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Getting others hooked


I've been considering how to introduce other people to the B5 universe. I see many possibilities:
a) do it chronologically, with In the Beginning
b) do it the way the series started, with The Gathering
c) start 'em on actual eps, with Midnight on the Firing Line
d) grab them in with good episodes: something funny (like Parliament of Dreams) or something weighty but stand-alone that doesn't blow much if we watch it out of order (like Believers).

I await your sage advice.
Midnight on the Firing Line- a great intro to the series and a solid stand-alone. Have 'em watch the episodes in order, maybe skipping a few of the weak ones like TKO, or at least warning them about them in advance.
I'd go with JMS's actual airing order. I wouldn't show them In the Beginning, it spoils too much.

And when you watch TKO, watch the next episode on the same day. /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif I don't even know which ep. is next, but it has to be better than TKO was. Although IIRC, I liked TKO's minor plot line.

Enjoy. I'd love to turn someone onto B5. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif But I was too late to the game to do that.
And when you watch TKO, watch the next episode on the same day. I don't even know which ep. is next, but it has to be better than TKO was.

Actually, I think the next one is Grail, which is the only episode I like less in the entire season, though many disagree with me on that.

I laughed when I opened my box set and saw the 4th disc. It's so schizophrenic:

Signs And Portents, which is of course great.
TKO, with the stupid Rocky plot
Grail, which I hate
Eyes, with that absurd but wildly entertaining interrogator guy with the scar and Way-Yoon as the telepath.

The only problem I would have with the original air date order is that it means starting with The Gathering, which is sub-par and the substitution of 3 major characters could get confusing and annoying.

But definitely don't show 'em In The Beginning.
I think we have a clear consensus for NOT showing them In the Beginning until about the time that it aired (after S4), possibly slightly earlier but not much.

Whether you want to start with The Gathering or Midnight on the Firing Line might depend on how many hours of their time they will guarantee you to make your impression on them.
The only thing about The Gathering I think makes it worth seeing is it really sets up the mystery behind Sinclair, as well as the Vorlons. After The Gathering you REALLY wonder what the hell that doctor saw. It also does a good job at bringing some background into telepaths in the series.
I'd go with JMS's actual airing order.

What exactly does that mean? Isn't the order on the DVDs in the order they should be shown or am I just confused? /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

I am also interested in hearing what you should show people to get them hooked on the series. I am thinking of having a B5 party to celebrate the arrival of the DVD set but since I will only have a few hours that I will expect people will sit through, Iam thinking of starting with "Midnight...", "Soul Hunter" and "Born to the Purple".
Thanks for the master list hopefully I can get a few people I know interested in B5 although I will wait till about the fourth season to show In the begiinng.
Yes, thank you for the link to the "Master List" for B5 episodes but it still doesn't really answer my question. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Is this the order the DVDs are in or will I have to re-order them to conform to the "Master List"? My previous assumption was the DVD set was in "Broadcast Order". So, if the DVDs weren't in the order JMS prefers, then why weren't they done in that order? Time? Too much work?

Sorry if this has been rehashed already but I am just trying to sort it all out. /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
The pilot, the Gathering, is not in the B5 season 1 DVD set. You have to order it separately. Other than that, I am assuming the DVD will be in the order the episodes were broadcast. You almost have to, JMS uses such an arc.

So, unlike the Crusade fiasco, I would think the DVD would be in broadcast order (original order) with the exception that the pilot is missing.

When my DVD's get here, I'll see. My DVD player just arrived this afternoon. /forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif
Well, my replacement DVD's (for the scratched set that went back) are currently on backorder so I can't check, but I belive that the DVD's are in broadcast order.

From what I can remember, there isn't really any major problem with the broadcast order. There are just a few little things her and there. Here is one example, from S2 because it is the one that I remember off hand: In Knives when the creature is "showing" Sheridan images that convey fear and loss one of them is of the Icarus exploding, killing Anna. In the broadcast order, though, Sheridan had learned in the previous episode that this was not what happened to Icarus (and therefore Anna). Therefore this image is not what should have been pulled from Sheridan's mind and if it was then he shouldn't react to it the way he did. It's not a huge thing, but it is a slight continuity glitch (for those paying close enough attention).

As to why, I suspect that WHV just figured that it was easier to put out the broadcast order, and that they would have to deal with fewer questions/complaints that way than if the changed to the "Master List" order (which, IIRC, I think still contains one very minor ordering question, with Sinclair ending an episode saying he is preparing for the same treaty negotiations that he had in fact completed in the previous episode).
Run some episodes in order, starting with "Midnight", which is just a terrific introductory episode. The Gathering is just too different from the series to be a good "first look", even though in both versions it did, in fact, hook a lot of fans. I'd show it to new viewers about 4 episodes in, with proper caveats about how much changed from pilot to series, just so they'd know about the "hole in Sinclair's mind" and what happened with Kosh. (It will also help with Lyta's reappearance later.) Hold ItB until after S4.

JMS has never pushed anybody about the "master list" order. He himself has said it doesn't make that much difference, and The Lurker's Guide indicates an instance or two where the "wrong" (airdate) order works better. The sole exception to this is the placement of "Day of the Dead" which was aired out of sequence the first time it ran for reasons peculiar to the fifth season schedule. I believe both Sci-Fi and TNT later ran it in its correct spot. I expect the DVDs will be in airdate order unless JMS objects, which he obviously didn't for S1. (And no, there is no additional work involved in changing the order of the episodes provided you do it before the menus are created and the booklets printed up. They can slap them on the individual discs in any order they care to - alphabetically if they want to. Makes no difference to the folks doing the work.)


