Friday, February 13, 2009

Babylon 5 The Complete Fourth Season: No Surrender, No Retreat

So there you have it, Babylon 5: The Complete Fourth Season: No Surrender, No Retreat. It was a terrific season as a whole and arguably the best to date. There were so many terrific moments along the way from the G'Kar/ Londo scenes in the first half to critical moments from Ivanova and Sheridan in the second half. Season Two and Season Three had exceptional episodes that rank among my favorites, but Season Four had a consistency to it that felt like a freight train running. Straczynski definitely had his groove on and there was no stopping its energy despite having to take a few shortcuts along the way in the event it might be the last season.

Understandably it also boasted the best special effects for the series to date and some sequences looked stunning for the period. Computer animation had clearly gained a foothold and was less blocky and digitized-looking in this fourth outing when compared to that dodgy Season One.
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The DVD box set has a number of special features. Most notably you will recieve an all-new Introduction by series creator J. Michael Straczynski, Audio Commentary on three episodes plus access data and personnel files as well as the Universe of Babylon 5. There is also a Gag Reel and the No Surrender, No Retreat DVD Suite. The one I enjoyed the most was a featurette called Celestial Sounds. It is a terrific feature focusing on the scoring with composer Christopher Franke. He is indubitably the unsung hero behind the scenes of each episode. His music enhances the performance, the emotions and it does its job because it's simply not obvious and it's not meant to be. You feel a sequence's power because the music complements the drama on screen. Some of the interesting points for me was the fact Babylon 5 included no 'pre-canned' music. Every episode received its own scoring. That's really amazing. Each show included roughly 25 minutes of original music and Franke composed it specifically for each moment along the way. It is an impressive undertaking and a significant milestone in his career to be sure. It's a real nice piece which includes input on Franke's work from writer/ director J. Michael Straczynski, John Copeland and Douglas Netter.
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Having four in the bag it's hard to argue for any one season being stronger than Babylon 5: The Complete Fourth Season: No Surrender, No Retreat. Season Four despite several strong marks from Season Two and Season Three, might be the most consistent in quality. A solid science fiction drama to date.

2 comments:

erin-anderson said...

IMO, I think that season four of B5 was probably the best season of sci fi ever. Arguably it's probably one of the best sci fi shows out there, but I am hard pressed to find a season of any other sci fi show that delivered as well as JMS did in season four. Season five hits a few stumbling blocks starting out, but JMS definitely finishes B5 strong and you won't be disappointed.

On a different note, did you happen to catch the premiere of Dollhouse? Do we get to read your thoughts on Whedon's latest creation?

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hey Erin. You know. I totally forgot to watch Dollhouse. DAMN! You reminded me. Ugh! I'll have to check on the net. Your comments reminded me of what aris tgd mentioned as well about the fifth season of B5. That's something if that's true about Straczynski having to re-write part of season five after losing much of his penned work. Wow! I hate when that happens. Anyway, I do look forward to watching Season Five soon. I'd very much like to check out Dollhouse but I suspect I'll be looking at more classic sci-fi for quite some time as I have much to catch up on. Happy Valentine's Day to you and everyone else out there.