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Friday, 21 July 2017

Babylon 5 2-06: Spider in the Web

Episode:28|Writer:Lawrence DiTillio|Air Date:07-12-1994

Today on Sci-Fi Adventures I'll be figuratively talking all over Babylon 5 episode Spider in the Web (or A Spider in the Web according to the DVD box). I wouldn't worry about seeing any actual spiders turn up though judging by the current run of episode titles, as A Distant Star had nothing to do with stars, distant or otherwise, The Long Dark only lasted 42 minutes, and The Geometry of Shadows had a disappointing absence of... geometry.

This is the first episode of season two to be written by executive story editor Larry DiTillio and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. The guy's episodes were all over the place on my entirely subjective season one rankings, as I placed Eyes up near the top, and TKO and Born to the Purple way way down at the bottom. But only one person wrote more Babylon 5 episodes than DiTillio and that's creator JMS himself, though after this I've only got two more stories of his left to watch before his boss took ever entirely.

It's also the first episode of any season to be directed by Kevin G. Cremin and I'm not sure if that's a good thing either. Though after scrolling through the episode list and checking out the other four stories he directed I'm thinking that signs are promising.

I'll be writing commentary under screencaps from the DVD, so there'll be SPOILERS here for this whole episode and probably a few of the ones that lead up to it. That's as far as the spoilers go though, I'll not give away anything that happens afterwards.



The episode begins with Sheridan and Ivanova discussing station business, but who cares about them when TELEPATH TALIA WINTERS is finally back!

I don't know what room she's in but it's got a nice view. Seems that they got some giant backdrops of the station interior printed up these season and they've been making good use of them.

I'm fairly sure this must be a redress of the captain's office/council chambers but if it is then they've done a good job of redressing it. The window's a different shape, the view is different, the wall behind the slats is glowing blue, and there's a door. I'm starting to think they had a collection of separate wild wall panels that could be assembled in different ways to form a variety of different sets... that all ended up looking like the captain's office.

Talia's here to perform the role of commercial telepath during a business meeting between her old friend Mr... oh shit that's Mr. Takagi from Die Hard! And she's Catwoman from Batman: The Animated Series! Confusingly Catwoman's character is called Amanda Carter, which is also the name of one of the leads on Stargate SG-1. Wait I'm thinking of Samantha Carter played by Amanda Tapping. Never mind.

Ms. Carter's a representative for the Mars Colony Business Affairs Committee and Mr. Takagi has an incredible unbelievable NeoMars proposal for her that can help the Mars Colony become self-sufficient and gain its independence from Earth peacefully. It's an amazing, reckless, insanely progressive plan that's as ludicrous as it is genius. You wouldn't believe how downright inspired this plan is. They don't actually say what the plan is, but they sure are hyping it up.

Oh damn, I only meant to rest my eyes for a moment, how long did I doze off for? Is this still Babylon 5?

I'm moderately certain that this is the first and only physical model shot in the entire run of Babylon 5. Look how much CGI there isn't! It's also the first time we've gotten a glimpse of 23rd century planet Earth that isn't on a video chat with a senator sitting in the way.

The rest of the world's doing okay by the way, it's only San Diego that got nuked until it glowed at night. I don't know if series creator JMS has any real issue with San Diego, though I've read that he was once beaten to the brink of death there. He's said he that nuking it into a radioactive wasteland was just his way of "giving a wink to the old home town."

The episode then cuts to a control room where a woman sits watching a kaleidoscope screen saver, while President Clark makes a speech on the TV in the wall behind her. But they deliberately avoid showing much so I’ll not bother wasting the screenshot on it. Basically the scene's about her receiving a message from a robotic voice saying "All components have arrived safely on Babylon 5. Control is prepared to go online."

She replies with "Commence operation," and back on Babylon 5 station a mysterious hand springs out of an Earth Alliance classified cargo container! Just the hand though; they can’t show all of him in the teaser, that'd ruin the tension.


ACT ONE


After the opening titles we find Sheridan involved in one of those video chats with a senator I mentioned earlier, and she's played by Jessica Walter of Archer fame! Well that's what I know her from anyway, I've haven't seen Arrested Development or any of the thousand other things she's appeared in.

The senator is calling because she knows Mr. Takagi from Die Hard is making a deal on the station and she wants the captain to keep an eye on it and his ears open. She even points to her eye and ear to make sure there's no ambiguity about which sensory organs she wants him to use.

