Unsung Casualties Of Star Wars

     Oh hello there, welcome back.  I have finally returned with another, if not untimely, post!  I was out of commission there for a few days due to the aforementioned technical difficulties I was having with the ol’ computing machine, and as such I was not able to get this post up for the Memorial Day weekend as I had planned.  Better late than never right?

     Anywho, as you should know by now my all-time favorite movies are the Star Wars films, hell the name of my blog is derived from C-3PO’s dialogue from the movies.  I know the Star Wars saga inside and out, I have particularly great nostalgia for the original trilogy but I also appreciate the prequel trilogy and I certainly don’t offhandedly dismiss episodes I, II, and III as some others might.  As far as I’m concerned the two trilogies represent two very different eras and achievements in film making, not to mention two very different periods in one film makers career.  One thing that I think we can agree all six Star Wars movies do have are wars, after all it would be quite a deceptive title for a movie series without them.  As with any war or series of wars there are a great many heroes on both sides.  Star Wars is chock full of memorable characters who, due to their bravery, strength, tactics, or leadership have gone on to become cinematic legends.  We all know Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.  Who could forget the Jedi generals and separatist commanders?  However those aren’t the folks I’m concerned about with this post, what about the other, lesser known heroes of Star Wars? Those soldiers who fought and died so that the better known big shots could continue the fight for the ideals and principles they believed in.  Those are the heroes I’d like to take a minute to remember, the unsung martyrs of the Star Wars saga.  Here are a few I think are worthy of mention:

Sometimes you get to pilot a fast ship, and sometimes you're dead.

NAME:  Tiree

HOME PLANET:  Corellia

RANK:  Pilot, point, Gold Squadron

CAMPAIGNS SERVED:  Corellia, Yavin

HOBBIES:  Making observations, painting, bird watching

PERSONAL INFO:  Tiree was a valued Y-Wing pilot set as point man for Gold Squadron over other more veteran members of the flight crew. Tiree flew during several skirmishes and was hand-picked to fly the Death Star mission. He was certified on both X-Wing and Y-Wing class fighters, though the Y-Wings are much slower, neither group really came out well from that battle now did they?

DEATH:  Electrocution from disrupted instrument panels after being hit by Darth Vader’s laser cannons. His ship later hit the Death Star’s trench
wall and exploded.

QUOTE:  “The guns. They’ve stopped.”

It takes a real man to apologize, a real dead man.

NAME: Lorth Needa

HOME PLANET: Coruscant

RANK: Captain, Imperial Star Destroyer Avenger, Death Squadron

CAMPAIGNS SERVED: Clone Wars, Coruscant Defense, Hoth

HOBBIES: Apologizing, being honest, claiming responsibility

PERSONAL INFO: Captain Needa had an outstanding career and participated in several crucial battles during both the Clone Wars and the Galactic Civil War including the battle of Coruscant where his ship directly confronted and prevented the escape of General Grievous’ Invisible Hand, the ship that held then Supreme Chancellor Palpatine captive. Needa was awarded several commendations and awards for outstanding service and his family had a proud heritage of military service. Unfortunately for him, awards and clean records can’t capture renegade rebel starships, or even grant him enough prestige for an on-screen death.

DEATH: Force choked by Darth Vader Execution for treasonous acts against the Empire.

QUOTE: “I shall assume full responsibility for losing them, and apologize to Lord Vader.”

Dyer should have installed higher safety railings for the Endor bunker.

NAME: Dyer

HOME PLANET: Ralltiir

RANK: Colonel, Imperial Army, Stormtrooper Corps

CAMPAIGNS SERVED: Bestine IV, Deep Space, Endor

HOBBIES: Giving orders, building and subsequently guarding installations.

PERSONAL INFO: Colonel Dyer was never one to play sports as a child, growing up on Ralltiir he was often teased about his inability to catch.  Given the nickname “Lamproid hands” in school (because Lamproids have no arms) Dyer eventually escaped such ridicule by joining the Galactic Empire, where his harsh discipline and desire to prove himself allowed him to flourish as a commander of an Imperial Stormtrooper detachment.  He was eventually given the prestigious honor of constructing and maintaining the shield generator on the forest moon of Endor.

