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It was, perhaps, inevitable...

KoshFan

Regular
...or maybe I'd just like to think that it was inevitable. What's certainly inevitable is that this particular thread is either going to get lots of rotten vegetables thrown at it, or perhaps it'll be completely shunned. Anyway, I whipped this up yesterday in a fit of comparison madness. I'm well aware that it's all a matter of taste -- so if people want to do their own comparisons to adequately reflect their tastes, then more power to them.

Anyway, here it is... drumroll, please....

FIREFLY VS. BABYLON 5
A Point to Point Comparison

THE CAPTAINS:
Mal Reynolds
-- Funnier
-- Better shot/better hand-to-hand fighter
-- Sexier
-- More complex
-- Knows his ship inside and out
-- Lost in the last war
-- Cynical survivor
-- Very protective of his crew
-- Definitely darker
-- Loves apples

John Sheridan
-- Better pilot
-- Better tactician
-- Better family man
-- Still exploring his station after a year
-- Won the only victory in the last war
-- Idealistic crusader
-- Very protective of his father
-- Definitely more epic
-- Loves oranges

Both are equally hassled and harried, both experience the loneliness of command, both are rebels against the established authority.

Result: Mal edges Sheridan. Dark and complicated is more interesting than epic.

THE LOVE INTERESTS:
Inara Serra
-- More self-confident
-- Mysterious past
-- Conflicted about her emotions
-- Emotional core of the crew
-- Great deus ex machina on occasion
-- Undeniably hotter

Delenn
-- Self-confidence fluctuates
-- Troubled by her past
-- Conflicted about necessary actions
-- Spiritual core of the station
-- Fantastic speeches
-- Most dramatic arrival (in Severed Dreams)

Both are graceful and quick-witted.

Result: What are we aiming for here? As a pure love interst, Inara wins. As a great leader in her own right, Delenn easily trumps her. On the whole this one goes to Delenn.

THE SECOND-IN-COMMAND
Zoe
-- Mostly happily married and still kicking ass
-- Better fighter
-- Absolutely reliable
-- Concocts solid plan to free her captain

Susan Ivanova
-- Extremely unhappy personal life
-- Better pilot
-- Reliable but can be pushed too far
-- Unable to free her captain

Both are sexy, confident, and very funny. Extra points to Ivanova for dealing with Drazi on a regular basis.

Result: Ivanova edges Zoe as more interesting overall.

THE CHIEF OF SECURITY
Jayne Cobb
-- Mind in the gutter
-- Largely unscrupulous
-- Absolutely deadly in a fight
-- Wears a ridiculous hat
-- Is known to stab people in the back

Michael Garibaldi
-- Mind in the gutter whenever Talia's around
-- Somewhat unscrupulous
-- Pretty good in a fight
-- Thinks a fedora makes a good disguise
-- Routinely gets stabbed in the back

Result: Garibaldi's love of Daffy Duck is trumped by Jayne getting his own ballad. Jayne Cobb wins this one, even if he is technically in charge of Public Relations.

THE DOCTOR
Simon Tam
-- Reportedly extremely cute
-- Gave up his promising career to save his sister's life
-- Can moonlight as a criminal mastermind
-- Would have had a steady onboard relationship if the show hadn't gotten cancelled
-- After getting shot, tackles the bad guy one more time

Stephen Franklin
-- Designated cheesecake
-- Risked his promising career for principles... and for a nasty stim addiction
-- Can moonlight as a rogue telepath rescuer
-- Never had a steady onboard relationship as his love interests never reappeared
-- After getting stabbed, just lies around hollering for a while

Both are extremely good at their jobs and have complicated relations with their fathers.

Result: props to Franklin for having to deal with aliens and alien plagues, but Simon wins for sacrificing everything for his sister. Rumor has it that he's also hottter.

THE WANDERERS
(Okay, this is a bit of a stretch -- but Marcus is a Ranger, he counts as a wanderer, and there's no real fair comparison to Book in B5. Stacked up against Brother Theo there's no contest at all.)

Shepherd Book
-- Could be deadly if he chose to be
-- Very wise spiritually
-- Extremely mysterious past
-- Celibate by choice

Marcus Cole
-- Deadly
-- Very heroic
-- Troubled past
-- Celibate due to incurable romanticism

Result: A bit of a mismatch here, and it could go either way. Personally I lean towards Book but I'm going to declare this a tie.

THE PILOTS
Wash
-- Extremely funny
-- Extremely loud dresser
-- Appears to be wimpy but isn't
-- Endures torture
-- Expert pilot

Warren Keffer
-- Not very funny at all
-- Loud dressing extends as far as a kerchief; otherwise never changes his clothes
-- Obsessed with finding Shadows
-- Gets fried by Shadows
-- A good pilot

Result: Wash flies Serenity and handles her beautifully. Keffer flies a StarFury. Which is harder, folks? Wash in a landslide on this one.

