Babylon 5 - Season 1

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#1
OK, so I've heard a lot about this show. People seem to love it. I've caught the occasional episode here or there, but never really got into it. Much like my episode-by-episode reviews of TOS, I'm gonna tackle J. Michael Straczynski's sci-fi opus via the magic of Netflix Watch Instantly.

Speaking of Netflix Watch Instantly, word is they're adding "Star Trek" in April along with a bunch of other CBS-owned shows. I'm hoping that includes "The Next Generation," which I don't own on DVD and really want to go through from the beginning once more. The Netflix press release mentions "episodes from all generations of the definitive sci-fi series, "Star Trek,""...

Anyway, here goes:

1x01 "The Gathering" - The pilot movie introduces us to the Babylon 5 station, gives a vague background of what happened to the previous four stations, and the main characters. Frankly, this 90 minute pilot is boring as fuck. It seriously takes forever for anything to happen, and then it finally comes to a close with an awkward gunfight. The cast is, with one exception, awful. Tamlyn Tomita as First Officer Laurel Takashima is the worst of the bunch. She couldn't deliver a single line of her dialogue with anything resembling talent. Only Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar comes out unscathed, and even he I've seen better performances from. Whether it's because he's stuck under 80 pounds of latex or just not that interested in the material, I can't say.

What else sucks? The set designs, costumes and props. Whoever thought that those retarded hairpieces and costumes for the Centauri were a good idea should've been fired the instant he submitted those designs. The guns Sinclair and Garibaldi use at the climax are utterly ridiculous, ungainly looking things that no human would ever design as a real weapon.

I have to give props to the CG visual effects, however. Sure, they look cheesy now... but at the time, they were pretty groundbreaking. DS9 benefited from a higher budget and waiting six years before switching over to CG for its space shots, and that was well worth it for them.

1x02 "Midnight on the Firing Line" - A Centauri farming colony is attacked by the Narn, while a group of raiders attacks incoming ships before they can reach the Babylon 5 station. Apparently a year passed between the filming of the pilot and this episode, so there's a bunch of changes... a lot of them for the better, but not by much. The sets are still cheap and strange looking, but the lighting is far less annoying. In the pilot, I couldn't imagine riding in one of those elevators with the GIANT blinking lights without getting a headache every time. The guns also look less utterly retarded, too. But the cast is still awful, even if Ivonova is a massive improvement on Takashima. Still, the episode is decently written... it's the execution of it that blows.

1x03 "Soul Hunter" - A being called a "soul hunter" comes aboard the station, apparently with the ability to take people's souls as they die and keep them. They are enemies of the Minbari, but Sinclair won't just let an injured being die. There's another decent script somewhere in here, wishing that it could be brought to life by a cast and crew worthy of the task. Even still, there are some really stupid moments on display here - for example, Sinclair takes a fighter out to the soul hunter's ship, which is about to crash into the station, and essentially uses one of those hooks you find in an arcade and you try to win a stuffed animal in order to grab it and prevent it from crashing into the station. This whole sequence is retarded - Firstly, why would the station commander do this? Yes, I understand that he's a former pilot, but he's the station commander; he must have trained pilots at his disposal. Secondly, that fucking hook, man. Seriously... I mean, we know those things suck ass in the 20th century. I can't fathom what kind of idiocy leads to them being installed in space fighters in the future.
 

Bean

The Awesome One
Jan 1, 1970
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Canada eh!
cheese.com
#2
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I love it! It's been so long since someone has had the audacity to trash B5 for the obvious flaws it was filled with. Just wait till you get to the coming of Bruce Boxleitner... I think your head may just explode.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#3
1x04 "Born to the Purple" - Londo is seduced by a beautiful slave girl who has actually been hired to steal his secret computer files that could ruin his career and many of the Centauri elite. This isn't a terrible episode, but... there's nothing particularly great about it. The cast is still terrible. Attempts at humor essentially boil down to over-acting as much as possible. Scenes between G'Kar and his new assistant, for example - at her first arrival, G'Kar spits out a ridiculous amount of his drink and suddenly becomes a stammering fool in front of her. Ugh.

1x05 "Infection" - Dr. Franklin's old archaeology professor smuggles some artifacts aboard Babylon 5, one of which latches itself onto a man and turns him into kind of alien super-soldier bent on eliminating anyone with genetic impurities. Probably the best episode yet, but still hampered by a lot of bad acting and stupid moments. We spend ten minutes watching the alien creature vaporize people and burning through doors and bulkheads, but when he fires on Sinclair, it's a minor flesh wound. Still, I have to give props for the episode directly mentioning the fact that the commander puts himself into dangerous situations - which I had complaints about in previous episodes.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#4
1x06 "The Parliament of Dreams" - G'Kar is threatened by an old enemy while the station holds a festival celebrating human and alien religious beliefs. Meanwhile, an old flame of Sinclair's comes to the station and they resume their old relationship. A much lighter episode than the previous one, but that's part of the problem. The show obviously wants me to take the Narn seriously, but how am I supposed to do so when they constantly act like overwrought buffoons? The B-plot with Sinclair and Catherine fares better, if only because the show managed to finally have a half-decent actress around. Which is not to say that there's anything Emmy-worthy going on, but she wasn't as painful to listen to as a lot of the other so-called "actors" on this show.
 

