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Babylon 5: Should I invest my money and time? ANSWER IN POST #500


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#1 of 788 Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 15 2004 - 08:43 AM

For years I have watched HTF members push
Warner to release Babylon 5 in season sets.

For years I have heard people talk about how
great this show is.

Today I had a long conversation with a friend
who just submersed himself into Babylon 5.

He tells me he is hooked on this show. In fact,
in just a few short months he has gone through the
first three seasons.

He says it is by far the best Sci-Fi show ever
made. He says it is equivalent to THE SOPRANOS
but in a different genre.

I'm ready to invest.....but I want to be sure.

I have very little time on my hands. I still have
many TV shows to catch up on. Is Babylon 5
the one I should invest my utmost priority in?

I have also been told I should first watch the
DVD, The Gathering before watching the very
first episode.

Any insight you can give on these sets would be
greatly appreciated.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 788 Michael_EC

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Posted June 15 2004 - 08:54 AM

I've also been very tempted to check out this series lately, but I've heard really bad things about the packaging...that the discs will not stay on the hubs and are prone to scratching. Are they really that bad?

#3 of 788 TheLongshot

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Posted June 15 2004 - 09:31 AM

Quote:
Is Babylon 5 the one I should invest my utmost priority in?


I think so. I think it is the best SciFi series ever, even moreso than Trek. It is one of the few TV shows that was a must buy on DVD.

Quote:
I have also been told I should first watch the DVD, The Gathering before watching the very first episode.


Technically, you should, since it is the pilot, tho it isn't absolutly nessicary. As long as you realise that it is a pilot, and things do get better, qualitywise, it is a pretty good introduction to most of the main characters. As for the overal plot, there are some references, but nothing terribly meaningful in the big scheme of things.

Quote:
Are they really that bad?


While I've had some loose discs, I've suffered no major damage to them, and they play just fine.

Jason

#4 of 788 todd s

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Posted June 15 2004 - 09:42 AM

Absolutley, I got my friend into it. Now, he is constantly calling me up to get the next episodes. But, be patient. The show really doesn't start to click until season 2.
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#5 of 788 Britton

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Posted June 15 2004 - 09:53 AM

The beauty of the show is its rewatchability, especially in the case of Season 1. Once you've finished the series, you will realize just how many seeds were planted from the start. I cannot recommend this series enough.

#6 of 788 Michael Harris

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Posted June 15 2004 - 10:59 AM

What a question!

First of all it is one of the smartest SF series on TV. While the production values are not the greatest the stories and performances are what matters. Yes there are a few dog episodes and the fifth season seems a bit tacked on since it the main story arc was forced to a conclusion in the fourth season but it all holds together. I don't see it as a traditional TV series but but as a mini-series due to the very tight story arc.

Buy it and enjoy. You will not be disappointed.

#7 of 788 James D

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Posted June 15 2004 - 11:19 AM

Ron,
I just recently started to watch B5 and am enjoying it. If you decide to invest in the show, you might want to consider joining Columbia House's TV Club. They have the first three seasons available for enrollment. They give you 2 boxed sets for $9.95 with free shipping and all that you have to do is buy two DVDs $19.95(it doesn't have to be a boxed set) or higher in the next year. The code to put in the box is HDL .
http://go.columbiaho....he=true&&v=263
I don't want to sound like I'm pushing CH, but I find this to be a great deal to pick up box sets.Posted Image

#8 of 788 Craig S

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Posted June 15 2004 - 11:19 AM

Ron, I feel the need to inject some a bit of a different perspective here, as I know you are very particular (especially after reading you walked out of the latest "Harry Potter" movie Posted Image ).

I think B5 is a great series. However, it is far from perfect, and I consider it something of an acquired taste.
Quote:
He says it is equivalent to THE SOPRANOS but in a different genre.
I'm going to partially disagree with this particular statement. I know you're a huge fan of "The Sopranos", and if you go into B5 thinking it's "equivalent", your expectations will be WAY too high. I think B5 is a brilliantly plotted epic series, and on that level, yeah, it's the "Sopranos" of SF. But I have to say the acting and production values on "The Sopranos" are in an entirely different league from B5.

This is not to trash B5. The budget was MUCH lower. The series originally aired on some kind of syndicated conglomarate and was battling to survive pretty much every second of its existence. I think it's a huge testament to B5 creator & primary writer J. Michael Strazynski that he got this thing on the air and all the way through its 5-year run with his original vision largely intact. But the lower budget shows on screen, and with all due respect to his cast, they are simply acted off the screen by the "Sopranos" ensemble.

To be fair, part of the problem here is that JMS is not a good dialogue writer. He often gave his characters some very awkward things to say. And some of the actors were really good - Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar) & Peter Jurasik (Londo) in particular were always splendid.

All of the above is simply to level-set your expectations realistically. If you can give the show some time, look past the cheap sets, dated SFX, and sometimes awkward acting, you will find a gem of a series.

