B5 Alive: Babylon 5 From Across The Web

As some of you may know I have taken up a continuing mission to revive general interest in the science fiction series Babylon 5.  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about this epic political space opera and I felt that it was time that I share some of the B5 resources that I’ve been enjoying as of late.  To my delight I’ve found that there are quite a few active fan sites out among the interwebs and with the recent inclusion of the entire series on Netflix, interest seems to be at a renewed peak.

So without further ado here are a few links that any Babylon 5 fan should make themselves familiar with! (click the bold titles for the links!)

The Babylon Project

The Babylon Project is the definitive Babylon 5 wiki and a good starting point for new B5 fans who are curious to learn more, and it is a nice resource for old school Babylonians who want to delve deeper into some of their favorite episodes, characters, and behind the scenes information.  I will warn the newcomers though, to be weary of spoilers.  Don’t read too far ahead or you may find yourself discovering too much about the eventual fates of some of the characters.  With the shows continual story arc, and nearly every episode containing some snippet of important information that will come up again down the road it can be difficult to avoid spoilers.  I would suggest watching the show and occasionally checking out the articles about individual episodes you’ve seen in order to help flesh out more of the story and perhaps explain things that may have been confusing.  It’s also a good way to learn about the cast, especially the recurring troupe of actors who portray the various bit parts and Non-Aligned alien ambassadors.  I’m actually an editor now of this wiki, look me up I’m NarcN’Grath.

The Babylon 5 Facebook Project

How do I go about explaining what the Babylon 5 Facebook Project is?  Well, I don’t really know.  From what I understand it is a small group of Babylon 5 fans who have congregated on Facebook and created and run various pages for the main cast of characters from the show.  What it boils down to is that these folks role play back and forth recreating various moments from the show in status form on Facebook.  They also interact with anyone who “likes” them and writes on their page.  The banter between the characters can be pretty amusing and reading some of the responses they come up with to fan questions would make J. Michael Straczynski himself second guess whether or not he wrote the words.  Also on Facebook is my Commander Sinclair page, seen HERE, because frankly I think Sinclair doesn’t get enough respect.  Although, Commander Sinclair is not officially part of the Babylon 5 Facebook Project since they’ve “moved on” to seasons two and three.  I digress however.  The best part of the B5FBP is their main page (to which the above link leads) where many of the characters congregate and the various contributors and fans post links to various geeky B5 media and information.  If you’re on Facebook and a Babylon 5 fan, it’s worth taking a look.

The Babylon 5 CCG Group

Ok this one is a little more specific.  Are you a Babylon 5 fan?  Do you like collectible card games?  Were you a former player of the Babylon 5 CCG?  Well then this page is definitely for you!  Also on Facebook, this is an open group page that has really taken off as of late and has revived interest in the game (at least among the group members.)  There is regular activity, rules discussions, deck building suggestions, and networking to find other local players.  All of that AND there are several of the games original designers involved in the group as well such as Kevin Tewart.  There are also links to fan made sets and cards that have been painstakingly worked on to recreate the mechanics and look of the original design.  If you played the game in the past or might be thinking of taking it up this group is full of helpful players and resources that can help you get back into it.

Babylon 5 News (@B5News)

I didn’t really get the point of Twitter at first.  I still don’t think it’s all that useful unless you have something worthwhile to promote or discuss.  However I did have an epiphany recently that dealt with B5 News on Twitter.  My Twitter posts are generally just me promoting these blog posts (follow me! @PeculiarWits) or making casual observations.  But I made one post asking if a particular set of Babylon 5 bobblehead figures were ever available for sale.  In that post I mentioned @B5News, which I follow, thinking that if anyone would know about such a thing it would be them.  Well my Tweet was Re-Tweeted by B5 News to all of their followers asking if anyone might know the answer.  Well the answer was no, the figures were just a fan made one and done art project and they were never mass produced.  The epiphany came however when actress Patricia Tallman of B5 fame mentioned me in particular in one of her Tweets after she saw the B5News Tweet.  The point of Twitter, I suppose, is that it is a much more intimate and condensed sharing of information compared to other social media like Facebook.  “Following” people on Twitter is a symbiotic relationship where if you don’t have anyone following you there’s really no point in being on Twitter and when you follow others you are also connected to the things that they follow and the bits of information that they re-tweet.  Anyway, enough about that!  Although there is obviously not amazing daily tweets about Babylon 5 on Twitter these days, when there is any kind of B5 news it will show up on your feed and many of the big names who were involved in the show contribute to and follow B5 News so it’s worth the follow right there.