THE MYSTERIOUS McGUFFIN
River Tam
-- Crazy, eliptical way of talking
-- Very young
-- Cracked genius
-- Very, very fast learner
-- Amazingly graceful
-- Can kill people with her brain... and her hands... and just about everything else...
-- Kinda cute!

Ambassador Kosh
-- Baffling way of talking
-- Very old
-- Very technologically advanced but isn't sharing
-- Slow and clumsy; has to turn sideways to get through doors
-- Can kill people with its brain, if angry enough.
-- In appearance, angelic... or looks like a jellyfish

Result: Hmm! Tight race here, folks, some very intriguing parallels... but despite my moniker I'm going to give this one to River on the basis of her heart-melting smiles.

THE SHIP/THE STATION
Serenity
-- Very common, durable design
-- Unarmed
-- Will run forever if the mechanic's even half awake
-- Resembles a bird, or an insect, or a horse
-- Can fly through canyons and pull Crazy Ivans
-- Deeply beloved by her captain and crew

Babylon 5
-- Last of the Babylon Stations
-- Can take out a destroyer
-- Underfunded and unfinished, she's always got maintenance problems
-- Resembles a metal tube
-- Can't move at all
-- Tied to her captain

Both are full of interesting nooks and crannies, not to mention fascinating people.

Result: Well. Serenity is much more agile and can go to interesting places. Babylon 5 is an interesting place. I'd have to say this one's a flat tie.

THE BIG BADS
The Reavers
-- Very scary because they used to be human
-- Evil, destructive, macabre

The Shadows
-- Very scary because they look like spiders
-- Extraordinarily powerful beings who like kicking over anthills

Result: The Reavers. Ex-humans beat giant insects in terms of terror.

THE EVIL AUTHORITIES
The Alliance
-- Bureaucratic nuisances
-- Very obviously copied from the Imperials of Star Wars
-- Clearly evil, with a few okay folks every now and then
-- Their evil Black Ops types wear creepy blue gloves and kill in an eerie fashion

EarthForce
-- Bureaucratic nuisances
-- Not so obviously evil, leading to naive folks thinking they're okay
-- Their evil Black Ops types wear black gloves and are called PsiCorps

Result: Bester vs. the Hands of Blue... I'm gonna call this one a tie.

EVIL WOMEN WHO TRY TO SEDUCE THE CAPTAIN
Saffron (AKA Bridget, Yolanda, and Yol-Saf-Bridge)
-- Brilliant actor; almost manages to play a player
-- Deadly in a fight
-- Knows her starships
-- Really hot!

Julie Musante
-- Irritating
-- Dumb
-- Attempts to seduce a straight-arrow idealist
-- Really not

Result: Do you even have to ask?

WORLDBUILDING
Firefly
-- Essentially the Wild West
-- Intriguing Chinese influences
-- Looks dirty, feels real

Babylon 5
-- Aliens mostly look and act human
-- When something looks strange, it's because it's alien, not because it's Chinese
-- Cleaner but still fairly lived-in

Result: tie.

CINEMATOGRAPHY/SPECIAL EFFECTS
Firefly
-- Went in new and daring directions with zooms, off-center shots, and lens flares
-- Flawless computer graphics
-- New and beautiful stuff every episode, very few shots reused

Babylon 5
-- Went in new and daring directions by using computer graphics exclusively
-- Looks a little fuzzy at points
-- Reused a lot of footage

Result: It's unfair to tweak B5 when it broke the ground for Firefly, but Firefly wins on cinematography. It's a darn pretty show.

WRITING
Firefly
-- Every episode has a laugh-out-loud moment, and most have lots
-- Some very touching moments
-- There are no bad episodes -- even the worst one is very strong
-- Many episodes have extreme plot grip
-- Good foreshadowing

Babylon 5
-- Very funny on numerous occasions
-- Brilliant speeches and a few flat ones
-- Consistently good but with a few howlers
-- Some episodes are extremly gripping
-- Great foreshadowing

Result: Point by point, I'd say that the shows are pretty dead-level here. Take the best fourteen episodes of B5 and stack them up against Firefly and they are all but equal. However, Firefly is more consistently brilliant, and a more fair comparison would be to stack up the first fourteen episodes of B5 -- or even more precisely, "The Gathering" followed by "Midnight on the Firing Line" through "Signs and Portents" -- and see how the shows match up. Firefly prevails by a nose.

OTHER FACTORS
Babylon 5 gets major points for the beauty of the Londo/G'Kar arc. Hats off to Firefly for having the guts to do science fiction without aliens. In the archcriminal department, Badger is by far better than N'Grath. B5 does epic well; Firefly does small and focused very well.

