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Old August 18th 14, 07:49   #19
Ubik's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: York, UK
Posts: 94
Re: How would you reboot B5?

Okay, here goes… My B5 reboot would be something like this:

-We start from essentially the same point as the original B5 series. The universe is roughly the same, all our favourite key alien races are present and correct with representation on the station. I’d leave some wriggle room for re-modelling the look of the races, but nothing too drastic. The crux of the series is similar, in that we are primarily concerned with the consequences of the older races interfering with the affairs of the younger races. My focus would be on the Telepath War as the main conflict, essentially replacing the Shadow War as the main arc. This would not be the same Telepath War alluded to in the original B5. It plays out differently. Hence, it would give viewers something new to chew on. More on this later…

-I’d cast all new actors, with the occasional cameo appearances from the original cast in other roles, but nothing major, more of a wink and nod to fans of the original.

-New characters throughout. Our new cast would still occupy the same archetypal roles as our old favourites, but would have new backstories, motivations and personalities. So, for example, we’d still have a Narn ambassador, but he or she would be different to G’Kar. Same goes for the rest of the cast. I’d also definitely also have an openly telepathic member of the station crew, just to complicate things later on down the line.

-In term of visual approach I would opt for that wonderful murky noir vibe that so prevalent in ‘The Gathering’, especially the moodier lighting and ‘lived in’ feel of the station. With the exception of the ‘interstellar disco’ C&C, I loved the look of The Gathering, B5 felt far less sanitised and more dangerous. Down below should feel genuinely threatening and down and out. It always felt a bit corny on the show.

-Provide more detail as to the motivations of the Shadows and Vorlons. Not just Chaos vs Order, because that never really worked for me. It seemed too simplistic. I would also focus more on ‘things done by proxy’ to achieve their aims, manipulating the younger races.

-No Shadow War. Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt. The first shadow war would still be a relevant point of reference though.

-To replace the tension of the shadow war, the main conflict would be the telepath war, which could also encompass the Earth civil war, with B5 breaking away from Earth, but for entirely different reasons. The Shadows and Vorlons both have a vested interest in the outcome of the telepath war. The Shadows, inherently fear telepaths, whilst the Vorlons use them for their own devices, as a method of monitoring and influencing the younger races. Telepaths would be the crux of the conflict in the arc, with other plot lines running alongside this.

Telepaths would remain a Vorlon creation, something which is common knowledge from the outset. The first Earth telepaths are the only humans to have ever returned from Vorlon space, acting as ambassadors and advance scouts, before the Vorlons finally commit to having a presence on B5. They are initially treated with suspicion and are closely monitored upon their return to earth. After their arrival, more telepaths begin to appear on Earth. Like any minority group, there’s a storied history of inequality, violence and hardship. The Psi-Corps is founded to regulate things, and by in large is a force for good. This of course, changes over time. Like all institutions it becomes corrupt and power hungry.

So, these initial telepaths are intended to forge a link between the Vorlons and humans. The same is true of the other younger races, who have also seen telepaths appear amongst their own people. As a hidden agenda, these telepaths also serve to keep the younger races in check and function (unbeknownst to themselves) as spies for the Vorlons. In much the same way as Sheridan retained a piece of Kosh, all telepaths have a small shard of Vorlon consciousness within them. This allows for a link between telepaths and Vorlons, meaning they can also be manipulated by the Vorlons. This includes full mind control, without the subject having any knowledge of it. Any given telepath is essentially a Vorlon sleeper agent.

-Slowly but surely, and with the help of the Psi-Corps, telepaths become a force to be reckoned with. They establish political ties and gain leverage within government. Through secretive selective breeding, they push P ratings beyond their known limit. Telekinetics also begin to emerge. Psi abilities become like a form of currency, used as political bargaining chips between governments and businesses. The Shadows witness the growing power of telepaths and begin to infiltrate governments and the Corps in order to take steps to counter the threat.

-The turning point comes when the Corps succeeds in removing the ‘Vorlon shard’ from their telepaths. That small speck of Vorlon presence, it transpires, is not responsible for granting telepathic abilities. These abilities prove to be present on the genetic level, which brings about altered brain chemistry to ‘unblock’ latent telepathic abilities. The removal of the Vorlon shard is initially taboo amongst telepaths, as the Vorlons have long perpetuated the myth that this is what grants telepathic powers.

This revelation splits telepaths into two factions, those who don’t believe in severing themselves from the Vorlons (they see the link as sacred), and those who want complete unfettered freedom from any controlling force. ‘Shard removal’ becomes widespread, with millions flocking to the Corps to undergo the procedure. Slowly but surely, things get out of hand. The Corps become a political power to be reckoned with and begins to aggressively pursue its own agenda. The Vorlons realise they have lost control of their own creation but are reticent about taking action. They are opposed to the use of military force, hoping to eventually turn the tide and coax back those telepaths lost to the Corps. The Shadows, on the other hand, have no qualms about acting with deadly force.

-The conflict escalates quickly, with different races responding with varying degrees of force. Governments fail to differentiate between ‘shard’ and ‘non-shard’ telepaths. What ensues is tantamount to genocide. B5 becomes the only place that retains any kind of neutrality and flies in the face of Earthgov policy, who are now see all telepaths as public enemy no. 1.

-As the conflict intensifies, and seeing no clear way out, the Shadows unleash a bio weapon, one that targets telepaths only. Millions die, but a core group of telepaths survive thanks to the efforts of Babylon 5 and the Vorlons. The Shadows and Vorlons withdraw to secret locations, going into exile, their locations unknown. Thus leaving the younger races to fend for themselves and clean up the mess they created.

-The anti-telepath virus mutates on Earth, creating a deadly plague with a ticking clock to find a cure. This segues the series into a Crusade style scenario, shifting the show to a mix of space exploration aboard an advanced fleet of White Stars, and ongoing events on B5. There could even be an element of ‘going after the Shadows and Vorlons’ to hold them accountable for their actions and demand they help.

-I’d employ a capable writing team, with JMS exec producing and overseeing the arc. Someone like Jane Espensen should definitely figure in this equation. The main reason for this, I’d want more naturalistic dialogue, and less silly humour. JMS is great at story and characterisation, but his dialogue is often a tad clunky.

One interesting thing that emerges from all this is how attached I am to the original series. It’s really hard to re-imagine B5 without feeling a bit dirty for doing so. I realize whilst typing this out that any reboot really HAS to depart from the original plot or there’d be zero dramatic tension. If a feature film does make it, I hope to see new fresh ideas, not old ones recycled.
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