re:watch: Babylon 5, Season 1
We are living in a golden age of scripted television, so what am I doing? Going back and re-watching an old TV show, of course. Babylon 5 is a strange beast, a long form story that was planned out before it ever began, told in the form of a TV show.
I have never actually sat down and watched the show from beginning to end, and I know there are some episodes, maybe whole seasons that I have never watch, or at least never watched in order. I had a long series of flights coming up, which provided a great chance to binge on almost a whole season.
One of the interesting parts of the show is how brilliantly the little pieces of the story are revealed starting even in the first episode. I read once that the creator, J. Michael Straczynski, had an “escape hatch” written ahead of time for each of the characters, if the actor playing one of the major roles had to be written out, and how to change or shift the longer story arcs around this change. A great example of this can be seen in the end of the season 1 and the beginning of season 2, the captain left the show, and though there were some bumps, especially that the new captain was a very different personality, but the overall plot continued flowing along, hitting all the beats along the way.
G’Kar and Londo, the ambassadors of two of the alien races, are great examples of the long form plot, they are both integral to the overall story, but what I had forgotten was how unlikable G’Kar was made, even though he becomes a much more sympathetic being over time, and Londo, who seems to be so much comic relief, but hides one of the most tragic story lines. All of this was peaking through the stories from the start.
And of course, Bester, one of the best villains of the show, played by Walter Koenig, aka Chekov from the old Star Trek series. In a turn around that is spectacular the same actor who played the least threatening of the original Star Trek cast plays an evil, manipulative force who steals most every scene he is in.
The show also takes a different tack than most of the other space opera by keeping the fact that the main characters are all military, or at the very least politicians, and the plot does not shy away from this, one episode in particular where the captain and head of security have to play on the sides of management in a labor dispute.
tl; dr review: Highly recommended. Available on Amazon Prime and other places.