Down the Ballot

Monday, March 14, 2011

Go Screen Yourself: Babylon 5 Season 1

It seems technology is changing faster than we ourselves can change these days. Last night I sat back and started to think about my television habits ( or lack of television habits). Rarely do I find myself remote flipping to random stations hoping to come across something unusual. I have become a Netflix junkie. I even got my father addicted. Why wait for a tv show to come on at a certain time, when you can watch a favorite instantly! At $8 dollars a month you get a lot of choices.

Perhaps you too are looking for things to watch online or some new(old) show to get into for a while. Maybe I can be of assistance.  Let's look at the first Go Screen Yourself review of Babylon 5 Season 1. This program is available online at Netflix and also on dvd at a quality retailer of digital media. I tend to favor Science Fiction, Comedies, Television, Documentaries, and Animated shows. That's not to say I won't review something outside those; I just felt it fair to warn you in advance.

DVD Season 1 Cover with Londo, Sinclair and G'Kar
The 90s was a decade full of great science fiction shows on television. B5 was one of the greats from that decade. This is the same decade that had three Star Trek spin-offs, shows like Sliders, Sea Quest, Far Scape, Lexx, 7-Days, Stargate, Third Rock from the Sun and X-Files. There was something for everyone and Babylon 5 just kept getting better and better with each season. The first season was not A+, but the cast and crew were just starting to get a feel for the characters and the vision Joe Michael Straczynski was trying to build. Some things worked others didn't. The Soulhunters episode was really out there. 

My favorite episodes from the first 22 are By Any Means Necessary, where dock workers go on strike. Love a show with good union and labor issues are explored. Another one of note is called Believers, where alien parents bring their sick child to Dr. Franklin. All the child needs is a simple operation to be saved, but the religion of the family prevents him from operating. Really great moral dilemma presented for Dr. Franklin and the audience.  Lots of good classic science fiction writing, bringing current issues to light in the context removed from us to make it safe to talk about. Every year there are one or two cases in court involving the safety/health of a child coming in conflict with the family faith.

My favorite character from the series was Peter Jurasik's Londo. Season 1 Londo was especially nice because he hadn't become so lifeless yet. If you want to see a tragic character transformation, watch the entire series and pay attention to Londo's character. In Season 1 though, the character had such life to it and Jurasik kept me tuning in for more.  Always happy to have a drink, attend a night club or try his luck at the casino. Don't forget the hair!

If you think the future will be just as imperfect as life is now, only with more blinking lights Babylon 5 Season 1 certainly gives you a future closer to what we live in now. After all Commander Sinclair still has to report to the Senate Sub-Committee that is in charge of funding Babylon 5...does it sound all that far fetched to have members of congress one day phoning the director of operations at a lunar command base?

Happy Viewing, 'Flixing, or downloading (yeah you know who you are) Here's the first Season title sequence. Great score and great use of the then infant CGI, which really helped the show standout in the 90s.

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