Episode 147 – Objects at Rest

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Sheridan and Delenn leave Babylon 5. Other folks move around and get adjusted too. Lori and Carl join us to discuss episode 5×21 – “Objects at Rest”.

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3 Responses to “Episode 147 – Objects at Rest”

  1. Voord 99 Says:

    [Spoilers for A Call to Arms and Crusade. Basically Crusade]

    Crusade is why I have this tiny little resentment of Firefly. Everyone endlessly goes on about how sad it was that Firefly got cancelled and how wonderful it would have been if it had continued.

    And, yes, it would have been. Firefly was a good show. But you know what else deserved a better shot? Crusade. Despite being abusively handled by the network in a manner that, remarkably, results in there being no good order in which to watch those episodes that were made – despite that, watching Crusade gives one a glimpse of a show that was pretty damn good, and had the potential to be even better.

    Better than Babylon 5, in fact. You can tell that JMS had given some thought to what might have worked better about B5. Or maybe he just wanted to try something different.

    But character-wise, the crew of the Excalibur are on balance stronger and more interesting characters than the command staff of Babylon 5. Not than the ambassadors, not than Londo, G’Kar, and Delenn. But is Max Eilerson more interesting than Garibaldi? Is Matheson more interesting than Ivanova? Is Chambers more interesting than Franklin – no, well, OK, Franklin wins there. But does Peter Woodward as Galen walk away with every single scene he’s in? Would I like to have seen Dureena Nafeel’s story continue?

    And above all, Matthew Gideon is so much more interesting than Sheridan was even on Sheridan’s most interesting day. And would have been even if Gideon did not have the good fortune to be played by one of American television’s most reliably charismatic actors. That we never got to find out what the whole deal was with the apocalypse box remains a really substantial disappointment for me.

    And, you know, Firefly fans got a movie.

  2. Voord 99 Says:

    [Spoiler for Legend of the Rangers]

    Well, it’s a pilot that didn’t get picked up.

    That pretty much says it all. Legend of the Rangers isn’t bad. But it’s entirely devoted to setting up characters and plot threads for a series that never got made.

    Item one (characters) are pretty good. David Martell is your typical “He’s very good-looking but he’s a maverick!” white male lead. But the others seem interesting, especially Dulann, who in his brief appearance comes across as a little different from all the other Minbari that we saw in 5 years of Babylon 5.

    As for item two (series plot), that’s where LotR does fall down. We’ve done the “mysterious ancient threat” before in this universe. Nothing about the Hand makes them seem like a particularly interesting variant of the trope.

    And while not enough actually happens in LotR for it to be certain that the appearance of the Hand is inconsistent with what has been established about the future history of JMS’s universe up to this point, they *feel* like they don’t fit. They violate the implied contract with the viewer that when Sheridan and Co. persuade the Vorlons and Shadows to leave in Into the Fire (damp squib of an episode though it was) that was the central event of this universe and the moment when that sort of story was permanently done for. And it’s violating that sort of implied contract that is the type of “continuity violation” that’s a real flaw, whether or not there is a real inconsistency here.

    But, fair enough: LotR (note the cheekiness of the acronym) came out in 2002, weeks after Fellowship of the Ring hit big and seemed to speak especially to America’s post-9/11 moment. This sort of stuff was in the air, however jarring it can seem 15 years later to try to fit it into the larger Babylon 5 story.

    Do I regret that there wasn’t more of it as much as do with Crusade? Not a chance. Do I think it would have been worth giving it a chance? Absolutely.

  3. Voord 99 Says:

    [Spoilers for Babylon 5: The Lost Tales]

    From the time when I started watching the original series during Season Two, I saw every bit of televisual Babylon 5 – the rest of the original series, Crusade, and Legend of the Rangers – when it first appeared. Until this. I don’t remember why I didn’t pick The Lost Tales up. I was certainly aware of its existence. But I strongly suspect that in those heady first years after Doctor Who (very much my first and best love in SFTV) returned with such enormous success, it just didn’t make much sense to me to pay that much money for a renewed stab at something that was, at that point in my life, a happy but somewhat distant memory of the past, at a time when I was so absorbed in something that both pushed my nostalgia button *and* managed to feel utterly of the moment at the same time.

    So I can’t really speak to how well The Lost Tales worked in the context in which it first appeared: the second-to-last year of George Bush’s America, when people had long since soured on the Iraq War, but the Great Recession had not yet slammed into the US and the rest of the world. The original gasp of late ’80s/90s space opera that had started with TNG and had included B5 had sputtered to a halt with Enterprise, and we’d gone through the reaction to that with the ultragritty Battlestar Galactica reboot, and were now in the reaction to that with Doctor Who’s willingness to be, you know, *fun*.

    At any rate, TLT is clearly the product of a very different JMS. His inspiration for trying to do an anthology series in the B5 universe was the Twilight Zone, and this is most obvious in the first story, which isn’t a bad Twilight Zone episode, but simply doesn’t feel at all like it fits in the world of the original Babylon 5. Rather as in his Spider-Man stories that had appeared in the meantime, JMS takes something that at least gestured at pseudoscience and tries (not terribly successfully) to redo it as magical fantasy or here, horror.

    This is jarring, especially if you watch it as I eventually did almost a decade later in 2015 at the end of a rewatch of all of the earlier Babylon 5 material. The second story is much more obviously a sequel to Babylon 5. That probably makes it the more enjoyable of the two for most fans of the original material. It certainly is for me. But it’s not all that good in itself, because let’s be honest: who really thinks for a moment that Sheridan is going to kill the young Centauri nobleman? And while the first part is too different from the original B5, this is too similar. It doesn’t give one any sense of repurposing the original elements to say something new that responds to all the ways in which 1994-1998 seems so very long ago.

    It’s all just for the hardcore fans, I’m afraid, and in 2007 there probably weren’t too many of those left. I certainly wasn’t one any more.

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