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"Who Are You?" and "What Do You Want?": The BABYLON 5 / STAR TREK Comparison T


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#1 of 70 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 06 2002 - 05:39 PM

Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Comparison and Contrast Thread


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.

Guidelines:


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".

Ground rule:

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:

Quote:
DS9 is what Babylon 5 could have been.

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!
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#2 of 70 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 06 2002 - 07:42 PM

Shadow War : Dominion War

The adventure centerpiece of both Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space 9, the two series most likely to be compared, was war.

I don't think one can talk about this aspect of the shows without first prefacing with a word on how so-called sentient "aliens" are depicted in each.

One of the things that absolutely fascinated me about B5 was the depiction of not a simple, flat "equality/equivalence" of intelligent life forms, which is what we're all too used to in popular filmed "science fiction", but a hierarchy of sentience and intelligence. As G'Kar, the Narn ambassador to the station Babylon 5, tells Captain Sinclair's soon to be fiancee, Catherine Sakai, in "Parliament of Dreams" or "Mind War", there exist life forms that roam the galaxy that are so advanced that, next to them, human(oid)s are like ants on an evolutionary scale or continuum. Best not to get in their way.


Quote:
There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They are vast, timeless . . . They are a mystery, and I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe---that we have not yet explained everything. Whatever they are, Ms. Sakai, they walk near Sigma-957. They must walk there alone.

The only equivalent attempts at depicting vastly superior beings in ST usually come off as wisps of light in early Trek (e.g., in "Gamesters of Triskelion", "Return to Tomorrow", "Squire of Gothos", "Errand of Mercy") or "advanced humanoid" ("Arena", "Squire of Gothos" (again), "Who Mourns for Adonais?").

Also up for mention from later Trek are the mysterious Nagilum of "Where Silence Has Lease", who experiments with humans in an attempt to understand the phenomenon of death, the Douwd of "The Survivors", who has destroyed an entire race of billions of Husnak (but has loved and married a human woman), Gomtuu, the organic sentient, intelligent ship that exists to "host" lesser life forms ("Tin Man"), the ethereal Cytherians of "The Nth Degree" (akin to the Thasians of "Charlie X"?), and, of course, the "Q-Continuum" of countless Trek episodes.

An observation here whereby the two franchises are somewhat, though not totally, distinguishable. Despite their vaunted "superiority", almost all of ST's superevolved beings acknowledge and interact with human(oid)s. (V'ger and Tanru of "The Changeling" even seek to meet and/or "join with" their human creators.)

I prefer, though, B5's hierarchic view and presentation of higher life forms, which seems to me a more natural "fit" to an evolutionary model of life-form development. Some life forms precede others by billions of years, and, if they survive so long and attain "sentience" (self-awareness and the ability to consciously manipulate their environment), we suppose, based on models seen here on Earth, that such beings would attain also abilities far beyond those of the younger species, especially in the cognitive domains.

Ultimately, Babylon 5's super-sentients tend to both be remote and remain nameless ("The Shadows' own name for themselves is 10,000 letters[!!!] long, and unpronounceable." Is there a linguist in the house?!?) Likewise with the other "First Ones", the unnamed Lovecraftian aliens of Babylon 5: Third Space, and "The Hand (of God)" of Legend of the Rangers.


In the universe of ST, these superbeings seem to exist primarily to interact with humanoids, particularly humans, just like their less highly evolved sentient counterparts, and they are most often "benign and benevolent" (I suppose in accord with the Roddenberry ST philosophy that "advancement" in evolution = some kind of "socio-moral" advancement to a humanistic (i.e., Roddenberry) ideal).

The super-sentients of B5, on the other hand, are ideally (as the quote from G'Kar avers) uninterested and/or disinterested in the "lowlier" intelligent species, being, of course, so far in advance of them on the evolutionary continuum. Their interaction with humanoids is "far-and-few-between", as they say, and incidental, to boot. They are inaccessible or nigh unapproachable. The Shadows "speak" directly (that is, in a humanoid language---English, of course) only once in the whole series (to Lorien and to Delenn in "Into the Fire"). Otherwise, their communication is achieved only through their high-pitched chirping, usually to their minions who, like Mr. Morden, Anna Sheridan, and Justin ("Z'ha'dum"), serve as intermediaries to the protagonists of the series. The Vorlons, likewise, keep a mysterious distance from man and other humanoids, giving only cryptic verbal clues to the meaning of what they say or communicating through dreams or waking visions.


The "Q"-Continuum is Star Trek's closest equivalent to Babylon 5's "First Ones". Voyager episodes, like "Deathwish" (a "Q" with ennui wants "out"), "The Q and the Grey" (Continuum civil war and "Q" wooing "Kathy"), and "Q2" (teenaged "Q" with adolescent rebellion problems), however, destroy any pretense of the "superior" nature of this group of aliens, as they continually foist their "personal" problems onto the "puny humans". But, what's an all-powerful entity to do? Now just imagine one of the Shadows bringing in its offspring for "counseling" from Mr. Garibaldi. ([high-pitched EM buzz]"That'll learn ya some reeeal discipline, young whippersnapper!"[/high-pitched EM buzz])

Both groups, "First Ones" and "Q"-Continuum, on closer examination, however, turn out to be more pre-occupied with beings that they pretend are "beneath" them (despite the G'Kar quote above) than is initially signalled, and this pre-occupation betrays the anthropocentrism of each "franchise". For reasons that are known to fans of Babylon 5 and will become known to those who futurely catch the episodes they might've so far missed, this will be seen as so. Those super-sentients have their own (parallel) axes to grind with regard to humanoids. Ultimately, blame it on the fact that humans wrote each story. ("Man is the measure of all things.")


A (superficial) comparison of the war threads themselves:

When: The events of the Dominion War take place in Earth's 24th century C.E. The Shadow War takes place in Earth's 23rd century C.E. (at the tail end of the so-called "Second Age of Mankind").

Who:

alliance: Klingons, Federation, (belatedly and reluctantly) Romulans
vs. "Axis of Evil" allies: Dominion ( = the Founders (rulers), the Vorta (administrators), and the
Jem'Hadar (the kamikaze military)), Cardassians, and (belatedly) the mysterious Breen

Where:

The two space stations Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9 are the two groups of protagonists' respective home bases and the showplaces of each series.

Babylon 5 has been built by the Earth Alliance, but with the funding from other major space-faring powers (the Minbari, the Narnites, the Centauri, and the so-called League of Non-Aligned Worlds). It is a place of commerce which is governed over by Earth in consultation with the other governments through their resident ambassadors. It has been set up to foster peace between the erstwhile warring major powers (Earth Alliance vs. Minbar; Narn vs. Centauri "Republic" (actually a decadent empire)). It is "neutral" territory.

