As an attempt to wash the ending of BSG out of my mouth, I thought I’d rewatch Babylon 5. But, as all married dudes know, it’s exponentially harder to watch stuff on my own than it is to watch stuff with my wife. So I fired up the first episode of S1 last night to see if she could get into it. (As background: She watched Firefly and BSG and loved them, has never watched Star Trek. Most of her other genre TV is in Whedon form.)
Short answer: DID NOT LIKE. To be fair, B5 is pretty hard to watch even for me - the special effects are laughably terrible, the acting is generally wooden, and there’s no real hint as to how good the show gets from that first episode.
Anyway, I’m thinking that we don’t really need to watch the whole first season. What episodes should I pick and choose to get her hooked?
I might not be able to help you pick episodes since I’m only 30% through the second season, but I guess the bigger question is what drew your wife to the other two shows? My wife likes both Firefly and BSG (so far, yet to watch season 4). But here are her reasons: good characters, solid writing, solid acting, consistency in the SF setting, not too much typical cheese that comes with sci fi. I would never show her Babylon 5. Babylon 5 seems to have a strong underlying story arc. That’s about it. The writing is bad, the acting is bad, the sfx are bad, the aliens, while seemingly well thought out, are still pretty cheesy most of the time. I’m having fun with the series because I don’t mind putting up with hammy sci fi tropes to see what happens with the story, which a lot of friends talk up.
I guess for me, Firefly and BSG are different than typical sci fi fare, is your wife a sci fi fan or do you think there was something about Firefly and BSG which hooked her?
Well, the Firefly thing was her Buffy/Angel methadone, and she responded to BSG because of the metaphoric elements, i.e. Battlestar Iraqtica. So, yeah, you’re right that straight-up sci-fi probably isn’t going to do it for her.
“And the sky full of stars”, “Signs and Portents”, and “Babylon Squared”. if those don’t work, watch it on your own time. Or maybe watch “TKO” as a MST3K experience, aided by your mind-altering substance of choice.
I’m a big sci fi fan, but I’m not an apologist for the genre (or fantasy). A lot of my friends, who are fans, are also apologists. Basically, they eat up crap because they love the genres so much that they put up with it. Babylon 5 (in my opinion) gave apologists an example of a well-planned storyline, but it’s still chock full of schlock. It’s a good sci fi show. I feel like Firefly and BSG could be called good shows that fall into the sci-fi genre, something I never would say about Babylon 5. That’s what made me think it might be tricky to get your wife into it, in my mind, it’s apples and oranges to the shows she liked.
Watch the TNT prequel movie ‘In the Beginning’ to start.
It spoils a bit of the first season but so what – it was made during season four so the production quality isn’t as laughable as season 1. It tells a compete story while implying there’s more to it. If she really hates In the Beginning there’s probably not too much hope as that’s a sample from the better stuff.
Then you watch only episodes rated highly in the first season. Maybe 7.5 or higher.
I’m somewhat sympathetic to your wife, since I tend to be very picky about my sci-fi consumption (Star Trek? More like Star Drek - amiright?) as well. What got me into B5 was the character interactions, not the overall arcing plot, which I found very hard to keep up with in the later seasons.
The hook for me was the episode (and I’m sorry my Googlefu failed to turn up the name, but I’m sure someone here will know) where Londo takes Lennier to the casino/strip club and proceeds to cheat at cards using his tentacle-like genitalia. Now that I think about it, my attachment to the characters made some of the darker episodes really hard to watch. Even so, it’s a good show and I hope your wife gives it a chance!
That was the age of the holy Video Toaster; ie an awesome era when studio quality 3D stopped being the domain of SGI and the like. They’re not terrible. Look at Star Trek: TNG, which came years later and had a billion times the budget; its first few seasons don’t look much better than Babylon 5. I must admit I prefered Sea Quest’s CGI, which was done with Newtek, too.
Re: making her like it; show her the long haired psi-gang boss, Brian IIRC. She may find him irresistibly hot and become glued to the screen :P
One problem is that the effects were rendered out at TV res, but not re-rendered for the DVDs with widescreen. So they basically cropped them and scaled them up and they look really kinda fuzzy and especially crappy now.
I’ve only seen it on regular TV, and downloaded sat rip episodes, and those looked good IMHO.
Babylon 5’s theme songs were damn awesome. I loved the Lando/G’Kar stuff, too. Did you notice that the guy who plays G’Kar appears in Star Trek: TNG a few times? He plays a Romulan general of some sort.
Wisefool, yes I think you’re right with what you said about TNG using models, now that you mention it. But still, in TNG, even basic stuff like compositing explosions looked really amateurish for the most part.