That makes Babylon 5 21 or 22 then...
I’ve always been strangely fascinated by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary - amazing how time flies, even when you’re not an agent of the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations - it’s the densest and most mythology-rich of all the Star Trek TV shows. Often ambitious and audacious, it won …
The pilot for Babylon 5 aired in February 1993, the series in 1994.
Depending on who you believe, the similarities between the two shows are not a coincidence. Obviously, both shows are set on space stations, but the development of the DS9 plot (where it got darker and more militaristic) does closely follow the development of similar plotlines in B5. Of course, B5 in turn was heavily influenced by ST:TNG.. although sometimes it was in what NOT to do (B5 doesn't feature a "particle of the week", for example).
Both shows suffered from a weak opening series, B5 suffered from a weak-ish ending series because it was always under threat of cancellation, and a lot of the plot from Series 5 was shoe-horned into Series 4 instead. DS9 had less of a problem with that, and the last two series of that are quite awesome.
Foundation Imaging did a lot of the CGI effects for both series, some of the same team went off to do work for Battlestar Galactica too. Big (sometimes REALLY big!) space battles were a feature of all three series. Pure geek porn :)
I was wondering if anyone was going to mention how this "defiantly different" show was actually a rip-off. The article didn't bother, after all.
I did like DS9 when I watched it, but I later watched B5 and it's far superior. The budget may be lower, and the acting on some of the cast is pretty bad, especially early on, but the compelling story arc and character development blows every other sci-fi series I've watched out of the sky.
I really admired the Babylon 5 thing. They managed to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, rather like a novel, and still spawn stand-alone stories. OK, the silly-alien-hairstyle method of speciation must be something they came to regret very quickly, but the characters under those nightmare prostehtics were complex and layerd, and that was unusual in the land of goodies and badies.
I'm glad someone brought up Babylon 5 - the first major genre TV series to extensively use the "Plot Arc" concept, which has since become commonplace and has subsequently considerably improved such TV shows.
ST:TNG is now an almost unwatchable tugid mess. Every week there was yet another technobabble solution to a spatial/temporal/incomprehensible paradox that inevitably required the deflector shield to be reconfigured. This very quickly got very tiresome. DN9 suffered from the same for the first few series until someone in the production office started watching Babylon 5 and suddenly DS9 discovered the Plot Arc!!!
Babylon 5 Ruled! Pity none of the subsequent spin offs rose to the same levels.
It will be a tough job to do better than Peter Jurassik and Andreas Katsulas as Mollari and G'Kar!
I remember watching almost all of TNG on Spike TV (about 8 years ago) and I thought from my memories of DS9 that the early TNG stuff that had too much influence from Roddenberry would be awful, but somehow despite the men in mini-dresses and some awful acting/direction they weren't awful. Ridiculous perhaps, but not something to ridicule.
Likewise Virgin1 (now much missed) used to show Voyager (sadly they mangled the ordering but I'll take what I can get) and again, I remember thinking it would be terrible because it went on too long and DS9 had had such great characters, but individual episodes were nearly always gripping and the overall level of quality kept going up. I even began to notice Jeri Ryan's acting more than her outfits.
Anyway, back to DS9. Sadly the plots over-reached the budget in the later seasons. The dominion war was a fine story, but trying to tell the macro-story of the resistance of Cardassia just showed up how small the sets were. Legate Damar turned into a superb character, but he needed to be because it seemed there were only about 5 Cardassians on the planet. I never quite 'got' the relationship between Worf and Jadzia. Esri's actor was good, but her arrival coincided with what I saw as a slight decline in production values.
I read an interview StarTrek.com did with Michael Dorn and he said he felt the show didn't have the behind the scenes camaraderie of TNG and he decided to change that. Maybe that's why the show didn't seem to have the same mojo before he came along.
The alternate universe was an interesting diversion (and evil Kira was too much for a teenage boy), but I think it was unnecessary. They should have made more of it, with more crossover to the main universe.
DS9's demise was because it LOST the influence of Roddenberry.
