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Missing ships?


Hi, All I'm sure that this subject has been covered many times before but as I'm a UK viewer, season 3 is as far as my DVD collection has progressed.
So, with that in mind I'd really like to know what happened to the two Hyperion class ships that jumped in with the EA starships Agrippa and Roanoake in Severed Dreams. I never noticed until my brother pointed it out to me. All the other action was so frenetic I just missed it...
The effectual disappearance of the two Hyperion ships is something that minorly annoys me too. I can understand not having the money to keep up CGI production to include them in the battle since that episode was such a large CGI-fest, but in that case, the two Hyperion ships should have just been left out completely.

I guess we are forced by circumstance to assume the Hyperion ships are taken out off screen. I still would have preferred to have seen it though.
Here's JMS's response on the subject in a reply about Starfuries:

A lot more ships came in with the Roanoke and the Agrippa, support ships and others. Probably more breaching pods. They took out those. They're also used to keep the enemy starfuries from disabling the defense grid on the station, leaving B5 free to use its weapons on the larger target/worse threat.

They're often used to soften up the enemy. A number of small support ships, including a Hyperion class ship came through as part of the "carrier group" that went after the station. It was up to the starfuries to take care of those ships while B5 and the other destroyers took out the biggest threats.

So, according to JMS, those "missing ships" were taken out off-camera.
It still would have been nice to have heard a quick like from Corwin or someone saying the Hyperion ships were disabled/destroyed even if they couldn't show us.
No time for that. "Severed Dreams" was filled up to the time limit. Originally, JMS wanted a little more resistance from the Earthforce second wave attack fleet (or at least a dramatic pause), but had to trim that scene short to the point that when Delenn tells them to withdraw, they literally spin around and run for the jumpgate.

More from JMS:
Bear in mind that if we had gone over to the other captains and what was going on in the other ships, to make room for those scenes we would've had to cut anywhere from 3-5 minutes of the other stuff. You can't just add to the show's time; if that goes in, something else has to come out. So you'd probably have to cut the scene between Sheridan and his father since that was the only stand-alone set piece. Any time you write something, you must decide "who is it about?" This episode was about *our characters*, the ones we've come to care about, and how they deal with this. To take away from that and spend time with people we've never seen before, and won't see again, would be to cheat our characters of the time on screen needed to pay off all the things we've set up over the years. Would it have been an interesting aside to show the other captains? Sure. In a movie, with an open-ended running time, I probably would have. But there's nothing I would want to cut out of the episode as it now stands to make room for it.

Why no scenes from the opposition's point of view?

We haven't seen those scenes because we don't know anyone there really, and in an hour show you only have so much time, and within our budget we only can do so much. Every speaking role you add costs thousands of dollars. Every set costs thousands of dollars. We're doing the absolute best we can with a budget roughly 1/2 of any of the ST episodes. If it isn't *absolutely necessary* to the scene, it isn't in. Yeah, seeing some folks in EA talking back and forth about well, maybe this isn't a good idea, maybe it is, well, let's get back to work...it'd be an interesting aside, but in addition to slowing down the pace of the episode, and this one had to move like a house afire, it's just not something I felt we could or should do.

What about the disappearing destroyer?

That would've been killed off-camera. We tried to fit in every ship getting nailed, but finally realized it would've required another half an act.
It would have taken no more than three seconds for Lt. Corwin to say to Sheridan, "The Hyperion-class support vessels have been taken down." There was totally room for one or two lines of that nature to have been slipped in there.
Of course, if they didn't figure out that they couldn't *show* all of the bigger ships blowing up until they were in post-production doing the FX .... and were long done with the filming .... and they didn't have any film of any such lines (or any reaction shots that would work with voice-overs in the background) ..... then they're just stuck. They wouldn't have anything to put in. It wouldn't have fit into either their schedule or their budget to go back and re-shoot additional footage to cover those one or two lines of dialog.
But if it wasn't for the FX shots of the ships, we'd never know that the two Hyperion ships were there, so if they didn't realize they couldn't show the Hyperion ships blowing up until they did the FX then they shouldn't have put the Hyperion ships in the FX in the first place.
But if it wasn't for the FX shots of the ships, we'd never know that the two Hyperion ships were there, so if they didn't realize they couldn't show the Hyperion ships blowing up until they did the FX then they shouldn't have put the Hyperion ships in the FX in the first place.

Since they were in the business of telling a story, rather than submitting a ship inventory to EarthForce, maybe they wanted to show the maxium number of ships arriving for their dramatic impact. Then they decided not to slow down the action showing what happened to each and every single fighter we saw launched.* And they couldn't spend the money to go back and film an extra line to explain what happened to every ship. They assumed the audience either (a) wouldn't be counting the bloody ships as they arrived or going back over and over again freeze-framing videotapes and DVDs or (b) would be smart enough to figure out that they must have been destroyed off-screen.

All TV shows rely on a kind of story-telling shorthand and an hour show is rarely a fully-fleshed out drama. The writers rely on the audience having the brains to fill in the necessary blanks. David Gerrold was writing about this more than 20 years ago in his behind-the-scene books on ST:TOS.

Personally, I've watched every episode of the series, including this one, over a dozen times in the past few years. And until this thread I never knew that there were ships left unaccounted for on-screen. I doubt I'm alone. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the number of fans who missed this whole "problem" is vastly greater than the number of fans who are bothered by it. And the producers know this.