Sheridan is reluctant as it's not his job to interfere with civilian business deals, in fact it's very much his job not to, but things have been changing on Earth since President Santiago's assassination accidental death, and now surveillance and paranoia is in fashion. The senator explains that "Practicality is more important than principles if lives are to be saved," and expects to hear from him soon. It's a line that would've worked on Jack Bauer, but John Sheridan's less impressed.

Wow, you think they've got enough extras packed in back there? Earhart's is so busy this week that they've got a full balcony, and people keep squeezing around the back of Sheridan's table and walking right in front of the camera. It's like they found themselves with more cash in the budget this week than they knew what to do with.

This scene features Sheridan talking with Ivanova about something or other, but I keep getting distracted by the backdrop behind them. It's that damn Amiga boing ball on the right with the stretched chequerboard texture that's bothering me.

I know you can't exactly map a chequerboard pattern to a sphere, but there had to be something else they could've painted on it. It looks terrible.

Anyway, this scene's about Sheridan chatting with Ivanova about the time he made first contact with an alien race and it goes on for almost two minutes with neither saying anything really relevant to the main plot. Sheridan does order a Jovian Sunspot though, a drink last mentioned in season 1's Deathwalker... which was another Larry DiTillio episode about Talia Winters, business meetings and (SPOILER) a cyborg!

Elsewhere on the station, Talia Winters and her friend are being attacked by a cyborg! It's the bloke who came out of the box in the teaser and he straight up murders Mr. Takagi from Die Hard with Force Lightning before turning his attention to her.

In self-defence (or maybe curiosity) she forces her way into the cyborg's head telepathically and gets a flash of what's going through his mind right now.

In his head he's out in space, witnessing a ropey looking shattered glass effect and a giant Earth Alliance cruiser bearing down on him.

The cyborg is stunned by this invasion of privacy and goes stumbling off down the hallway without killing her.

Sheridan has a chat with her about the incident, bringing up the fact that the killer said "Free Mars" before killing Mr. Takagi from Die Hard. But Talia's scanned Free Mars terrorists before and they've usually got a passion for the cause and a murderous hatred of Earth Alliance on the brain. This guy's head on the other hand is filled with nothing but mid 90s CGI.

He confronts her with something the senator told him earlier, that her friend might have actually been here to fund a violent rebellion on Mars, but she tearfully denies it, making Sheridan feel like a dick for bringing it up. Either way Free Mars would have no reason to kill him as he was working to help the Mars Colony.

Just to make Talia's shitty day even worse, Garibaldi volunteers to escort her back to her quarters and keep her safe. These two don't really get on, partially due to the fact that he mysteriously turns up every time she wants to take a lift somewhere, but he's doing what he can here to cheer her up.

If I was him I'd start by listing all the horrifying things that have happened to the station after one of their old friends dropped by. When Franklin's old friend came to see him the station was almost destroyed by a guy in bio booster armour, when Delenn's old friend dropped by the planet that they're orbiting nearly exploded, and when Garibaldi's old friend arrived we got the episode TKO. Really she should just be glad he died a horrible death before he could get super powers and start blowing people up with his mind like her last friend did.

Hang on, I just noticed that the light in the lift has turned red, and judging by the wall stripes they're in one of the red sectors right now. Does the elevator light change colour depending on what sector they're in? Oh shit how have I never noticed this before! This is what I get for paying attention to the actors and dialogue instead of staring at the background.

Elsewhere on the station, the cyborg killer is roaming the corridors right out in the open, not slightly bothered that a witness could identify him. It's kind of surprising to me that the super-paranoid Earth Alliance hasn't gotten around to installing security cameras in every hallway (and workplace) on the station yet.

The cyborg uses a code to tune in to the kaleidoscope channel from earlier, then tears the fake skin off his hand so he can pull a RoboCop and plug his robot finger into the computer. He uploads video footage filmed with his own eyes of the murder and of Talia watching it happen, and gets a response from a robotic voice.
"Control states Ms. Winters could jeopardize mission. Eliminate her, then continue with Phase Two."
Okay so as far as I can figure out, this operation involves a least four people: the cyborg, the robotic kaleidoscope channel voice, the woman sitting back in the ruins of San Diego, and Control. The voice on the screen seems to have the job of relaying messages between them and may actually be a computer for all I know.


