it might just be confusing because there are so many changes between it and the first episode. It's also older and thus looks older ... You can sort of summarize the plot in a few sentences to get people ready for the first season. On the other hand, you could also just watch it.

I don't know! :p

I like In The Beginning a lot, but I don't watch the other movies nearly as often.

freshair3 April 9th 15 16:44

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
I showed some Season episodes to my two nephews and they were fairly impressed with the CGI. Granted, I do have a very small TV screen!:guffaw:

Lennier's Tears April 28th 15 17:41

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
I think that episodes without those odd-looking blue screen scenes still look decent, compared to current stuff. The space scenes pretty much never look CGI-ey to me. But, because of how they were made, they are impossible to get stills of. It's too bad.

Mororless April 28th 15 20:39

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
In terms of FX I actually think B5 benefited a lot from JMS working within the limits of what he could do at that time with that budget. Most of the CGI was limited to space battles that technically are much easier to deal with even back then(well from season 2 on anyway). What helps as well I would say is that whoever was behind creating those battle scenes had a very strong sense of composition, reminds me of the original Starwars films or Wrath of Khan rather than a lot of the jumbled quick cut mess we get today.

What probably shows the age of the show more than anything else is the set design, C&C always looked like a bunch of prints stuck to the walls. That said B5 never shooting on location or attempting to fake landscapes means it avoided some of the more comic Trek pitfalls.

Honestly one thing I find myself enjoying more and more with B5 recently is the very fact that the whole thing is done in somewhat of a pulpy style. The new Hollywood style TV is often great to watch can sometimes be a little lacking in charm.

In retrospect B5 doesn't just feel like a signpost to where TV was going with the scope and extended format but also a sendoff to where it had been.

Lennier's Tears April 28th 15 22:06

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
Excellent point about the fake landscapes. The mounds of styrofoam in TOS are definitely on the list of things that make that show a bit hard to watch now. I still have a sort of nostalgic love for TOS, but yea .....

The look of C&C actually never bothered me ... They do have some of the older-looking monitors, as they do elsewhere on the show, but there's nothing really egregious, I find.

Mororless April 30th 15 21:08

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
The dodgy looking fake rocks were around for a lot of TNG as well and even latter series had the odd not so brilliant "natural" location.

The main weakness of C&C for me wasn't the monitors but rather than the printouts that were sposd to be controls or displays always looked a bit simplistic. TNG by comparison did for me do a better job in covering budget limitations here by going for a sleek minimalist design.

That said of course B5 spent a much smaller amount of time in C&C than Trek did on the bridge or engineering,

Lennier's Tears May 1st 15 02:46

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
1 Attachment(s)
I agree, the minimalist set of the TNG bridge works really well ... and it should, because as you say, rather a lot of the action takes place on that bridge. Those chairs look really comfortable, too.

Still, I find the C&C set quite charming, even with all its odd displays and old timey headsets and everything else :p I think I like the colors ... and that window design.

A couple of years ago I was at New York Comic Con, taking a shuttle to the hotel. There were some young people sitting in front of me, discussing their favorite sci fi shows. They called Babylon 5 "SUPER cheesy". However, as I recall, they did like Star Trek TOS and TNG. Talk about cheesy! I'm not the kind of person who butts into other people's conversations, but I kinda wanted to, because I was very puzzled :p Both of those shows are older than B5 (with some slight overlap between season 7 of TNG and season 1 of B5), and you can definitely tell.

Bonus picture of my TV (I had that handy .. it was easier than trying to get a screenshot :D )
https://scontent-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hp...19&oe=55DA3B76

I'm OK with the controls ... I can sort of pretend that those are some super duper high tech touchscreens :lol:

deaded May 1st 15 11:32

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lennier's Tears (Post 451488)
I'm OK with the controls ... I can sort of pretend that those are some super duper high tech touchscreens :lol:

No need to pretend. They ARE super duper high tech touchscreens. I'm pretty sure that was their name too, though they often called them SDHTTSs.

(your second photo didn't post)

Mororless May 1st 15 13:09

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lennier's Tears (Post 451488)
I agree, the minimalist set of the TNG bridge works really well ... and it should, because as you say, rather a lot of the action takes place on that bridge. Those chairs look really comfortable, too.

Still, I find the C&C set quite charming, even with all its odd displays and old timey headsets and everything else :p I think I like the colors ... and that window design.

A couple of years ago I was at New York Comic Con, taking a shuttle to the hotel. There were some young people sitting in front of me, discussing their favorite sci fi shows. They called Babylon 5 "SUPER cheesy". However, as I recall, they did like Star Trek TOS and TNG. Talk about cheesy! I'm not the kind of person who butts into other people's conversations, but I kinda wanted to, because I was very puzzled :p Both of those shows are older than B5 (with some slight overlap between season 7 of TNG and season 1 of B5), and you can definitely tell.

