Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Babylon 5 The Complete Second Season: The Coming Of Shadows

Great science fiction no matter how dated or how old is great science fiction that is timeless. Babylon 5 is one of those stories. Babylon 5 The Complete Second Season: The Coming Of Shadows hits a major high note. Season One felt a bit dated with groundbreaking special effects in their infancy, wooden acting and sketchy storytelling [albeit much of it setting things up], but Season Two really raised the bar in a big way. Season Two absolutely takes off and soars. It's clearly all about the writing, concept and story first and foremost. Straczynski was in full command for Season 2 and really took over the reins of his show. Second, the cast chemistry seriously grooved. All in all, the performances were splendid- regular, recurring and guest turns included. Finally, and not that it’s an essential component, but the effects team must have been working overtime because there were extraordinary improvements over the first season. There were some impressive sequences here. I was humbled. You have to tip your cap to Straczynski. There is much thought and construction that has gone into this story, the characters, the music and the mythology. He also never let up and kept pressing for the best in telling his story. His accomplishment is no easy feat. This is the stuff of sci-fi legend.

Now, I never could understand the point of grading an entire season of a show. There are so many hits and misses within a season, and to calculate an average grade just seems illogical. Take Season One, for example, there were a few strong highlights, but most of it was okay. It's hard enough nailing down an episode sometimes. They can start weak and end strong or have just a few key moments or just register off the charts as exceptional on the whole.

Looking back it’s funny that I scoffed so brazenly with a slight of hand at Babylon 5. I even took a similiar tact as I began viewing the series. The show as it unfolded was nothing like my perception of what it would be. I had a preconceived notion of Babylon 5 being nothing like this. I’m not sure what I was expecting. I had seen “that guy with the hair” and thought he looked ridiculous. I had seen the lizard-like G’Kar and thought he wasn’t alien enough for me to enjoy the show. Whatever I was thinking I was thinking wrong. Never judge a book by its cover as they say or in this case a DVD cover. Folks, I can no longer deny the magnitude of this tremendous tale and what I was allowing myself to miss. I don't know quite how to put in words what I thought I believed this show to be when I knew nothing about it, but it wasn't anything like this! I had no inkling of the tale that would be unfolding.
Some of the extras are just fine on this second season set. There is an introduction by series creator J. Michael Straczynski and cast including Bruce Boxleitner. J. Michael Straczynski provides audio commentary on two episodes and stars from the series provide audio for one. Documentaries include Building Babylon: Blueprint Of An Episode and Shadows And Dreams: Honors Of Babylon and more.
I'm not exactly sure where Season Two fits into the pantheon of Babylon 5's five seasons plus Crusade, but this is surely one of the best. The show took a 180 degree turn from Season One and blew my socks off. It was an unforgettable viewing experience to be sure. Season Three here I come.
K-Tel presents Londo & Vir singin' the Centauri classics!


Anonymous said...

You're making me more and more curious what your preconceptions were prior to watching the series. And I'm very much looking forward to your thoughts on Season 3, storytelling, SFX, and all :)

BTW tomorrow the Cannes film festival 2008 starts. Watch out for one Clint Eastwood film, written by JMS, titled "Changeling" (title might have been changed to "The Exchange").


TFKoP said...

I think I may have told you that you need to give B5 a season to get a hold of you....

Glad to see I was right.

Not the One....TFKoP

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks M! I know I can't wait to dig into Season 3. I must admit, Straczynski and Eastwood sounds like an interesting combination. I am very intrigued. Babylon 5 has had a great mix of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

And, just like you and other self-respecting B5ers have said TFKOP, "hang in there and it will pay off." It has in spades!

Anonymous said...

Should've mentioned that Eastwood's the director. It's a mystery thriller based on real events in the 1920s. Nothing to do with "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", or any other of Eastwood's Western stuff. For more info see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Changeling_(2008_film)