Fuck Yeah Babylon 5

Fuck Yeah Babylon 5 is a Tumbler blog that can best be described simply as a collection of awesome.  If you are a Babylon 5 fan of any degree you really should be familiar with this.  Internet memes, fan art, outtakes, behind the scenes images, rare media, obscure crew blogs, and tons of other Babylon 5 stuff.  Fuck Yeah Babylon 5 is a masterpiece of geek culture.  The best part is that the blog is broken down even further into pages for various characters from the show filled with specific content for those characters, such as Fuck Yeah Londo Mollari, Fuck Yeah Citizen G’Kar, Fuck Yeah Delenn, and several others.  There’s really not much more I can say about it, it’s just one of those things you have to go and explore for yourself.  I will however leave you with a few of my favorite things I’ve found from their site!  Enjoy.

That is all!

Babylon 5 NOT Returning According To JMS

Whomp, whomp.

Yeah so after the cryptic messages from Straczynski at comic con, followed by the loose lips of Walter Koenig at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convetion, there were high hopes for some kind of return to the Babylon 5 universe.  I personally have been following this story with great interest if you saw my post a few weeks back here.  That, however, is not the case according to show creator J. Michael Straczynski, as he has firmly shot down such talk in recent news.

Claiming that Koenig misspoke and that there are no plans for more B5 in the future.  There has been some amusing outrage across the net directed at the actor for falsely getting B5 fan’s hopes up.  A John Sheridan fan page on Facebook had the status of “Bester, you motherfucker.”  And there have been other sites jokingly comparing the mix up of information to a deep rooted conspiracy similar to something orchestrated by the psi-corps.

I can’t really blame Koenig however, he’s always been a major supporter of the show and was clearly just eager to see another B5 project as well.  I was actually hesitant to post this newest development in hopes that there might be some clarification or reconciliation between JMS’ rebuff of Walter Koenig and his own comments at San Diego.  Alas there has been no further word.  It seems odd though, there apparently was something going on, can we just assume that negotiations went south with Warner Bros. execs?  Or was there perhaps simply some miscommunication and there were in fact never any plans for more adventures in the B5 universe?

One additional bit of information I find interesting is that very recently all of Babylon 5 was taken down from Netflix streaming, which a friend of mine pointed out could indicate that they are planning for some type of new release.  This could mean that the show might be seeing a blu-ray re-release soon.  Perhaps ol’ Walter Koenig was being tapped for a few recording sessions to do some commentary for some of his crucial episodes?

Who the hell knows?  I still hold out some hope however, despite Joe Straczynski’s recent denials, because there’s just too much potential story telling there to simply leave Babylon 5 on the shelf somewhere.

That is all!

UPDATED! Possible New Series For Babylon 5?

I was checking my email yesterday and was sorting through some of my Google Alerts that I’ve let back up for too long.  One of my regular alerts is for Babylon 5, so I can try and stay on top of any new developments or commentary about the show.  Well the first B5 alert I checked contained a link that had both bits of information for me.  The link lead me over to this IGN story from Comic-Con.  There isn’t really much there to go on, but the coverage talks about a panel at the con featuring Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski discussing his previous work on the show, and an enigmatic mention of a new Babylon 5 series that may be in the works.  Warner Bros. apparently seemed to be looking to launch a new network (?) and were thinking about having a Babylon 5 spin-off as part of its lineup.  That scenario has changed however but from what it sounds like ol’ Joe Straczynski seems to think that there is still hope for this new Babylon 5 show seeing the light of day via some other channel through Warners.  One of the most interesting things mentioned in the article is that the deal Straczynski made would have given the show a much bigger budget than its previous incarnations and would have granted the creator full creative control over this new series.

