• The new B5TV.COM is here. We've replaced our 16 year old software with flashy new XenForo install. Registration is open again. Password resets will work again. More info here.

How would you introduce a newbie to B5?



I want to introduce my fiancée to the Babylon 5 universe and I’m debating the best way to go about it.

I have virtually the whole series on tape (anyone with the last half of season 2 drop me a line) and am wondering where to begin?

Go with the actual airdate schedule? i.e.: The Gathering -> S1 -> S2 -> S3 -> etc.

Or, go with "chronological" order? i.e.: In The Beginning -> The Gathering -> S1 -> S2 -> S3 . . . with the TV movies in their "correct" locations.

I’m just not sure.

ITB answers big questions too early but S1 is rather slow and may be hard for a non- SF genre fan to get into.

Any opinions?

We live for the one;
We die for the one.

[This message has been edited by BPWatkins (edited January 15, 2002).]
Well, if you're interested, here's JMS's take on the subject:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Will ItB spoil some of season one's mysteries?

That's an interesting question. When I sat down to write In the Beginning, my feeling was that I should look at the long term. Would the hole in Sinclair's mind be the same mystery it was in season one (1), or would it be kind of known thereafter? If so, then do you want to play with the mystery, or set up what actually happened?

I figured, okay, let's go for the latter... let's let the audience know (which will mostly know by now anyway), and set up the background, with the characters not knowing [during] the first season. I took basic greek tragedy as my model, with ItB functioning more or less as a Greek chorus that sets things up.

If you want to play it as a strict mystery, then no, probably don't go near ItB... but frankly, if I were going to start someone off on B5, I'd definitely want to start with ItB, which sort of skims in and out of the overall storyline in a beautiful fashion.

I know you probably couldn't have made a movie about the Earth-Minbari War without giving away the ending, but I was kind of hoping the details would be left more vague than they were for the benefit of new viewers.

I came to that part of my decision-making process, and realized that in 2, 5 or 10 years, the secret ain't gonna be secret anymore... so why not play into that, and make the audience aware up front, which adds a different kind of tension, like seeing the bomb under the table when the characters eating dinner don't know it's there. (2)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

(1) That is, when S1 was first being aired. Lots of folks who are watching B5 pick the show up during whatever season happens to be airing, and therefore know the truth about a lot of the "mysteries" long before they see S1. (This was true in my case, to a great extent.)

(2) A short-hand reference to a famous explanation of surprise vs. suspense by Alfred Hitchcock. You can surprise an audience by showing a couple sitting at a restaurant having lunch, and chatting about nothing, then suddenly having a bomb go off under their table. But you build suspense by showing the audience a character planting the bomb, and then having the couple enter. While they're chatting away the audience is on tenterhooks wondering when the bomb will suddenly go off, and what effect it will have. (And wanting to warn them.

S1 plays similarly if you already know Sinclair's destiny and the reason for the Minbari actions, but he doesn't. Either approach is valid, and I don't think that one is inherently better than the other. It is just that many fans who enjoyed the experience of puzzling out the mysteries and figuring out the clues assume that this is necessary to enjoying the show. I don't believe that it is.

On balance, I agree with JMS that a new viewer gains more than he or she loses by seeing ItB first. It sets up all the major characters (except Garibaldi) and gives a glimpse of the epic scope of the series. It is also a better film than The Gathering, and closer to the look and feel of the series, which I think is important. TG can be off-putting to a new viewer.



Joseph DeMartino
Sigh Corps
Pat Tallman Division

Since this is bound to be a personal opinion thing... i.e. no one can state for a fact that one or another episode is the best one for introducing a newbie, I'll just give my opinion, which probably plenty of people will disagree with.

Don't start with In the Beginning. Not just because of the spoilers. While it's easily one of the best of the B5 movies, I am quite sure that if I had been shown that movie first, I'd have considered it incredibly boring. It becomes interesting when you already know enough of the story.

The Gathering... hmm. While enjoyable as such, it's probably a bit too different from the actual series.

I'd suggest starting with Midnight on the Firing Line and see what she thinks. If she really likes it, show the next episodes in the proper order.

