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 Message
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: B5 fans and ST fans.
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 6/23/1994 6:57:00 PM  

Message 1 in thread 

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This is to Ted McCoy...I have to take *factual* issue with your post,
primarily on the grounds that you are comparing 7 years of TNG character
development to 14 episodes of B5 character development. I'd ask you to
put yourself back in episode 14 season 1 of TNG and ask yourself how
much you really knew about the characters. Not much, I'd venture.

To the factual side...you say that the Ivanova scene about her
mother was tossed in once, and then forgotten. Incorrect. It comes up
again and again and again; it's *crucial* to her character. It pops up
slightly in Mind War, bigtime in TKO, even more important in Legacies and
a couple of other episodes this season. (It particularly receives major
play in Legacies.) I think you should see at least one season before
deciding that something is mentioned once and never again.

You say some of the ambassadors are villainous one moment, less so
in another episode. Quite correct. That's varying their characters so
they're not one-dimensional. We all have good days, and bad days. So do
our characters. If things are going well for him, Londo is a happy kind
of fellow, out for a good time. If things aren't...he can be a very
dangerous person. I don't see that as an inconsistency, nor is his
character somehow being "violated" by those different elements being
shown. They are *all* who he is.

As far as the pre-planned story arc, you say the "characters are
set," and thus unlikely to grow. Given that you describe this as a
negative, then you must not like novels, since their arc is preplanned
from page one. The characters in B5 aren't *set* in the sense that this
is it. Each one has his or her personal journey, and story arc, that
they must make, and each one will end up *substantially* different at the
end because of that journey. The Londo you see at the end of five years
is a very, *very* different Londo than the one you see now.

In any event, again, it's more than a little unfair to say, "Well,
we've had more character development in series X, which has been on the
air for seven years, than we've had in 14 episodes of series Y." I would
recommend at least giving it until the end of the first season. You don't
and can't dump characterization out all at once; you have to layer it out
slowly, gradually. That process consumes time.

jms
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: B5 fans and ST fans.
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 6/24/1994 2:46:00 PM  

Message 2 in thread 

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The influence of actors on their characters is *vastly* over-rated
and exaggerated by the media, and by viewers. One of the real problems
of television the last 20 years or so is that actors are sometimes weilding
too much clout, and playing it safe with their characters. Which is why
so much TV is pablum that doesn't push the envelope. Sometimes our
characters *fail* at what they do. In 90% of all TV series, it would be
unheard of for an actor to allow his or her character to fail at something
major, particularly if it's the lead. This isn't good for TV, or for the
viewers. It reduces storytelling to the same-old same-old.

Nor, I believe, is the job of making a show to create characters that
the actors are "comfortable with." The idea should be to push and
challenge your actors to go beyond where they've gone before. This is why
so many good actors who do TV take breaks to do stage plays, where they
have the opportunity to push their skills to the limit...an opportunity
all too often denied in TeeVee.

Very often, the actor moves into a vacuum where nothing has really
been set up for the character. That applies to the case you cite. The
character hadn't really been fleshed out, so the actor began adding to the
role to make up the difference.

The difficulty I have is when the story-arc is described as a problem
because it isn't haphazard or totally episodic as is every other TV series.
This isn't saying, "This is better." What this is, is an experiment. No
one has ever really tried something on this scale for american TV before.
I wouldn't do every series like this. This is a *separate creature* from
standard TV, as will continue to become more apparent the deeper you get
into the show. It is, for lack of a better term, a loosely connected 5
year miniseries.

Point being, no one has ever done something like this before for
american TV. And maybe no one ever will again, depending on how all this
works out. I think that it's worth the trip.

Finally, re: characters not mentioning the "inner turmoil" they had
in episode 3 again in episode 4...for one thing, you can't string it all
too tightly, because in syndication, broadcast order gets shunted around.
The episodes are designed to be viewed all, or in part, in order or out of
order, and still work. Additionally, in TV you only have X-number of
minutes to tell your story; unless element X has some *direct bearing* on
what's happening this episode, you can't just sandwich it in. This applies
to EVERY TV series, not just B5. There has to be a current reason for it,
you can't just drop it in for the hell of it. You're asking for something
that doesn't work dramatically.

jms

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