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 Babylon 5 Season Three 
 
 The Mandalorian Season One 
 
 B5 4-01: The Hour of the Wolf 
 
 B5 4-02: Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi? 

Monday, 10 August 2020

Babylon 5 4-02: Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?

Episode:68|Writer:J. Michael Straczynski|Director:Kevin James Dobson|Air Date:11-Nov-1996

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures it's the second episode of Babylon 5's fourth season: Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?

WHtMG? is the second episode title so far to feature a character's name in it, after season three's Sic Transit Vir, and... hang on, why has the title text switched to lower case? None of the other episodes have had lower case titles so far. I wish I could check to see if it looked like this when it aired to find out if this feature's exclusive to the widescreen release.

It's the first of two episodes by Australian director Kevin James Dobson, who started directing in the 70s and worked on a ton of series I've never even heard of. Probably because they're mostly Australian. There doesn't seem to be a lot of science fiction on his resume though from what I can tell. Writer J. Michael Straczynski had done a bit of sci-fi by this point though; the previous episode was the 50th script he'd written for the series and by this point he'd written 30 stories in a row. He then went and did another 30 after this (including two movies) before Neil Gaiman turned up to give him the week off.

You should be aware that all my recaps and reviews are generally first-time viewer friendly, meaning there'll be SPOILERS for this episode and the ones leading up to it, but nothing for stories that come afterwards. I won't be ruining Babylon 5 for anyone if I can help it.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Babylon 5 4-01: The Hour of the Wolf

Episode:67|Writer:J. Michael Straczynski|Director:David J. Eagle|Air Date:04-Nov-1996

Sci-Fi Adventures is back for another two months of sci-fi recap reviews! Most of them are going to be of Babylon 5 episodes to be honest as I need to get through this series, but I'm fine with that. I can think of worse series to be stuck with.

I'm starting off with the first episode of season four, The Hour of the Wolf! Though I'm watching it on DVD without the adverts, so it's more like The 42 Minutes of the Wolf.

Here's an interesting fact about US science fiction TV shows during the last century: they didn't typically live long. At the time this episode aired The X-Files was starting its fourth season and Star Trek: The Next Generation had just finished an epic seven season run, but for other sci-fi, especially space sci-fi, three seasons was an exceptional run. Battlestar Galactica and Space: Above and Beyond managed one season, Buck Rogers reached two, and even titans Lost in Space and Star Trek were cancelled after year three. So for Babylon 5 to make it to year four was actually pretty unusual. And appreciated considering the cliffhanger the last season left us on.

Hey I just noticed that the title text has gone back to the season 1 font! Well, on the DVDs at least, it would've looked different on the original airing. The shadow didn't used to look so dark for one thing.

Anyway I should point out that this is a recap/review for people who've already seen the episode or don't care about SPOILERS. It's very first-time viewer friendly though, as I'll not be spoiling anything that happens after this point.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Star Wars: The Mandalorian - Season 1 Review

The week on Sci-Fi Adventures... is going to be the last week for a while I'm afraid. I'll be writing about video games on Super Adventures instead for the next two months so that hopefully I don't go insane. But before that I'm going to be sharing my thoughts about season one of The Mandalorian, the very first live action Star Wars TV series!

Man, it took them bloody long enough. Star Trek made the jump from live action series to movies 13 years after it first premiered, but it took Star Wars 42 years to do the opposite! On the other end of the scale, Doctor Who and Firefly hit cinemas just 3 years after their first episodes aired, which is the same amount of time that Stargate took to evolve into a TV franchise. Even Lost in Space beats Star Wars, as it got a movie after 33 years (then jumped back to TV 20 years later). Plus if you count TV movies, Babylon 5 progressed from pilot movie to series after just a year, Battlestar Galactica got a film after 29 years, and Red Dwarf actually got its promised movie after 32 years. Okay I'm done now.

Wait, Indiana Jones (11 years). Sorry, now I'm done.

The reason a Star Wars series took so long to get made is that they were waiting for the technology to make it possible to produce on a TV schedule and budget. George Lucas actually had something like 40-50 scripts for a show called Star Wars: Underworld (from writers like DS9/BSG's Ronald D. Moore), which was planned to be produced in the late 2000s, but it just wasn't time yet. Lucasfilm apparently took some of the story concepts and ideas and put them into things like Rebels, Rogue One and Solo instead. It turns out the technology they needed was a set made of giant LED walls featuring a resolution high enough for them to be used for both lighting and as the backdrop, with the scenery rendered in real time using Unreal Engine 4 so that the parallax is always correct from the camera's point of view. But they've got that now, so it's cool.

