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Old December 23rd 01, 01:38   #1
Recoil
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Lord of the Rings?

Ok, I know what everyone's first instinct is on this, but bear with me here! I'm trying not to open a complete can of worms. This thread isn't what you may think.

We all know there was a TON of debating going on back when B5 hit the air about how it was a ripoff or based on Lord of the Ring trilogy. (frankly having seen it all the way through, and read the books, I cant see how ANYONE could get LoTR out of season 1 and 2, but hey, thats just me) However there were some interesting parallels between the two. I just saw the Lord of the Rings movie (loved it) and the thought occured to me. Here is a brief summary of the things in noticed similar, THEN I will make my point, which is NOT to compare the two...

<table bgcolor=black><tr><td bgcolor=black><font size=1 color=white>Spoiler:</font></td></tr><tr><td><font size=2 color=black>
* There was a 'Ranger' in the Lord of the Rings Movie
* Gandolfs fall into the underworld could be similar to Sheridans leap at Z'Ha'Dum
* For that matter Khazadum, Z'Ha'Dum, sound similar
* Mordor, Mr Morden
* City of Lorien (Lorien was who Sheridan found at Z'Ha'Sum)
* References to darkness and the shadows when the fellowship was in Khazadum.
* Uniting all the races into the fellowship to face the coming darkness
* Lord of the Rings = LoTR
* Legen of the Rangers = LoTR
</font></td></tr></table>

Ok there were a few that I saw. My question is this. I DONT see that the stories are similar. I dont think they are at all. But I do remember lots of Lord of the Rings people citing a lot of this stuff during season 1 and 2. It kind of stopped around season 3 I think, however some of the examples I listed came AFTER all that stuff kind of died down. Which brings me to my point:

Do any of you think that JMS, being fed up at all the people drawing parallels, started doing things like naming Lorien his name, just to spite, or take a shot or two at the people who were trying to compare the two stories? If he did, I think its pretty damn funny. Even the Legend of the Rangers title, after all these years, maybe he is still kind of 'sticking it to' some of the early critics who tried to compare B5 to Lord of the Rings. So you think that's a possibility or a coincidence?

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[This message has been edited by Recoil (edited December 22, 2001).]
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Old December 23rd 01, 01:45   #2
channe
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

B5 was never a Lord of the Rings ripoff, no. For one, it has no Frodo, no hobbits, and - for heaven's sake, it's missing one of the central characters: the Ring itself.

Babylon 5 evokes LotR in more than a few ways, that's for certain. All of the reasons you mentioned, and more - Elrond's "you must all band together to fight," etc., the rise of the race of Man.

But that's all it is. An evocation. A good chunk of good literature does this.

After all, Tolkien was evoking his prior literature, too...

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Old December 23rd 01, 02:02   #3
Xzalkis
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

Well the similarities in several names certainly do stop and make you think a sec, I still believe that the similarities are no more then casually related.

The fact is that Lord of the Rings is the basis for the fantasy genre as we know it today. Because the books were so encompassing, its actaully hard (in my mind) to not see similarities (especially in theme), in any scifi/fantasy show, especially one as epic as Babylon 5.

Just My Humble Opinion...

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Old December 23rd 01, 02:59   #4
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

Every time someone starts a thread like this, we get to re-post what JMS said about it. He was Very Open about what he was doing, so there Is No Mystery.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR> Re: the name Rangers ... hey, when you grow up watching The Lone Ranger, and spend lots of time researching the Texas Rangers when you work (briefly) on Walker ... certain names spring unbidden.
jms

The Rangers actually owe more to the Lone Ranger and the Texas Rangers in general.
jms


I was the Supervising Producer brought on under Executive Producer David Moessinger when "Walker, Texas Ranger" was first being produced for CBS. I left in fairly short order to do B5, which had already been commissioned prior to doing Walker...
jms

... that isn't the reference I was talking about. Being on that show, I kinda had to look into the history of the Texas rangers in general, and being the curious kind of guy I am, I widened out into the Army Rangers, and other sorts. I'd been looking for a kind of name to attach to this group, and the more I thought about it, the more it fit.

As far as the costume is concerned...it's not medeival based; if you look at the ranger's outfit, than go look at a Minbari warrior outfit, you will discover a LOT of points of comparison. It was *designed* to echo Minbari warrior caste clothes, to reflect the fact that these two sides are working together. Go fire up "Legacies" and look at his uniform, then look at the ranger. You'll see the similarities in silhouette and line in various places.

Of course I've read and enjoyed Tolkein. But as I've said, I have no interest in doing LoTR with the serial numbers filed off. I've dropped references to it in dialogue, but the structure of the story has nothing whatsoever to do with LoTR. Basically, a lot of people have come up and said, "Oh, this is the same as Foundation," or "This is the same as LoTR," or "This echoes a lot of Dune," or "This is obviously a Homeric tale," or "There's a lot of Star WArs here." It uses the same tools as all mythic structure fiction uses. Hence it resonates. But I didn't sit there and think, "Hmm...Gandalf left, so I'll have Sinclair leave." That's just plain silly.

It's really a matter of what you bring to the table, that affects what you see in the story.

The roots of the symbolism and structure of B5 go back a hell of a lot longer than this. Here ... I'll give you one free.

