Babylon 5 vs Star Trek

Discussion in 'Babylon 5' started by Brian Turner, Jan 7, 2006.

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    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Watched an episode from Season 1 of Babylon 5 last night: Believers

    The blurb was simple - Doctor Franklin is faced with a patient who will die if not treated - but the treatment is refused by the parents on religious grounds.

    Easy to see that such a basic plot set-up could end up nothing better than bash Jehovah's Witnesses.

    The great thing about Babylon 5 is that it refused to treat such a storyline in such a contemptuously simple manner.

    Instead, we are presented the extremes of science and faith, and shown that both are valid viewpoints to hold - and that to choose one or another is a matter of personal preference.

    As Sinclair points out to Doctor Franklin, though he disagrees with the decision, faith gives life meaning, and to take that away makes for a hollow cure.

    The characters play out their motives, it's obvious that either viewpoint will lead to tragedy.

    To me, the way the story played out shows why Babylon 5 was such a great series (when it was great, at least): the fact that they wouldn't smother the viewer with American idealism (as Star Trek evangelises), but instead allows complex subjects to be treated as complex subjects.

    There's real care to keep characters real and have them push stories, rather than have characters as slaves to a plotline.

    Babylon 5 touches a lot of deep issues that Star Trek cannot begin to deal with - Babylon 5 is space for grown-ups, after they've grown out of Star Trek.

    2 wicked c. :)
     
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    Cyril

    Cyril New Member

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    The main force of B5 is its plot running through the seasons and the fact that a lot of its characters are not simply good or bad, they have motivations dictating their choices. And these motivations ar not as simple as "I want to conquer the world" or "I want to save innocents" but they are far more complex and ambiguous.

    On the contrary, I find Star Trek too manichean and despite very good episodes, Star Trek series never impassioned me like B5 did.
     
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    Paradox 99

    Paradox 99 KenDodd'sDad'sDog'sDead

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    I suppose it depends on the writers. Pretty much all of B5 was written by MJS and he's a talented, thoughtful guy.
    There were episodes of StarTrek that dealt with philosophical issues quite maturely (such as The Measure of a Man), but they were few and far between.
    B5 handled character development with a skill rarely seen IMO. Combined with a strong story arc, the show was very impressive - my favourite of all Sci-Fi.
     
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    edott

    edott The Lion of Baton Rouge

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    the problem with star trek writing is it was done by committee, i kid you not and there was no consistentcy from episode to episode. but for some reason i still liked it. maybe i need an intervention.
     
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    Whitestar

    Whitestar New Member

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    Well said, I, Brian! I agree. [​IMG] Trek as well as Star Wars, Stargate, and the original 1978 Battlestar Galatica series are essentially the Barney the Purple Dinosaur of sci-fi/fantasy. Or to put it another way, they're the popcorn of sci-fi/fantasy. I simply loathe those humanoid aliens, those lame pure energy beings and the worse offense: the countless deus ex machinas! [​IMG] While they're fine as an introduction to the sci-fi genre, and they're sufficiently entertaining in a rudimentary way, they're still a kid's show. If you graduated college and you're still really really into it, then there's something wrong, just the same as if you've graduated college and you still really like Barney. That's not to say there's anything inherently wrong with the aforementioned shows, it's just that eventually you need to move on from the popcorn to more sophisticated food, shows like Babylon 5, neo-Battlestar Galatica, The Original Twlight Zone, The Outer Limits (both old and new version), Blake's 7, Farscape, The Planet of the Apes tv series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker (original version), V: The original mini-series, Alien Nation: The tv series, and Firefly/Serenity to name a few. [​IMG]


    Whitestar





     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2006
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    Clouddragon

    Clouddragon Clouddragon

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    JMS writes multi-dimensional characters, they are not perfect beings, they have all the failings and strengths of everyday people.

    All his characters are capable of goofing up, and goofing off, he writes with humour and understanding of real people, no matter whether they are 'Human' or 'Alien'.

    clouddragon
     
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    Paradox 99

    Paradox 99 KenDodd'sDad'sDog'sDead

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    Characterisation was a real strong point for this show.
    The gradual transformation of G'Kar and Londo was fantastic to watch.
     
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    lightvsdarkness

    lightvsdarkness New Member

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    Did Londo truly changed? I do not sure... maybe he was always such a man.

