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    Farscape or Babylon 5?

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    Nathan James Norman
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    Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  Nathan James Norman on April 21st 2014, 10:01 am

    Paeter's Farscape Schwarma segment is awesome! I don't think I'll have time to watch the series again, but I'll probably be listening to the segments at the end!

    It really is a great series.

    But a point of clarification.

    Farscape did not pioneer science fiction story-arcing. It was certainly on the edge of the frontier. But it wasn't the first that had an intentional overarching story-line. It was Babylon 5.

    The pilot for B5 aired in 1993. The series ran from 1994-1999.

    Now, season one was a bit episodic at times. But at least 1/3 of the episodes (including the pilot) set-up events that played out, and came to bear in later seasons. From season 2 on the story arc unfurled in full force... and by season 3 almost every single episode ran into the next one (while still giving the viewer some satisfaction that at least a part of the story was completed).

    Now... don't get me wrong. Farscape is a great show. But I think it was able to accomplish much of what it did because the television fields had been plowed by B5.

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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  Paeter on April 21st 2014, 12:49 pm

    You're absolutely right. I think I've even said that before elsewhen. Not sure why I totally forgot that while recording for Shawarma. Big knock to my geek-cred, everybody, and apologies to Babylon 5 fans.

    Babylon 5 is still pretty Star Trekky when it comes to the drama/emotions/relationships I think, but a huge debt is owed to it for its long-form storytelling, which outside of soaps may have been the first TV show to do it on that level.

    Thanks, Nathan!


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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  Nathan James Norman on April 21st 2014, 5:01 pm

    Paeter wrote:You're absolutely right. I think I've even said that before elsewhen. Not sure why I totally forgot that while recording for Shawarma. Big knock to my geek-cred, everybody, and apologies to Babylon 5 fans.

    Naah. I don't think anyone would knock your geek cred for loving your show like a... um... fanatical geek!

    Paeter wrote:Babylon 5 is still pretty Star Trekky when it comes to the drama/emotions/relationships I think, but a huge debt is owed to it for its long-form storytelling, which outside of soaps may have been the first TV show to do it on that level.

    What?! No. No. No-no-no-no noooo. How much of B5 have you watched?

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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  Nathan James Norman on April 21st 2014, 5:03 pm

    Oh... and I have to clarify... B5 was the first sci-fi to storyarc on American television.

    Our friends the Brits had been doing it for decades. I'm sure UKSteve can give us some prime (and awesome) examples.

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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  mindspike on April 22nd 2014, 11:27 am

    Hmm, I was going to mention Dr. Who as a benchmark of both long-form storytelling and focused character development... but as you say, it's British.


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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  Paeter on April 22nd 2014, 3:25 pm

    Nathan James Norman wrote:
    Paeter wrote:Babylon 5 is still pretty Star Trekky when it comes to the drama/emotions/relationships I think, but a huge debt is owed to it for its long-form storytelling, which outside of soaps may have been the first TV show to do it on that level.

    What?! No. No. No-no-no-no noooo. How much of B5 have you watched?

    Muscled through the pilot and then saw portions of a handful of episodes over the years. To both clarify and correct myself, I should say that while I saw some evidence of complicated relationships, the acting and directing never fully embraced the emotion and drama.  For example, you'd have a scene where someone is sad or crying, and you know that character is sad or crying, but for whatever reason (the direction, a shortcoming in the acting, etc.), it didn't feel emotionally real. (Similar to the way Deanna Troy got emotional a lot but it still somehow felt superficial.) It's not a knock on the show. Some of that is just the acting style of the day.

    By contrast, people on Farscape are an emotional mess. They're weeping profusely, raging out and trying to kill each other and/or going insane on a nearly weekly basis. And that's just the regular core characters.

    On my "emotio-meter", with Trek on one end and Farscape on the other, B5 does land between them, but it's somewhere on the Star Trek half. On the same meter, Battlestar Galactica is also between the two, but on the Farscape half.


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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  WhiteBoy on April 22nd 2014, 5:03 pm

    I had a friend loan me B5 years ago. He did warn me that you had to "get through" the first season which is pretty cheesy, but necessary for the story. I enjoyed the series a lot. Paeter's passion for Farscape has led me to adding it to my Netflix queue. Maybe I should start watching it now with the swarmi starting up. Smile


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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  tmorrill on April 23rd 2014, 1:56 am

    Paeter wrote:
    Muscled through the pilot and then saw portions of a handful of episodes over the years. To both clarify and correct myself, I should say that while I saw some evidence of complicated relationships, the acting and directing never fully embraced the emotion and drama.  For example, you'd have a scene where someone is sad or crying, and you know that character is sad or crying, but for whatever reason (the direction, a shortcoming in the acting, etc.), it didn't feel emotionally real. (Similar to the way Deanna Troy got emotional a lot but it still somehow felt superficial.) It's not a knock on the show. Some of that is just the acting style of the day.

