Please tell me Babylon 5 gets better.

I’ve been reading all you Dopers’ testimony about the awesomeness of Babylon 5 for years now, so finally I relented. available light put the first 2 discs on the Netflix queue, and then we watched them.

If this show was any cheesier, I’d be dipping bread cubes into it with long forks.

The plots aren’t bad, but Christ the rest inspires me to launch my own Satellite of Love. Some scenes look just like something you’d find in the original Star Trek - oh, look, D.C. Fontana wrote some of the episodes! The acting ranges from passable to so hammy it generates an anti-kosher field. Maybe it matures into a more interesting show, but how the tanj it made it that far while Firefly got butchered I’ll never know.

[sub]By the way, Firefly was also a Doper recommendation, and the claims of awesomeness are fully justified.[/sub]

The 5th season is the weakest and the 1st season is the 2nd weakest. On the other hand I’ve heard a lot of people say how great the anime Neongenesis Evangelion is but it failed to hook me after the first 4-5 episodes. I happen to think Babylon 5 was one of the best things to happen to science fiction television since Star Trek. It might not be your cup of tea. Personally, if a series can’t hook me after a few episodes I generally give up on it.


It gets better. Much, much better. You have to see the first season to for the plot points, but you don’t have to see it twice. It really picks up in Season 2, after they get rid of the worst actor of the bunch - the rest of the cast seems to get their act together, and the scripts improve dramatically.

Well, if I can act as an ambassador between the non-fans and rabid fans of the show:

I just got done watching the first season with Miller, who’s one of the Doper fans. I had only seen one or two episodes previously. And while I can’t say that I’m in love with the show yet, I’m starting to see the appeal. I guess “intrigued” would be the word to describe it.

Yes, it’s strictly low-budget. It’s difficult to watch the space scenes without thinking “Amiga Video Toaster.” Ambassador Delenn has been building a Colorforms sculpture for an entire season. Every time the psi cop woman has one of her episodes, it’s straight out of an 80’s New Wave video. All the neon throughout the space station makes me wonder if the same person who designed the Babylon stations also designed Lo Pan’s lair. And it’s hard to take the mysterious representative of a conspiratorial alien seriously when he’s got such 80’s hair.

Yes, the acting ranges from wooden to stilted. Just wait until you get to the end of the season, when Captain Sinclair and his girlfriend start fighting over who’s the worse actor.

Yes, the dialogue can be rough in places. It’s not enough to get drunk on, maybe, but you can still play a mini-drinking game out of all the times someone says, “That’s on a need to know basis… and you don’t need to know!

But where it succeeds is in continuity and consistency. By the end of the first season, I get a real feeling that there’s a larger story going on instead of a bunch of disconnected episodes. “The X-Files” implied that there was a larger story, but it just fizzled out when it was revealed that no one had thought the whole thing through. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” planned out season-long arcs (and little ideas that would carry on into the next season), but still predominantly felt as if they were making it up as they went along.

“Babylon 5” really does feel as if there’s a history there and that these are real characters, instead of just people moving things along in order to support the plot of the week. Fans of sci-fi shows always complain about the “monster of the week” episodes; “B-5” does have standalone episodes, but the emphasis is always on the overall storyline instead of the events of this particular episode. It’s not “how will the crew of the station defeat this monster?” but “how does this monster fit in with the lives of the crew of the station?”

So I’d say keep it up until the end of the first season, at least. (You can skip the episode where the super-powerful telepath comes to visit Talia Winters; his acting is just painful.) You’d be surprised at how much the story builds on itself and cross-references seemingly minor events from earlier episodes. Personally, I’m interested to see what happens from here, and not just because I think Bruce Boxleitner is dreamy.

It starts to pick up with the final episodes of the first season, and improves through the second. The third and fourth (up to the end of the war), when all the story elements come together nicely, is when I think the series was really at its best.

Well, I’ve only watched the last six episodes of season 1, and I’d agree that the show has many more rough edges than DS9, the contemporaneous Trek series. The space shots are more video-gamey, etc. The stories themselves, on the other hand, aren’t bad, and I’ve been assured that the production quality improves later on. (Having seen a snippet of the season three premeire, I’d say I agree).

I’d recommend you watch at least all of Season 1 and a fair bit of Season 2. Everything about the show improves over the course of the second season. Season 3 is probably the show’s peak.

If nothing else, B5 showed me how hollow DS9 and The X-Files truly were in terms of long-term storytelling.

While the show certainly does have its rough spots, it is quite good, especially in the third season (IMHO).
The first season is mostly exposition & character introduction. The show gets much better.

The entire series works as a cohesive story. There are a few episodes you could miss out on, but for the most part each new episode answers a few questions, while asking 1 or 2 more.