If she's not sure yet, I'd advise to leave off some of what you consider the weaker episodes (Soul Hunter and Infection might not be good for introducing someone to the series). If she appreciates romance, then perhaps Born to the Purple might hold some interest.

Of the early episodes, Parliament of Dreams and Mind War are easily two of the best and both introduce main characters quite nicely.

"Isn't the universe an amazing place? I wouldn't live anywhere else." - G'Kar, B5: Rangers
Kribu's Lounge | kribu@ranger.b5lr.com
I agree with Kribu. I've done this for people before, and the best way to go about things is to show someone an abridged version of S1. I don't think one misses much by skipping "Infection" or "TKO". The key is to maintain the basic flow of the series, revealing events in the way that JMS originally intended, but cutting out the eps that you're afraid your fiancee might find boring. As soon as your fiancee is hooked, then you can start watching all the eps, or maybe continue leaving out the weaker eps so that you'll have "The BPWatkins cut" of Babylon 5.

My roommate recently watched the Gathering with me and said that it was good. He's seen some here and there if I watch, but that's it. We watched the DVD, and I kept telling him how he shouldn't expect too much from the pilot, that it wasn't as good as the rest of the show, etc. When it was over, he said he didn't know what the hell I was talking about, and that he would've gotten into B5 if the pilot was the first thing he ever saw.

JMS said that most people would already know about the big Sinclair mystery by the time they started watching any of it. I disagree. Most people don't know jack about B5.

That whole mystery element is the best thing about season 1. It engages a new viewer, and also makes for repeat viewings once the person becomes a regular viewer.

So, I disagree with JMS. The Gathering is a fine place to start, as long as you warn people of its weaknesses. The same is true for season 1. Many novels start off a little dull, but get better once you've become familiar with the characters and the action steps up. B5 is, after all, a novel for television.

I would definitely start someone off with the Gathering, and proceed in the order the series was released.

I also think that In the Beginning won't be very interesting to someone who doesn't know about the show. Scenes like the one with Susan and Sinclair don't really mean much without having watched the series. I always looked at ITB as a "reward" for it's fans, laying out all the neat stuff that was alluded to in the show. It's the Silmarillion of Babylon 5.

"You do not make history. You can only hope to survive it."
I personaly, would NOT start at the begining or the series. For the person would more that likely become bored. Start in Season 2. That's what I did, and after I seen all the action and the rest of the shows, I could fully appreciate the first season. I don't think a "newbie" would like it untill they seen the rest.

-With every light is born a shadow-
I have an 'if than' answer.

If you are sure this person will be willing to watch through season one start with "The Gathering".

If you only have one or two opportunities to get this person hooked show them "In the Beginning". Yes it spoils things but what does it matter if they are eternally unspoiled because they never watch the show. ItB is a much higher quality movie than the pilot. It is not overly boring if you don't know what is going on beforehand. I got the DVD for Xmas for my mom meaning that while I was home she, my dad and I watched it. My father is not a scifi fan yet he actually liked ItB.

"Crying isn't gonna get your dog back. Unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can sit here eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell like dog food or you can go out there and find your dog."-Homer in The Canine Mutiny
I maintain that chronological order is still the best. Granted season one is a little tedious at times. It lays an awesome base for the rest of the season. I'll admit that when i watched season 1 I though that it was merely another sci-fi wannabe- flash in the pan- one series wonder!
The end result is the numerous hours I spend on B5 forums, web pages or merely watching the shows over and again.
The first series shows the real people before power and circumstance changes them.
Lastly I think that the first series sets you up for a great ride because from series two, as you well know, it speeds up dramatically, thus hightening the effect!

"I am Grey. I stand between the candle and the star. We are Grey. We stand between the darkness and the light. I come to take the place that has been prepared for me"
One thing that Hasn't been mentioned yet is the Pro & Cons of telling the newbie that B5 is One Single Story told through 122 episodes and 5 movies.

Pro: If they think Season one is a bit "slow", remind them that it is primarily Character Introductions and Foreshadowing.

A lot of the things that happen in Season One don't make sense until season two.
Or Later.

