’90s

RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “A Voice in the Wilderness” (Season 1, Episode 18 and 19)

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On the one hand, I love two-parters because it means I get to write one review instead of two. On the other hand, regardless of the show, they’re usually rather padded out and it takes me twice as long to watch a story that probably should have only been an hour. This is both those cases

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Legacies” (Season 1, Episode 17)

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You may not be able to judge a book by it’s cover, but it occurs to me that you can judge a Babylon 5 episode by it’s title, at least in the first season anyways. The good episodes have elaborate titles: “Midnight on the Firing Line,” “The Coming of Shadows,” “Signs and Portents,” whereas the ho-hum to lame episodes all have generic one-word titles like “Infection,” “Grail,” “Eyes,” “Survivors,” and “Born to the Purple.”

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Eyes” (Season 1, Episode 16)

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It’s possible that I haven’t watched this episode since it first aired in ‘94. My oldest son says that I did watch it when we last went through the whole series about three years ago, but I have no knowledge of it. I remember the ep, particularly the ending, but overall my memories were pretty squishy, which is unlike me. Maybe I left the room, or fell asleep? I *do* know that this was one of those episodes that I tended to avoid in reruns, much like the Space Hippies episode of TOS. There wasn’t much there to hold my interest.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Grail” (Season 1, Episode 15)

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I’ve generally praised B5 for its willingness to break the “Religion Taboo” in SF, and treat it as an aspect of human psychology and society in its own right, just like love or music, which may not be true, but which doesn’t require justification. Alas, sometimes you go too far, and you…well…read on…

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “TKO” (Season 1, Episode 14)

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So after two-and-a-half great episodes in a row, we’re right back to crap city. A lot of people consider this the worst B5 episode every. They’re wrong. It isn’t even the worst B5 episode we’ve seen thus far in the first season. It is pretty terrible, though, and yet there is one thing to like.

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Garibaldi’s old friend, Walker Smith, visits the station. He’s a washed up prize fighter who got blacklisted, and he hopes that by competing in an alien combat sport - the Mutai - he’ll get enough notoriety to get his career going again. It works. Yawn.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Signs and Portents” (Season 1, Episode 13)

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The second flat-out great episode in a row, and a total barn-burner of a story at that. From this point on the story begins to move faster and with more impetus.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “By any Means Necessary” (Season 1, Episode 12)

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This one is a watershed, kids; B5’s first actual *important,* game-changing episode, though most of us aren’t going to like it

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Survivors” (Season 1, Episode 11)

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My one word review? Maudlin. My longer review? Read on:

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President Santiago (Re-elected in “Midnight on the Firing Line”) is en rout to B5 aboard “Earth Force 1.” (Oooh! Nice!) Meanwhile, there’s an explosion in the Cobra Bays (From whence the fighters are launched). The Presidential Security Team that arrived on the station about the same time investigates and finds evidence of sabotage. Further investigation implicates Garibaldi. Garibaldi runs to try and clear his name, and eventually he does. The president arrives at the station without incident.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Believers” (Season 1, Episode 10)

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Last week I pointed out that B5 was tackling territory already well-traveled by Trek, and yet it did it in a much better fashion. This week does it again, and in a much better fashion still. I’ve long grumbled that TNG refused to take a non-didactic, non-preachy angle on *any* issue, and as such there was little or no drama, little or no risk, no moral ambiguity, and ultimately little-or-no meaning. The show was, as a whole, an exercise in “Luring intellectuals into believing what they already know to be true.” (To quote They Might Be Giants).

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Deathwalker” (Season 1, Episode 9)

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The show is definitely beginning to get some feet under it. I’ve mentioned once or twice that some of these early episodes feel like they would fit better in other series - the Outer Limits, or TNG, or whatever. Well, this episode bears more than a few similarities to the TNG realm of storytelling - a clear-cut moral tale with good guys and bad guys and a strong (If obvious) message about the triumph of good over evil and the perfectibility of humanity.

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