DEATH: Knocked over a railing when hit with a tool box thrown by rebel general Han Solo. Fell into the bunker reactor core and was subsequently killed.

QUOTE: “Freeze!”

Sith Lords only like useful cowards, not nay saying recreants.

NAME: Daultay Dofine

HOME PLANET: Neimoidia

RANK: Captain, Droid Control Ship Saak’ak, Trade Federation

CAMPAIGNS SERVED: Clak’dor VII Trade Riots, Naboo blockade

HOBBIES: Worrying, backstabbing, wringing his hands

PERSONAL INFO: Heralding from a well established family, the Dofine clan has held prominent positions within the forces of the Trade Federation for decades. Daultay used his connections and political scheming to attach himself to the fleet of Viceroy Nute Gunray. Dofine was ascending to a position of power within the Federation until his worrisome nature and fear of the supernatural powers of the Jedi got the best of him. Apparently Sith Lords don’t take kindly to being seen as powerless against the Jedi, who knew?

DEATH: After being dismissed from Gunray’s inner circle Daultay Dofine was killed aboard the droid control ship when it was destroyed by some
kid in orbit over Naboo.

QUOTE: “I’m not going in there with two Jedi. Send the droid.”

Corde' had the distinction of not being Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley, or Rose Byrne.

NAME: Corde’

HOME PLANET: Naboo

RANK: Handmaiden, Royal Security Forces

CAMPAIGNS SERVED: Naboo, Coruscant

HOBBIES: Wearing other people’s clothes, assuming identities, taking bullets, and feeling inadequate.

PERSONAL INFO: Although not officially members of the Naboo Royal Forces all handmaidens are trained in various small arms and hand to hand combat in order to protect the political figures they attend to. In the case of high-ranking leaders such as queens and senators that job description goes into working as public decoys. Some handmaidens assume the identity, characteristics, and mannerisms of those they are protecting, even impersonating their style of speech. Occasionally this of course means these decoys get snuffed by would-be assassins, which is somehow a failure on their part.

DEATH: Corde’ was killed in an explosion on a landing pad on Coruscant near the senate rotunda. The attack was aimed at Padme Amidala.

QUOTE: “I’m so sorry. I’ve failed you Senator.”

Don't talk to strangers kids, or people you know who suddenly have bloodshot yellow Sith eyes.

NAME: Sors Bandeam

HOME PLANET: Coruscant, Jedi Temple

RANK: Jedi youngling, Jakrab clan

CAMPAIGNS SERVED: Operation: Knightfall, Defense of Jedi Temple

HOBBIES: Coloring, tugging at heart-strings, naively trusting
others

PERSONAL INFO: Sors began his Jedi career as an infant. The majority of his early life was under the care and tutelage of the wise and powerful Master Yoda. Prior to the clone attacks on Coruscant Sors and his clanmates were beginning to learn about sensing the Dark Side and being aware of impending danger. Unfortunately they hadn’t completed that training module before the issuing of Order 66. When the chaos of the attack on the Jedi Temple started Sors and the other younglings of Jakrab clan were scooted off to the High Council chambers for safety, there only members of the Jedi Council would have access.

DEATH: Sors was brutally cut down with the rest of his comrades by the newly initiated Sith Lord, Darth Vader.

QUOTE: “Master Skywalker, there are too many of them! What are we going to do?”

     Well there you have it just a few of the nameless faces from the Star Wars saga I believe deserved some recognition.  Before anyone tries to start in on me, let me just say that I absolutely mean no disrespect to the real soldiers who have fought, and continue to fight, in wars around the world.  I am honored and have the greatest respect for the men and women of the United States armed forces and I don’t want anyone to accuse me of taking the Memorial Day holiday lightly, this is all in good fun.  I suppose you could say that I simply prefer my wars to be of the fictional variety where none have to actually die.  It’s nice to observe a struggle that I know has been choreographed purely for entertainment purposes and displays a black and white picture of good versus evil which simply doesn’t exist in the real world.

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!