If nothing else, you have to see the third season episode “Walking through Gethsemane” (I think that’s the title). I won’t spoil it, but I’m still amazed something like that was ever allowed on network television.

Christ, I was going to start this thread.

I got curious to see what all the shooting was about so I netflixed the first disk of season one.

I’ve only gotten through the pilot and something called ‘Soul Thief’ or something. Dull, cheesy and predictable. I’m going to hate this, aren’t I?

Good god, I so couldn’t stand O’Hare.

“Captain, the station is about to be destroyed!”
(shit-eating grin)
“Captain, the station is saved!”
(shit-eating grin)
“Captain! We’re all having ice cream!”
(shit-eating grin)

Oh, and the FX get infinitely better past the first season, and they continue improving. I remember the first time we see Londo and Delenn in the Great Machine and the camera pulling back while they walk along a bridge. I swear to go, I thought I was seeing the first Alone in the Dark.


Season One is unbearable torment that you must watch because of the plot points.

Revisit this thread after you’ve seen Season Two, and we’ll respect your decision to walk away. I know that 40 episodes is a lot to ask of someone who will never get that time in their life back, but we wouldn’t do it to hurt you. It’s worth it.

You’re a Diplomacy player. You’ll find many parallels in the third and fourth seasons with the political/diplomatic play of the First World War.

The others have said it well: the first season is exposition. I’ll tell you this- after watching all of it, if you don’t have tears in your eyes while watching the “morning” scene in"Sleeping in Light", you’re indeed a cold one.

The first shot of this was actually with Ivanova and Sinclair. (I usually sing something about Anne Francis and Forbidden Planet at this point.)

I’ve been rewatching my DVDs of B5, DS9, and the X-Files since the beginning of the year, one episode of each per weekday, and am just finishing up the first season of each or beginning the second. The thing that strikes me about all three is a lack of focus; regardless of how well any one of them did with the story lines by the end, there are quite a lot of inconsequential episodes in the beginning, I suppose as each series tried to find itself.

Couldn’t we make up a list of essential B5 first-season eps for the newcomers? I mean, there are several that can be skipped without missing anything important, and it is my firm belief that nobody should be subjected to the likes of “TKO” unawares.

I referred to it as “Babylon and on 5” for the first year because there was so much exposition that everyone seemed to talk ad nauseum. It was truly exposition overload.

But, much like the poor chap who was once turned into a newt, it got better.
give it two to three full seasons and you’ll discover it is truly something amazing.

Also, Londo and G’Kar are worth keeping an eye on, not the least of which because both their characters and performances are compelling. Focusing on them should get you through the rougher spots.

Londo was the finest character they had in the whole series (aprt from Zathras… but everyone knows he’s the best) and he can carry whole episodes without breaking a sweat.

O’Hare seems so wooden in the 1st Season that it is hard to continue. But by the time you get through “War Without End,” you realize that he just had a very difficult character to play, and played him perfectly.

As for the “best” episodes…strictly IMO:

Season 1 - **Parliament of Dreams, The War Prayer, Deathwalker, Signs and Portents, Babylon Squared ** (essential to see before War Without End)

Season 2 - The Geometry of Shadows, The Coming of Shadows, GROPOS, And Now For A Word, Confessions and Lamentations, Comes The Inquisitor, The Fall of Night

Season 3 - All of it except for Grey 17 Is Missing. Passing Through Gethsemane is one of the best hours of TV ever.

Season 4 - All of it.

Season 5 - No Compromises, The Very Long Night of Londo Molari, Day of the Dead, Objects In Motion, Objects At Rest, Sleeping In Light

If the last episode doesn’t make you cry at least twice…there is no hope for you.

“Sleeping in Light” made me cry for the whole time after the first ten minutes the first time I saw it. What my neighbors must have thought of all the sobbing from upstairs…

When I first got hooked, I came in about six or eight episodes from the end of the first season, and it only took a few eps to figure out who was who and what was going on (for the moment, anyway). I’d say you could safely skip much of the first season, though looking back at it, they’re all sorts of hints as to things that are going to happen down the road.

I too would advise you to give the second season a chance before giving up.

Guess there’s no hope for me. I never cared for this show… thought it was cheesy and overburdened with continuity. I like my continuity more on the Buffy-scale. I also felt it was derivative and poorly acted… Admittedly, I’ve seen a small sample… four, five episodes. I liked exactly one of them. (because of the amusing Zathros character).

While I love B5, the production values really sucked. However, the overall story is so good that eventually you won’t notice that as much.

It reminds me of soap operas. If you just happen across one, all you notice is the bad acting, bad lighting, bad sets, etc. But eventually you get caught up in the story and all that other stuff doesn’t matter. B5 is the same way. The acting will continue to be bad and the sets will continue to be cheap, but story is so good that it doesn’t matter.