Deep Space 9 is a Bajoran station built, then later abandoned, by the Cardassians after their rule of Bajor has come to an end. The Federation has stepped in to help the Bajorans rebuild their world and as protector. The two co-govern the station, which is also a place of commerce and residence, as well as space port and military station strategically placed near the only known stable "wormhole", an entrance to the so-called Gamma Quadrant of the Milky Way.

Neither station is destroyed by enemy forces in wartime during the courses of the respective stories because of their respective military values for all concerned parties. In the case of Babylon 5, there are other reasons as well, best left unelaborated here.


The Dominion War is fought mostly in the so-called Alpha Quadrant. Although
the Founders of the Dominion do intend to "avenge" the Romulan/Cardassian rogue military
destruction of their original homeworld that is depicted in the two-parter "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast",
some skirmishing does go on in the home quadrant of the Dominion.

In the Shadow War of Babylon 5 the E(arth) A(lliance) (Earth and its human colonies), and the Centauri Republic
are neutralized as combatants, due to the machinations of the Shadows. More interesting, and more dramatically realistic, in my opinion, would have been to have the two "allies" actually be manipulated into entering the war (the actual fighting) actively on the side of the Shadows.

This leaves the war itself to be fought between a coalition of humans based on Babylon 5, Minbari, Narnites, and "lesser (humanoid) races" (Brakiri, Drazi, Hyach, Pak'mara, etc.), with the nominal backing of the Vorlons (super-sentient non-humanoids) against the ancient, super-sentient arachnid-like so-called Shadows, who seem at first to have nearly invincible military technology, and their "dark servants" (who remain mostly unseen. Later the Drakh step forward as a major Shadow servant race). The enemy, in proper accord with its nature, remains much more remote in B5 than in DS9. We are never taken aboard a Shadow or a Vorlon vessel, for instance, whereas we do get to see the interiors of Dominion, Cardassian, and Breen ships. (On the other hand, we are treated to a visit to the capital city of the Shadows in "Z'ha'dum".)

Though the action isn't technically restricted to any one area of the galaxy, Babylon 5's Milky Way is always oriented toward the Outer Rim. What lies near or beyond the Rim is a constant theme and reference in the show. Much of the war-action takes place there.
The Shadows' home world, Z'ha'dum, is located there (while the Vorlon Empire, as it's called several times, is situated in space toward the interior of the galaxy (from which no exploratory (or military?) ships have ever returned). The Rim is the place where the "First Ones" go to transcend the galaxy, and of course, Sheridan himself joins them finally "beyond the Rim" at the story's end.


For reasons of drama, each group of protagonists has overwhelming odds set against it (natch), and, as always, the "good guys" (at first) fight a defensive war.

Why: What was it all about?

Simply put, (as far as I understand it, at least)

In the Shadow War
superbeings manipulate less evolved sentients into eternal, recurring cycles of antagonism, supposedly to help them evolve, but actually more as a sort of cosmic chess game to impress each other,

whereas the Dominion War is occasioned by the usual geopolitical ("cosmopolitical"?) power struggles.


The shortcomings of the Dominion War thread in DS9:

The major shortcoming of this thread, in my opinion, was (and is) the lack of a tie-in to the struggle between the wormhole aliens, known to and worshipped by the Bajorans as the "Prophets", and their arch-enemies, the P'ah Wraiths. This story is left as almost totally separate from the Dominion War thread---a missed opportunity.

If J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) had been plotting events for DS9, somehow the Dominion would have ended up being aided by the P'ah Wraiths, while the Federation Alliance would have been backed or assisted by the "Prophets" of the so-called Celestial Temple (the wormhole). (And, in fact, they do intervene to (temporarily) save the day at one point at Benjamin Sisko's behest and entreaty.)

Keeping these two stories almost totally separate seems both unrealistic in terms of the logistics of the politics of the struggle and, for me personally, dramatically unsatisfying. As a previewer of the episode said at an Internet site at the time, if the two stories had been tied together, Sisko's eventual fate would have had a lot more meaning to it for the audience than it does.


The shortcomings of the Shadow War thread in B5:

For me, similar: not enough exploitation of the "First Ones". Marcus and Ivanova's quest for other "First Ones" allies to aid in the fight against the Shadows should have lasted longer and the contact should have been somewhat deeper ("Voices of Authority", "The Summoning", "The Long Night"). As it is, it seemed a little too easy for them to find these beings and convince them to intervene on the side of human(oid)s (whom they usually ignore completely). Of course, JMS had more of an excuse than his DS9 counterparts: he was working under the prospect of a premature cancellation of B5 at the end of only its fourth season.

Because the Dominion War gets dragged out longer and the audience gets to go to more places in the story with the protagonists, it has more the feel of a "real" war, advances, retreats, stalemates, and all. Much of B5's staging was obviously limited by budget, so much of what we learn about the happenings in the war is told to us second-hand (much as with a stage drama). I still find it amazing how well the events come off, despite the budget limitations the producers were working under from their niggling and diffident corporate parent. (Warner Bros. didn't seem to have the guts (?) to take the risk alone, so it financed the show through the PTen partnership, whatever that was.)

The Shadow War, as presented, has a rushed feel to it, by comparison. Its conclusion that
the Vorlons and Shadows just say "Oh, never mind." and go away when the humanoids say "I don' wanna play!"
rings more than a bit false to me after the enormous investment of resources and time each lead adversary has put into bringing this event (the war) about (not to mention the build-up to this climax that has progressed over the previous three and a half years on the show).

Because of this, the Dominion War thread, for me, gains the edge in terms of satisfactory conclusion. This despite the fact that I still find the motivation for the war in Babylon 5 to be far more interesting---far less "run-of-the-mill"---as science fiction.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#3 of 70 JJR512

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Posted September 06 2002 - 08:20 PM

Quote:
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.
Here's an even better word to hate in this quote: "anatagonism". I've been to many a sci-fi convention, including some where there were guests from both Babylon 5 and Star Trek. I never saw any of this "antagonism" that you mentioned. I didn't see any real antagonism in the other thread, either; just some friendly debate and banter.
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#4 of 70 BrianW

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Posted September 07 2002 - 11:36 AM

Wow, Rex, that was great reading.

I'll add only that I believe ST is a vehicle for conveying an idea, while B5 is a vehicle for telling a story. Both are great, but I must confess that I love a good story, and I found B5 much more compelling.

When I get more time, I'll stop by and compare the physics of both franchises.
-Brian
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#5 of 70 CaptDS9E

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Posted September 07 2002 - 10:21 PM

Its not Really usuallY B5 vs Trek . Its more like B5 vs DS9. I was a fan of DS9 first as i didnt watch B5. But i did a few years ago on Sci-Fi and i love it. Excellent series. People can compare it all they want. There are some similarities but thats about it. Both shows go off on there own ways and i love them both

capt

#6 of 70 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 08 2002 - 10:06 AM

JustinR wrote:

Quote:
I never saw any of this "antagonism" that you mentioned.