G'Kar is in many ways my Cassandra figure, who in the Greek tales was granted the gift of prophecy ... all the disasterous things she predicted would come true ... but she was cursed by the gods that NO ONE would ever believe her. And later, when the war was at its height, she ended up in the service of.....

Okay, five points to the person who can supply that answer, and see the connection.
jms

The interesting thing for me in this and related conversations is that I frequently notice messages indicating that:

"jms is doing the whole Kennedy thing,"
or it's the Lord of the Rings,
or it's Dune,
or it's tracking the Bible,
or it's following Yeats ...
or it echoes Shakespeare, as in this case.

In a way, they're all right, and in a way, they're all wrong. Right in the sense that in trying to create myth, or a story using traditional epic structure, you can see echoes not only between B5 and other such stories, but also between those other epics. The mistake is in thinking (and this isn't directed at you, just sorta woolgathering) that it is in fact a parallel to any one of them. That leads you into the error of the blind men each touching a part of an elephant; if you think the trunk IS the elephant, you've erred, and all conclusions that follow are thus skewed incorrectly.

To the question of Shakespeare and Londo ... yes, there's some resonance there, because Londo is an almost archetypal tragic/comic, or romantic/tragic figure. There was certainly a fair amount of Falstaff in him; references to consulting three technomages certainly resonates with MacBeth being "endorsed" as it were by the three witches. You can look at Londo and see Lear, or Hamlet, or others ... and they all resonate to one degree or another, but none of them is wholecloth.

Right now, all that most viewers have of the B5 story is a piece of the elephant, and are assuming that that *is* the elephant. Another good comparison would be to say that if you stop a reader part way into The Lord of the Rings, they'll assume it's all about some hobbits on the road, having adventures. Because they don't yet know about Mordor, or Sauron, or the Rings, or Rivendell, or the sheer *scope* of the thing. I don't think anyone has yet twigged to what this story is, really.

One of the things really lacking in American culture, I think, is a sense of *myth*. So the story of Babylon 5 has a very mythic kind of structure. I think that's important. Which is why a lot of the elements I draw on aren't traditional television devices...literature, poetry, religion, hard SF, metafiction, Jungian symbology...there are an awful lot of ingredients in this particular pie, culled from the less likely aisles in the supermarket. You have to remember that my degrees are in psychology and sociology, with minors in literature and philosophy. So my tastes and predilections and resources are fairly eclectic and lean toward the classical. (How else to explain an atheist who's read the Bible cover to cover *twice*?)

And I think I just answered your question in far more detail than could possibly have been desired....
jms
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Old December 23rd 01, 13:43   #5
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

Yea,

I know the stories are totally different, and that its totally cool to toss in a reference or two. The only reason I thought it may have been more of a shot at the people who were openly criticizing that he based it on was the whole season 4 finale thing. He did that little 'Faith Manages' as stab at all the people who were saying all season long that B5 was gonna get cancelled. So I thought it may have been possible he tossed in a few references just to irritate the LoTR fanatics out there who wouldnt give it a rest . Thanks for the quote Bakana, I have seen some of the stuff in there before, but certainly not all of it.

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Old December 23rd 01, 13:58   #6
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

A similarity in the occasional name doesn't make it a similar story. I read LotR many years before I saw B5 and I could never see a connection when people started asking JMS about it. As stated above, JMS has a huge background in literature of every genre and once in a while he subconsciously uses a name such as Lorien because it fits.

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Old December 23rd 01, 14:08   #7
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

..there are no original ideas, only original combinations..

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Old December 23rd 01, 16:05   #8
bakana
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

Ome of the things to note about JMS posts is that it WASN"T just Rings.

Every troll out there seemed to find some favorite prior work that JMS just HAD to be ripping off.

All except the Correct ones, that is.

So far as I know, not a single troll figured out that it was "The Lone Ranger".

Guess JMS should have named a character "Tonto".

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Old December 23rd 01, 20:52   #9
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

I couldn't get over how much Aragorn reminded me of Marcus Cole. I SERIOUSLY believe that JMS used Aragorn as a character type for Marcus, but really made Marcus his own character. I also think that the actor who played Aragorn held a striking resemblance to Jason Carter. Did anyone else hear that Carter tried out for Aragorn? I read that on the Jason Carter Fan Club bb.


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Old December 23rd 01, 21:29   #10
Joseph DeMartino
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Pointing out the similarities is not meant to be accusatory or degrading, just interesting...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You're correct of course, but what you may not appreciate is the history of thing kind of thing vis a vis B5. People actually did accuse JMS of ripping of The Lord of the Rings and other things in so many words. An entire website was devoted to proving that there wasn't a single original thought in the entire B5 concept and that JMS was nothing but a hack who stole from others. The original, UNmoderated B5 newsgroup was awash in this kind of thing, and it sensitized a lot of the fan community to it. So some of us have something of an allergic reaction to seeing Lord of the Rings paired with Babylon 5.

Also don't forget that there are new fans discovering the show all the time, and some of them do post threads saying, "Gee, this is just like LotR? Did anybody notice? Did JMS base the show on the books?"

It is one of those things that just comes up from time to time, like questions about Claudia Christian's and Michael O'Hare's departure, which just become wearing for those of who remember the "Babylon Wars" of old.

Regards,

Joe

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