In his book "The making of Star Trek", Roddenberry describes how he did not want Star Trek to turn into Space Wars. There was a cold war between The Federation and the Klingon Empire, and for good reason. Roddenberry wrote that once you turn a series into space wars, the only way to secure ratings was to have later episodes feature bigger and bigger wars.
You eventually reach a point where no matter how big the war on the screen, the viewers are now "Ho hum" about the plot. Roddenberry understood this. So did Lucas. Rick Berman didn't. which is why DS9 lost ratings.
Ah, finally! A person who TRULY understands Trek and its history!!
Roddenberry never EVER wanted Star Trek to be about wars. From the intentional choice of making the Enterprise a heavy cruiser - NOT a battleship - to the Neuttal Zone and beyond, Roddenberry was very vocal about why he made all these decisions when he created the series.
Berman and Braga threw that all out...and the rest was history. The eventual end, cancellation, of Star Trek.
People with no Trek background look towards Star Wars motifs as a reflection of what Trek should and could be....which is nothing further from the truth of what Trek was meant to be.
True, but that was a double-edged sword.
Part of why the original series worked was because Roddenberry pushed that angle, while the studio pushed back. When they started Next Gen the studios bowed down to the exalted high priest -- and the episodes were pretty much crap. Without serious conflict drama loses its impact. Yes DS9 took it farther than Roddenberry would have allowed, and yes the franchise suffered for it. But less so than it did with Voyager and Enterprises lack of a timeline editor. I understand why the latest Star Trek movie was required to reboot the series - they boxed themselves into so many corners they needed a clean break. But I still didn't like it, and you're right: I don't trust the new writers to stay true to what the original Star Trek was, Roddenberry's vision tempered by the network moguls.
I started out as a fan during season 1..but then the writing started to fall apart, like they were desperate for new ideas and were just making things up as they went along - either that or the show's writers' 5 year old kids were the one coming up with the premises.
That episode when Delenn was going through some transcendental transformation..the transformation? She grew hair. Probably the most anti-climactic episode of any series I had the misfortune to see. Last episode of B5 I ever watched.
That episode when Delenn was going through some transcendental transformation..the transformation? She grew hair.
What exactly were you expecting a Human/Minbari hybrid to look like? A lizard?
Last episode of B5 I ever watched.
Sooooo....you watched the very first part of season 2? Off the top of my head, you missed:
* The Clark conspiracy
* The return of the Shadows and their influence on the Centauri
* The invasion and later liberation of Narn
* The imposition of martial law
* G'Kar mind-raping Mollari
* B5 breaking away from Earth
* The return of Lyta Alexander
* The entire frigging shadow war!
* The First Ones
* The theft of Babylon 4 and the reveal of Valen
* Sheridan divebombing a ship full of nukes onto a planet!
* The assassination of Emperor Cartagia
* Garibaldi being manipulated by the Psi-corps
* The Mars rebellion
* Psi-corps trying to take over the government
* William Edgars attempting to kill every telepath on Earth
* The breaking of the grey council and the Minbari civil war
* The Earth Alliance civil war
* "Scorched Earth" (fans will get that)
* G'Kar becoming a holy man
* The beginning of the telepath war
* The fall of Centauri Prime
* Llondo ascending the throne
* Babylon 5 getting blown up
And how could I forget:
* Lennir beats the shit out of an entire bar full of people because Llondo was cheating at cards.
Yeah..... I'll grant that Season 1 was the weakest, but running out of ideas? The whole thing was written in advance; that's how Paramount were able to rip it off, after all. Episodes, characters, etc are referenced across seasons, and character arcs span years at a time. I would recommend giving it another shot - you quit right before everything kicks off!
More yes than no, but still both. The story was plotted well in advance. JMS had been thinking about it for years. But the shows themselves were written at the time, edited and adapted as needed. Sometimes it shows, most of the time they pulled it off incredibly well.
JMS also probably did more than anybody else in the industry to meld the web to the broadcast work. Checking his blog was almost as important a part of watching the show as watching the show was. And there was never any question about who was leading whom on story arc. JMS led, DS9 followed. Don't get me wrong, I like many of the DS9 shows and actually started watching it again on Netflix. But I have no doubt that B5 was the far better show, even season 1. Although I do agree Turner really screwed the pooch when they wouldn't fund season 5, and that in some way Sci-Fi screwed it even more when they did fund it after JMS edited 4 & 5 into the final season for Turner.