I put no great claim by it myself, but I have read about it in several independent places in the media. If they exaggerated, so be it.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#7 of 70 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 08 2002 - 10:22 AM

Joey Nazzari wrote:

Quote:
Its not Really usuallY B5 vs Trek. Its more like B5 vs DS9.



I don't know what it is "usually", just what it is---or may be---here. Given the above provided list of suggested topics for comparative analysis, anyone interested in serious commentary-analysis can find plenty from outside of DS9 in the Trek universe to talk about. (A technology comparison, or a sociological comparison of human society as depicted in universes of the respective "franchises", for example.) This isn't supposed to be just about "plots" or storylines.

B5 also has some other stories, namely, those of Crusade and Legend of the Rangers, that may be exploited for comparative analysis. If you want to make a serious contribution here, you can.

Lastly, this isn't about "hating" one "franchise" and "loving" the other. I like them both quite well. Doesn't that come through?
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#8 of 70 Walter Kittel

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Posted September 08 2002 - 10:49 AM

I'm unsure if I'm prepared to go to the lengths that Rex has ( nice posts! ) but here are some initial thoughts.

First, I'm not really prepared to discuss DS9 as I only intermittently watched the show. During the initial seasons, the exploration theme of Trek ( coming from TOS and TNG, and being a big fan of both series ) wasn't served well by having the crew confined to a space station. Thematically, the space station concept didn't fit into what had come before in Trek; at least for me. I realize that this was addressed, but I only sporadically watched the show; so I'm uncertain of the plot threads on this series. ( I'm not knocking it, I simply never got into that series. Perhaps it will be worth revisiting when the DVDs start streeting? )

From the larger standpoint of the The Trek universe compared to the the B5 universe; the Trek universe ( at least on TOS and TNG ) felt much more idealistic ( reflecting Roddenberry's philosophy, I suppose. ) For me, the B5 universe has always felt more realistic, comparatively speaking, due to its emphasis on political power, deceit, manipulation, and focus on character motivation. No doubt the series reflects my own cynical view that human nature changes very, very slowly and that while society will be radically different due to technological changes in 400 years, the basic human motivations and instincts will be quite similar to contemporary practices.

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#9 of 70 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 08 2002 - 05:58 PM

Walter Kittel wrote:

Quote:
I'm unsure if I'm prepared to go to the lengths that Rex has . . . but here are some initial thoughts.



I don't blame you. Really, two reasonable-sized paragraphs (with concrete examples) will probably do for an analysis. What will then happen is that I and/or others will respond and the topic will get "fleshed out" during the give-and-take.

It's just the egotist in me that made me write all that I have. I also figured I needed to give people something to play off of.

Another topic will follow within two days (I hope).
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#10 of 70 Walter Kittel

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Posted September 08 2002 - 06:26 PM

One other ( perhaps off tangent ) thought that I weighed after my first post was how FX technology and the design decisions of the respective productions impacted the shows and their depictions of alien races.

DS9 was still very much into the use of physical models, whereas B5 used CGI from it's inception ( with some exceptions ) to depict the ships and physical environments of the respective show's universes.

DS9 perhaps due to its reliance on physical models stuck to the humanoid alien approach, whereas B5 used a variety of physical, animatronic, and CG based aliens. B5 did use humanoid aliens for almost all of the alien species that required much interaction, no doubt for production reasons. But where it did deviate was in its use of CG to depict supplementary characters that helped drive the story arc, particularly with the Shadows, and to a lesser degree with other aliens such as the Old Ones. I can't help but feel that this contributed to a more 'alien' feel for some of the alien species, although the show's philosophy towards aliens and their relation to mankind was a larger contributing factor.

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#11 of 70 Mike Broadman

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Posted September 09 2002 - 06:59 AM

While Babylon 5 is my unabashed favorite TV show ever of all time, I'm also a hardcore Trekkie, so I like to chat about both. Posted Image

One quick thing: since Babylon 5 was only one show, I don't think it's accurate to refer to it as a "franchise." Crusade was only 13 episodes and Rangers was only one movie. Star Trek, on the other hand, is 5 series and 10 theatrical releases.

Quote:
Captain Sinclair
It's Commander Sinclair. That was my nerdy anal nitpick of the day.

Quote:
Who:

alliance: Klingons, Federation, (belatedly and reluctantly) Romulans
vs. "Axis of Evil" allies: Dominion ( = the Founders (rulers), the Vorta (administrators), and the
Jem'Hadar (the kamikaze military)), Cardassians, and (belatedly) the mysterious Breen

Quote:
The major shortcoming of this thread, in my opinion, was (and is) the lack of a tie-in to the struggle between the wormhole aliens, known to and worshipped by the Bajorans as the "Prophets", and their arch-enemies, the P'ah Wraiths. This story is left as almost totally separate from the Dominion War thread---a missed opportunity.

I actually liked the fact that they kept it seperate. While it could have been interesting to do it your way, their choice adds a little bit of mystery and mythology to the Star Trek universe. It's very Golden Fleece-ish. Besides, one could argue that the Pa Wraith did help the Dominion through Gol Dukat.


While I agree that more stuff with the First Ones would have been great for the character developments of Ivanova and Marcus, it would have take away from the very powerful point that the Shadows and the Vorlons are the only two ancient races that actually care about this stuff. A recurring theme is that the other ones just lost interest and were disgusted by how the Vorlons and Shadows efforst degenerated into a petty competition.

Quote:
(much as with a stage drama).

Interesting you mention that, as it highlights another difference between the two shows: Babylon 5 was very theatrical. At times, it was very much like watching a play. This is why some characters are exaggerated a little (namely G'Kar and Londo) and the dialogue seems very planned. This put many viewers off, who were used to a more natural conversational style of drama, like Star Trek.

Quote:
Warner Bros. didn't seem to have the guts (?) to take the risk alone, so it financed the show through the PTen partnership, whatever that was.)

PTEN was WB's own network. The show is a Warner Bros' production. The network itself failed at the end of B5's 4th season, which is why the 5th was on TNT. WB then tried to create a network again, but this time it is succeeding with youth programming.


Quote:
The Shadow War, as presented, has a rushed feel to it, by comparison. Its conclusion that
Spoiler:
the Vorlons and Shadows just say "Oh, never mind." and go away when the humanoids say "I don' wanna play!"
rings more than a bit false to me after the enormous investment of resources and time each lead adversary has put into bringing this event (the war) about (not to mention the build-up to this climax that has progressed over the previous three and a half years on the show).

Well, it's not just the humanoids who kick them out. The deciding factor was Lorien, to whom they look up to. That is a huge factor.