    Babylon 5 has a plot. And Star Trek does not. They are almost incomparable. Star Trek can be better only than such stories - "Brave and smart humans will save Universe in dangerous adventure!"
     
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    Ahdkaw

    Ahdkaw Bopper

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    That's great that. :)

    The episode Believers was written by my favourite author of all time, David Gerrold. You know, the guy who wrote The Trouble With Tribbles. As well as the War Against The Chtorr (where oh where can the fifth book be?)
     
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    mikeo

    mikeo now with Dentyne!

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    Great show, B5 - it was everything Deep Space Nine wanted to be and more.
     
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    SteveR

    SteveR frell!

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    Well late to this thread but I just wnated to add:

    ST was entertainment.
    B5 was a story.

    (although DS9 showed promise in the later stages).

    B5 is probably one of the best TV Sci-Fi shows ever made. It was the first to have a really strong plot line that was years long. It was the first that didn't treat the audience like they were 6 and it was the first to deliver some damn fine action/sfx sequences with dramatic music and skill.

    Some of the newer shows (Farscape/Firefly) are probably as good - but for different reasons. In my book B5 is *the* definitive space opera for grown us!

    I am not sure Londo changed either (following up an earlier post) but to see his convictions get twisted around trying to do what he thought was the best thing to end in disaster was some pretty neat story telling.

    Anyways, take care!

    SteveR
     
  12.  
    Ehkzu

    Ehkzu Context Disambiguates

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    Since B5 is exactly as American in origin and character as Star Trek, you should have coupled this admittedly accurate observation with the fact that B5 exemplifies American idealism when it's grounded in messy reality. After all, B5 is, ultimately, optimistic. But it's believable optimism instead of the glassy-eyed see-no-evil optimism of Star Dreck.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
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    Melanie Nilles

    Melanie Nilles SFF Writer

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    I'd like to point out something on the DS9 thought. I'd heard way back then that originally JMS took his idea for B5 to the studio that later did DS9. If I remember right, they basically took his idea for a story aboard a space station and turned it into ST, so they were trying to imitate his idea. Now, a ST fan may point out that this is false, but I can't defend it because I no longer remember the source of that information and don't feel like taking the time to search for it.

    Anyone else remember hearing/reading that?
     
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    manephelien

    manephelien Transmural Feline

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    Yep, JMS tried to take B5 to Paramount, which turned it down and produced DS9 instead. However, thanks to a much bigger budget, Paramount got DS9 on the air before WB got B5. That said, I think DS9 is the best of the Treks, because it's the least episodic and has the most plot.
     
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    Melanie Nilles

    Melanie Nilles SFF Writer

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    Gee. I wonder why it had the most plot :p
     
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    Lith

    Lith Oops

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    I've heard that before too. And I agree that DS9 was a cut above the other ST's.

    The issues brought up in the original ST are a little more nuanced than in the later series, but overall Star Trek works with a cast of characters that tries so hard to be an improved humanity that it rings a little hollow, rather less human than more. Too many characters are too often reasonable, and it's the aliens that need help, but there's a lack of idealistic difference between them, or even ongoing arguments from differing temperaments among the crewmembers, that wouldn't be affected by its episodic nature.

    Star Trek gives us a crew that plays flute and listens to opera in its spare time; Babylon 5 gives us a crew that idolizes Daffy Duck and argues about the proper nature of Spoo in its spare time.

    I also love the respect with which JMS handled a multitude of issues, especially regarding religion- he never sinks into letting any of his characters be mere caricactures.
     
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    Rodders

    Rodders |-O-| (-O-) |-O-|

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    I love B5. My missus preferred DS9.

    It's a good job we weren't seeing each other at the time as she'd have got a punch in the face.
     
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    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    I regarded both shows highly, B5 was extremely well written but sets and special effects were 3rd rate at best. While DS 9 often thrilled me with their scenes in space and space craft, as the show went on these actually got worse. A good example of that would be that imbecilic episode which tried to tie to Rosewell. UGLY!!!
     
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    Rodders

    Rodders |-O-| (-O-) |-O-|

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    I preferred Babylon 5 TV series, just as i prefer Star Wars films, but i still really enjoyed all of the Star Treks and regard them quite highly (well, up to DS9 anyway).

    I've never understood the whole appeal of the This is better than that argument. Surely two things can be great. (I just prefer one over the other.)
     
  20.  
    The_African

    The_African New Member

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    I don't think I can get through the first episode. Does it get better?
     

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