OVERALL RESULTS
Firefly prevails in nine categories, Babylon 5 in two. There are, however, four ties. Factoring in the intangibles and taking into account how close some of Firefly's victories were, we end up with a final result of Firefly winning overall but not by much.


Let the vegetable-throwing commence!
 
Also, wasn't the Dilgar war after the Minbari War? Earth won the Dilgar war, with more than 1 victory.
 
Sindatur, time for another viewing of In the Beginning :)
Earthforce initiated contact with the Minbari and were too arrogant to fear conflict because of their victory over the Dilgar despite Londo's warnings.
 
Babylon 5
-- Last of the Babylon Stations
-- Can take out a destroyer
-- Underfunded and unfinished, she's always got maintenance problems
-- Resembles a metal tube
-- Can't move at all
-- Tied to her captain
This is technically false... B5 has station-keeping thrusters which are powerful enough to pull the station out of a degrading orbit (The Gathering):

gathering40.jpg

gathering41.jpg


EarthForce
-- Bureaucratic nuisances
-- Not so obviously evil, leading to naive folks thinking they're okay
-- Their evil Black Ops types wear black gloves and are called PsiCorps
To be fair, EarthForce is military. EarthGov are the bureaucrats. PsiCorps isn't a division of EarthForce.
 
Here's the big comparison: Focus.

Babylon 5 was about empires and the fate of a galaxy. Characters commanded fleets and ruled worlds. Babylon 5 is epic space opera.

Firefly is about nine characters struggling to survive in a hard universe. These characters have one ship, and just surviving to fight another day is a good day. Firefly is character space drama.

Honestly, that's why I can't pick one over the other, they both appeal to different aspects of what I enjoy in Sci-fi.
 
Omg, what a fun thread! I loved reading that. Here's another question. What would happen if Firefly's crew met the main crew of B5?

How would Sheridan deal with Mal? How would Ivanova deal with Zoe? Inara and Delenn? Garibaldi and Jayne? Oh lord, I could go on for hours. Hahahaha
 
...or maybe I'd just like to think that it was inevitable
I would go with B, because it doesn't strike me as at all inevitable. The two shows are similar only in that they are both set in space. It's a little like trying to do a point by point comparison of The Shield and Murder One because they are both set in LA.

I think that more comparable pairings of series would be:

Firefly and Farscape: at least they're both centered on a small group of outlaws who buffetted around by TPTB in their universe's primarily because one of their number is of particular interest (and not because of some particular action that they chose to commit).

Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica: at least both have the epic scale of spacefaring species being threatened with extinction; and political intrigue at the highest levels of their respective governments.

Even those pairings have significant enough differences to make it hard to really do that kind of one-to-one mapping, but they are closer than Firefly-to-Babylon 5.


Anyway, all of that said, I would take issue with some of your particulars as well.

THE CAPTAINS:
Mal Reynolds
-- Better shot/better hand-to-hand fighter
I would consider this an open question. We simply never saw Sheridan have to try (unless you count when he was taken on Mars, but then he was both severely outnumbered and had been tranquilized before the fight started so it wasn’t really a fair test). Also, for someone who is supposed to be that good at hand-to-hand Mal certainly loses (or wins only because of an outside influence) an awful lot.

—Sexier
I’ll have to defer on that one. ;)

-- More complex
This isn’t at all clear to me, though I would be perfectly willing to listen to arguments on either side.

-- Knows his ship inside and out
Vs.
-- Still exploring his station after a year
Oh, give Sheridan a break. Mal’s ship could fly inside the docking port of Sheridan’s station. It’s not a fair comparison.

-- Lost in the last war
Vs.
Won the only victory in the last war
They both got their butt’s kicked in their last war.

-- Cynical survivor
I’ll give you that Mal is more Cynical.

-- Very protective of his crew
I don’t see that as a difference.

-- Definitely darker
As has already been mentioned, Post-Z’ha’dum Sheridan was plenty dark.


THE LOVE INTERESTS:
I would argue that just mapping them to each other on this basis does a disservice to both characters, and to the writing of both series. Both had a lot more going on than being “the love interest”.

Inara Serra
-- More self-confident
This isn’t clear to me. She was highly trained in projecting an image (one could argue that Delenn had been too, in a way), and we just hadn’t seen her in private, masks down moments yet.

-- Mysterious past
So was Delenn’s at the equivalent point of the series (mid-season 1).

-- Undeniably hotter
Well, ……. Yeah, there’s that. :D


THE CHIEF OF SECURITY
Jayne Cobb
Michael Garibaldi
I just don’t see this as a direct comparison. In B5 terms, Jayne is a GROPO (with the Drazi ambassador’s tendancy to try to throw his weight around without the slightest clue about what he’s talking about).

