Let me just, against my better wishes, dive in here for just a
moment on this discussion. Especially as it relates to your slam against
the characters and characterizations on B5.
People keep comparing the B5 pilot to either the DS9 pilot or the
TNG pilot, often favorably, sometimes less so, but the reality is that the
B5 pilot had to suffer under a burden shared by neither of those two other
shows: establishing a whole new universe, especially given that the B5
story is more of a political/action piece in which you really have to
understand where everyone's coming from. By the time they got around to
making the TNG pilot, just about everyone knew what a Klingon was, what
the Federation was, what phasers and teleporters were...this was all
established cultural coin. When Jay Leno would make jokes about Klingons
on the Carson show (which it still was back then), he didn't have to
explain it to anyone. There's 25 years of shared history informing the
story. Same in DS9Thus in neither pilot was that much
really or substantially *new* introduced, they didn't have to create the
universe from scratch.
But that was exactly what was necessary for B5; the relationship
between the five various governments is important to understanding the
characters, and the show...as is the recent Earth/Minbari war, which isn't
just backstory, it's something that will grow to play an increasingly
important role in the series as time passes. So there had to be time
spent establishing each of those relationships, the political backstory,
on and on. In addition, we had 9 major characters to introduce along with
the minor players. AND we had to tell a fairly complex story within that
After you allocate tthe history of the B5 universe, for the
establishment of the plot, for the establishment of who our various
players are in relation to one another, you've got -- at MOST -- 3 minutes
left per character out of a 92 minute movie. You can't establish a lot of
character in 3 minutes.
Which is what strikes me as unfair in this conversation. You're
trying to compare 25-30 years of ST in its various incarnations, with its
delivery of characterization over A WEEKLY SERIES to a single introductory
TV movie of 92 minutes.
Plus, the pilot was never meant to be a stand-alone; it was meant to
get all the pieces moving, introduce us, and follow up the very next week
with *character-oriented stories*. That was always the plan. Had I known
that it would be aired by itself, with a long delay until the series, I
would have totally restructured it to make it more of a character story,
and held off on the heavy background stuff until later. And in addition
to THAT, I again point to the 25 minutes of good character stuff that ended
up on the cutting room floor because we were over, some of which has been
shown to people at conventions. Some of them also felt as you do. They
saw the extra footage. And their reaction: "Oh, so THAT'S who that is!"
And their opinions of the characters did a fast turnaround.
So what I'm saying here, fundamentally, is this: let's compare apples
to apples and not apples to oranges. You can't compare B5 to either TNG's
or DS9's pilots, because they operated in pre-existing universes. You
can't compare the level of character you get in a series to a TV movie,
because one is 92 minutes long, the other is 22 hours long times the number
of seasons run.
If you want to compare things, and that's certainly your right, may I
suggest a moratorium on this entire discussion until the series comes on
the air? That will allow you to compare series to series, which seems just
a tad fairer to me. Any seconds?
| This text is compiled from posts by J. Michael Straczynski on the Usenet
| group alt.tv.babylon-5. This document contains material Copyright 1993
| J. Michael Straczynski. He has given permission for his words to be
| redistributed online, as long as they are marked as being copyright JMS.
| This document, as well as other Babylon-5 related material, is available
| by anonymous FTP at ftp.hyperion.com.