I feel it is unfair to compare the Dominion War against the Shadow War simply because the Domion War was bigger to DS9's last half of the series than the Shadow War was to B5. That is, the Domion War was by far the main conflict for DS9 during the last few seasons (I have not seen the first few years), but the Shadow War was one of many in B5, which included the Earth Civil War, the Minbari fracture and eventual civil war, the Narn / Centauri conflict, and the telepath issue. While a lot of that can be connected to the Shadow conflict, the actual war got very little screen time compared to all this other stuff. Plus, the whole point of the Shadow War was shrouded in mystery up until the end, wereas the Dominion War was, well, a war.

Also, the reason the Shadow War was rushed was because, with the impending demise of PTEN, they didn't even know if there would be a 5th season. The original plan was:
- Have Into the Fire be towards the end of season 4, maybe making it a two-parter. End season 4 with the episode where Sheridan is interrogated by Clark's flunky (amazing episode, btw) as a cliffhanger. Resolve Earth civil war a few episodes into season 5.
- Throw in some more character stuff in the middle of all this. This may have included the Marcus / Ivanova / First One thing.
- Introduce Byron and his telepaths earlier as background and C stories in season 4. This way, by the time the Earth conflice was resolved, they would already be an established part of the station and that story line could kick in right away. Instead, they had to give Byron a lot of screen time and it killed the pace of the show, which is why so many people lambast season 5.
- Ivanova was, of course, not supposed to leave. It would have been she who would hook up with Byron, not Lyta, forcing her to chose her loyalties between Byron's cause and Sheridan's alliance. She would have realised that she was really using Byron as a substitute for Marcus and would go against him. Note that the series finale was filmed before season 5, when all this was the plan. This is why you see a very bitter and worn Ivanova then.

Please realise I'm not using this as an "excuse"- a weakness in a show is a weakness, plain and simple. It's just a point of curiosity and really hits home, for me, the power of a planned story arc. While Babylon 5 was great, it had the potential to be so damn good as to raise the bar for all TV drama forever, and the unfortunate circumstances left it just short of that.

Quote:
B5 did use humanoid aliens for almost all of the alien species that required much interaction, no doubt for production reasons.

Besides cost, another reason to stick with human-type aliens is dramatic: they need to convey how the aliens feel and for us to relate to them, especially if they're major characters. Peter Jurassik's phenomenal portrayal of Londo would not be nearly as effective if we were looking at paint and rubber instead of his face.

B5 trivia: In the second season episode where there's a plague that wipes out an entire species, the original plan was for it to be the Drazi. They felt that, because of the heavy makeup, people wouldn't be able to empathise with their emotions well enough to feel the tragedy of the plague, so they used another race instead. In time, they got better with the Drazi and we see more of them later.

The one big exception to this was Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar. He managed to become a fan favorite (me included) and a truly heroic character with lots of emotion.

#12 of 70 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 09 2002 - 08:52 AM

"SPOILER" warning!


Mike Broadman wrote:

Quote:
I feel it is unfair to compare the Dominion War against the Shadow War simply because the Domion War was bigger to DS9's last half of the series than the Shadow War was to B5.

I compare them---quite rightly, in my opinion---because, as I said, each is the action centerpiece, the "mother of all conflicts", in its respective storyline. I'll stick to that.


Quote:
. . . I agree that more stuff with the First Ones would have been great for the character developments of Ivanova and Marcus, . . .


No, I'm a "sci-fi geeky" sort of person. I wanted to know more about the First Ones, not the human(oid)s! That's what I look at or, on all too rare occasion, read science fiction for. I want to experience the strange, not the familiar! (And, frankly, I couldn't stand Marcus---or the actor who portrayed him---from his first appearance till his dying breath.)


Quote:
While a lot of that can be connected to the Shadow conflict, the actual war got very little screen time compared to all this other stuff.

Yep, that's one of my BIG complaints. But my reading of the show's intent is that
most of these other conflicts are, ultimately, the doings of the Shadows themselves, as they manipulate (or bribe: "What do you want?") their agents and proxies (the Emperor Cartagia, President Clark, etc.) among these various populations, all to create and promote a general state of galactic chaos that will leave their enemies unable to effectively unite against them as these had done 1,000 years before.


The Earth Alliance civil war thread was interesting to me as part of the Shadow War. Otherwise, it would be just the same old same old, as they say. The other conflicts in the story are, to me, distractive and anti-climactic.


Quote:
Well, it's not just the humanoids who kick them out. The deciding factor was Lorien, to whom they look up to. That is a huge factor.

From the "Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5" synopsis of this episode:

(Sheridan and Delenn have just been "returned" to their ship from the psychic(?) "visitations" which they have made to the Vorlon and Shadow vessels, respectively, where they have resisted the "persuasion" of either superrace.)

Quote:
Sheridan can't believe the Vorlons and the Shadows would let the younger races die instead of ending their war, but Lorien knows they aren't finished yet. Two figures appear on the bridge---one Shadow and one Vorlon. Lorien explains they are giving Sheridan a second chance to change his mind and ask forgiveness, to choose. Lorien says that Sheridan's next words will decide the outcome.

Lorien tells him: "I cannot help you now." After an exchange with the Vorlon and Shadow representatives, who have to be convinced by Sheridan's followers that they are with behind him 100% and are willing to die,

Sheridan says: "It's over because we've decided it's over. Now get the hell out of our galaxy! Both of you!"

Only then does Lorien gently coax them into it and add the inducement that he will go with them so that they might not be "alone". (I still find that odd, their being "alone".)

I'm really revealing too much here for those who haven't seen this, but the staunch resistence of the humanoid species is what is clearly meant to turn the tide in this scene. (That's why Lorien steps aside and says what he says.)

The point here, as Sheridan explains at the end of the episode, is that the humanoid species have "come of age" and the outcome of this war is the transitional event between the Second and the Third "Ages of Mankind", and he goes on to explain what the Ages mean. (I don't want to reveal what he says for the sake of those who haven't seen the show yet and would like to with some expectation of genuine revelation left. I think a little too much has been openly revealed already. Anyone who wants to know can visit the above provided link. Read all the way through.)


Quote:
One quick thing: since Babylon 5 was only one show, I don't think it's accurate to refer to it as a "franchise."

I don't think Warner Bros. would---or does---agree with you.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#13 of 70 Mike Broadman

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Posted September 10 2002 - 03:10 AM

Quote:
I wanted to know more about the First Ones, not the human(oid)s! That's what I look at or, on all too rare occasion, read science fiction for. I want to experience the strange, not the familiar! (And, frankly, I couldn't stand Marcus---or the actor who portrayed him---from his first appearance till his dying breath.)


Well, that's your preference. I like the fact that the mystery was left there. One of B5's weaknesses (or simply a characteristic) was that its aliens weren't as unique or "alien" as something you'd see in The Abyss or even some Trek. They're mostly humans that look a little different. The First Ones are more like a setting. Besides, delving into the the details of the other First Ones would have deflected attention from the two that really matter.