You missed out. The Earth Civil War had me absolutely captivated, and pretty much made the series for me. The Shadow Wars seemed a little played out, but still somewhat enjoyable. Then with the Centauri return to power via an unholy alliance with the Shadows and Molari's seeming self-sacrifice. The first season was horrid, IMO, and things picked up with the second season. Even under what's been mentioned as a constant threat of cancellation, it was pretty bold and I would have loved to have seen it go further than it did before the decommissioning, and I believe JMS had it in him to go another decade. I have such a deep place in my heart for B5 that I was genuinely saddened to hear of the passing of Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin) and Jeff Conaway (Zack Allan, also Kenickie in "Grease,) both incredible actors playing compelling characters. Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar was another which caught my imagination. And I'll round it off with my never-ending crush on Patricia Tallman (she's STILL a looker at 55!)
Anyway, DS9 came out around the time I was distracted by a number of other offerings in my life, so it found little room in my television repertoire. Having been able to view a number of episodes later in life, I find two things: first that I'm not certain I would have been able to appreciate DS9's real-Earth grittiness at the time, and at the same time I certainly missed out on the ground-floor of an excellent show. I think the little bit I caught of it at the time made me feel as though it was the inferior competitor to B5, but looking back I have to say they both clearly stand apart and strong on their own merits.
A shame you stopped b5 on season 2 - before it got going! 1 and 2 are admittedly slow.
The really impressive stuff in b5 was in series 3 and 4. I loved the fact they had 1 , yes 1 time travel story done properly and told over 4 series - whereas on stng and voyager and ds9 there were temporal fluctuations pretty much every episode.
I never could get my head around series 5 of b5; by then they had lost the plot so still consider the end of series 4 as "the end"...
Agree with you here.
The death of Trek was the minute they canned Voyager and replaced it with Enterprise. Going from "Next Generation" to "Ye Olde Generation" holds little in the way of appeal to me.
I'd be much more interested in them following on from where DS9 and Voyager left off having a new series and introducing interesting new threats, (much like the Dominion and the much neglected Borg Busting species 8472)
Oh and with DS9 being 20 I now feel very old.
Probably a consequence of my teenage years, but whilst I kept up with the few few series of TNG, I was losing interest by the time DS9 and Voyager turned up. Thank you to the article for making the case for DS9.
I liked the visuals of Babylon 5 more, and approved of the way they had life-forms that were neither humanoid or gas clouds, but still I didn't really keep up with it for some reason. Maybe it because of of the cast fell into the 'uncanny valley' of looking like Bruce Willis (similarly, I don't do FireFly because that bloke is just trying too hard to be Han Solo. He isn't. He can't be). I do remember an episode that featured the magicians Penn and Teller, though!
I wouldn't engage with a Sci-Fi TV show again until Battlestar Gallactica, whose submarine movie-like visual style answered my unease with the clean, well-lit look of TNG. Even on some alien ship, TNG actors were too well lit.
I wouldn't mind watching a series that looked like The Fifth Element, a colourful sprawling mass of humanity, mutants and aliens, akin to Megacity One in 2000AD. Dredd might not make it back for a second movie, but there is a possibility he will return for a TV series, though I can't see them having the budget to do MegaCity One with proper anarchic abandon.
I watched both and I was struck by how DS9 changed its story tack by massively expanding on the Dominion as the series story arc interwoven with "normal" episodes, much the same as Babylon 5 had done from the start with the Shadows / Vorlon story arc.
Agree that DS9 was much less shiny than TNG but that made it good viewing (to me). I really enjoyed DS9.
Whereas the story arc in Enterprise just didn't work at all - they went too far the other way and didn't have enough "non-arc" episodes, especially in Season 2 - man that dragged on and on.
It's more than just "influence". JMS had pitched his idea to Paramount, and provided them with his "series bible".
DS9 was announced AFTER B5, but did come out a few weeks before, but the role of Sisko mirrors Sheridan (it would have mirrored Sinclair if Michael O'Hear hadn't left), you have not only plot and characterisation "similarities" but even character names (Shakaar/G'Kar, Lyta/Leeta)
Off topic, I know, but....