Tupperfan

Forgot to bring booze...
Sep 16, 2009
243
1
18
The bush, Canada
#5
Well, for a second, I thought of watching Babylon 5 for the first time on a free streaming site, but you convinced me otherwise. Think I'll do like you and revisit TNG...
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#6
It's early on, but I'm utterly disappointed. The way people talk about this show, it's like some kind of tragedy that I haven't seen it until now. But my god, these six episodes were a slog to get through. But to be fair, it IS early on. I'm going to give it more than a fair shake before I'm through.
 

Bean

The Awesome One
Jan 1, 1970
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Canada eh!
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#7
The things that really hooked people with B5 is that it was very heavily serialized. That may not show as much in this early portion of the show, but later on with the introduction of Sheridan, it starts down that path.

The horrible acting, cheap sets, corny dialog... That all continues (If not gets worse) from beginning to end. B5 was home to some of the absolute worst acting I've ever witnessed, yet somehow I managed to become enthralled with the shows mythology.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#8
1x07 "Mind War" - PSI Cops arrive in search of a dangerous rogue telepath who has a past with the station's telepathic officer Winters. Meanwhile, Catherine ignores G'Kar's warning not to survey a planet in Narn territory. A whole lot of "meh" on this one. Chekov shows up and doesn't bother to do anything interesting with his character, nor does J Michael Straczynski bother to give him anything worth trying for. Andreas Katsulas continues to play G'Kar like an alien clown, deflating any sense of gravity that the character might have. But there's nothing outrageously stupid in this episode, so that's a plus.

1x08 "The War Prayer" - A number of attacks against aliens have occurred on the station as anti-alien sentiment rises on Earth. A Centauri couple arrives on the station hoping to escape their arranged marriages. Londo shouts a lot at them. Sinclair somehow manages to infiltrate this hate group, despite his very public history of promoting human-alien relations. This whole episode is nonsense, even if it furthers the running theme of rising tensions between humans and alien races. Similar plots were handled better on "Star Trek: Enterprise".

1x09 "And the Sky Full of Stars" - Sinclair is trapped in a virtual reality of his own mind as two mysterious visitors to the station attempt to find out what happened to him during a 24-hour period he went missing during the Minbari War. Lots of atrocious guest star acting in this one, and it can't resist that godawful "is it real, or isn't it?" ending that every story of this type seems to employ. I wish someone would just have the balls to say, "for fuck's sake, THIS IS REALITY" at the end of one of these. Still, not a terrible episode, despite these problems. It has interesting implications for the Sinclair character.
 

Bean

The Awesome One
Jan 1, 1970
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Canada eh!
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#10
And most of the third..

The last time I "converted" someone to Trek I got her to watch "Chain of Command". While the overall story etc didn't really impress her, the scenes with Picard and the Cardassian torturer got her interested in seeing more.

I'm telling you, as long as a person has an appreciation for acting skills, Chain of Command is an easy sell.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#11
The first two seasons of TNG aren't entirely without value. "Where No One Has Gone Before," "Measure of a Man," "Q Who," "Datalore," "11001001," "Conspiracy," "Elementary, Dear Data" and a few others are all worthwhile episodes... at least, as I remember. I haven't watched them in a long time.
 

Cymro

Religious Fanatic
Nov 30, 1999
5,028
3
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Shitsville, CF63
#12
Bean said:
And most of the third..
I seriouslah disagree with that.

The first two seasons of TNG aren't entirely without value. "Where No One Has Gone Before," "Measure of a Man," "Q Who," "Datalore," "11001001," "Conspiracy," "Elementary, Dear Data" and a few others are all worthwhile episodes... at least, as I remember. I haven't watched them in a long time.
No, I agree, and the show had really begun to improve in season two. But they were still mostly pretty shite and none of the better episodes are necessary to understand later episodes of the show. The person being introduced could always just go back and watch them later.

For DS9 I'd definitely recommend and "abridged" version if it's first two seasons because they were a lot better and shaped the later seasons a lot more than TNG's did.
 
Last edited:
Jun 13, 2006
547
2
0
#13
And most of the third..