ACT TWO


Over in C&C Sheridan finally decides to halt all traffic in and out of the station to stop the murderer just stepping onto a ship and flying away. Dude, I think if he wanted to leave he would've been long gone by now.

He also asks Ivanova about Talia and is surprised by her response. She finds her to be "an interesting person". When pressed, she evades by pointing out that he already knows her opinions about telepaths.
Sheridan: "You threw one out of a third-storey window on Io."
Ivanova: "There was an ample pool below the window."
Sheridan: "I'll assume you knew that."
I'm sure that they're talking about something that happened on famous 'transfer point off Io' space station they both worked at, not the moon itself. Though now I'm wondering how bad a three storey fall at 18% Earth's gravity would actually be.

Anyway Ivanova does at least admit that she believes Talia can be trusted, which might be the nicest thing she's ever said about a telepath. Aside from her mother that is.

Elsewhere, the cyborg decides to have another go at killing Talia and things play out exactly as they did earlier. Her security escort is electrocuted in the face but when he goes for her she scans his mind and sees the cruiser blowing out the glass again.

This seems to flick a switch in his brain, leaving him confused and giving her a chance to slip away. He's really starting to question what's happened to him now. I can tell, because he's doing it out loud.


ACT THREE


Talia goes to see Sheridan again, only this time she understands what she saw in the murderer's mind. He was remembering being shot by an Earth Alliance cruiser and killed.

She managed to pull out some of his hair and the DNA analysis reveals that he's a Free Mars terrorist called Abel Horn, one of their leaders in fact. But the shocking twist is that he should be dead! He was shot by a cruiser and killed. So someone's gotten hold of a Free Mars terrorist's corpse and has reanimated him as a cyberzombie to sabotage Mars Colony's attempt to gain independence? That's a lot of effort to go through just for the sake of irony.

Sheridan has an idea about what's going on but he doesn't want to tell anyone just yet, so Garibaldi escorts Talia away to keep her safe... again.

Meanwhile Ms. Carter comes to her quarters to find that Horn is waiting for her. He's not come to kill her though, as they actually know each other from way back.

Horn tells her that he was nearly killed in the attack over Phobos, but he survived and got fixed up by a 'snakehead' doctor, and he's been in hiding since then. He also claims that the rumours of him murdering Mr. Takagi from Die Hard are just lies, so he's either forgotten or he's talking bullshit. The conversation gets less friendly when he tries to blackmail her into smuggling him back to Mars by threatening to reveal that she was a Free Mars terrorist too, and then goes off the rails entirely when he rips the skin off his arm again and starts yelling at her to find Talia.

It's not entirely obvious what happened here, but I'm thinking that when the kaleidoscope channel told him to "continue with Phase Two", it was telling him to blackmail Carter to get him off the station and back to Mars (and then maybe kill her). But then his real personality kicked in and started fighting the programming.

Meanwhile the crew still have no idea where Horn is, but Sheridan gives Ivanova the order to allow ships to leave again anyway. I guess this is to make us wonder if Horn's going to get away. Either that or the episode was still running short after that pointless scene in Earhart's and they needed to pad it out more.

Speaking of padding, Talia invites Garibaldi in for tea, and that just happens to be his third favourite thing in the universe! JMS later confirmed that the guy's third favourite thing is whatever someone of the opposite sex is having, and Midnight on the Firing Line revealed that his second favourite thing is Daffy Duck cartoons, but his first favourite thing still remains a mystery. Somehow I think we both have a pretty good idea what it is though... it's watching serial killers getting thrown out of an airlock.

This scene might not be pushing the plot forward, but it does serve the purpose of bringing Garibaldi and Talia closer together, while revealing a bit more about the Psi-Corps. Turns out that Talia never really knew her parents as she was taken away from them to be raised by the Corps when she was very young. She does have fond memories of a woman called Abby though; she was a senior telepath assigned to give her support during her first year at the centre. But after that year Abby was assigned to another newcomer.

Garibaldi nods his head in polite understanding, but I suspect that inside he's trying really hard not to mentally broadcast how messed up he thinks this is to the mind-reader sitting opposite. He's probably trying not to broadcast a lot of things.


ACT FOUR


Hey I recognise that door! That was part of the room in the teaser. They really must be taking these sets apart and putting the pieces together in different configurations. Or maybe they just built another door that looks the same.