Also, Marcus was a fan favorite, including myself. I regret that he didn't have a little more attention.

Overall, I would say that Star Trek has the edge when it comes to far-out sci-fi type concepts. Nothing in B5 is as cool as the Borg or as important in the sci-fi world as that silicon based life form from the original Trek. B5, on the other hand, tells a story, a human story, more poignantly.

Back to the Shadow War:
While it is certainly true that the Shadows initiate and prolong many conflicts, I believe there are some important ones that happened without them, most notably the Narn / Centauri conflict. It began with the Centauri invasion and occupation of Narn without Shadow help. The violence between them was happening without the Shadows' help. It was only with Londo and Cartagia that the Shadows meddled, playing off a conflict that was already there. There were also references to other conflicts throughout the series. The Shadows go far by just pllaying off the conflict that is already there, they just prolong it and turn it to their advantage.

Quote:
The other conflicts in the story are, to me, distractive and anti-climactic.

Again, personal taste. The Minbari civil war was inevitable given the developments within the Minbari leadership up to that point, and the whole thing with Neroon was one of the best parts of the show.

Quote:
but the staunch resistence of the humanoid species is what is clearly meant to turn the tide in this scene
Oh yeah, definitely. I just felt you oversimplified it a bit in your last post. The second one is accurate.

Now I'll pick one of the topics in the list to chat about:
Quote:
the role of telepaths

Star Trek:
Telepathy in the Trek universe is generally looked at as something wondrous and beautiful, often as an advanced step in evolution. One telepathic race we encounter in Trek often is the Betazeds (sp?). Note that the major Betazed character, Troi, is not telepathic but merely empathic.

The issue of privacy regarding reading people's thoughts is dealt with in Trek but as a minor side issue. A couple of minor characters had expressed dismay at Troi being "in their heads." However, the crew she works with and most people she encounters don't seem to mind. More importantly, her fully telepathic mother cavorts about the galaxy and even serves as a diplomat- and no one cares. In fact, they present it as something... cute.

In one episode, there is a master negotiator who is revealed to be partially empathic but keeps it secret. This is the heaviest that Trek went into the ethics of telepathy (and it wasn't even really telepathy). The accepted ethical position taken up by the good guys is that mind-reading abilities is OK if the other person knows about it. Troi's issue with the negotiator was that his opponents were not aware of his power. Of course, this then begs the question of ethics when Troi uses it when they encounter strange new life forms.

I felt the episode did an admirable job with it given the flimsy treatment it got before it. That is, it did well when it had little to work with.

Babylon 5:
Telepathy plays a much bigger role here. One major difference with Trek is that telepaths featured on B5 are mostly human, wereas on Trek they are mostly alien. This allows B5 to explore the question: what would happen if telepaths were suddenly discovered to live among us? Their answer is not a happy one. Riots, lynchings, and the instant creation of an oppressed but dangerous underclass. The solution of the Psi Corps would create problems of its own.

The general human acceptance in B5 to telepaths is much harsher than on Trek: we don't want no one in our brains, period. This is even expressed by a major and well-liked character, Garibaldi, who flat out said that he doesn't trust them- and this was before a few of them screwed with his brain.

Issues resembling racism and prejudice are involved- people of different inherint characteristics doesn't make them "better," etc. However, it is even more complicated then something like race since a telepath literally can do things that others can't (as opposed to, say, being black). An objective non-prejudiced person would have no reason to distrust black people simply because they are black, but it would be reasonable to distrust a telepath. In B5, telepaths are not allowed to gamble. To us, that seems perfectly reasonable. If we say a woman should not be allowed to gamble, that is oppression. The issue becomes- how do we protect the privacy of non-telepaths while still maintaining human rights for telepaths.

The truly fascinating thing about it is that, for humans, no solution is provided. By the time the show ends, Lyta has become more and more militant in her pro-telepath cause, Psi-Corps is still powerful, and there are plenty of rogue telepaths running around. Supposedly, JMS wants to make a feature film that would involve a major conflict between the two groups. This is why it isn't covered in any of the other canon works in the B5 universe. Also of note is the fact the Minbari don't seem to have a problem with telepaths.

#14 of 70 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 11 2002 - 07:52 AM

Mike Broadman wrote:

Quote:
The First Ones are more like a setting. Besides, delving into the the details of the other First Ones would have deflected attention from the two that really matter.

I wished to comprehend the relationships among these titans of old. Still do. What is it about the Vorlons or Shadows that would make the other "First Ones" want to intervene to aid the "younger races"? We never learn that.

Quote:
Overall, I would say that Star Trek has the edge when it comes to far-out sci-fi type concepts. Nothing in B5 is as cool as the Borg or as important in the sci-fi world as that silicon based life form from the original Trek.

As stated before, we will disagree. The Borg are basically humanoid, with electronic parts. Hardly, "way-out". And if, by "that silicon based life form from the original Trek" you mean the Horta of "Devil in the Dark", the writers ruined the "shag-carpet monster" for me by making it a "cutesy" commentator on human habits. (Spock: "The mother Horta was just commenting to me how humans . . . .") As usual, whatever of uniqueness or alienage the beings of the Trek universe are bestowed with, the writers and producers always, always(!) trivialize it after a short while. The "brothers-under-the-skin" ethic that ST finds obligatory, reduces even the strangest to just another cuddly ol' member of the universal (i.e., "human") family. It's quite sickening, actually, if one think about. Nothing's worth being, except human? (That's the ultimate message I take from ST.) Hardly, a "respect or celebration of infinite diversity".

The supersentients of Babylon 5 ---and I do not mean the Minbari, Centauri, Narnites, etc.---are, to my mind, a step above. Not humanoid, not the stuff of the utter trivialization of "differences". (They do not seek to mate with human(oid) females, for example, the stuff of the worst horror and sf movies.)


Quote:
The other conflicts in the story are, to me, distractive and anti-climactic.

Quote:
While it is certainly true that the Shadows initiate and prolong many conflicts, I believe there are some important ones that happened without them, most notably the Narn / Centauri conflict. It began with the Centauri invasion and occupation of Narn without Shadow help. The violence between them was happening without the Shadows' help. It was only with Londo and Cartagia that the Shadows meddled, playing off a conflict that was already there. There were also references to other conflicts throughout the series. The Shadows go far by just pllaying off the conflict that is already there, they just prolong it and turn it to their advantage. . . . The Minbari civil war was inevitable given the developments within the Minbari leadership up to that point,. . .

