I had originally planned this for last spring, but there was just no time to prepare it then and, as you will see, this a bit demanding of time and thought. Although I was going to wait till sometime closer to the Babylon 5 DVD release date, the recent flair-up of interest in the software threads over the prospects of the DVD availability of DS9 and Babylon 5 and the clash over them has prompted me to go ahead and start this thread now, as I think there is presently enough interest and enough (hopefully thoughtful) respondents to make it work.
Anyway, . . .
I've read about antagonism between fans of the Babylon 5 and Star Trek "franchises"---gee, I hate that word---at these sf fan conventions in the 90s and have always found it hard to believe that real sf fans would waste their time arguing with each other over which is "better". Better to be thankful that finally we can have both on television.
In thinking about and analyzing ST and B5, it occurred to me that it would be interesting (and fun) to hear other fans' thoughts on the comparison of these two outerspace science-fiction action/adventure shows. So I engage and invite members of the audience to feed back their thoughts, informed by reasoned arguments, on various aspects of these shows: what differentiates them, what they have in common. Any aspect whatsoever, large or small---no need to be "generic" here---, of the two "franchises" that are comparable may be compared and contrasted here, whether it be storyline, or story background (otherwise known as "mythology"), production aspects (FX, acting, directing) vel sim.
In addition to any general comments you might make in comparing these two shows ("franchises"), you might wish to give a more detailled explication of some specific aspects that the two share in common.
I have taken the trouble to prepare a sample list of suggested topics for exposition and discussion (sometimes with a comment from me that may (or may not) be used as a point of departure):
- [*]Mission statement: B5: "Who are you?" "What do you want?" "Whom do you serve?" (franchise framed in terms of mystery) :: ST: "To go boldly where no man---no one---has ever gone before." (franchise framed in terms of bold discovery/adventure)[*] mysticism (e.g., in Babylon 5, Minbari preoccupation with their "souls"; the "Universe" as pervading ambient conscious : in Star Trek, e.g., Vulcans and their katras)[*]the role of telepaths[*]John Sheridan : Benjamin Sisko (uncanny parallel, or something rotten in Denmark?)[*]aliens vs. humans[*]Minbari : Klingon comparison (ritualistic, honor-bound warrior races)[*]group identity in future Earth society (race and ethnicity)[*]philosophy/sensibilities/world (cosmic) view: Is B5 really as lugubrious as some have charged? (Think "Third Age of mankind" here.)[*]Earth Force : Star Fleet (officer/crew relations; organizational aspects, etc.)[*]uniforms: extra-tight and "stylish" or "real military"? (The message(s) conveyed to audiences?)[*]time-travel blues (e.g., as depicted in "Babylon Squared" vs. most of ST)[*]music (Christoph Franke / Evan Chen : TOS original theme (by Alexander Courage) & score, Ron Jones/Dennis McCarthy/Jay Chattaway et al.; "canned-heroic" music from TNG on)[*]alien cities in B5 and in Trek[*]comparative human sociology:
status: economic class, poverty and its concomitants such as crime (acknowledged in B5, ignored or outright denied in ST)
---crime and punishment (e.g., the death penalty)[*]acting: e.g., Claudia Christian ----> Ivanova after the death of Marcus : Nana Visitor ----> Kira after the death of Vedik Bareil[*]humor[*]Centauri : Romulans (power-hungry schemers working behind the scenes)[*]"A plague upon both your houses!": recurrent mischief-makers Alfred Bester : "Q"[*]anachronistic references/anachronistic dialog: ("As the humans say, . . .")[*]Earth Alliance (----> Interstellar Alliance) : Federation[*]warrior women: Susan Ivanova : Kira Nerys[*]special effects (e.g., CGI vs. model work)[*]comparative technology (e.g., weapons ("Phasers on 'stun'!"); comparative ship design, vel sim.[*]Shadow War : Dominion War
Please join in on any of the topics above or suggest and explicate your own topic. Let's just try to avoid comparing apples to oranges.
Participation in presenting a detailled comparison presupposes decent familiarity with each "franchise" and should be limited to those with such knowledge. If you aren't familiar with Babylon 5 (Babylon 5 itself, and perhaps its tv movies, or its spin-offs Crusade, Legend of the Rangers), please limit yourself to ancillary comments, that is, to commenting on or augmenting the detailled comparisons made here by others, which, of course, any poster is free and welcome to do.
[Test: If you quit watching Babylon 5 midway during its first season or weren't able to view this program or a large number of ST episodes, especially those of DS9 (which is the most likely parallel to it), because of odd scheduling by indifferent or hostile local stations---something many of us have faced at given times for each of these programs---then you probably shouldn't be doing an analysis here.]
Note: You may certainly take one side or the other that you prefer of a contrastive presentation and give a reasoned argument for it. But you are not being asked to choose sides between these two "franchises".
Let's not make this a Star Trek- or (more likely, given the disparity in the size of their respective fandoms) a Babylon 5-bashing thread. No gratuitous Voyager- (or Enterprise-)bashing is allowed either. We've had (many) separate threads for that. All such statements here should be backed by specifics and set in a comparative context with the corresponding aspect of programming, philosophy, presentation, etc. on Babylon 5. Comparison! Comparison is the name of the game here.
All analyses should be specific enough to compare some similar aspect of the two "franchises".
Unuseful are generic statements such as:
Uh-uh! Not here. Not here! We need names, data, explication. Fair enough?
Finally, some "spoilers" are inevitable in a thread like this. Hopefully they will be tagged properly, but nobody can guarantee anything and everything potentially revelatory can't be tagged without making the thread overly cumbrous to read. (I've seen this happen in mystery tv threads. Not here!) For you who haven't seen major portions of Babylon 5 or, one of the Star Trek programs, most likely DS9, I don't know what to advise, except that maybe you skip this thread for now and come back to it later.
Let 'er rip, boys and girls!