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Old June 16th 16, 23:28   #15
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 417
Re: Is it time to give season 5 another chance?

Originally Posted by vorlonlovechild View Post
You do get the sense that what is being created is not necesserily a good thing.
Except that the story told in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars implies that the Alliance became a good thing. But yeah, the birth of the Alliance has some peculiarly dark overtones. Given that Sheridan was devoted to getting rid of corruption and President Clark, it just seems odd.

Anyway, onto A View From the Gallery.

Now I know that this episode polarises opinion. It does seem a bit marmite, some love it, some don't. I used to like it, then went to hating it, having just watched it again I can see things to like and things not to like.

For me though, where it sits in season five, it doesn't advance the larger story in any way. In the DVD intro to the season, JMS talks about the importance of getting momentum back into the story after having wrapped up the civil war early. Yet these first four episodes have had very little momentum in them; this episode and The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari are standalones, while No Compromises and Paragon of Animals move fairly slowly and with no large stakes at risk. I know season 5 improves as we get to later episodes, and that a lot of fans blame Byron for not liking the first half of the season, but I think momentum is a problem too.

I do like the concept of the episode, which is in the same vein as the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Lower Decks' (actually one of the few TNG episodes that I've not seen, so, alas, I cannot make a direct comparison with A View From the Gallery). I think the main problem is that there's no inter-personal conflict. We get the opportunity for a different point of view on the main characters' decisions and actions, and it's wasted. Instead we're just told how great Lochley and Sheridan and Delenn are. We know how great Sheridan and Delenn are already and for Lochley's character to win over fans, she has to be seen to do great things, not just be told that she's great (and I think No Compromises introduced her to be a strong character, I didn't need any more convincing). As such, parts of the episode felt a little fanboy-ish, and not for the first time this season either. It's an unfortunate trait that's creeping in as it takes the edge of the characterisation in the show and makes everything feel too safe.

I think I've also figured out part of the problem with the music this season too - it's the sound mixing more than the music that is composed. It's too loud in parts and could do with being mixed lower, though Franke's music is unsubtle at times in this episode too. The scene where Sheridan and Lochley are talking in the corridor is an example - the music playing over it is too intrusive. That scene didn't even need music, in my opinion.

I do love Lochley's put-down to Garibaldi though: "Right now I'm not seeing a whole lot of intelligence, covert, overt or otherwise!"

And yikes - the special effects really have taken a huge downturn since season 4. The lighting, composition of shots, the movement of spacecraft, the camera angles, the textures, the explosions - they all just look wrong somehow. I know the reason why junior animators were put on the show while the more experienced animators at Netter Digital worked on other things but it's really a backward step in that the effects now are far worse than they were in the first season and it makes the show look cheap, or like a bad computer game. The scene where Bo and Mack watch the battle from the Sanctuary is nice though.

A few minor nitpicking details. Where have the Narn members of security gone? And does the station really have enough shelters for a quarter of a million people?

It's interesting that Byron's observations on death are completely at odds with Lyta's. I'd like to say this is highlighting how different he is to other telepaths, but instead I think it's just him talking codswallop again.

So, do I like this episode? Yes and no. The concept is nice but at the end of the day the characters of Mack and Bo weren't interesting enough (or acted well enough) to really hold my attention. If they had been presented as being a little smarter (which would have made them more relatable to the B5 audience, who are a pretty smart bunch in my experience), and if they'd been put into conflict with some of the main characters, it would have been better. I can't help but think that an episode centred around a day in the life of Lt Corwin instead would have been much more interesting and entertaining.

Season Five is stuttering along at the moment, struggling to find that momentum and failing to reignite the things that made previous seasons great. There have been moments, but nothing cohesive except for the second episode. Unfortunately I think it's about to get worse with Learning Curve before it gets better, but I'm getting ahead of myself - maybe my opinion of episode five will have changed since I last watched it!
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