That's what makes it so much fun to REwatch.

The second time around, you see all the "easter eggs" and lines that looked like casual remarks take on a whole new significance.
That's true even of lines from The Gathering.

There's even one "Easter Egg" that doesn't get revealed until "In The Beginning".
Ivanova's Earring.

How many people Noticed that she only wears One Earring when in uniform before seeing her scene with her brother?

There was Always only one earring from her first scene in season one.

Do not ascribe your own motivations to others:
At best, it will break your heart.
At worst, it will get you dead."
Aarrgggghhhhhh, round about now my office coleagues are wondering why I'm making holes in the prefab walls with my head!
The reason for the sudden bout of insanity. Box sets, box sets, BOX SETS!
Unfortunately I only have series three and most of four. Still airing here so I'll complete it in a couple of weeks! This is truly frustrating because I would give my left, er, um, lets just say I would give a lot to be able to go "easter egg" hunting from the beginning!
( much wailing and gnashing of teeth!)

"I am Grey. I stand between the candle and the star. We are Grey. We stand between the darkness and the light. I come to take the place that has been prepared for me"
Before you can easily answer this question you have to know what type of person you are trying to present the series to. I have successfully introduced it to 4 people, I did it 3 different ways and have managed to create 4 rabid fans.

For people with the time and patience, but not a great capability for understanding intricate plotlines I would suggest starting with ITB and proceeding to the Gathering. This gives makes it easier to understand the plot lines and easier to get interested in the series.

A real challenge was trying to convert a Star Trek fan, who refused to beleive anything could possibly be better than Star Trek. For this I had one oppurtunity to get this person interested in the series. I decided to skip rith to the end of season 1 and showed Babylon Squared, Quality of Mercy and finally Chrysalis. She came back to me within a week begging for more, then I went back and went with the Gathering and continued from there.

For people who enjoy quality entertainment, intelligent storylines and the joy of trying to figure plots out, go with The Gathering.

I am now in the process of trying to pick out my fifth victim....


"Things fall apart; The centre will not hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world; The blood dimmed tide is loosed; and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned."
This is a good question and one it's difficult to answer without knowing the person. However, I would start with The Gathering which introduces everyone except Sheridan. Then I'd have a little talk and explain why there were so many changes when the series started. I would go into Season l but leave out any episode I find dull such as Infection, and TKO. I would show them In the Beginning after the first two episodes of Season 2. By that time if they weren't hooked on the show I'd give up.

I always seem to be diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
Well, I myself never started watching the show in order until just recently after I got all of the eps on tape in a very haphazzard pattern. (Right now I am in the middle of season 2). I started watching during season 5, and saw that the local Camelot store had B5 tapes, but only ones from seasons 1 and 5. I started buying those, then started taping eps from the other 3 seasons as they aired. Since I never saw the show in chronological order until just recently, I think that it might be okay to start a newbie out with whichever ep you feel would capture their interest more. Show them a few really knock-your-socks-off-type episodes to get them hooked, then you can do the order thing.

With a salad fork and a couple of purple wombats I could rule the galaxy.
I was skeptical when my friend Mike wanted me to watch it with him. He had the first 4 seasons on tape and told me that if I watched season 5 on TNT, it'd just spoil too much. This is how he got me hooked:

1- he gave me an intro as to what the show was all about (an epic war, good and evil), told me about what first ones, older races, and younger races were, and told me that the show was a grand story told over a 5 year arc.

2- he showed me In the Beginning: it's a movie full of action and some intrigue and got me interested in the story. Plus, it really set the Minbari up as the enemies of Earth. I don't think the series does this very well on its own. Plus, the production value and effects are 100x better than anything in the first season, and that gave me hope that (even though it started kinda weak) the show was going to get a lot better.

3- he showed me the important episodes of season 1. TKO can be dropped along with some of the other stand alone episodes. It is very important to set up Episilon 3, the Psi Corps, Jason Ironheart, Babylon 4, and the alien healing device.

4- we watched the rest of the arc together and he guided me through and pointed out important points that I might have missed. He just said something like "Remember that."