Of course, I also couldn't tell you the name of most classes of ships on the series or tell you the difference between any two of them. Because I'm frankly not interested in that kind of minutiae. More power to you if you are, but I don't care about such things. I care about the story. And I suspect that the hierarchy of priorities at Babylonian productions was also "story first". Given the huge amount of work that went into the episode I doubt that anybody gave the matter a second thought even assuming that they noticed the "missing" ships before the episode aired.



(*Yes, I know fighters are not as obvious as destroyers, but apart from their size there is no obvious reason that your argument should not apply as much to them as it does to any other ship. Just as I never noticed the "missing" destroyers, I'm sure there are fans who did freeze frame the episode and count fighters and therefore are aware of other problems that you haven't noticed. If there is something "wrong" with the episode because it failed to address the flaw you spotted, how can we say that it wouldn't still be "bad" if that were fixed but the fighters weren't all accounted for?)
When ships get lost among a multitude of similar ships, there is no need to show the outcome of every ship. But when there are only four large ships, essentially forgetting about two of them is a rather sizable lapse in memory to me.

It in no way ruins the episode for me any more than the fact that the names of the Roanoke and the Agrippa get messed up in the CGI of the two vessels during the episode. But it is one of those little things that catches me after I watch the episode several times that irks me. I know "Severed Dreams" is a huge episode and took a lot to make, but I'm a perfectionist so I notice things like this. It's not that I expect the show to be without imperfections, the quality of the story does always come first, but it's just something some of us have noted.
That about nails it for me. I did point out that I didn't even notice the Hyperion class ships going walkies until it was pointed out to me. Honestly, I am a little humbled by your admission Joe, as in my time on the "other" B5 board I had come to think of you as almost infallible...
The discussion about the missing ships made me think about the Battle for Babylon 5 in greater detail.

The first attack wave was beaten off, with heavy losses on both sides. Both the station and the Alexander were heavily damaged, unable to fight off the second wave. As we all know, the Minbari arrive to save the day. But was the situation ever as bleak as it appeared? Surely if the Minbari had not arrived, Sheridan would have called on Draal. He wanted to save Draal as an ace in the whole, but if the Great Machine was his last card, he would have played it without hesitation. And up against that kind of strength, the EA cruisers would have withdrawn.

Sheridan was probably reserving the Great Machine to fight against the Shadows, and the Minbari arrival prevented further loss of life without spoiling that surprise, but I seriously doubt that B5 would have been destroyed if Delenn had't come in just then.
With only Epsilon 3 protecting the station, Earth ships could have jumped out...

...jumped back in with the station covering them, and done their dirty job anyway. In this regard, Minbari ships covering the station provided a triple deterrant.

- No safe angle of approach.
- No safe escape.
- Threat of war with Minbari Federation.
True enough. Epsilon 3 might be more impressive than the Sharlins and the White Star, but the Sharlins can move....
Epsilon 3's defences never seemed that much of an offensive weapon to me. It always seemed to be designed as a bit of a derringer, control and protect the time rift so B4 can be taken back and prevent the wrong people from storming the planet. It also seemed designed so the right people could take advantage of it. All any ship really need do is stay close to B5 to avoid being shot at. Fear of hitting the station would probably be enough to dissuade attack from the planet.

Besides I seem to remember JMS saying Sheridan would have surrendered if the jump points had turned out to be Clarke's forces instead of Delenn.
Joe, I agree with your reasons why the ships were shown, and why their fates weren't. However, I don't think that you have to be that much of a nitpicker to notice. I don't think I'm much of a nitpicker, on a lot of the details, and agree that we have to fill in the gaps ourselves. But, when the bad guys come for the good guy, in westerns, cop shows, or even in scifi, I always count how many there are, and note when they are taken out, so I know how many enemies still face the hero. I think a lot of people do this, so I think that level of nit picking, to notice that all of an enemy's large ships weren't accounted for, isn't unusual. But I agree that complaining too much about it is silly and pointless, and in this context, it doesn't hurt the story.
We knwo that there were huge gaps in the story in Severed Dreams because JMS admitted them when it came out. the Churchill gets hit by enemy Thunderbolts, but the reaction shot is taken on the Alexander. The Hyperions disappear offscreen completely. The Roanoke gets destroyed twice, and the Agrippa not at all.

All of these "blunders" are attributable to the timetable the production was under, and none of them spoil the effect of the episode. To make of them something "special" is to rob the series of its awe and wonder.

Take the mistakes and left out elements as you would an actor falling on the stage in a live performance - just something to tuck away to laugh about and discuss with your friends, but something unrelated to the story being presented.
Ok, there are some (well, a lot) of goofs in this episode. So what? Do we all remember what we felt when we first saw it? The station brave stand against the EA ships, the Narn security force running and getting mowed down with only the music playing, the tragic sacrifice of the Churchill. This ep had so many emotional ups and downs, I doubt anyone noticed this stuff the first (or second) time around. And maybe JMS and the rest had the same feeling and missed a few things.

Also, JMS has a lot of respect for the intelligence of his fans and audience and can figure the other ships were blown up off-screen.
Maybe they should have saved a whole lot of money and not shown any of the ships blowing up from the battle. After all, if a person can imagine one ship blowing up, they can imagine them all doing it.

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