Anyway, I wrote these reviews right after watching the episodes so if I sound like I don't know what's coming next, that's because I actually didn't at the time. There'll be SPOILERS here for the whole first season and maybe a few of the movies, so I recommend you stop reading here if that's going to be a problem.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Babylon 5: Season 3 - Point of No Return Review

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures I'll be writing a bit about the third season of Babylon 5! Three down, two to go.

I've finally hit the end of the middle season and it's nice to be 60% done with the series. Not because I'm not enjoying it, it's just a relief to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Only 44 episodes, a handful of movies and a couple of spin-offs left and then I can finally relax. Move on. Maybe even start a Babylon 5 podcast. (I won't be starting a B5 podcast).

Anyway, this is going to feature SPOILERS for the whole of season three, from Matters of Honor to Z'ha'dum, and I'll inevitably end up spoiling earlier seasons as well. I won't say a word about future seasons though, so if you're watching through the series for the first time and you've made it up to this point then this is all safe for you to read.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Babylon 5 3-22: Z'ha'dum

Episode:66|Writer:J. Michael Straczynski|Air Date:28-Oct-1996

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures, I've finally reached the Babylon 5 season 3 finale Z'ha'dum!

Saying anything about the name would be spoiling earlier episodes, but if you're not familiar with it, it's a made up sci-fi place that has a lot of significance and a lot of apostrophes, and using it as the title gives the impression that this story will be somewhat important. If the fact that it's a season finale didn't already give that away. This unfortunately means that it's given me more to write about than usual, so you're getting a double-length article this time.

You want to know an absolutely pointless fact that I guarantee you've never read anywhere else? Season 3 contains both Babylon 5's alphabetically highest and lowest episode titles, with A Day in the Strife up at the top and Z'ha'dum right at the end. Here's more obvious piece of trivia: this is the second episode of the series to be directed by Leonard Nimoy's son, Adam Nimoy (the first being the universally beloved Passing Through Gethsemane). It's also the last episode he directed, for whatever reason.

This recap/review is first time viewer safe, but there are going to be SPOILERS for this episode and the series so far, so I'd suggest watching it first. I mean you can do what you like, but the series has gotten pretty good by this point and the episode will tell you the story much better than I can.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Babylon 5 3-21: Shadow Dancing

Episode:65|Writer:J. Michael Straczynski|Air Date:21-Oct-1996

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures, it's Shadow Dancing!

Wikipedia tells me that Shadow Dancing is a song by Andy Gibb from an album of the same name, a Canadian thriller starring Christopher Plummer, and the penultimate episode of Babylon 5's third season, but really it's only that last one I care about.

When you see the word 'shadow' show up in a Babylon 5 episode title you know there's a fair chance that events are soon to transpire. Sure The Geometry of Shadows was fairly tame, but you couldn't say that about The Coming of Shadows or In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum. Hey, 'Z'ha'dum', there's another word that shows up in titles sometimes...

The episode was directed by Kim Friedman, who's more famous these days for being the mother from the crazyjewishmom Instagram account. This was her first and only episode of Babylon 5, but that was possibly because she was busy with all the Star Trek she was doing. She directed four fairly rubbish episodes of Voyager overall (three of them generally ranked in the bottom third of the entire run) and six pretty good episodes of Deep Space Nine (four of them ranked in the top third), so this episode could go either way really.

This recap/review is mainly intended for people who've seen the series up to this point, so I won't be holding back with the SPOILERS. Though if you're watching the series for the first time you'll be fine, I won't ruin what comes next.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Star Trek: Picard: Season 1 Review

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures, I've got some relatively tiny Star Trek: Picard reviews for you! Well, more like 'observations and other thoughts that entered my head while watching it'. Sorry for making you wait, but it took this long for my internet to finally get fixed.

Picard's first season was only ten episodes, making it the shortest season of full-length live-action Trek ever, but that's still a lot of episodes to read about in one go. (I was going to write 'ten stories' for a moment, but it's not that kind of series.) Fortunately for you I already wrote about the first episode, Remembrance, back when it came out, so that cuts it down to just nine. I could've copy and pasted all that text here to the whole season in one place, but... no.

Oh, I should mention that I wrote the first draft of these reviews right after each episode hit the internet, so any predictions and concerns are genuine. I really didn't know for sure where the story was going at the time. I also cut myself off from outside opinions for a while, because you know what fans are like when a new Trek series launches: they have a wide variety of different reactions just like you'd expect from any diverse group... but you're for sure going to hear about how it's a complete failure and a massive insult to everything that came before it. They may well be right, it is the first season of a Trek show after all, but I don't need to be rehashing second-hand negativity. If I'm going to hate on it, I want it to be for my own reasons!

There's going to be lots of SPOILERS past this point, mostly just for season one Picard, but I might throw in a few from earlier Trek if they seem relevant. So I'd suggest watching all 30+ seasons before reading this, just in case.