Once he's able to pull Garibaldi away from Talia, Sheridan talks to him about Earthforce's cyber experiments, and how they failed because humans couldn't function with machines in their brains. So they switched to experimenting on people on their verge of death, using telepathic deep-scan to keep the subject fixated on the moment of their death to shut down conscious thought. Sounds a lot like what Talia saw in Horn's mind: the memory of his death, repeating over and over again to keep his mind busy while his cybernetic implants ran the show.

The crystal powering his tech emits low level radiation so they should be able to scan for it with the station's sensors to find him, but Sheridan's info's a bit out of date so he doesn't know exactly what to search for. Garibaldi steps over to work his magic on the computer, presses a few buttons... and manages to get his office door to continually open and close on its own. So either the station's chief of security is comically inept at using his own computer, or he's deliberately trolling his boss. Or this is a bad script.

Talia on the other hand knows exactly where Horn is right now, but she's a bit busy at the moment.

She had three security officers escorting her to Carter's quarters, but nobody considered the possibility that he'd ambush her there so they're all outside right now and she can't risk calling out to them. Horn doesn't want to kill her any more though. He wants her to read his mind and tell him what they've done to him. So she does.

And we get to see the cruiser shoot him dead again, followed by a flashback to his Robocop-style resurrection, revealing that the person in charge is wearing a Psi Corps badge! It's those bloody fascist telepaths again. The scene's kind of spoiled though by the way it keeps cutting to different camera angles, despite it supposedly being a memory recorded with Horn's own eyes.

Meanwhile Sheridan finally locates Horn with the sensors and sends Garibaldi into Carter's quarters to storm the place (along with the three officers waiting outside).

They find themselves in a tense hostage situation, with Horn holding Talia, ready to kill her if they make a move. But forget that for a moment, because I've finally got a screencap of new recurring character Zack Allan, played by Jeff Conaway. He's the one standing next to Garibaldi.

It's interesting to compare him to another newish recurring character, ace pilot Warren Keffer, as both of them are Earthforce officers who appear out of nowhere around 30 minutes into their first episode. But Keffer immediately interrupted the plot with a scene all to himself and then at the end of that story he was drinking with the main cast like they'd been friends for years. Every time he appeared on screen my reaction was 'who the fuck is this guy?' which isn't generally what you want.

Zack on the other hand is basically just Security Officer #2 right now, there to make up the numbers. The only difference between him and the other two standing to his left (Hansen and Jackson) is that he's got his name in the credits, so he doesn't distract from the story at all here.

Well, maybe he distracts a little bit, the way he's staring over Sheridan's shoulder this whole scene. You're like "Hey, wasn't he John Travolta's friend Kenickie in Grease?"

I don't know how often Zack shows up this season, but if he makes a few more low key appearances like this he'll start to become a recognisable face, someone you can accept as being part of the crew. Like Lou Welch in season 1 for instance. Then if he gets more screen time or starts hanging out with the command staff it won't feel weird.

Anyway, Sheridan arrives and tells a desperate Horn what he already knows: that he's being forced to betray his own cause. We learned earlier that Sheridan's got every reason to hate this guy as Free Mars once blew up a couple of his friends, but he does a good job of keeping his feelings in check and talking Horn into giving up his hostage. But the man's really suffering now; he's in too much pain to just drop his weapon and give himself up.

So he takes a shot over Garibaldi's shoulder and commits suicide by captain.

That's Sheridan's first on-screen kill of the series by the way, if you don't count the Soldier of Darkness from last episode (that one was more of a team effort).

But then Zack reads a dangerous energy surge coming off his body and it begins to glow. Wow, it's been a while since anyone's explosively self-destructed on the station. Last one I can remember is the assassin in the pilot movie.

Everyone has the sense to get the hell away from human shaped bomb as fast as possible, all except Sheridan who hangs back a moment so that he can leap away from the explosion in slow motion. I guess he knew it'd make a good shot for the opening titles at some point.

He's not happy though. Not now that they've lost all their evidence.

Sorry for three video clips in a row, but I couldn't resist showing this tiny CGI screw up in the stock 'time passes' shot of the station. They've neglected to block the end of the docking bay with something so you can look right through the station into space.

Here's another CGI screw up: what they did to it when they mastered the DVDs. It looks mangled enough at a distance but when you get up close it's just nasty.