Bonus picture of my TV (I had that handy .. it was easier than trying to get a screenshot :D )

I'm OK with the controls ... I can sort of pretend that those are some super duper high tech touchscreens :lol:

The impression I'v always gotten is that in the US there was a lot more of a "fanboy" divide between Trek and B5 with fans of the former not wanting to acknowledge the latter. I'v never picked up as much of this elsewhere and perhaps it partly explains why B5 did relatively better here in Europe? I certainly never felt a desire to choose between them and enjoyed both even if B5 was my favourite.

The kind of locations the shows were using did I'd guess have an impact on the overall design aesthetic. TNG's sleek bright minimalism worked very well for the bridge and engineering but was I felt a bit too bright and plain for personal quarters/offices where I think B5's darker aesthetic was more successful plus of course a lot of locations like the Zocalo that TNG didn't have to deal with.

Lennier's Tears May 1st 15 16:58

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by deaded (Post 451489)

(your second photo didn't post)

Yea, sorry about that. I was kinda trying out the image posting features of the board. The attached image was actually a smaller version of the same photo. I tried posting via attachment first but I didn't see an option to embed in the text, so I hotlinked instead. But, I hotlinked from Facebook, and those links always stop working within a matter of days, so I also left the attachment. I'm not sure why it's broken.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mororless (Post 451491)

The impression I'v always gotten is that in the US there was a lot more of a "fanboy" divide between Trek and B5 with fans of the former not wanting to acknowledge the latter. I'v never picked up as much of this elsewhere and perhaps it partly explains why B5 did relatively better here in Europe? I certainly never felt a desire to choose between them and enjoyed both even if B5 was my favourite.

I think I've commented elsewhere on this board that I wasn't in the US when B5 first aired either, and I have much the same experience as you. I didn't really become aware of the deep rift between the fandoms until later. I can still sort of sense that in people my age or older (I'm 36), but does that rift still exist among young people? For those who started watching science fiction shows when both B5 and DS9 were old news, would any of that stuff really matter?

Quote:

The kind of locations the shows were using did I'd guess have an impact on the overall design aesthetic. TNG's sleek bright minimalism worked very well for the bridge and engineering but was I felt a bit too bright and plain for personal quarters/offices where I think B5's darker aesthetic was more successful plus of course a lot of locations like the Zocalo that TNG didn't have to deal with.
I love the Zocalo sets .. I'm a little less enthusiastic about all the Down Below stuff, and the low traffic areas, which are always full of crates. Rearrange the crates and you have a new set! That said, there are some Down Below scenes that look really good, also. I love the aesthetics in that "One moment of perfect beauty" scene from There All the Honor Lies (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jli3ruqWYlc). Also the bits with Brother Edward at the end of Passing Through Gethsemane.

I like what we get to see of everyone's personal quarters. I like how they're all personalized to fit the characters. You can still see the Babylon 5 standard interior, but it's mostly covered up with personal stuff. Some effort went into that set design.

Mororless May 1st 15 21:01

Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Lennier's Tears (Post 451492)
I think I've commented elsewhere on this board that I wasn't in the US when B5 first aired either, and I have much the same experience as you. I didn't really become aware of the deep rift between the fandoms until later. I can still sort of sense that in people my age or older (I'm 36), but does that rift still exist among young people? For those who started watching science fiction shows when both B5 and DS9 were old news, would any of that stuff really matter?

Same age as me and very much mirrors my experience, it was really only when I started posting more seriously on the net in the early 00's that I picked up on the whole B5/DS9 fued.

For more recent viewers I would guess the two issues might be that B5 does show a lower budget in places and that it does embrace a larger than life style in its characters/acting. The ironic thing is that high end TV today actually looks to go down the naturalistic acting route more than most big Hollywood films. Babylon 5 feels a lot closer to say Peter Jacksons Tolkien films than it does Game of Thrones in terms of the general tone and throwing in good amounts of humour.

As quality TV grows as well I think there seeing a lot of the film buff mentality shift to it and honestly if your more interested in picking holes in something than enjoying it you will find weak spots in B5.

Quote:

]I love the Zocalo sets .. I'm a little less enthusiastic about all the Down Below stuff, and the low traffic areas, which are always full of crates. Rearrange the crates and you have a new set! That said, there are some Down Below scenes that look really good, also. I love the aesthetics in that "One moment of perfect beauty" scene from There All the Honor Lies (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jli3ruqWYlc). Also the bits with Brother Edward at the end of Passing Through Gethsemane.

I like what we get to see of everyone's personal quarters. I like how they're all personalized to fit the characters. You can still see the Babylon 5 standard interior, but it's mostly covered up with personal stuff. Some effort went into that set design.
That's one area I think B5's character definitely benefited from, where they lived said a lot about them. The aesthetic of B5's design made it much easier to "dress" with characters personal belongings.


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