View Single Post

Thread: Yora reviews Babylon 5

  1. - Top - End - #765
    Retired Mod in the Playground Retired Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Default Re: Yora reviews Babylon 5

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    S4E1: The Hour of the Wolf

    ... the prime minister appears to be demented.
    Props to Damian London for making this character work. He makes someone who lives at the intersection of fop and doormat feel genuine.

    Spoiler: Season 5
    And he does a good job of staying true to that character even when things get very, very dark for him.
    And managing to have such a character die with dignity is some good stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Morden being cryptic about his questionably alive status is quite fun. I think nothing really comes from it, but it's still neat. Though I think they might have made his introduction a bit early. We could have gone assuming he is dead for a good while up until the point where his involvement becomes relevant again, though I don't actually remember when that will be.
    I don't know. While I think his "survival" might have been made more effective by waiting until episode 2 or 3, I don't think holding back until he becomes plot relevant would work. I think not establishing him as alive (for a certain definition of "alive" beforehand would make his reappearance feel contrived.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I also actually really liked the performances for Ivanova this episode. She's mostly just sitting around by herself looking mopey. But making it look meaningful without being cringy requires serious acting talent. Now that I think of it, the acting for Ivanova is always the most impressive when she's really upset. The other great example I can think of is in S2E19: Divided Loyalties.
    Pissed off or mildly annoyed Ivanova is fun, but seriously upset Ivanova is always impressive to watch.
    I love it when an actor can really sell their character when the character's not doing anything. It's pretty rare to see in film and TV. I don't know if that's for want of actors that can actually do it or just the way directing and editing are done means it seldom gets used, but I've done just enough acting in my time to find it truly impressive when an actor can embody a character in the midst of boredom, grief, or (as in this case) that numbness-born-of-depression.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Season 3 Summary

    Imagine what it could be today with only main plot and no need for filler.
    Y'see, I don't think bringing the show up to modern standards of arc-driven shows would really work. I found a review of the show someone wrote and one particular passage summed up a lot better than I ever have why I think the filler episodes work. (Well, maybe not the specific filler episodes, but their role in the overall pacing of the narrative.)

    (In the interests of credit-where-it's-due, here's a link to the full review. Though most of it kind of meanders a lot, I feel like it misunderstands some things entirely, and a good chunk gets into socio-political stuff: )

    This structure is so effective that even the plot twists and status quo shifts which are poorly foreshadowed, or ill-explained, or over-explained feel natural and world-shaking because Babylon 5’s pace always gives you time to breathe, and the world is so believably lived in, that any crisis that strikes it feels immeasurably more impactful than damage wrought onto a world that we’re meant to understand changes from the get go. By the time the show starts hurtling along a set of truly serialized arcs in Season 4 there’s a feeling that anything could happen. It still feels fresh today, maybe even fresher than it did in the 1990s simply because very few people are making shows like this anymore. Modern serialized television asks you to be a voyeur to the chaos, to consume it as fast as possible, or to consume it as a communal project. You and your friends waiting for the next big bombshell and treating everything between like treading water. A show paced like Babylon 5 asks you to come live in those in-between moments. It wants you to watch the chaos from inside the world and to stick with it during the long silences.
    It's not say that there's anything wrong with writing a nail-biting, cliffhanger-heavy story or that there's a problem with one that moves the narrative along swiftly. But I just feel like the sense of grandiosity that Babylon 5 aims for (and achieves most of the time) would be undercut without the in-between spaces.

    Let's look at The Lord of the Rings. In the books, Frodo's departure from the Shire is very long and drawn out. Apart from a couple of close calls with the Ringwraiths, it's mostly just the Hobbits backpacking across the Shire. We spend several chapters on a sidetrek through the Old Forest, chilling with Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, and nearly getting Barrow-Wighted to death. And it isn't until we get to Bree that the main plot even comes back into it. In the movies, it's far more frantic, with Frodo not even putting up the "everything's fine, I'm just moving out to the country" pretense: it's a tense, almost frantic stealth mission across the Shire. And with everything between the Shire and Bree cut, the impression is much more that the Ringwraiths are on their tail the whole time. Both are good versions of the story, but I think that extra breathing room gives the book version a certain sense of profundity that the films don't quite capture, no matter how many grandiose pans across magnificent landscapes they put in.

    I think the same is true of B5. While there's room to quibble about the exact number, placement, and content of the filler episodes, I think removing them altogether would diminish the whole in not-immediately-obvious ways.
    Last edited by Grey Watcher; 2020-03-31 at 03:08 PM.