I much preferred Michael O'Hare as the commanding officer of B5. With Sinclair being the re-incarnation of Valen, and being involved with a part human Delenn (as would probably have been the case), it would have led to an interesting dynamic. Having 'The Scarecrow' dropped in at the beginning of Series 2, even if he was introduced as the 'Starkiller', lost some of the world-weary ordinariness (quite remarkable for a SF series set in the future) that Series 1 had.
Series 1 did not really start the main story arc, (although throughout there were plenty of forward references that only became important later on, such as B2), it set the back-story for the way Babylon5 operated that was necessary in the later stories. None of the ST franchises managed to achieve the same level of detail, although DS9 probably came closest.
I really would like to have seen how Series 4 would have turned out if JMS had not had to shoehorn in the Shadow Wars conclusion and compress the Earth liberation storyline into the same series. The Telepath Wars storyline for Series 5 was too weak (especially after seeing what happened in 'Endgame' in Series 4), and the loss of Commander Ivanova and Marcus, together with the changed role for Michael Garibaldi meant that there was too little continuation in the last series.
I must admit that I was a bit tearful the first time I saw the final episode "Sleeping in Light", especially seeing B5 finally destroyed, and again when doing a frame-by-frame on the easter-egg cast and crew video at the end of the closing credits. Makes me a bit of a sad geek really.
One last question. Whatever happened to Lennier (I know, I've read what the Lurkers Guide and Wikipedia has to say) but I'm sure there is an interesting story in there somewhere.
Not off topic at all.
The two are inextricably linked in time and network infighting and their influences on each other. B5 was kicking DS9's ass, and Majel Barrett didn't like it. One particular instance of this is DS9 grabbing an actor JMS had signed on for a couple of parts in two seasons. As a result, JMS decided to kill the character (Sheridan's conspiracy contact) off screen and bring in a replacement. DS9 did adopt the story arcs JMS pioneered in tv. (Weird part is, JMS didn't really think of it as pioneering, because his source material for the show draws most heavily on Greek and Roman mythology. It's even one of the things he commented on in his blogs at the time, noting he sought out a new translation of either the Iliad or the Odyssey in his teen years. He couldn't understand why people weren't using staggered arcs across a series instead of only within an episode.) And JMS said some nice things about DS9 and probably even consulted with them on some things. He certainly turned the tenor of the series to the more upbeat than the foreboding one season 1 had. (Personally I loved season 1 and it took me a while to warm up to the new guy.)
B5 was far more heavily influenced by LOTR than DS9 by B5, so JMS really can't be too churlish about any filching B5 wouldn't have existed without Tolkein.
Both were excellent series, and just as I'd like to see DS9 revisited on the screen, I'd love to JMS given the chance to reboot B5 - especially as his writing has improved massively since then. You could always tell the entire plot of a JMS B5 ep before the titles rolled, 'Passing through Gethsemane' being a particularly egregious example.
His impressive loyalty to the diminishing cast will likely foil that reboot ever happening however :(
B5 was far more heavily influenced by LOTR than DS9 by B5
I'm sure that's been commented on elsewhere, but I honestly don't see it. OK, other races teaming up against the Big Bad, but beyond that, the themes are quite different. Even the Big Bad in B5 is actually just a different philosophy.
You could always tell the entire plot of a JMS B5 ep before the titles rolled, 'Passing through Gethsemane' being a particularly egregious example.
Was "Falling Toward Apotheosis" one of his, by any chance? ;-)
I loathed DS9 when it first came out, as the whole "immobile spacestation" concept struck me as very much not Star Trek. The first series was a bit ropey (Dr. Bashir was just unlikable (probably suffering in comparison to the fantastic Garak!), and watching Avery Brooks chew up the scenery was at once hilarious and tragic) but, once it hit it's stride, it really was an excellent show. Shame I never saw the conclusion (think I stopped watching after it was alleged that Gowron had been replaced by a shapeshifter*), but I think it really was the equal of TNG, afterall (unlike Voyager, which was pants, and we can all pretend that Enterprise never happened).