    You're dead to me. If you are interested though, I'd have no problem letting you borrow my DVDs so you can see the errors of your ways.


    Part of the reason I see the emotional acting in Farscape as an emotional mess (as you put it) is because they are less professional and wear their emotions on their sleeves. Compare that to B5 where the main characters are typically either ambassadors or higher ranking officers.

    The emotion is there, it's just more hidden and when you watch the show in series instead of a few episodes at a time it is a more obvious, and just as moving.

    The character development is just as strong, if not stronger in B5 than it is in Farscape. Compare pilot -Aeryn Sun to the finale, and then compare pilot-G'Kar to his character in the finale.

    That's not a slam on Farscape, it's just me singing the praises of B5.

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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  mindspike on April 23rd 2014, 1:02 pm

    tmorrill wrote:Part of the reason I see the emotional acting in Farscape as an emotional mess (as you put it) is because they are less professional and wear their emotions on their sleeves. Compare that to B5 where the main characters are typically either ambassadors or higher ranking officers.

    The emotion is there, it's just more hidden and when you watch the show in series instead of a few episodes at a time it is a more obvious, and just as moving.

    That was always one my favorite parts of B5, the fact that it was crewed by professionals who took a professional approach to the job. Star Trek started out much the same way, but it became progressively less disciplined with every incarnation of the franchise.

    On the other hand, the Farscape approach works well enough in its own situation. Farscape is not a military series, and the "crew" are little more than pirates and castaways. It owes more to Lost in Space than it does to Star Trek. The SyFy version of Battlestar Galactica tried to do the same thing and it was a hot mess, an immediate and irreversible disconnect for me.

    I think both Farscape and Babylon 5 are good television, but they are intended for radically different audiences.


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    Nathan James Norman
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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  Nathan James Norman on April 23rd 2014, 2:59 pm

    mindspike wrote:

    I think both Farscape and Babylon 5 are good television, but they are intended for radically different audiences.

    Great observation Winston!

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    Re: FarScape vs B5

    Post  orvette1 on April 27th 2014, 2:36 am

    I didn't like the first season of B5. After they changed to Bruce Boxlightner I though things were much better. I watched 2 1/2 seasons of FarScape. I got tired of it. The crew didn't have a leader, it has been proven that you must have someone in charge. Look at the Occupy Movement. They were forever fighting each other, and you can't have that. When you don't trust the people you are with you will all die, I learned that in the Marines. With B5 they had a story line kept building on itself. You also had personal problems with the crew, such as when the doctor was hooked on stim's. FarScape just didn't hold my interest because many of the things they did would not allow them to survive in the real world, and to me that is what scifi should do, sort of mirror the real world.

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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  Paeter on April 28th 2014, 10:17 am

    orvette1 wrote:I didn't like the first season of B5.  After they changed to Bruce Boxlightner I though things were much better.  I watched 2 1/2 seasons of FarScape.  I got tired of it.  The crew didn't have a leader, it has been proven that you must have someone in charge. Look at the Occupy Movement.  They were forever fighting each other, and you can't have that.  When you don't trust the people you are with you will all die, I learned that in the Marines. With B5 they had a story line kept building on itself.  You also had personal problems with the crew, such as when the doctor was hooked on stim's.  FarScape just didn't hold my interest because many of the things they did would not allow them to survive in the real world, and to me that is what scifi should do, sort of mirror the real world.

    Yeah, Farscape probably isn't for you. I like sci-fi that emotionally reflects some reality, but otherwise goes way outside the box. And as for people fighting and dying when no one is in charge, you're right! And on Farscape, people fight and die! Isn't it great! ;-)


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    Re: Farscape or Babylon 5?

    Post  UKSteve on May 2nd 2014, 10:40 am

    Nathan James Norman wrote:Oh... and I have to clarify... B5 was the first sci-fi to storyarc on American television.

    Our friends the Brits had been doing it for decades. I'm sure UKSteve can give us some prime (and awesome) examples.

    *Enters the discussion rather late*

    Obviously the good Doctor came up already, but.... Blake's 7 was in a similar vein to Doctor Who (and similar production values in the late 70s/early 80s), and in the 70s we had the original versions of things like The Tomorrow People and Survivors that have been remade recently. And, of course, the awesomest example of all from times gone, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

    For what it's worth, I never got into Farscape for whatever reason. Babylon 5, on the other hand, I always loved (admittedly that was partly because back in the early 90s I used an Amiga, which I could happily claim was related to those responsible for B5's visual effects).

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