I do recommend you start with "The Gathering". The original single disc release of this pilot paired with "In The Beginning" should be available pretty cheaply, especially since a lot of fans are probably dumping theirs now that the big B5 movie box is coming shortly (heck, you can have mine if you want - e-mail or PM me). Although it's a bit slow at times, and the final cast is not in place, it is a good introduction to the B5 universe and the races that inhabit it. If you are even mildly intrigued by "The Gathering", you should then move on to Season 1.

The usual recommendation is NOT to watch "In The Beginning" right away if you plan to continue on with the rest of the series. It is IMO the best of the B5 TV movies, but contains some spoilers for the rest of the series and usually should be saved until the Season 3/4 timeframe. But, if you're still a little unsure after "The Gathering", go ahead and watch ItB - it may well push you off the fence.

Anyway, that's my two cents, which I'm sure some will disagree with... Posted Image

Edit - this was written before James' CH deal post. Yeah, that's kind of a no-brainer, isn't it??

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#9 of 788 Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 15 2004 - 11:29 AM

James,

Holy cow!

Just signed up for the Columbia House club
as you suggested.

Season ONE and TWO for a total of $9.95? Plus Free
Shipping! How can I go wrong?

Thank You so much for that recommendation.

Ronald J Epstein
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#10 of 788 CaptDS9E

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Posted June 15 2004 - 11:34 AM

My friend got me into B5 while it was running on scifi and i cant believe i didnt watch this when it was on during its run. Start off with The Gathering, as it was the pilot and it does give you background information which will be brought up during the series. The first time you watch season 1 there are some very good episodes, and a few slower ones, but you must watch them all.Once you watch the entire series, and then watch S1 again you will notice that small things mentioned in S1 come up again in every single season. Season 2 starts to pick up and there is no turning back. Excellent series and i highly recommend you watch it. Go in this order when watching

The Gathering(pilot)
S1
S2
S3
S4
Thirdspace(movie takes place Mid Season 4)
In the Beginning(movie which is a prequal but has spoilers so watch after season 4)
S5
A Call to Arms
Crusade
Legend of the Rangers

And River of Souls is horrible and i wouldnt watch it :-)

#11 of 788 cole_b

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Posted June 15 2004 - 11:45 AM

I tried to get into B5, but it bored me. I wouldn't plunk down cash for any season sets until you get a chance to at least see the pilot.

#12 of 788 Rob T

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Posted June 15 2004 - 12:09 PM

Aboslutely 100% yes!

You should probably just rent The Gathering since The Movie Collection set is coming out later this with with commentaries from JMS on all of them. Posted Image

I, personally, love all 110 episodes (with the exception of A View From the Gallery) and the series finale is definitely one of the best series finales that I've ever seen.
I'm also trying to get my future brother-in-law hooked on it too. I think I'm succeeding. I just wish he'd have more time to watch it.

#13 of 788 Ric Easton

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Posted June 15 2004 - 12:29 PM

Ron,

There were times when this was first on I wopuld stand up in my seat and say "BEST SCI-FI SHOW, EVER!"

Yes the dialog can be a little clunky at times. While I think that the creator, JMS, was excellent at telling a large sweeping story, sometimes the characters felt a little awkward. It probably also has something to do with the fact that he wrote 95% of the shows, and I imagine that can take its toll on a weekly series.

On a big screen the video is very "rough" at times. This has to do with the producers shooting it for eventual widescreen, but not rendering the SFX that way. As a matter of fact, everytime they go to or from a dissolve the picture degrades noticably.

But as others have said... It's the story that will hold you. Season one may seem like a bunch of unconnected one shots, but down the road, many of those episodes will hole new resonance.

Anyway, when you do dive into this, please let us know what you think.

Ric

#14 of 788 Michael Sliger

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Posted June 15 2004 - 12:51 PM

I highly recommend Babylon 5 to anyone who enjoys long-form epic storytelling. The series is unsurpassed in that characteristic, IMHO. Ron, since you enjoyed The X-Files, I have to think that you will adore this show as well. JMS' plotlines make Chris Carter's alien conspiracy look like a young adult novel series. A few points to address though:

1) Borrow a copy of "The Gathering". The commentary track for this TV-movie that will appear in the upcoming Movies set should make the original release rather pointless to own. There are some major arc points in story which make it a crucial story, so don't skip it. Don't be shocked when the alien makeup work changes radically for the main series. I don't see a problem with watching "In The Beginning" before the main series either (I did that myself), but there is a huge Season 1 plot point that is spoiled.

2) Be aware that Season 1 is good, but not anywhere as mindblowing as the middle three seasons. I do recommend rewatching this season shortly after you finish Season 5 since there are loads of hints about the big arc that you will not notice during the initial viewing.

3) Skip the introduction clips and the commentary tracks on these disks until you have watched the full series. JMS spoils major plot points in his talks.

#15 of 788 Ric Easton

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Posted June 15 2004 - 01:11 PM

Quote:
Skip the introduction clips and the commentary tracks on these disks until you have watched the full series. JMS spoils major plot points in his talks.


Oh yeah, I heartily agree with that one! I'm also in the camp that you should wait at least until the end of season 3 (possibly even season 4) to watch the "In the Beginning" TV movie.