I admit to great fallibility of memory, but I believe, after having seen these episodes a number of times---and here I will include the tv movie In the Beginning as a relevant "episode"---that somewhere buried in the scenes it is hinted that Shadow agents have had a hand in inciting the incidents at Ragesh 3 ("Midnight at the Firing Line") that re-starts the whole Narn - Centauri conflict that eventuates in full-fledged war, as well as in the incident that brings about the devastation of the Minbari leader Dukhat's ship and his death, which leads to the Earth Alliance - Minbari War. I will have to check.


The role of telepaths

Star Trek:

Quote:

Telepathy in the Trek universe is generally looked at as something wondrous and beautiful, often as an advanced step in evolution. One telepathic race we encounter in Trek often is the Betazeds (sp?). Note that the major Betazed character, Troi, is not telepathic but merely
empathic.

Troi is half-human, half-Betazoid. ("Betazed" is the name of the planet.)

Quote:
The issue of privacy regarding reading people's thoughts is dealt with in Trek but as a minor side issue. A couple of minor characters had expressed dismay at Troi being "in their heads."

However, the crew she works with and most people she encounters don't seem to mind. More importantly, her fully telepathic mother cavorts about the galaxy and even serves as a diplomat-and no one cares. In fact, they present it as something... cute.

A space-faring "Auntie Mame", whose behavior is hardly---ahem---"diplomatic".

Quote:


In one episode, there is a master negotiator who is revealed to be partially empathic but keeps it secret. This is the heaviest that Trek went into the ethics of telepathy (and it wasn't even really telepathy). The accepted ethical position taken up by the good guys is that mind-reading abilities is OK if the other person knows about it. Troi's issue with the negotiator was that his opponents were not aware of his power. Of course, this then begs the question of ethics when Troi uses it when they encounter strange new life forms.

The episode you speak of is the NG episode "The Price"; the character, Devinoni Ral, an "old flame" of Troi's from Earth. He, too, is only part-Betazoid (one quarter). There is, however, a further episode that deals more "heavily" with the issue of mind invasion: the "telepathic-rape" episode "Violations" (#112). One of the Ullians, a powerfully telepathic race that helps people recover memories, goes farther than allowed and invades women's minds without their permission and for the purposes of attaining his own pleasure. This is treated as a grave crime, prompting a condemnatory Capt. Picard intonement, no less. It is also subject to imprisonment, which implies that there is precedence to the behavior and extant laws against it to meet those precedents.


Babylon 5:

Quote:

Telepathy plays a much bigger role here. One major difference with Trek is that telepaths featured on B5 are mostly human, wereas on Trek they are mostly alien. This allows B5 to explore the question: what would happen if telepaths were suddenly discovered to live among us? Their answer is not a happy one. Riots, lynchings, and the instant creation of an oppressed but dangerous underclass. The solution of the Psi Corps would create problems of its
own.

Telepathy is integral to the central story of B5, but not to those of any of the Trek programs.

Star Trek presents telepathy mainly as a (nonhuman) species-specific heritable trait, while Babylon 5 treats it as a cross-species-heritable trait, one present in all the "major" humanoid races except the Narnites.

Of course, in B5 there is, naturally, a reason for this which fits into the storyline:
Within the past century or two of the story, the Vorlons have artificially manipulated the genomes of these humanoid races so as to increase the number and the power of these beings amongst them, in preparation for using them as weapons against Shadow technology in the present war. (This seems to violate some rules of the game that had been set up by the two, as Morden, Anna Sheridan, and Justin seem outraged by the fact when they try to sway John Sheridan to join the Shadow side of the conflict.) The Shadows have turned the tables and also come to use these people as "central processing units" of their organic ships. Then, of course, Sheridan himself uses them in the EA Civil War to disable EA destroyer class ships in his campaign to overthrow the tainted Earth regime (which is in cahoots with certain elements of the Psi Corps). After the telepaths discover how they've been used by one and all, then they become "militant" and demand a home world of their own.

Quote:
Issues resembling racism and prejudice are involved- people of different inherint characteristics doesn't make them "better," etc. However, it is even more complicated then something like race since a telepath literally can do things that others can't (as opposed to, say, being black). An objective non-prejudiced person would have no reason to distrust black people simply because they are black, but it would be reasonable to distrust a telepath. In B5, telepaths are not allowed to gamble. To us, that seems perfectly reasonable. If we say a woman should not be allowed to gamble, that is oppression. The issue becomes- how do we protect the privacy of non-telepaths while still maintaining human rights for telepaths.

I think the distinction you attempt to make here is that of a(n innate) "trait" being defined in terms of "ability" or behavior (the power to do something, and, therefore, presumably the proclivity to do something) (grossly put, genotypy), versus one of, say, appearance (phenotypy) alone as a defining feature (as in "race" or (social) gender). The bigotry/prejudice against homosexuals, for example, is based on the presumption of a certain (sexual) behavior which some find disgusting, and it is that (presumed) behavior alone that defines the group, which itself has no specific appearance, since it crosses racial and ethnic lines. Telepaths would fall under such objections, only in their case, the behavior might well have devastating consequences for human power-political relations. And, in fact,
the "Psi Cop" Alfred Bester wants his telepaths to take over and rule "mundanes".
It's a matter of something measurable (behavior or ability)---or better put, attitudes toward supposedly predictable behavior?---vs. something not measurable (e.g., attitude toward genetically determined appearance).


Quote:
Also of note is the fact the Minbari don't seem to have a problem with telepaths.

They're a highly spiritual (and religious) people, after all. It would seem only natural that they would partake more heavily in anything that gets them closer to their "inner selves" (be it "soul", "mind", or whatever).


Quote:
The truly fascinating thing about it is that, for humans, no solution is provided. By the time the show ends, Lyta has become more and more militant in her pro-telepath cause, Psi-Corps is still powerful, and there are plenty of rogue telepaths running around.

Ah, yes, but the situation prevalent by the time of Crusade is different, isn't it? Most of the restrictions are gone and the Psi Corps itself has been dissolved. Telepaths such as Lt. Matheson are included even in the regular military, which had priorly been prohibited.

Quote:
Supposedly, JMS wants to make a feature film that would involve a major conflict between the two groups. This is why it isn't covered in any of the other canon works in the B5 universe.

Nothing makes me even less miss having a B5 theatrical than this news. I still haven't gotten over the "singing telepaths".

Thank you for your earnest participation here.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#15 of 70 Mike Broadman

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Posted September 11 2002 - 08:29 AM

Rex, I'm almost positive that the Shadows had nothing to do with the death of Dukhat or the ensuing war. It was purely a result of arrogance and carelessness by both parties. Of course, one of the results of this war had a lot to do with the Shadows later on (or before... er, stupid time loops).

Quote:
half-Betazoid. ("Betazed" is the name of the planet.)


