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Old February 28th 05, 17:02   #1
Recoil
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JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projects)

This is something me and a friend seem to talk about everytime we hear of a JMS project that was on the horizon getting shot down.

Obviously he still wants to push for a B5 movie. He seems to be taking on a series in '06 (what that series is, who knows yet). He was also pushing for fan appeal to have him be the next Trek show-runner before it was mentioned that Trek was going to be on ice for a bit. It seems like JMS is very ambitious and wants to get involved with as much as he can.

But what do you think is track record is, and how does this hurt his chances? Let me try to recap (recapping TV and Movie, not comics or other media):

1) Babylon 5. Big success. Highly rated show. Beat the odds. Cult following with strong aftermarket (DVD) sales supporting its growing auidence.

2) Crusade. Failed show. Problems with TNT.

3) Jeremiah. Failed show. Problems with MGM.

4) TMoS - Potential Movie Project. Failed Project. Problems with Studio/Financing.

Just to be honest about what I think, I know people here throw around this B5 phrase "Faith Manages" and its really cute and all...but I really have no faith in a JMS project getting off the ground.

Look. I realize that many of those above problems were for what he deemed valid reasons, and many fans support those reasons (myself included). But the fact remains he hasn't been able to pull off anything since B5 --- no matter what the reasons.

Do you think this hurts his reptuation in the industry? Would Paramount (or whoever) look at someone like him to run Trek given his stubbornness when it comes to the ways HE wants things done? To me it seems like he has a reputation of being hard to work with.

I don't know, this is a conversation a friend and I had after Jeremiah went belly-up. This exact same conversation. Now here we are over a year later, talking about TMoS evaporating. We are revisiting all our old points when discussing why Jeremiah imploded. I realize situations are somewhat different, but I can't shake the feeling that we won't see a JMS project get off the ground, B5 or not (and please refrain from those "faith manages" cliches).

To be totally and completely honest. I don't want to hear so much as a peep or a rumor about any possible B5 project anymore. Not a word. Nothing until filming begins. Its really not worth the whole roller coaster ride.

I just have serious doubts as to JMS being able to work with anyone in Television and the Movie Industry right now. Maybe its an un-informed opinion, but it is *MY* opinion and from where I sit, its not an incredibly unreasonable or unbelievable one. And I just wonder how all of this effects his ability to be selected for projects.

Thoughts?
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Old February 28th 05, 17:25   #2
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projec

1) May I request your assessment... on which percentage of pilot movies become television shows... and which percent of television shows ever reach a "planned" ending?

I am poorly informed about this... but to my knowledge, most television shows are built in such manner... that they won't even *try* achieving distant goals. Numerous of them live day by day, or season by season.

JMS set somewhat of a standard with Babylon 5... and apparently, he does *not* have terrible interest in passing below this bar. He wants to jump over it.

2) May I request your attention for the point... that JMS does different kinds of ventures -- not merely movies or TV shows.

I lack a precise overview of his doings... but to my understanding, there is a reasonable number of successes among his projects.

3) Finally there is the market. Without a market willing to buy... producing something is pointless. The market for Babylon 5 clearly exists, and has not been spoilt.
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Old February 28th 05, 17:36   #3
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projec

I might be in minority here but IMHO the best case scenario for creative standpoint would be if JMS would not be show-runner but the "second man" or co-showrunner. My dream scenario would be JMS as main scriptwriter (as EP) in Whedon run scifi show, or something similar. Hope you get the point.

As good as worldbuilder he is, i think he is not the greatest showrunner. This is just my opinion.
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Old February 28th 05, 18:48   #4
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projects)

You missed one!

5) Legend of the Rangers. Failed show. Problems with the ratings.

I always assumed that the B5 universe would penetrate the mass popular consciousness one day, but that the Babylon 5 series itself was not the incarnation that would do it, simply because it requires such a level of ongoing commitment from the viewer. But the series already exists for the fans and afficionados, it's already been made, in full.. That battle no longer needs to be fought. The next logical progression is something that can appeal to everyone else..

I thought Crusade might do it, but it never had a chance.. Then I assumed that B5 would follow the Star Trek model and become a huge movie franchise. But lately I've begun to think that the conditions that led to the early Star Trek movies becoming such a mass cultural phenomenon just don't exist any more.. There's just too much of this stuff being made now for a B5 movie to stand out (and I've always thought B5 approaches movie quality already, despite being for television).

