Monday, November 30, 2009

Babylon 5 The Complete Fifth Season: The Wheel Of Fire

Wow. Finally. Closure. What a ride. What an epic story. And now to wrap it up. It's hard to believe it had consumed the past few years of my life, but it was an interesting ride and worth those special Straczynski moments along the way. So concludes my viewing analysis of Babylon 5 The Complete Fifth Season: The Wheel Of Fire.

As you know Babylon 5 Season Five was definitely not ranking up there at the top of my list. In fact, though my grading probably doesn't reflect it in retrospect with comparison to Season One, it was my least favorite of the five seasons. This, of course, puts the much maligned Season One above it slotting it into the four hole for me. I suspect, again in hindsight, I would appreciate Season One now even more than I did when I first viewed it as some here have suggested. Season Five cemented, for me, that the Psi Corps angle was my least favorite portion of the series. I simply could not appreciate that thread when it stood out there entirely on its own most notably in Season Five. Woven throughout the series in dribs and drabs as connected to The Shadow War story it was perfectly measured. The mystery of Lyta and the connection to the Vorlons was a delicious tease. When Byron [ugh!] was added to the mix and it became Psi Corps-heavy it lacked a certain something for me, call it the magic, call it Babylon 5-lite. Again, that's me and that's my entirely subjective take. Season Two, Three and Four were where it was at for me. Season Five ended with some strength following a fairly large dull period. However there were some strong moments to be sure. How would you rank the five seasons?

The DVD Box Special Features includes all-new, digital, widescreen transfers. Seriously, I never could see it in the picture quality of this series. Dated or not, it's a pretty poor transfer. It definitely needs to be revisited by someone and given some tender, love and care. I'd even love to see a Star Trek-styled Remaster with some touched up effects. There's an idea. I doubt Blu-Ray will ever happen for Babylon 5. It would be a pleasant surprise if it ever did. There's the Soundtrack Remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 as well. The documentaries worth a look include Digital Tomorrow and Beyond Babylon 5. I actually went to check these out for you, but realized once again that I LOST MY FREAKIN' DISC 5! Dang! I am really not happy with myself, but I really have to get over it. Anyhow, it wraps up with a few deleted scenes and some gag reels.

Farewell Babylon 5. You'll be gone, but not forgotten. Besides, maybe I'll hook up with Babylon 4 and time jump back to the beginning somewhere down the road.

Coming Soon: Babylon 5 Big 10 Episodes. Get your lists ready comrades!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree,to me the Fifth Season felt like it was just thrown together !!!,we all know he wanted to end it after season 4 but fans like me wanted MORE !!!,don't get me wrong it wasn't bad,But to me he left too many holes !!! :)

Anonymous said...

Here,Here,gone,But never Forgotten!!! :),Guess what I don't know if you know that New episodes of Ghost Whisper(2009)are on CBS on Fridays at 8:00pm,well here in Bakersfield,Ca. anyway !!!her and her husband have a son now its COOL !!!.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

I'll have to check out Ghsot Whisperer some day. I'm just not sure I can fit it into an already massive queue of TV series and films. Ugh.

I had mentioned how much I love Ian McShane after seeing Death Race and I'm surprise no one pointed out to me [I stumbled upon it accidentally reading about McShane], but McShane apparently guests in Babylon 5 River Of Souls. One of the B5 movies. I'm going to have to check that one out soon. I believe it's next in line and it's one of the few B5 things I haven't watched.

Anonymous said...

Yes that is true,River of Souls,with Tracy Scrogins ???( Lochley)and Ian McShane is very Good,and Martin Sheen too :)

Havremunken said...

Leaving individual episodes aside, ranking the seasons as whole units is difficult and I think you'll find that you may change your mind in the future when you revisit. :)

SEASON 1 is uneven and is basically busy setting up the universe and the plot. The acting and effects are at times painful to watch, but there are some early indications that this is the show to watch.

SEASON 2 is where it gets really interesting to me. The war erupts and the plot thickens on all sides. And there are some REALLY strong episodes, plus the final six are really amazing.

SEASON 3 contains some of the best episodes ever on TV, but there are also a few fillers here and there. Severed Dreams and Z'ha'dum are always fighting about my Best Episode Ever rank, and they are followed closely by a few others. :)

SEASON 4 may not contain the best single episodes, but the season is very strong and even throughout. Some highlights like Garibaldi's betrayal and Ivanova's dying thing are really awesome.

SEASON 5 is hated by many. Yeah, I'd like to rub Byron's face in my a** as well, but I've come to accept that in a world with telepaths, some kind of conflict like this was bound to happen. Both Lochley and Byron are easier to swallow the second time around if you put your mind to it. ;) And it ends in the tear-jerker "Sleeping in Light" which I have concluded for myself is the perfect series finale.

So, how would I rank the seasons? As mentioned, it varies. But right now, it would look like this.

1. Season 4
2. Season 3
3. Season 2
4. Season 5
5. Season 1

But I absolutely love them all to death, and if you ask me tomorrow, season 3 might switch position with season 4, and season 5 with season 1. Not season 2, though. Season 2 will stay where it is.

Ok, NOW I'm off to do Christmassy stuff. Mostly tasting stuff, I think. Yeah, that'll do. :)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

YEA! Havremunken! It's always a pleasure to see posts arrive from Mr. H. They are always thoughtful and sensible.

I hope your Christmas tidings are going enjoyably well. You have been missed here at the MUSINGS.

This is precisely the kind of posting I was hoping to see from all of the Babylon 5 fans but nothing.