I am just terrible with proper names and I will know none of the episode names, except for a few of the crucial Babylon 5 eps and "Best of Both Worlds" and "Encounter at Farpoint" from TNG. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Quote:
The "brothers-under-the-skin" ethic that ST finds obligatory, reduces even the strangest to just another cuddly ol' member of the universal (i.e., "human") family. It's quite sickening, actually, if one think about. Nothing's worth being, except human? (That's the ultimate message I take from ST.)


Yes! I have noticed the same exact thing. The Klingons are this vicious implacable warrior race. Then they are really just humans but maybe a little angrier. The Ferangi are this slimy, greedy little race- then they just have slightly different cultural values that will get better now that they're our friends. And don't even get me started on the Romulans.

However, note the Borg are still even and impossible to negotiate with, although the introduction of Borg queen seriously took away the coolness factor of them. Still, I disagree with you about their "alien-ness." Sure, they look humanoid, but that's because they assimilate humanoid beings. It's the idea of them that impresses me: the whole assimilating, hive-mind thing. Besides, one could argue that the First Ones from Babylon 5 were "humanized" during Into the Fire, when they were afraid of being alone and such.

Quote:
the character, Devinoni Ral, an "old flame" of Troi's from Earth.


Are you sure? I remember it as them meeting for the first time while he was a negotiator on the Enterprise. But I'm not 100% sure.

Thanks for mentioning the "rape" episode. I do remember it, now. Since I own and therefore recently watched the first three season on DVD, those will be the ones I remember best. B5, on the other hand, I pretty much have memorised.


Quote:
except the Narnites


I believe it's time for a correction of my own: they were called Narns.

Quote:
The bigotry/prejudice against homosexuals, for example, is based on the presumption of a certain (sexual) behavior which some find disgusting, and it is that (presumed) behavior alone that defines the group, which itself has no specific appearance, since it crosses racial and ethnic lines. Telepaths would fall under such objections, only in their case, the behavior might well have devastating consequences for human power-political relations.


This is true, and it's one of the things I love about B5: while thousands of plays, books, films, TV shows, etc, deal with the issue of hatred and distrust between groups, B5 presents a situation where we could sympathize with and even agree with such feelings. In this sense, I feel that B5 presents a more interesting way of looking at social dynamics than Star Trek could ever hope of doing.

With something like the Bajoran (sp?) and Cardassians, we can point at the Cardassians and say, "Aw, that's not nice, why you wanna be so mean to them for?" But it ain't that easy in B5. We can honestly understand where both sides are coming from. Heck, I even feel that the Narn / Centauri thing was handled a lot better than the Bajoran / Cardassian thing, but that's another topic...

Quote:
They're a highly spiritual (and religious) people, after all.

Which of course brings us to the highly fascinating yet, for this forum, dangerous topic of religion in the shows. I always called the Minbari religion a "religion without religion." They obviously treat with the utmost importance, but they really don't have a God, at least not in the sense that we think of one. It's kind of Buddhist in a sense. It's also interesting that all this stuff was invented by an atheist- this is a religion that, no matter what your feelings about religion(s) or personal beliefs are, you can respect the Minbari's culture.

One other possible reason the Minbari have no problems with telepaths is that they are simply a lot older than us. Maybe in a couple of thousand of years, humans won't have problems either.

Quote:
Ah, yes, but the situation prevalent by the time of Crusade is different, isn't it?


Ah, well, if you've ever needed yet another reason to lament the loss of Crusade, here is one for you. Remember there was one episode where a former Psi-Corps guy was drilling Matheson intensively. Some element of the Psi-Corps is still around. Also, Bester himself would have appeared later on as a fugitive but still up to no good.

Note also that one Crusade episode also had that shady guy who worked for Nightwatch in B5 (Welles, or something like that), now working for the government (same actor who played Neroon, btw). He even made a sly comment about knowing how to survive. Also, while the Shadows are gone, Crusade would have involved a whole major plot thing about how the Earth government was using left over Shadow technology.

My ineffeciently made point is that a lot of things that were supposed to be "gone" after B5 are still around in some way. The after-effects of something are a continuous theme in the B5 universe. Who knows what place Psi-Corps would have in all this, even if they were no longer referred to by that name? Sadly, we will never know. Posted Image

#16 of 70 Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 11 2002 - 04:57 PM

Mike Broadman wrote:

Quote:
Still, I disagree with you about their "alien-ness." Sure, they look humanoid, but that's because they assimilate humanoid beings.

But, that's a key point. Why do they assimilate humanoids? One of the great unanswered questions about the Borg is, what did it start out as? I would say, humanoid, no doubt. One of the key facts passed over in later ST episodes featuring this race is that they originally are supposed to be born in nurseries like regular, fully organic beings and, as they mature, become gradually more mechanized ("Q Who?").

Quote:
. . . one could argue that the First Ones from Babylon 5 were "humanized" during "Into the Fire", when they were afraid of being alone and such.

Not effectively, I think. "Fear" is a concomitant of mortality, and all mortal beings know fear (the shun of (presumed) harm, physical or metaphysical). A cat's or a squirrel's fear does not necessarily make it "human". It's merely a trait it shares with humans. During the course of B5 we learn that both Shadow and Vorlon know the experience of fear. The Shadows are "afraid" to come into contact with anything touched by the Vorlons. Kosh confesses to Sheridan, in a dream sequence, that he was afraid of the consequences for himself---rightly so, as it turns out---, of bringing the Vorlons into the war on behalf of the "army of light" ("Interludes and Examinations").


Quote:
. . . except Narnites


Quote:
. . . they were called Narns.

Yes, yes, I know. Can't you tell, I'm doing this on purpose? I have a fundamental problem with the alien-race naming that goes on on these shows. Any time the name of the race matches the name of the place of origin of that race, I get "perturbed". It's the Vulcan - Vulcan problem all over again. If the people are Vulcans, their eponymous home should be Vulca, or the like. Or, if the place is Vulcan, the people's name should be an eponymous derivative of the place-name: they should be Vulcanians (used once, I think, in all of Trek), Vulcanites, Vulcanese, or the like. Likewise, Narns should be from Nar...(???). So, if the place is Narn, the people's eponymous name should be some derivative thereof. Likewise, people from the Federation are called just Federation in the episodes. No, no, no. Federation-ist-s, I say! I wish the writers would give more thought ahead of time to these kinds of things. (Klingons are from Q'onos, 'cause the writers didn't like the sound of Kling, which they used in one episode, "Heart of Glory". They should have stuck with it. If it sounds "silly" to the English-speaker's ear, so do a lot of foreign names and words. Isn't that a part of their alienage???) For me it's a detail that adds to or detracts from the realism of the story. So, like it or not, realize that my usages are seldom accidents.



Quote:
. . . the Minbari religion [is] a "religion without religion." They obviously treat [it] with the utmost importance, but they really don't have a God, at least not in the sense that we think of one.

It's a "nonlocalized (or -localizable) phenomenon". It is the expression of the Universe becoming aware of itself.