*nothing wrong with the storyline but, as I was 15 when it started, I assume that I must have moved on to other pursuits by this point!
Andrew Robinson (Scorpio from Dirty Harry) has a daughter who featured in a pretty turgid episode where Jake ends up witnessing some accident on the Defiant where his father disappears before his eyes, and lives his entire life missing his father just that bit too much.
She was a right hottie! Oh and I suppose she acted in it pretty well too...
Having grown up with Star Trek (I remember watching the first runs of the original series in the UK), and having been massively influenced by it and TNG, DS9 is far and away my favourite. It was the first ST series to acknowledge that there are lasting consequences to what has happened previously - something that had started to grate with the episodic format of TNG, where noone ever seemed to learn anything, or relate back to what had happened in previous episodes.
Also, the cast were one of the finest put together for a sci-fi series to that point (Babylon 5 running a close second, especially once the hugely wooden Michael O'Hare had been replaced by Bruce Boxleitner).
Some DS9 was great, classic ST. For me there were too many plodding Kira/Prophets/Kai Winn episodes and far too many 'hilarious' Ferengi scripts with the Grand Nagus and (argh!) Quark's mother. What nearly killed it for me though was all the 'Vic Fontaine' stuff on the holodeck. Always loved Voyager personally...feel free to call me a heretic, say my mother had a smooth forehead, etc.
DS9 was a top Sci-Fi, started off feeling like it's not really the trek that I loved at the beginning, but got me thru Uni. in the end!
Yep, agreed. Vic was a holodeck character with too great a part in the last few seasons, but it went utterly ridiculous when he turned up in flesh and blood in the alternate universe! The writers needed shooting for that one.
Vedek/Kai Winn totally pissed me off because of her incessant corrupt power-hungry twisting nature, with her whiney little voice, it made me feel ill inside.
On forethough I suppose the actress pulled it off pretty well then to piss me off so much!
Aside from that, and the somewhat annoying squeaky Ferengi voices of the Grand Nagis, the dumb put on voice of Quarks brother, that and all the Ferengi heavy episodes, DS9 was fantastic.
Voyager sucked in relation to DS9, it started off pretty well, with a well constructed initial series, I loved the pilot two-parter, but then seemed to suffer a bit from the Y2K transition in TV drama in general.
Okay, it may have lifted shedloads from Bab5, but, compared to the preceding two Treks, the scriptwriters had far greater freedoms to explore the darker aspects of characters, and to allow conflicts amongst the core characters, which made it far more watchable for me.
Brooks made Sisko a far more believable /military/ commander than either Kirk or Picard - which suited the scenario nicely - his oft-repeated comment "I do not believe that I invited discussion on this issue" always reminds me of the officers in my cadet corps.
20 years - my word. It's the only US series I've managed to watch from start to finish - I normally get bored around season 5.
Absolute Rubbish. The single greatest episode of Star Trek ever is "The Void," Voyager 7x15. It defines the "why" behind the Federation, and explains the underlying ethics that came to mean so much to trekkies everywhere.
In The Pale Moonlight is a great example of cynicism and "the need of the many." The Void reminds us that some principles are worth sacrificing everything for. It is for this reason that I prefer Star Trek to Babylon 5 and other such "dark" shows. Even DS9 – dark and gritty by Trek standards – maintained the core values and ethics of the Federation. Call me a dreamer if you must, but I believe in those ideals. "The Void" is, to me, an illustration of why.
John Michael Straczynski (JMS) who created B5 actually pitched the idea to Paramount. Key ingredients like a politically neutral Space Station with a wormhole/jumpgate were pitched in detail as well as plotlines and arcs.
Paramount politely declined and then shortly after DS9 appeared.
JMS confirmed at the time that this happened and that the similarities were in no way co-incidental.
While we're on the subject of B5.. one peculiar thing is that so many of the actors who played major characters are now dead. Michael O'Hare (Jeffrey Sinclair) died in 2012, Richard Biggs (Dr Stephen Franklin) in 2004, Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar) in 2006 and Jeff Conaway (Zack Allan) in 2011. You could make a pretty decent episode with that lot.. perhaps someone is planning something.
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