Ms. Carter survived her reunion with Abel Horn, but now Sheridan knows that she used to belong to Free Mars and he could use this information to end her career. He has a better idea though. He'll keep silent if she'll do what she can to make Mr Takagi from Die Hard's risky, expensive, radical, amazing plan for a self-sufficient Mars happen despite his death. It's not exactly what the senator intended him to do when she told him that "Practicality is more important than principles if lives are to be saved," in fact Mars independence is kind of the opposite of what EarthGov wants, but if they can achieve it peacefully it'll definitely save lives.

Plus Talia lets Sheridan know what she saw in Horn's head while he had her prisoner, but she deliberately leaves out the bit about the Psi Cop being there. Dammit Talia, Ivanova vouched for you! She promised Sheridan you could be trusted!


ACT FIVE


A while later Garibaldi wears Sheridan down until he reveals that he suspects something about what's going on here. He believes a group called Bureau 13 is working behind the scenes inside their own government, doing all kinds of shady things in secret. There is a spider in the web and Sheridan intends to find it and kill it.

Unfortunately JMS discovered a little too late that there's a role playing game called Bureau 13 and decided it'd be inappropriate to continue using the name, so this is the first and only time you'll ever hear about it in the series. Writer Larry DiTillio intended them to be another faction, separate to the Psi Corps, who were responsible for things like Sinclair's interrogation in And the Sky Full of Stars, and I don't know if that's ever contradicted, but personally I've always assumed they were another tentacle of the Psi Corps.

That's what this episode seems to imply anyway, as it ends with Talia investigating the Psi Cop from Horn's memories in private. The whole 'Psi-Corps experimented on her friend and turned him into a super weapon' incident back in Mind War put a little bit of a crack in her loyalty to the Corps, but now she's knows some shady shit's going down and she wants to know what.

The fact that the Psi Cop is listed as 'DECEASED' probably doesn't ease her concerns.


CONCLUSION

Spider in the Web... it's alright I guess. A bit dull though. I suppose I'd call it the weakest episode of the season so far, but seeing as there's only been six episodes that's doesn't necessarily make it terrible. Plus the 'web' in the title didn't turn out to be the internet, so it scores points for that.

There are some good moments in it for sure, like when Ivanova has to reveal what she thinks about Talia, but then there's also scenes that drag the episode down to a halt. We didn't need to know about Sheridan's first contact with that alien race for instance. And Talia's second encounter with Horn is basically a repeat of the first one. Though it's unusually focused for a Babylon 5 episode, it's all A plot all the time, so that might explain why they had trouble filling the time.

It's all humans too, with none of the aliens cast member showing up (though some of those humans are telepaths or cyberzombies). This isn't typically a good sign, as the only other episodes without the ambassadors or their aides so far have been Infection and TKO, two of the absolute worst stories in the whole run. But even though only four characters from the opening titles bothered to show up this time, one of them was telepath Talia Winters! And she got to be the star! This means that her minutes of screen time this season just shot way up into the double digits. Sadly the bloke from Die Hard didn't do so well, though his doom seemed set from his very first scene. He had 'dead in the first act' written all over his dialogue.

The episode also brings Mars Colony back into the story for the first time since A Voice in the Wilderness and this time we're given a little more insight into why they'd want to be independent from Earth. Turns out that our planet has been being a bit rubbish, with EarthGov putting practicality over principles and security over freedom. It's something to be concerned about, considering that it's where all our Earthforce heroes get their orders from. Though this has at least brought Sheridan and Garibaldi closer as a team. They're paranoia buddies now.

Plus this was a good episode for anyone who wants to make a 'cyborg' page for the Babylon Project wiki, as we learn more about the cybernetics situation in the B5 universe. Seems that Earthforce has been experimenting with cyborgs for a long time, but people don't tend to function that well with the hardware they've tried hardwiring into their brains. On the other hand the Technomages have their bio-technological implants figured out, and that 'Vicker' from Deathwalker seemed to be doing alright too, though who knows where he came from.

I think that's part of the problem I'm having here, as Larry DiTillio put a lot of world building into his scripts, like the Vickers, which isn't going to get followed up on because Babylon 5 is very much one person's personal universe. In fact by the end of the season JMS will be the sole writer going forward. It makes the episodes by other writers feel a little disconnected from the arc and Spider in the Web in particular doesn't quite mesh with the series as a whole. Also it's a bit rubbish.