Note: If you want to have fun along the way, just before you watch those really big episodes that knock you on your butt, casually say, "Oh, nothing really happens in this one," and press play.

You are finite. Zathras is finite. This...is wrong tool.


I gave up trying to get my friend to watch B5. He saw 4 eps, all from different seasons and decided it was too puzzling thus he went back to watch TNG reruns.

The Ludite.

But my other friend looks promising, he's just bought the movies.....hmmm!


[This message has been edited by snakeeyes (edited January 17, 2002).]
i showed my girlfriend in the beginning first and severed dreams after that.

it worked.

Do the following order since its how i saw it and enjoyed it a lot

The Gathering
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Thirdspace (since it takes place half way through season 4
Season 5
In the beginning
A Call to Arms
Legend of the Rangers
River of Souls-Let them watch it last or never. dosnt really matter

DS9 and B5. Who would have thought 2 of my fav shows would take place on stations in the middle of nowhere :)
Well, I used to be a diehard Trek fan *GASP!* and NEVER watched B5 when it was originally aired. I think I caught it ONCE and thought (at the time) it was cheesy.

Then I caught a couple of Season 5 eps on Sci-Fi last spring, and while I didn't know what the heck was going on, was surprised by how good it was.

Then they aired In the Beginning, I watched that and THAT is what hooked me. The backstory of the E/M war and the characters intrigued me, so I waited until the series began again on SFC and watched from the beginning. I wanted to see more about the Shadows and the Vorlons, why Mollari had Sheridan and Delenn prisoner, etc...

Yes, ItB gives away the hole in Sinclair's mind, but it doesn't give away the real biggie about Sinclair, which was an incredible (but pleasant) shock and surprise to me.

My .02

"During a witch hunt, don't get caught wearing a pointy hat."
Since I can speak from experience....

Because of B5's erratic schedule in syndication, I never really watched it (too busy trying to chase down Highlander). I had seen parts of The Gathering, and maybe about two episodes (one was Babylon Squared). When I read that TNT picked up the series and announced they were going to rerun the series from beginning to end, I decided to finally give it a chance.

The first thing I saw was In the Beginning, and I was hooked.

The spoiler of

<table bgcolor=black><tr><td bgcolor=black><font size=1 color=white>Spoiler:</font></td></tr><tr><td><font size=2 color=black>Sinclair's missing hours and having the soul of Valen</font></td></tr></table>

really didn't ruin the first season for me. Took away the mystery, but like JMS apparently intended, it brought in a whole new dimension of "I know something you don't know" on my part. Also, it didn't spoil

<table bgcolor=black><tr><td bgcolor=black><font size=1 color=white>Spoiler:</font></td></tr><tr><td><font size=2 color=black> War with End for me either, as some fans think it does. I just know that Sinclair has Valen's soul (as in reincarnation), not that Sinclair *is* Valen.</font></td></tr></table>

My jaw still dropped at the end of that episode.

The Gathering may be difficult for new viewers because of a few reasons:

1. Although it introduces some of the main characters, it also contains two major characters who weren't in the series, and they come with hanging plot threads. Those threads were dispersed to other characters in the series, but new viewers would probably get confused.

2. Even with the revised version of The Gathering, I don't think the pilot has the same feel that the entire series eventually got. While that's understandable, I think In the Beginning is better as drawing in new fans because the acting, writing, setting, atmosphere, and whatnot are closer to the later seasons where B5 really picked up steam.

As someone else pointed out, ItB really does a good job of setting up the main characters in the series and shows what happened in the Earth-Minbari War that would cause so much uneasiness between the races. If maintaining the mystery of Sinclair's missing hours is important to you, then don't show it, but the spoiler by no means hurts the overall story.

It's the quiet ones who change the universe. The loud ones only take the credit.

[This message has been edited by Kalen Efran (edited January 23, 2002).]
I have a friend who is a big trekie fan and he wanted me to tape a couple of episodes of star trek which is fine so I slipped a couple of episodes of B5 in between and he thought that the episodes were great

I'm very sneaky

"When it is time, come to this place, call our name, we will be here" -Walkers of Sigma957

Latest posts

Members online

No members online now.