Babylon 5 creator and writer J. Michael Straczynski

If even half of this Babylon 5 discussion turns out to be true I will be extremely excited.

If you are reading this and are a fan of the original B5 series you should help garner some interest for this new project by making your opinion known.  If you haven’t already, go over to the official Babylon 5 Facebook Page and hit them with a “like.”  Make sure to comment on their posts and bring up your enjoyment of the show and a desire for a new series!  It might not be a grand gesture but if there is enough activity on the page and if there is an influx of fans making comments, someone is bound to take notice.  Also get over to whatever geek and sci-fi message boards or forums you happen to post on regularly and bring up this idea of a new Babylon 5 series.  Rejuvenate the interest of the old fans and maybe pique the curiosity of some new ones.  It’s all part of my continuing mission to bring Babylon 5 back to the sci-fi forefront.

The early days of Babylon 5

UPDATE: 9/18/2011

So here’s some new information that has come to my attention recently.  At the recent Las Vegas Star Trek convention, Trek and Babylon 5 regular Walter Koenig revealed that he has had some recent talks with good ol’ JMS about this new Babylon 5 project that is in the works and that although he can’t reveal any solid details about the project at this time, there was apparently discussion that it might be a feature length film.  Whatever it is if Koenig is involved that pretty much blows my previous speculations out of the water (see below).  Clearly this project will be continuing the storyline left off from the original series and might be something along the lines of the story seen in the book Final Reckoning: The Fate of Bester and bring some kind final resolution to the mysterious fate of the regular B5 foil Alfred Bester who Walter Koenig portrayed during the five year story arc of the show.  With this new information there is still the possibility that there could be a new series in the works but now it feels more like another direct to DVD release similar to the last few B5 spin-offs.  Either way I’m excited.  I would of course love to see a new show, but I would also be glad to see any new story from the Babylon 5 universe even if it is just a single B5 movie.  We shall see though, I’m glad that the momentum for this project is still building and that this new development has people talking, eager to see more from J. Michael Straczynzki and the ol’ Babylon 5 gang.  Here is a LINK to the original story as reported by TrekMovie.com.

Now as far as my (now defunct) speculation goes as to what this new series could be about, I personally would love to see a prequel of sorts, perhaps focusing on the Earth/Dilgar war.  That would be a timeline that is just enough removed from the original that you could easily allow for a whole new cast while keeping the overall look of the series familiar to long time fans.  I would of course also love to see a show that picks up where the old shows left off, but sadly many of the best cast members of the series are now gone to us.  I personally wouldn’t want to return to the original timeline without the likes of G’Kar, Dr. Franklin, Zack Allen, or even Zathras.  In order to take the show in a new and interesting direction and to honor the memory of those wonderful actors who made the series what it is, my vote is for a prequel show.  A show that tells the story that leads up to the Babylon 5 station with some new faces and new stories to tell.  But let’s not forget that Babylon 5, like any sci-fi show worth it’s salt, has some time traveling elements.  So even if the new show takes place during the past, there’s still a slight chance we might be able to see some familiar faces one way or another.

Warleader Jha'dur fought against the Earth Alliance during the Earth/Dilgar war and was the last survivor of the Dilgar race.

That is all!

My B5 Mission

So here it is, another Babylon 5 blog post from me.  I’m sure you might be getting sick of hearing me go on and on about this defunct sci-fi franchise and I promise I will try and make this my last B5 post for awhile, but I just have a few more things to say about this series.