The treaty reference isn't necessarily a gaffe. Treaties get ammended, debated and fined tuned after being signed all the time - not to mention details of implementation being worked out. It wouldn't be odd to refer to such work as "negotiating the Eurphrates treaty" or whatever.

BTW, are people who try to get other folks hooked on B5 called "hookers"? /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Just wondering.


IIRC TNT wanted Day of the dead to air first because they were going into a break of eps (probably because of NBA) and day of the dead was more standalone, and wasn't really a cliffhanger...
Ok, so the "Master List" is maybe what JMS whould show them in if it was a perfect world but not what is necessary to enjoy the show and the arc? I think KoshN and Hyp were confusing me for a bit. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

I wasn't really planning on showing "The Gathering" because of the fact it had such a different feel than the rest of the show. Plus, quite a few actors changed and it might be confusing. The story is good but I think "Midnight" works just as well as an introductory episode. Depending on my crowd, I will be lucky to get them to sit through two episodes ... let alone four. /forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif
If you can only manage 2 episodes, then go for

'Midnight' followed by 'Mind War' - the first is a reasonably good intro, the second is the first outstanding episode of S1.

'Soul Hunter', 'Infection' and 'Born to the Purple', are OK, but won't hit newcomers straight between the eyes (plus being stand-alone, with little arc material, can be watched at a second sitting (if you get the chance).

And whilst I realise that 'Soul Hunter' has some attachment to the Sinclair 'Hole in the mind' arc, since you won't be starting with 'The Gathering', it won't be too big a deal to watch it later.
Its not a suggested viewing order, its a chronoligical timeline of the episodes and movies.

I don't understand how JMS could suggest putting ITB first. Although it wouldn't be so bad watching thirdspace before the end of the series like we all did because it didnt really spoil anything.

I don't understand how JMS could suggest putting ITB first.

He did so on two grounds:

1) In the nature of things, as B5 seeps into the culture and people catch odd episodes here and there out of sequence before trying the show from the beginning, many of the "mysteries" that so enthralled the original audience aren't going to be mysteries anymore. So why try to fight that?

2) Showing ItB first is only a problem if you approach the show as a mystery. While this can be fun, it isn't the only way to enjoy it. A couple of examples, the first one used by JMS to illustrate his thinking:

You have a scene with two characters having drinks at an outdoor cafe. From earlier in the film, you know they're in danger. Suddenly a bomb goes off. This is shocking surprising.

Now: same cafe. This time instead of starting with the characters, you start with an empty table. We see a man come up to the table, plant the bomb underneath it and set the timer. Then the two characters sit down and order their drinks. This creates suspense. The technique is called "dramatic irony". We know something the character's don't. Now the question isn't "what's going to happen?" it's "will they figure out what's happening in time to avoid the bomb?"

My example: Both Columbo and Murder She Wrote are detective shows about murders. MSW is a traditional "whodunit" where we follow clues to figure out who committed the murder. Columbo is a "how's he gonna catch 'em" /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif We see the murder committed at the beginning of each episode, and the suspense comes from knowing what Columbo does not - how the murder was committed and what steps the killer took to escape detection. The fun consists of watching Columbo outwit the killer, not in solving the crime along with him. (Although there is a bit of that - we can see which clues mean something to Columbo as he investigates.)

Each show can be enjoyed on its own terms, and each is a valid variant of the detective formula. Similarly B5 can be experienced as a unfolding mystery for the audience, or as an unfolding mystery for the characters. JMS was never shy about putting his cards face up on the table. He tells us in "Midnight" that G'Kar and Londo will die strangling each other to death. In "Signs and Portents" he shows us the destruction of Babylon 5. What is missing in each case is the context and the actual meaning of the events. Same with ItB. It tells us why the Minbari surrendered, and that they believe Sinclair is somehow Valen returned, but it doesn't tell why they keep the secret, what their plans are for Sinclair, or even begin to hint at his ultimate destiny.

So I can see the show being enjoyed by a new fan either way. The fact is that none of us who watched the series in the original broadcasts can ever know how the show plays when viewed that way. We can't erase our memories and go back and watch it in a different order. And I think it is a mistake to assume that the way we watched it is somehow the only "right" or "valid" way of experiencing Babylon 5.

If JMS thinks otherwise, I'm at least willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, even though further up the thread I followed the conventional wisdom in advising that ItB be held off for later. (BTW, if you're going to hold it back at all I think you should wait until after you've shown a new fan "Atonement" before bringing ItB out. Only waiting until after the end of S1, or even "War Without End" is just silly, since there are still "spoilers" for the events surrounding the start of the war.)


I saw ITB first, I didnt know of the series until it went to TNT, well I saw promos for it after DS9, but I never watched it.

So it WAS interesting seeing Sinclair see those scenes we saw from ITB in And THe Sky Full of Stars. I don't know waht it was like seeing the show without seing ITB first, but I think Sinclair's story would have been more enjoyable, but as he was written off the show anyway, its not that big a deal. But having Sheridan in ITB also makes Sinclair's departure not as unexpected as in the original run. I remember watching S2 for the first time, and I was really bummed that they got rid of Sinclair, I liked the character, and he was going to get married and everything. And worst of all, he didn't get to say good bye to Garibaldi. But with watching 5 episodes a week, Sheridan grew on me, and I imagine everyone else. Heck even Lochley grew on me, when Ivanova was one of my favorite characters.


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