The big joy of B5 was the development and growth of its main characters (along with that big booming story. As much as I loved Star Trek:TNG, my major complaint was that there was very little character growth. With the exception of Worf's storyline, you could basically watch the show in any order. BTW, B5 ran concurrently with Star Trek: DS9 and there were quite a few similarities. But DS9 did not really pump up their major arc action until B5 had basically run thru its first four seasons (They always did have some nice character growth though).

Ric

#16 of 788 Joseph J.D

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Posted June 15 2004 - 02:39 PM

Absolutely get this series! Speaking as one who was originally so bored by 'The Gathering' that I blew off the entire series during its original run.....I can tell you that I regret the rashness of my decision all those years ago. After watching the whole series for the first time on DVD over the past five months, I can honestly say that it is now one of my favorite shows - period.

I must note that it starts off slow and begins to pick up toward the end of the first season....and when you finally get to the second season, get ready for the best part of the ride to begin- by the time I got to the third season, I was a Babylon 5 junkie....I couldn't get enough of it- I would finish one disc and go right to the next one. Once season 5 comes, things start to wind down toward a very emotional series finale....one of the best I have ever watched IMHO.

So enjoy it Ron.....you are in for one hell of a ride!

As for me, I'm waiting for the upcoming B5 Movies boxset in August.....I'm looking very forward to it. Posted Image
Recently watched- Sudden Death, The Bounty Hunter, The English Patient, Quadrophenia, Armored, Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol, Arrow: Season 1, The Road, Hanna, The Rock, Fist Of Legend, 48 Hrs., Psycho III, Predator 3D, Gravity 3D, G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D, The Monster Club, Death Valley

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#17 of 788 DaveGTP

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Posted June 15 2004 - 02:52 PM

Quote:
I highly recommend Babylon 5 to anyone who enjoys long-form epic storytelling. The series is unsurpassed in that characteristic, IMHO.


100% agreed. Not everyone likes this style of storytelling. Not everyone likes ongoing stories. But if you do, B5 is quality. B5 is one of the few shows that comes across more as a good series of novels than a show.

If you're looking for more personal radar on it, I watched and enjoyed many years of Star Trek TNG when I was younger, watched the first few seasons of Deep Space Nine, and loved X-files. I've been slowly watching X-files on DVD via greencine (I think I'm on season 3). I like the conspiracy eps but sometimes get bored by the monster-of-the-week eps.



I originally watched B5 on TV, but lost track of it after season 2 - it kept getting booted to crazy time slots like 2 AM on my local Fox station. Hard when you're in high school. And then I went to college.


I rented B5 Season 1 on DVD from greencine a while after it came out, remembering how much I liked it when I was younger. I liked it even more now than I did then. I was surprised how great it was. I promptly bought S2.



The show is great for a couple of reasons.


1)Character Development - flawed, generally realistic characters who change as the story unfolds, as a result of their own actions, and others' actions.

2) A planned out story arc

3) Some excellent performances by some of the actors


The CGI is rough (especially season 1!), looks even worse on a big display because of the stretching (CGI sources not saved by Warner, long story). It's the characters and the story that make it a good show. If you liked X-files, and Star Trek, it's somewhere in between.

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#18 of 788 DanielKellmii

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Posted June 15 2004 - 03:18 PM

http://www.midwinter...urk/lurker.html

The above link is for the lurkers guide. Check it out. There is a great deal of useful information. Just don't be tempted to read ahead and spoil the fun.

I watched B5 durring its first TV run and was hooked by the storyline. Even my wife liked it, and she is not a sci-fi fan. (Wanna watch "Pretty Woman" again? >sigh<) Even though it jumped from station to station and time slot to time slot, I still tracked it down. I had to finish the story. It was a lot of fun. As soon as I got the boxed sets, I watched them. It is a lot of fun to go back and pick up on hints that you missed. Some of the episodes that I thought weren't very good were actually a set up for things to come. You should have a good time with it.

Why are you so angry looking in your pic?

#19 of 788 Scott Kimball

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Posted June 15 2004 - 04:26 PM

I am in the middle of a borrowed season two.

I agree with much of what has been said. Great storytelling, but with sometimes clunky dialog. Production is obviously of the shoestring variety. Effects don't do much for me at all. The video quality is sub-par.

But: great storytelling.

This gets compared with Deep Space Nine frequently, and I have to say that I prefer DS9... but B5 is very good. I may well like it better as I progress through the series.

The series isn't on my "buy" list at the retail prices... but the CH deal sounds interesting for the first two seasons.

-Scott

#20 of 788 Dave Scarpa

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Posted June 15 2004 - 05:39 PM

The corralary to the Sopranos is Apt in that B5 is a quality Sci Fi Epic. It takes attention to get into since things that seem trivial in one episode comes back to affect the plot later down the road. Season 1 takes some to get into , the acting in spots is wooden as the actors are getting used to their characters, Season 2 blasts foraward and theres no turning back. But seriously Ron why not Netflix it and see if you like it. You can always buy the remaining sets and find a deal on season 1
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