Something Beginning with “E”

Even more thoughts on Babylon 5 the series, the movies, and Crusade.

Season 5 gave JMS the time to do a lot of things, including doing a long series of wrap-ups of all the character arcs and giving them all farewells. This is technically a good thing, but it’s also a bit of a bad thing since, well, it seems to be dragged out. And I was binging on them, and so don’t know how it would seem if you were watching one episode a week. I suspect it would be worse, but it might be better as you wouldn’t have the impression that this was what they did last week. The last scene made me regret that they didn’t continue it because it showed essentially the replacements for the originals, which might have been interesting.

Lochley wasn’t really served well by Season 5, her prominent role in the movies, and being added to Crusade. While it made sense for her to be in the movies, she didn’t really need to be a prominent character in Crusade and her interactions with Gideon relied on us caring about her from Babylon 5, which since she was only in about half the episodes — at least prominently — wasn’t likely to happen. So adding her took away from other characters that might have been more interesting, especially developing the romance plot that we probably didn’t need in Season 1 of Crusade.

As I commented before, lots of people dislike Season 1 of Babylon 5, but I’d put it up against the first seasons of pretty much any other science fiction show. I can’t think of one that did it better. It’s better than TNG’s and DS9’s, and the less said about the other Star Trek series the better. Firefly might be an example– but is a better comparison to Crusade, and I think they line up fairly well although Firefly probably does win by focusing on the good characters more — and maybe the first season of the modern Doctor Who. I unfortunately can’t say the same about Season 5, which justifies my usual decision to skip it.

I found the movies underwhelming. I think I had seen Thirdspace at some point, but didn’t remember it and fell asleep during it this time, but it didn’t really impress me while I was awake. I had seen “The River of Souls” at some point, but it was only memorable for the fact that Lochley’s image was being used in the holo-brothel and was popular with women and not men. The main problem with it is that it focuses on the Soul Hunters, which aren’t particularly popular, and even those who wanted to learn more about them will be disappointed by how dogmatic the movie makes them, unwilling to accept that they could possibly make a mistake and refusing to look to see if they had based on that belief. There’s a reason the technomage Galen worked out so much better. And “A Call of Arms” was a decent set-up to Crusade but wasn’t that thrilling in and of itself.

Now, Crusade. I binged it all in one day — at least in part of get it out of the day — and I think my main theory stands: Crusade is okay at worst when Galen is in the episode and might rise to the level of okay when it isn’t … and most of the time when it is more than “Meh” it’s because of B5 characters or actors. One reason for this is that Galen is probably the perfect character for a show like this. He can provide humour through arrogant superiority without annoying us that much because, well, he is superior. He can use those superior abilities to get them out of trouble but in the second episode they make it clear that there are both practical and moral reasons that he might not be able to do so at times. If his established abilities would ruin a plot, it’s easy to simply have him go away for a while since it’s established that he does that frequently. He can easily provide exposition but also be able to say that he doesn’t know something. And for all his superiority, he’s also very flawed in a number of ways that make him interesting. Another reason is that his plots tend to tie into the exploring oddities and mysteries plots — as that’s what he’s best suited for — and those are the most interesting plots. And, finally, Peter Woodward does an excellent job with the role.

To be honest, I’d like to see a crossover with him and, well, any of the modern Doctor Whos, since they have similar traits. Eccleston’s Doctor would be interesting since they look fairly alike and both have anger issues, but Galen would puncture Capaldi’s arrogance and find Smith’s childish wonder amusing.

Overall, Crusade is worth watching when I watch Babylon 5, and the three movies listed and Season 5 aren’t. This leads to an obvious conclusion, I think …

One Response to “Something Beginning with “E””

  1. Thoughts on “Rat Patrol” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] but I don’t find it fun enough to schedule in for a week when I could watch things like “Crusade”, “Scream Queens”, and “Space:  Above and Beyond” instead.  I could stick […]

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