Now I'm wondering if JMS is the person to do it. He's good at character and good at long, drawn out plot development, but the stand-alone stuff is generally not his best. Ideally I think B5 should be revived in a television incarnation at some point in the future (that seems to be its natural home), by someone equally talented but able to make a clean break with the past, ie. new cast, new story, new writers, new premise, new era etc.

More of Sheridan, Delenn and the rest may appeal to us fans, but the old guard are carrying so much story baggage around now that its frankly only going to alienate everyone else.. Besides, we know what happens to their characters.. They can't unexpectedly die, or lose an eye, or anything.. They can't undergo any significant development.. JMS needs to start getting radical here..
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Old February 28th 05, 19:13   #5
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projec

Quote:
1) May I request your assessment... on which percentage of pilot movies become television shows... and which percent of television shows ever reach a "planned" ending?
Not my point, and not worth my time to find out. I am talking about JMS's activities, not what everyone else does. There is too much stuff out there to come up with a bell curve and grade the class.

Quote:
2) May I request your attention for the point... that JMS does different kinds of ventures -- not merely movies or TV shows.
As I stated above, I am looking at ONLY his TV shows and Movie projects for this. As I said, I realize he does comics and all sorts of stuff (although his Rising Stars came close to not finishing because of a disagreement with the publisher).

RMcD is right though, I did forget one:

5) Legend of the Rangers (pilot for potential series). Series not offered up. Problems with the ratings.

(not to mention, that overall this was not a B5-quality telemovie in the first place).
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Old February 28th 05, 20:35   #6
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projec

On the other hand he's got several successful comic books out there, and they signed him on to do Spiderman for a while (including the 9/11 issue).
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Old February 28th 05, 22:18   #7
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projec

Hmm, some musings ...

TMoS
TMoS only suffered the same fate that dozens of other optioned movie scripts do every year - we just don't normally get to hear the early rumours about them.

Jeremiah
Jeremiah went two seasons and from what I have seen of the way S2 was treated (from afar I grant you) there seems little chance that there would have been a third season with or without JMS' "falling out with MGM". If MGM/Showtime were committed to the show, they would surely have found someone to take the reins for another season or two. Or three.

Let's also not forget Jeremiah's companion show "Odyssey 5", which was canned before the end of its first season, in spite of having consistently out-rated Jeremiah. Hardly seems like a stable home for any genre series.

Crusade
Crusade was killed before it got out of the gate, because TNT just didn't want it. The show didn't fail because of JMS' problems with TNT, the show failed because TNT wanted it dead and JMS' problems with them were the result of that process, not the cause of it.

LotR
A blot on the JMS copy book. It is certainly not up to B5's standard, although it is a pretty enjoyable romp in its own right. It always struck me as a failed attempt to appeal to a new and different audience to the original B5 series. Sometimes you get that right, sometimes you don't. And I don't recall there being any question of problems between JMS and SFC.

JMS himself has stated on more than one occasion that he should be hard-core unemployable (his words not mine), because of his unwillingness to compromise his vision or suffer fools gladly.

However, he does bring his shows in on time and on budget, which I imagine is a reasonable trade-off as far as the cash-conscious studios are concerned, and therefore makes him an attractive option. The fact that he still gets offered show-runner positions indicates that the TV industry still considers him to be an asset in that position.
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Old February 28th 05, 22:19   #8
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projec

Seems reasonable to suspect his rep. Even if he's right about everything and all that stuff failed and it wasn't his fault, and TNT is awful and MGM suck ass and people aren't cool enough to be obsessive B5 fans or whatever, he still has a track record of failure for recent history. TV/film execs don't go on JMSnews.com or B5TV.com and have colonyearth or KoshN or Joseph DeMartino explain the painful details of why War Zone sucked and they wore the wrong color uniforms. All they see is- Crusade: FAILED.
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Old February 28th 05, 22:23   #9
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projec

Having a lot of failures would not hurt as much as you think. How many shows each year get cancelled? Alot. How many shows by people who had hit shows before get cancelled? Alot - its par for the course.

The tv show business is a crapshoot most of the time. That is why there are so many copy-cats of successful shows.
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Old February 28th 05, 23:50   #10
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Re: JMS - Reputation (relating to potential projec

The other thing is that JMS is still very much in the game, with various offers and projects. He's better off with these opportunities, even when they fail, rather than not being active, which would make him less attractive to the industry that having a few misses.
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