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Old February 1st 15, 03:56   #1
Lennier's Tears
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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? 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.
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Old February 1st 15, 18:53   #2
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Re: Watching Babylon 5 in 2015

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lennier's Tears View Post
I wonder how I didn't notice that in the past. Is it just that my TV is a lot bigger now?
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.
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Old February 1st 15, 20:26   #3
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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.
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Old February 2nd 15, 11:45   #4
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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!
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Old February 2nd 15, 13:56   #5
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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 ) 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.
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Old February 6th 15, 21:09   #6
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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.
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Old February 7th 15, 11:56   #7
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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.
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Old February 7th 15, 17:11   #8
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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!

I like In The Beginning a lot, but I don't watch the other movies nearly as often.
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Old April 9th 15, 16:44   #9
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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!
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Old April 28th 15, 17:41   #10
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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.
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