The last time I "converted" someone to Trek I got her to watch "Chain of Command". While the overall story etc didn't really impress her, the scenes with Picard and the Cardassian torturer got her interested in seeing more.

I'm telling you, as long as a person has an appreciation for acting skills, Chain of Command is an easy sell.
DS9's "In the Pale Moonlight" or "Duet" are two more good "entry" episodes with excellent acting performances.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#14
For DS9 I'd definitely recommend and "abridged" version if it's first two seasons because they were a lot better and shaped the later seasons a lot more than TNG's did.
Having just rewatched the first season of DS9, probably the only outright BAD episode in the bunch is "Move Along Home," though a couple others could be classified as 'unnecessary' - "Q-Less" for example. DS9 has the strongest first season of any of the modern "Star Trek" shows.

What I noticed was that right from the start, DS9 was giving each one of its castmembers a spotlight episode:

"Emissary" - Sisko
"Past Prologue" - Kira
"A Man Alone" - Odo
"Captive Pursuit" - O'Brien
"Dax" - ...Dax
"The Passenger" - Bashir
"The Nagus" - Quark

And all those are in the first half of the season.
 
Jun 13, 2006
547
2
0
#15
I actually like "Move Along Home." While not perfect by any means, I applaud the producers for trying some weird, TOS-ish high-concept sci-fi stuff.
 

Cymro

Religious Fanatic
Nov 30, 1999
5,028
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#16
See I really liked that episode with Fraggle Rock or whatever the fuck they called that giant lightning cloud thingy, for no reason other than the interaction between Bashir and O'Brien. But to someone who hasn't developed the appreciation for Bashir/O'Brien comedy moments that I have, I can easily see how that episode would seem lame.

Where as most early TNG was god awful to the point where you can only watch it to laugh at the lame writing, costumes, props, acting, special effects and music, I find a lot of the earlier DS9 isn't so much bad as just 'meh'. But a lot of it is worth watching because it has repercussions through the rest of the series. A perfect example is 1x13 "Battle Lines", which isn't really bad, but is kind of boring, but with the death of Opaka opens up a can of worms on Bajor that leads to Winn becoming Cai.
 
Jun 13, 2006
547
2
0
#17
See I really liked that episode with Fraggle Rock or whatever the fuck they called that giant lightning cloud thingy, for no reason other than the interaction between Bashir and O'Brien. But to someone who hasn't developed the appreciation for Bashir/O'Brien comedy moments that I have, I can easily see how that episode would seem lame.
Another good example of the DS9 writing team going all weird and TOS-ish. :cool:
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#18
1x10 "Deathwalker" - A woman comes aboard the station and is recognized as a dangerous war criminal, responsible for the deaths of entire races. But she claims to have invented a serum which grants immortality. Earth and the Narn wish to use her to develop the serum, while the "League of Non-Aligned Worlds" wants to put her on trial for her crimes.

Ok, first, the "League of Non-Aligned Worlds?" That's the stupidest fucking name I've ever heard. By being in a league, you are aligned.

For fuck's sake.

Despite that, there's a couple of cool ideas in this episode, namely that immortality can only be granted through killing another living being. But it's handled like a blunt instrument rather than a scalpel, nearly draining any dramatic weight it might hold. This is the first episode here G'Kar doesn't seem like an alien clown, too.

I almost can't take the bipolar idiocy of this show anymore. For every decent idea it presents, there's something else going on that's just profoundly stupid.
 

Brikar

The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
3,661
3
0
Massachusetts
#20
1x11 "Believers" - Dr. Franklin struggles with his conscience when the family of a young boy forbids a simple operation that would save his life on religious grounds. Probably the best episode of the series so far, despite how heavy handed and obvious it is. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it was written by David Gerrold? There's some clunky dialogue, but for the most part, this is the best work the series has done on any front, including the cast.

1x12 "Grail" - A man comes to the station on a search for... the holy grail... Meanwhile, the key witness in an extortion case is found with her mind wiped. Of course, the series can't show some genuine capability without following it up with the dumbest thing yet, right? The holy grail? Jebus. Beyond the idiotic premise, this episode is loaded with problems. For example, Sinclair tells Garibaldi to track his signal to find some hostages and back him up with a security team... but then the security team arrives before Sinclair. When Sinclair gets there, he asks for a status report. What the fuck?

But the worst crime this episode commits is utterly wasting the talents of David Warner, who has one of the coolest voices in TV or movie history.

1x13 "By Any Means Necessary" - The station's dock workers go on strike, and Sinclair is ordered to arrest them. This is another episode that takes a solid idea and wastes it on terrible execution. The guest actors are all awful, and the script meanders about until coming to an obvious conclusion that everyone should've thought of much, much earlier. Oh, and it continues to make Londo and G'Kar look like clowns instead of high-status diplomats.