Great, comprehensive reasoning behind your selections. I'm amused that Season Two stands pat at the #3 spot.

Anyway, a terrific list. Regarding my list, I never actually did number it, so I'll do it here.

1. Season Two
2. Season Three
3. Season Four
4. Season One
5. Season Five

That is essentially how I felt, thought I could flip flop Season Three and Season Two. There's something about those SET UP Seasons that I love which is why I rate Season Two so high.

Should I go back to watch this again my opinion may change. We shall see.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas H! Glad you took time to stop by. I know everyone is busy and especially with a newborn, very busy. Cheers.

Havremunken said...

Hey again :)

You know, if I set my mind to it, I could probably make a reasonably convincing (at least to me) argument for ANY season being the best. Season 1 has a certain charm that you probably won't catch on your first run through. It's just something about the simple music, the Commodore 64 graphics and all the actions that will have consequences down the line. The mysterious Kosh, and how he keeps the Shadows away from the humans (even though he gets a little dented in the fight that ensues) offscreen when Morden first appears is one of those things that kind of kicks you in the head when you realize it. Delenn building her cocoon-a-tron. Sinclair steady on his path to becoming V-dawg. Londo and G'Kar in their pre-evolved states.. There is a LOT of good here, but you don't really see that unless you know what follows. And the more you are aware of later seasons, the more devastating some of the stuff is here, like the assasination of the earth president.

Season 2 really is brilliant. The opening with Sheridan replacing Sinclair is a bit confusing, taking us out of our comfort zone. Then Delenn changes, and before you know it, "The Coming of Shadows" throws a full-blown war at us. This is a fan favourite episode, and I love it too, but my season 2 favourite (among many GREAT entries) is currently "The Long, Twilight Struggle" where the desperate Narn try to attack the centauri, only to be stepped on and crushed by the shadows. I think this is probably my favourite G'Kar episode for obvious reasons. Also, crazy coolness in "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum", where the scope of the story is finally revealed. Nothing really puts stuff in perspective than learning a few million years of backstory. And the final episode has this sweet feeling of everything going straight to hell, with some angel Kosh to lift our spirits.

Season 3 - man, what a season. There are strong episodes in the beginning, but the three that make up the middle are amazing. Messages from Earth, where they get the first indication of earth and the shadows working as a team, is brutal, a real kicker. The next one kinda suffers from being squeezed inbetween two greats, but resolves the nightwatch stuff in a beautiful way, vindicated Zack, and sets up the break with Earth Alliance. Then that break is completed in the next episode with Severed Dreams - my all-time favourite episode. When I saw this the first time, I just sat back and said "Whoa", Keanu Reeves style, several times. To fight your own in such a senseless way is horrible, but necessary here. And when Delenn saves the day.. I believe tvtropes.org calls this "Crowning moment of Awesome". Then, in the second half of the season, almost every episode is a king size winner. B4/Valen story resolved, Kosh killed, Anna Sheridan taking Johnny boy for a ride to Z'ha'dum.. Ok, right now, season 3 is back at the top of my list. :D

Havremunken said...

Season 4 - too bad they thought they were being cancelled, so that so much gets resolved here. I kinda liked how the shadow war was resolved by philosophy rather than guns, but it kinda let the air out of the story for a while. Then the fight for earth got the wind back in the sails. And here be more awesome to be discovered. I already mentioned Garibaldis betrayal. This scene alone is worth the price of admission in my book. Sheridans episode-long interrogation. Ivanova on the deathbed nearly had me crying like someone stepped on my kitten (disclaimer: I have no kitten and noone has ever stepped on it). And the sadness of the implications of Sheridans willingness to sacrifice himself when quietly yet firmly speaking the words "All power to engines... give me... ramming speed" really ends the war in a spectacular way. Then the realization that Marcus discovered the device from *the end of season one* and sacrifices himself for Ivanova to live... and her reaction to it.. Man, on Babylon 5, no victory comes without pain. And the characters are more than willing to share this pain with the viewers.

Season 5. Well. Yeah. It's season 5. Byron. Lochley. Filler episodes for the first half, destroying Londo most of the second half, then goodbye. After finishing the shadow and earth wars in S4, I don't think ANYTHING could satisfy the fans. I've seen it so many times that it has grown on me, and I have accepted it. The ending is crushing, like we have discussed. It's a lovely goodbye, but it makes you face the fact that even if you DO win the big game, your kids will fail, your wife will hate you some times, and everyone you love will eventually die. It would be easy to get depressed by something like this. But the only thing that went to rock bottom was my appreciation for other, lesser shows. ;) Also, according to a post-TV-show novel, Marcus IS resurrected 500 (?) years in the future, and he fixes up a virtual Ivanova doll and gets some happiness out of it. Kind of a cheat since poor old Susan had to live the rest of her life like a dried up old prune in sorrow, but nothing is perfect.

Hey, look how I get carried away here. If only I had the same drive when writing my own blog.. (in norwegian, sorry)!

Best wishes for a happy Christmas to you and yours, and extend greetings to your family from the home of Santa Claus (don't listen to the fins, everyone knows Finland is filled with depressed drunks anyway). ;)

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

What do you say to all of that? WOW! Great rundown. An entertaining read. Like Bill, or was it Ted, said, "Whoa!"

There's just so much to comment on here or discuss, but I think your entry speaks for itself.

I wouldn't be able to read Norwegian I'm afraid, but you need to keep your blog alive! Take it easy on those Fins. HA! Ho Ho Ho!