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    From: J. Michael Straczynski <>
 Subject: CRUSADE
      To: CIS  
    Date: 6/13/1999 9:38:00 AM  

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(21 messages)

{original post unavailable}

"Did you agree with this?"


"I admit, I'm one of the folks who didn't particularly warm to the
footage. It seemed not to fit."

It didn't. Moreover, the order for that stuff came in about two
days before we were supposed to begin shooting, so we had to hurriedly
redesign the set to include the wall monitor, and change other aspects
of the filming, then hurriedly find some footage that would work

"I suppose there were few options."

None. What you have to understand is that we were at this
point, in the writing of this episode, on hiatus...awaiting the okay to
go back into filming. And though it was never said overtly, there was
always the undercurrent of "If TNT doesn't get this one script the way
they want it, they may not give the OK. So give them what they want
just this one time."

I did what I could with what they demanded, and tried to fight
as much as I could. For instance, in one scene, where Gideon tells the
others to meet him in the conference room, the TNT note was, "How does
Gideon know where the conference room is? We should have a scene where
he's shown the conference room."

My reply: "He knows where the conference room is because when
he's escorted to the bridge by Matheson, *HE CAN SEE IT FROM HIS

(It was one of those bang-your-head-against-the-wall moments.)

The overall problem, which many folks don't understand, is that
in a script you have a finite number of minutes and pages. Let's say
42 pages. Now, the script is written the way you want, kinda, with some
nice character moments and stuff. Then they want more exposition. You
can't just append it to the page count, you have to stay at 42 pages.
So you have to cut stuff *out* to make room for the stuff they want put
*in*. The first thing out the door is character, followed quickly by

There was, for instance, a nice clash with the senator and the
intelligence guy over Gideon's background, why he's the wrong person
for the job, why Sheridan picked him specifically for the job...which
had to go in order to put in more exposition (and lengthen the opening
fight scene in the teaser by about a third, another TNT request).

For me, a lot of what makes an episode fun are the character
moments, but there was no longer room for them...they had to go out to
make room for dry expositional stuff or stuff blowing up.

Which is why I picked "The Long Road" as the one to follow in
the broadcast's one big character piece, with a fair amount
of humor, and just fun. A little expository in the second act, but
nothing unreasonable.

Stil, I'm proud of what we did with "War Zone," because it was a
little like someone handing you an inner tube and a tree branch and
telling you to make a radio telescope out of it. It ain't pretty, but
it does the job we had put in front of us.

(One aside...some folks on the net picked up my comments about
War Zone made here earlier and said I was apologizing after the fact
for the episode, once the reactions came in...but the date stamp on the
message, here and on the nets, clearly indicate that I made those
statements BEFORE the episode aired. I know *exactly* where the faults
are in the eps, where they work and where they don't work, and have
always tried to be the first one on record about them because that
seems right to me. This is, after all, about the process of educating
people about how TV works, the decisions that get made and how you deal
with them.)


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