Result: Garibaldi's love of Daffy Duck is trumped by Jayne getting his own ballad. Jayne Cobb wins this one, even if he is technically in charge of Public Relations.
And IF you are going to compare these two one-to-one as characters, then I have no clue how you could come to this conclusion. If you think that Mal beats Sheridan because “and complicated is more interesting than epic” and Susan beats Zoe because she is “more interesting overall”, then how could Garibaldi’s self-doubting, conflicted, internal demon fighting character possibly be considered a less interesting character than the dumbest, shallowest (non-Drazi) character on either show (although, that work at times as both a plot device and comic relief).


THE WANDERERS
(Okay, this is a bit of a stretch
No argument here, unless it is to say that it is more than “a bit” of a stretch.

Going back my alternate series comparison, I think that Book/Zhaan and Marcus/Starbuck (that would be Thrace, not Face) are more comparable characters (although Starbuck certainly isn’t celebate). Actually, come to think of it, maybe John Crichton is more comparable to Mal in a lot of ways than Sheridan (with the obvious exception of having the title of Captain).


THE PILOTS
Wash
Vs
Warren Keffer
This comparison seems really forced to me, too. The characters aren’t even remotely on the same level. Actually, if you insist on comparing Marcus to someone on Firefly, Wash seems just a bit more natural to me than Book. That would be a stretch, too, though.

THE MYSTERIOUS McGUFFIN
River Tam
vs
Ambassador Kosh
This pairing is actually kinda interesting to think about. If you insist on using the term “McGuffin”, then I would have to give it River, because she seems (so far, anyway) to be functioning more as pure McGuffin (being the object of the chase more than being an active participant making a lot of choices). For me Kosh’s role in the show is more interesting precisely because he is a more active participant. His choices and motives are more important to how the story develops.

Again going back to my alternative show comparison, River seems to me to be a bit more similar to John Crichton (in terms of McGuffin-hood) than to Kosh.

THE SHIP/THE STATION
This is another comparison that seems forced to me. Once again they aren’t really used in that similar of a role.

THE BIG BADS
Result: The Reavers. Ex-humans beat giant insects in terms of terror.
I don’t think that I can agree. For me, the complete air of mystery that was maintained around the Shadows for three full seasons (less the last half of the third season finale) trumps the spacefaring version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family.

THE EVIL AUTHORITIES
The Alliance
-- Clearly evil, with a few okay folks every now and then

EarthForce
-- Not so obviously evil, leading to naive folks thinking they're okay
From the POV of the average member of the populations, I think that you could argue that EarthGov (post-martial law) was more obviously evil than the Alliance.

EVIL WOMEN WHO TRY TO SEDUCE THE CAPTAIN
Saffron (AKA Bridget, Yolanda, and Yol-Saf-Bridge)
Julie Musante
This is another case of not really being a fair comparison. Musante was a one-shot, and was left as one-dimensional as that often implies. Saf had already recurred within the first half-season, and looked destined to be an ongoing recurring character. As such, it just stands to reason that she got much more character development. I think that it would probably be a better fit to compare Saf to Bester. They fill more similar roles in every conceptual way (other than disrobing in the Captain’s quarters).
 
What Firefly might have become if it continued, I don't know. But I do know that the best ep of Firefly I saw wasn't nearly as good as an average ep of B5. And, there is absolutely no comparison between the writing. B5 wins hands down. But then, I DO prefer epic... :p :D

If I were to compare Firefly to something in the B5 universe, I think Crusade would be a more fitting comparison, since both are unfulfilled, and had rather slow starts...
 
Not entirely. I do feel that Firefly's writing was superior and that the show was more consistent than B5 -- or at least it started better. In the first 13 B5 eps we have some very good stuff, but we also had "Born to the Purple" and "Infection," which -- while laying down groundwork for other things later on -- were fairly pedestrian and had plot holes. As far as I'm concerned, there were no inferior episodes of Firefly. There were merely good episodes, and very good episodes.

However, I'm also well aware that the two shows were very different in style, focus, and story. Comparison is difficult, perhaps in fact futile. So I did it all partly for laughs and partly to get more people interested in Firefly. Maybe I'm overdoing it, but I'm absolutley sincere in saying that Firefly is a fantastic show, providing some excellent entertainment, and the more people who see it, the happier I will be. Also if more people become interested and then see the movie, there is at least the possibility that more movies will be made, and better and better stories will be told.
 
Firefly was a gimmicky show that got canceled after 13 episodes. It's hard for me to understand such a devotion to it.

The only reason it didn't suck was because the people in it are likeable and entertaining.
 
Firefly was a gimmicky show that got canceled after 13 episodes. It's hard for me to understand such a devotion to it.

The only reason it didn't suck was because the people in it are likeable and entertaining.

So that was your conclusion... guess i'll rent or try ant catch it on TV before I buy then.. Not that I seem to have the time these days...
 

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