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What TV SHOWS are you watching?

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10 Sep 2019 22:10 #301616 by trif
We're rewatching Babylon 5 at the moment. It's interesting to see how much of the overall plot is referenced in even the weakest episodes (and that's a pretty tough competition) and Season One is difficult to get through.

It's kind of a distillation of JMS's fixations and influences (modern politics - the conflict with the Centauris and the Narn were modelled on the Middle East, hardish science fiction with elements of Tolkien and Lovecraft thrown in the mix) and I think you've got to be sympathetic to that to make any real progress through the series. Both Andreas Katsulas and Peter Jurasik give fantastic performances that elevate the fairly stolid material, and the arcs of their characters are worth following alone.

I think it still holds up after a wonky start (we're up to the third season and haven't hit the worst episode of it yet) and was really ahead of its time in presenting a tv series as a complete story, in and of itself.

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10 Sep 2019 22:37 - 10 Sep 2019 22:38 #301617 by Michael Barnes
Last year I put aside many many years of smirking at Babylon 5 to give it another chance. I watched the whole series. And it has got to be the most uneven series I’ve ever seen.

It does start out rough. That first captain was HORRIBLE. A complete personality vacuum with zero chemistry.

Some of it is flat out embarrassing to watch. There are regular players on the show that are cringe-inducing. Some of the writing is just abysmal. The production design is terrible by default. The CGI is often nauseatingly bad. And OMG the hair and makeup on this show...

But overall- and I do think you have to consider the show as a whole- it’s _good_. At its best, it’s uniquely compelling and gets into some very hard SF territory darker and more complicated than most Trek, note the Ellison consulting credit. There’s a PKD/Alfred Bester angle with telepaths and psychic cops. There are some cool time travel shenanigans. Londo starts out as a joke (FFS that hair) but his character becomes darker and more interesting. G’Kar’s story is great and adds dimension to a raise that starts out as ersatz Klingons. The political/conspiracy stuff is pretty juvenile, but it keeps the show hopping through some long stretches.

It all goes south in the back stretch- I had to sort of force myself to the end. I didn’t watch any of the movies.
Last edit: 10 Sep 2019 22:38 by Michael Barnes.
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10 Sep 2019 23:14 #301619 by Gary Sax
It sounds like hyperbole, but I have never seen worse acting in actual paid parts than in Babylon 5. Any part that is not one of the main cast characters (who are not all great shakes) is stunningly bad. I have this memory of when I stopped watching, there's an episode where someone is in the slums howling in sadness or something and I have never seen anything more cringeworthy.
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11 Sep 2019 00:04 #301620 by Shellhead
Upon reflection, and a partial re-watch of episode 2, I find the aliens visually annoying but written well. I mean, the dialogue and acting is just as bad as what we are getting from the humans, but there is an honest effort to portray the aliens as culturally and mentally different from humans. Star Trek might actually be more guilty of treating too many aliens as ugly humans.

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11 Sep 2019 09:25 - 11 Sep 2019 09:32 #301632 by Sagrilarus

Michael Barnes wrote: Last year I put aside many many years of smirking at Babylon 5 to give it another chance. I watched the whole series. And it has got to be the most uneven series I’ve ever seen.

It does start out rough. That first captain was HORRIBLE. A complete personality vacuum with zero chemistry.

Some of it is flat out embarrassing to watch. There are regular players on the show that are cringe-inducing. Some of the writing is just abysmal. The production design is terrible by default. The CGI is often nauseatingly bad. And OMG the hair and makeup on this show...

But overall- and I do think you have to consider the show as a whole- it’s _good_. At its best, it’s uniquely compelling and gets into some very hard SF territory darker and more complicated than most Trek, note the Ellison consulting credit. There’s a PKD/Alfred Bester angle with telepaths and psychic cops. There are some cool time travel shenanigans. Londo starts out as a joke (FFS that hair) but his character becomes darker and more interesting. G’Kar’s story is great and adds dimension to a raise that starts out as ersatz Klingons. The political/conspiracy stuff is pretty juvenile, but it keeps the show hopping through some long stretches.

It all goes south in the back stretch- I had to sort of force myself to the end. I didn’t watch any of the movies.


Yeah, but it doesn't have gold-pressed latinum.

I stopped watching about halfway through the second season, caught a few more episodes after that. The acting was truly awful and they removed the original guy playing the captain because of that. I generally figure that if all the actors are awful it's the directors fault not the actors, but it's tough to tell on this one. Had this been a Star Trek franchise as originally pitched it would have gotten a lot more support and as I watched it that's what ran through the back of my mind the whole time.

I personally think that the entire Star Trek universe is hokey as hell, kind of Disneyland Science Fiction with particular emphasis on the Small World ride. But they manage to lay reasonable production values on top of it. B5 always struck me as being the opposite.
Last edit: 11 Sep 2019 09:32 by Sagrilarus.

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11 Sep 2019 16:40 #301647 by Michael Barnes
I don’t care if it is somehow a shady ripoff of B5- DS9 as a whole is vastly superior. B5 manages to get to good through force of will. DS9 was frequently great.

Yeah, the acting. Man. Garibaldi, Marcus Cole, Talia, Lyta...like, sub-community theater level performances and really bad writing for them. When you are getting blown out of the water by Bill Mumy, who isn’t any good...

Five years later BSG came along and really made B5 look especially dated and bad. Which wasn’t fair, really, but it did highlight the lamer, sillier elements of It.
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11 Sep 2019 17:23 #301649 by Shellhead
I get what you guys are saying about the Babylon 5 captain on season one not being a good actor, but he is way better than Claudia Christian. She looks good, but delivers her lines with all the emotion of a block of wood.
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12 Sep 2019 11:14 - 12 Sep 2019 11:14 #301654 by ubarose
The true Lovecraftian genius of it is that you all have blocked the worst horror out of your minds:



"Ranger "Marcus Cole aka "Space Aragorn"
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Last edit: 12 Sep 2019 11:14 by ubarose.
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12 Sep 2019 11:22 #301656 by Gary Sax
He got his own spinoff show if memory serves!

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12 Sep 2019 12:03 #301657 by Michael Barnes
One of the worst moments in television is when he sings that fucking “Modern Major General” song.
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12 Sep 2019 12:27 #301659 by Gregarius
Despite my fondness for B5, I don't deny any of the criticisms you guys are lobbing at it (well, except maybe the writing). Several of the performances are wincingly terrible.

What bothers me more are the shows you guys are using for comparison. Yeah, it's nowhere near the level of DS9 or BSG. But those guys had budgets and known properties. B5 was more akin to Hercules or Xena. Or if you want to stick to sci-fi, Andromeda or Cleopatra 2525.
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12 Sep 2019 13:05 #301662 by ubarose
I love B5. At the time it was really exciting and ground breaking.

Plus, the number and variety of female characters was unprecedented for a sci-fi series. They actually had an episode that fails the reverse Bechdel test.
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12 Sep 2019 13:17 #301664 by hotseatgames
I finally got around to revisiting VEEP on HBO. I fell off in season 2 for some reason. This show is hilarious and I'm loving it.

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12 Sep 2019 15:58 #301665 by Jackwraith
Veep was the best comedy on TV, while it was running; writing, acting, directing. Just crushed it.

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12 Sep 2019 18:39 #301670 by trif
I watch Veep in my lunch times - up to season 5, I think. It's now got some of my favourite comic actors in it and is still wonderfully tightly written -though it has been leaning on the cringe comedy button in recent episodes.

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