COMING SOON
Babylon 5 should return with Soul Mates, though I'll be writing about A Race Through Dark Places first instead. But next on Sci-Fi Adventures I'm going to be watching the second part of Deep Space Nine's epic The Circle trilogy, called... The Circle.

If you find yourself with opinions or observations of your own you want to express, feel free to type them up into the comment box below.

13 comments:

  1. Were they still using Amigas for the cgi at this point? Is the non-bouncing bouncing Amiga ball a deliberate reference, I wonder?

    I'm only talking about the Amiga now because I have no memory at all of this episode.

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    1. According to the detailed notes I've been accumulating over the last couple of years from a variety of different sources, Foundation Imaging were mostly using... computers to do their rendering in season 2. The CGI for the pilot was 100% certainly created using Amigas, season 3 I'm pretty sure was 100% done with PCs, but my information gets very fuzzy by season 2.

      I've no idea if the ball was a reference, but knowing visual effects people, there's got to a deliberate reference to SOMETHING in that background somewhere. Those guys love referencing things or throwing in sneaky cameos. Ridley Scott once turned his back on visual effects people for two seconds and ended up with the Millennium Falcon dressed up to look like a skyscraper in his Blade Runner city shots.

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  2. I do like how there's a good in-universe reason for so many similar looking rooms, since the station -- like the TV show -- was built on a tight budget. They probably had 3D printers cranking out thousands of identical walls and doors, or somesuch. I'm sure the guys who had to redress the set felt glad, too.

    Wow, I forgot this was Zack's first episode. I feel like I didn't really notice him until next season, but that can't be right. I noticed Lou Welch, after all.

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    1. Yeah, there's definitely more than enough justification in-universe for why the sets look a bit ropey and cheap. Though I wish they'd done more to hide the sound of their footsteps on the wooden floors.

      Also I've had a look ahead at what episodes are coming up and seems that the storyline Zack's involved with next season gets started in the last third of season 2. So you probably would've noticed him this season, but as the series becomes more serialised it gets harder to remember what scenes fit in which episode.

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  3. That shot of Earth is taken from a TV series called Captain Power and The Soldiers of the Future. JMS was part of its writing staff and even Babylon 5 (way before the series was greenlit or even fully conceived) gets a mention in one of the episodes.

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    1. I have no idea if that's true but I can totally believe it.

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    2. It's true; DiTillio was also one of the writers on Captain Power, so it's all being kept in the family.

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    3. You can see the original shot in the Captain Power episode in here (8min16sec in): www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eAA9rKZc-U&t=8m16s

      It's kinda blurry, but you can make out some of the same structure shapes.

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    4. Wow, I put them side by side to check and that is definitely the same footage. All this time I thought they'd built that model for the episode, but nope they'd just gotten some Captain Power in my Babylon 5.

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    5. Heh, I also found the Captain Power reference to Babylon 5 (19min40sec in): www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnnGOT-IBMo&t=19m40s

      It was made in 1987, so I'm guessing JMS really liked that name.

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    6. He first came up with the idea of Babylon 5 in 1986, so it has to be a sneaky reference to the series made during the time he was pitching it to executives.

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  4. The one thing that makes me sort of sad about your (excellent) reviews is you point out all the (obvious, now I'm an adult) production details (re-dressed sets, wooden floors, painted backdrops, ect) that my 11 year old self had absolutely no idea about. I always found the CGI space scenes a bit nagging (because they pulled my suspension of disbelief in a way that TNGs model shots didn't) but... But, part of me still believes there is a giant, spinning station light years away.

    Actually, now I come to think of it the same cross cross girders and piles of grey crates in every out of the way corner / docking bay / hideout didn't pass my 11 year old self by. But Garibaldi's quarters with his Daffy Duck poster, definitely real.

    Ah, to be young again!

    Not that you should stop giving those details of course; the more the better.

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    1. Don't worry, I'm going to keep going on about reused sets and backdrops until everyone's thoroughly sick of me pointing out when a room looks suspiciously similar to Sheridan's office and the council chambers. Not because I dislike Babylon 5, but because I think it's tough enough to handle it. The series always looked cheap and scruffy compared to what Trek was doing, but when G'Kar or Londo starts talking it doesn't matter, not to me anyway. The characters believe that they're on a spinning space station so I look at it through their eyes.

      Until I'm taking screencaps that is, then I'm looking at a badly mastered DVD with grainy footage of barely disguised wooden sets put together in a hurry.

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