Quote:
. . . one Crusade episode also had that shady guy who worked for Nightwatch in B5 (Welles, or something like that), now working for the government (same actor who played Neroon, btw)

John Vickery in "Appearances and Other Deceits" (the one with the fey uniform-designer), who also played the hostile Cardassian Gul Rusot in episodes "The Changing Face of Evil", "When It Rains ...", and "Tacking Into the Wind" in DS9's final season.

I totally agree with you on the more realistic social-dynamic approach taken in Babylon 5. I think one reason so many fans are rabid to get the DS9 videos is that it is the one Trek program that has striven for dramatic realism (in its later, Piller-less years, that is) and has, for the most part, attained it. The other new-era Trek programs are too wrapped up in showcasing and upholding ideology.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#17 of 70 Mike Broadman

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Posted September 12 2002 - 04:10 AM

Quote:
But, that's a key point. Why do they assimilate humanoids?


My guess is that's it's a technological limitation. Some blobby weird creature or an energy being may be too different to accept their nanite assimilation technology. Or, maybe since they are derived from humanoids, their environment is setup for humanoid drones and anything else would be more effort than it's worth.

Quote:
One of the key facts passed over in later ST episodes featuring this race is that they originally are supposed to be born in nurseries like regular, fully organic beings and, as they mature, become gradually more mechanized ("Q Who?").


This seems to be something they dropped after this episode. Remember also that in Q Who, nothing was mentioned nothing about assimilation- in fact, it was the fact that it was not discussed (and my guess is that the writers didn't even come up with that aspect of the Borg at the time) that made the assimilation of Picard in Best of Both Worlds so dramatically powerful and surprising.

In Q Who, they dealt with the question of "how are more Borg produced?" by showing baby Borg. After Best of Both Worlds, they replaced it with assimilation, which was taken to its dramatic extreme in the movie First Contact when all of earth was assimilated in an alternate timeline. The borg thing then fell teetered off the edge of plausibility during Voyager.

Quote:
Can't you tell, I'm doing this on purpose?


I did not. Sorry. Sarcasm is sometimes difficult to communicate on messageboards.

Quote:
Vulcanians (used once, I think, in all of Trek),


Oh man, I don't remember that. I'd love to hear that.

Quote:
No, no, no. Federation-ist-s,


Doesn't "ist" usually apply to some sort of ideology, like "loyalist" or "communist?" Calling someone a Federationist gives me the idea that the person believed a political cause called Federation, as opposed to just someone who is from one of the planets of this alliance. Eg, an American vs an Americanist.

Quote:
The other new-era Trek programs are too wrapped up in showcasing and upholding ideology.


Agreed, but here's the thing: watching the supplemental material on the TNG series, they constantly talk about Roddenberry's idealistic vision of the future. One can argue that DS9's abandonment of this ideology and focus on character and story are not really Trek. Frankly, I don't care, because the show was good. I feel that Trek's idealism is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness- it is the impetus and driving force of the whole franchise, but it also conflicts with basic human nature. Now, without Roddenberry guiding the realisation of his vision, it's all on a train-wreck of a bastardisation of the whole point of the thing.

#18 of 70 Paul P

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Posted September 12 2002 - 08:58 AM

Wow, interesting discussion.

As for the Borg, and I say this having only really watched the original and next generation, so no voyager, DS9 -- was that they didn't seem able to reproduce. As for their origins, I thought up a great circular storyline for a new movie, which would explore their origins through a holodeck virtual representation of the borg collective consciousness, which the crew would fight to get through, and eventually find that the borg originally began as part human part machine, as the new organism formed at the end of star trek:TMP. Remember kirk saying "did we just see the beginning of a new race?" Now I thought it could be worked into a great sequel to First Contact, with an ongoing war with the borg, and the klingon race intervening to fight along the way. bygones.

As for B5:

I loved Marcus, for many reasons including his humility. On the other hand, Byron annoyed the hell out of me. Something neglected in this discussion is B5 as a socio-political commentary, on everything from racism to political structures(night watch/Ministry of Peace ~ SS/Nazis). I found it compelling because it was a human story, the story of sentient struggles of real beings, with grandly planned out character arcs and story arcs. Given they had to do some tweaking to keep it going, but it still came out as an impressive product. Another layer is the representation of the religions, which I believe is formed in the different alien races : Humans--christians(mainly), Narns--muslims, Centauri--Romans, Minbari--Zen Buddhist/ Hindu. A friend of mine and I once categorized each of the sci fi series into reasonable disciplines. Next Generation--psychology, DS9-politics, Voyager-philosophy, B5-religion. Fitting, but since I've only watched half of those, I can't speak to its definite accuracy.
There are [at least] 21 paths to the top of the mountain. If anyone says
he is on THE path, he isn't even on the mountain. --Jack Schwartz

#19 of 70 Michael TLV

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Posted September 13 2002 - 01:30 AM

Greetings

Excellent discussion here on the subject. For the record, I enjoyed both DS9 and B5, but my DS9 enjoyment increased once the series started down the path of the Dominion conflict after season two. The maquis stuff just bored me for the longest time.

Both series are highly regarded in my mind, with the slight edge going to the B5 side and mainly for the use of gray characters. There were very few characters that we could categorically call good or evil. All the things that occurred were presented with enough information to legitimately support either side.

The duality of all the characters ... and add to that, how all the characters had certain personality flaws/weaknesses. (Everyone was messed up in the head in one way or another.) I just found them more human than what I saw in DS9. Trek characters were a little too perfect and I could never associate with that.

G'kar ... bad to good
Londo ... good to bad to good
Vorlons ... good to bad
Shadows ... bad to middle of the road
Minbari ... bad to good to ?
Bester ... was he really bad? or was he good?
Edgars ... good to bad to?? Depends how you look at it ...

Lyta ... good to bad to ?
Talia ... good to bad ...

etc ...

There was always a sense of surprise where the characters were concerned. Because JMS had established a universe where anything was possible ... one could never be quite sure where each character stood in each crisis ... and as a result, you could never be completely sure how certain events would turn out.

Regards
Michael @ The Laser Video Experience
THX Video Systems Instructor/ISF Instructor
Lion A/V Consultants Network - TLVEXP.com


#20 of 70 Mike Broadman

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Posted September 13 2002 - 02:11 AM

Quote:
Something neglected in this discussion is B5 as a socio-political commentary, on everything from racism to political structures(night watch/Ministry of Peace ~ SS/Nazis).


Yep. Star Trek dealt with these issues, but usually in the form of the Message: racism is bad, there should be peace, etc. The stories served as fables. In B5, it was more complex and "grey," which made it feel more realistic and more engagin.

Interesting thing about B5 characters: JMS said that the idea of G'Kar and Delenn is that he is a warrior who becomes a priest, and she is a priest who becomes a warrior.


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