As I mentioned before I was overjoyed to hear that all five seasons of Babylon 5 are available to watch on Netflix now.  Unfortunately the show only saw a brief life in reruns due to some sort of distribution rights dispute that effectively shut down syndication of the series.  For years I relied on VHS tapes that I recorded from television with the commercials edited out in order to spread the word on the show.  Even that approach, or showing the series on DVD, requires finding time to meet up and watch all five seasons, episode by episode.  It’s often difficult to find a time when that works for both parties.  You of course can lend out your copies to friends and family, but as I grow older I more and more take the position of “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”  I know I still have movies and games floating around the house that I’ve borrowed from friends years ago, and there’s always a slight pang of displeasure when I am without a lent item for extended periods.

The Babylon 5 station

Now however, thanks to modern technology, all of that is a thing of the past at least when it comes to spreading the word on Babylon 5.  Ironically I myself do not use Netflix, the wife and I are currently crunching numbers in an attempt to save money, and though it isn’t that expensive, it does all add up.  It’s on our list however and I’m sure we will catch up to the rest of the world shortly.  This development though does mean that I can finally conveniently and efficiently urge my friends and anyone else I know with Netflix to watch the show.

I am taking up a personal crusade to prosthelytize Babylon 5.  I really believe there has not been a show to equal its scope and level of storytelling.  I love the franchise and the Babylon 5 universe, and unlike other major sci-fi franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek, Babylon 5 needs a bit of a fanbase boost because it seems to be slipping further and further away from the pop culture spotlight (doubtlessly due to the aforementioned lack of syndication.)  BUT I also do not want to overhype it.  I hate when that happens, when you get all pumped up for something listening to others talk about, and you go in with enormous expectations that can’t be met.  If you have never seen the show I don’t want you to take a look at the first season and think “What the fuck?  He was praising this?”  So here are a few things to keep in mind:

1-The effects, for the most part, are bad.  At the start of season 1, the special effects can be blocky, slow and a bit awkward.  You have to keep in mind though that this was an upstart low budget series.  This isn’t part of a big franchise like Star Trek where they can use the legacy of the show, and established fanbase for larger budgets for graphics and effects.  Like Babylon 5 itself in season 1, the effects department was just getting off the ground and starting from scratch.  Thankfully as time goes on the overall look of the show improves tremendously.

2- The show is dorky.  In case you weren’t aware the show is a sci-fi series which, on occasion, conforms to the stereotypes of the genre and has a few dorky moments.  A couple of bad puns here, an alien penis joke there, you know, those old chestnuts.  Though actually as the series goes on those lighthearted “dorky” moments really help reflect the heavier, darker, and more epically mature moments in later seasons.

The show does have a lot of genuinely funny moments

3- The show is thick with continuity.  Babylon 5 isn’t a show you can pick and choose episodes with, in fact I often compare it to LOST in that respect when talking with people about the show.  Sure you’ll get the idea if you just jump right into season three, but there will be plenty of moments where you find yourself completely out of the loop, asking yourself “Now who the hell is that guy, and why is everyone so pissed?”  Without following the continuity of the show you really lose a great deal in regard to the development of the characters which is crucial to the show, and which I’d say is the best part of Babylon 5.  Which brings me to the good things about Babylon 5.

This show is unlike anything else in television, as far as I’ve seen.  The characters in the show grow and evolve with each episode and through every season.  No character is static, or two dimensional.  They are given quite a bit to deal with on screen and there are a plethora of rich personal histories that are alluded to, and referenced which help flesh out the characters.  When I say “the characters” I don’t mean just the main characters, the stars, the heroes, I mean every character on the show.  The side characters, the recurring characters, the comic relief characters, they all evolve as the show goes on.  You find as you watch Babylon 5 that your opinions of characters drastically shifts, and are often completely turned upside down.  The entire Babylon 5 cast is made up of cast of complex individuals working through their issues during the intrigues and immense storylines of the series.

Aside from the characters, the setting for the show, the B5 universe itself, is also deep and well crafted.  There is a sense of history in the universe that is seen through the characters and the plot.  There are political tensions and feuds between various interstellar governments tracing back through these fictional histories.  There is a strong sense of realism, emotional honesty, mingled in through the high tech unreal world of Babylon 5.  In a way the political tones and issues portrayed in Babylon 5 were ahead of their time, I would go so far as to say that J. Michael Straczynski was the first television writer to capture the feel of the post 9/11 United States, before 9/11.  Which is a huge credit to the political savvy of the show.  Thinking about it now, with its themes of corrupted media, distrust of outside cultures, misuse of military power, government conspiracy, and so much more Babylon 5 is more timely now then when it was originally aired.

My last bit of praise for Babylon 5 simply goes to the writing.  The only word I can think of for the writing is epic.  The best description of the show I’ve read was that Babylon 5 was a novel on television.  That is exactly it.  A novel with a huge story arc, dozens of tangents, and varied and complex themes.  The show changed my expectations of television and of the sci-fi genre.  In a way the show changed how I viewed politics and science, encouraging a better understanding of both.  The best thing I’ve taken away from the show however are dozens of memorable chunks of dialogue.  From sharp tongued one liners to eloquent dramatic soliloquies, Babylon 5 has them all.

The character of Michael Garibaldi is one of the best examples of the series writing

So overall my mission now is to create more Babylon 5 fans out there.  Why am I doing this you might ask.  Because I believe in the show?  Because I respect the creators and actors?  Because I hope to share the series message of realism mixed with hope?  The answer is yes to all of those I suppose, but I believe it is all pretty simple, and much more selfish than that.  I’m looking for more folks to talk about the show with who enjoy it as much as I do.  Perhaps I hope to prove to myself that I have been correct in devoting my fandom to the series.  If others out there like it, then maybe that means I have been right to spend so much time following the adventures of a band of fictional warriors and politicians in space.

Isn’t that why fans of any ilk band together?  Whether it’s TV, movies, sports, don’t we all get together not simply to enjoy the subject of our fandom, but perhaps to reinforce to ourselves that we are not alone?

That is all!

A Couple of my New Favorite Comedians

These past few months I have discovered a couple new comedians, well new to me anyway. Being home as much as I have been recently has given me the chance to explore a media outlet that I am oft to avoid, the television. I of course watch TV but I generally only watch the shows the wife and I record. Outside of those shows I only watch a few minutes at a time while I’m sitting down for breakfast or lunch. I prefer to spend my time doing something, such as playing video games, reading, writing, organizing my magic cards, or putting together a team for my next game of HeroClix. You know, productive activities. However I have recently taken some time to catch up on some shows I have been putting off. Shows that I enjoy, but don’t feel the need to record regularly. Two such shows are Top Gear and the Graham Norton show, both on BBC America, a channel I would watch more of if their daytime schedule didn’t consist entirely of the thrice damned Gordon Ramsey shows. Anyway all that aside, on both Top Gear and Graham Norton I have caught appearances by british comedian Bill Bailey. Bill has acquired my fandom due to his use of music, most often piano, and his general geekiness. Bill Bailey regularly talks about his love of Star Wars and Dr. Who in his act and in various interviews. Some might not like his comedy but I always show some appreciation for fellow sci-fi geeks! The clip I have below doesn’t actually involve his musical aspects, but does showcase his literary nerd side with a funny Chaucer-esque ballad. Also if you get a chance try and catch one of his interviews, he’s a funny dude in his one-on-one conversations.

Another comedian that has caught my eye, and ear, is Reggie Watts. Both of these comedians music in common, and incoroporate it heavily into their acts. Reggie Watts has made a couple of appearances on Conan O’Brien’s new show (which by the way I have not missed an episode of, viva la Conana) and he is fantastic. Both hilarious and musically talented Reggie Watts is just a genius, he’s hard to explain, which is why I also have a clip of him from his most recent Conan appearance. Reggie Watts uses a combination of instruments and recording/DJ equipment . . . things to achieve his complex effects. (I’m no music expert I don’t know what the stuff is called.) Anyway take a look at them both and have a laugh this weekend, and perhaps research them further if you are so inclined!

That is all! (Except watch the below videos, to fully understand what I was talking about above, there, now that is all.)