Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10: Babylon 5

I give you the second official Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10 list! You know I love lists. As a result, I've come up with the official title, Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10, for this ongoing series covering all things science fiction. This time, I thought it might be fun to recap what episodes really worked for me in Babylon 5 and serve up my ten favorite installments of that epic long series. There are also several that just miss so I've noted the close calls [and I still omitted a few]. In the end, these are the ten that really stayed with me for one particular reason or another. I remember very specific, visceral things about these episodes, while the episodes themselves were also exceptional on the whole. Careful consideration was given as deserved. I definitely felt I needed to nail down ten to be fair, but man it was hard [and I still fudged it with number 10 & 8].

10. War Without End [Season Three]
9. Messages From Earth [Season Three]
8. Between The Darkness And The Light/ Endgame [Season Four]
7. Passing Through Gethsemane [Season Three]
6. The Coming Of Shadows [Season Two]
5. Interludes And Examinations [Season Three]
4. Acts Of Sacrifice [Season Two]
3. Intersections In Real Time [Season Four]
2. In The Shadow Of Z'Ha'Dum [Season Two]
1. Z'Ha'Dum [Season Three]

Close Calls [and there were many]: Babylon Squared [Season One]/ Revelations [Season Two]/ The Geometry Of Shadows [Season Two]/ Knives [Season Two]/ The Long Twilight Struggle [Season Two]/ Comes The Inquisitor [Season Two]/ The Fall Of Night [Season Two]/ Matters Of Honor [Season Three]/ Point Of No Return [Season Three]/ Voices Of Authority [Season Three]/ Dust To Dust [Season Three]/ Severed Dreams [Season Three]/ Ship Of Tears [Season Three]/ Whatever Happened To Mr. Garibaldi? [Season Four]/ Falling Toward Apotheosis [Season Four]/ The Long Night [Season Four]/ Into The Fire [Season Four]/ Epiphanies [Season Four]/ Lines Of Communication [Season Four]/ No Surrender, No Retreat [Season Four]/ The Face Of The Enemy [Season Four] [this was almost my number 10]/ And All My Dreams Torn Asunder [Season Five]/ The Fall Of Centauri Prime [Season Five]/ Sleeping In Light [Season Five].

Having given you my favorites and given the depth and scope of this tale I suspect some episodes that I may have discounted might benefit immensely from a second viewing. These are my favorites based upon my initial viewing and my fading memory. Also, of course, none of these episodes can be completely appreciated or fully understood outside of the entire scope and framework of J. Michael Straczynski's deep-thinking saga Babylon 5, which is why a second viewing might just change things.

If you have a moment I'd love to see where your BIG 10 for Babylon 5 rank.


Anonymous said...

Awsome,here is my top ten :
1.Babylon Squared,2.GROPOS,3.Sleeping in the Light,4.War Without EndI&II,5.Endgame,6.And All My Dreams Torn Asunder,7.And The Sky full of Stars,8.Ceremonies of Light and Dark,9.Objects in Motion,10.Objects at Rest :)

SFF said...

Interesting list. Thanks for sharing it. B2 was really something and that was high on my list from Season One. In fact that was my favorite Season One episode. I really need to go back and watch And The Sky Full Of Stars. It seems that's an important episode especially now having seen the whole series. I also liked Signs & Portents too from Season One.

Anyway, some real nice selections. Gropos wasn't a favorite for me, but Objects In Motion and Objects At Rest were very good, as well as your number 6 choice. Tough picking those 10 though.

Anonymous said...

Thank you,yea it is really hard to choose anyone or ten,when watching them every week,after it was over I would tell myself,that is my favorite episode !!!haha,really I loved every episode !!!

Tom Slatter said...

I don't think I could pick my top ten episodes.

I could come up with a top ten scenes, but all of them would be two-handers between Londo and G'Kar.

Londo and G'Kar in the lift after the bomb-blast, Londo and G'kar in the flash-forward to Londo's death in War Without End, G'kar making Londo drink with him, though Londo has ordered the invasion of Narn.

Or I could come up with my favourite episode titles - there are loads. And the Rock Cried out no hiding place, Whatever happened to Mr Garibaldi, The very very long night of Londo Mollari.

I should watch B5 again. I've only watched the whole thing four times......

Unknown said...

Four times!? Then you haven't even really experienced it! ;) I'm trying to get my significant other along for the ride, it would be #19 for me.. Yeah, it's pretty sad, but it's my choice.. :)

Just like ranking the seasons, it IS difficult, and it basically changes with my mood. The list might look very different this time tomorrow. By then it would be weekend, after all. :)

1. Z'ha'dum

This is a killer season finale. When you realize what Sheridan is about to do, perhaps during his final recorded words to Delenn.. Man, kick in the stomach.

2. Severed Dreams

This one is often at the top of my list. The feeling of everything falling apart with the break from Earth Alliance, then the awesome fight, almost didn't make it, then more baddies arrive.. Then Delenn comes through Strong and Clear and has them on the run.

3. Sleeping in Light

Few things in the world can get me to cry like a baby. This is one of them. The final embrace - tell you what, I'm a girly-man.

4. War Without End part 2

What's not to love about Londo's future and the Valen stuff?

5. The Face of the Enemy

Garibaldi's betrayal. Enough said.

6. Interludes and Examinations

Kosh. Kosh! KOSH!

7. The Long, Twilight Struggle

The flattening of Narn by the asteroids. G'Kars eviction from the council. The look on Sheridans face, wanting to take Londo apart when he makes his demands.. The music of mass destruction is beautiful and horrible!

8. Endgame

"All power to engines... Give me... ramming speed!"

Not to mention Marcus doing his thing.

9. In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum

The backstory that took this show from "Awesome" to "Best. Show. Ever." for me.

10. Messages from Earth

Oi, psi-core and Shadows, now THAT sounds like bad news.

There are of course 20-30 others that could compete for a place on this list. Londo's flashback towards the end of "The Fall of Centauri Prime", the mentioned drink G'Kar offered Londo in "The Coming of Shadows", leaving the station in "Objects at Rest".. Even standalone episodes like "Believers" from season 1 and then the even more tragic "Confessions and Lamentations" from season 2 make me wanna drool over the show again... off to do some persusion! :)

SFF said...

I completely understand Tom. Trust me. It's not really fair to nail down ten, but I believe I've done it despite the fact that I agree with you completely.

There are so many amazing moments/ scenes. Like you, I would bottle all of my favorite G'Kar Londo scenes and take them with me to a deserted island. They would simply have to be the BEST of the series for me too.
I was also moved by a number of scenes between G'Kar and other key players like that one with Vir in the elevator. That was one of my favorite moments of television. I also would say some moments between G'Kar and Sheridan were very good. Londo with eother Morden or Vir also comes to mind.

Now that you mention it, can you imagine life on Babylon 5 without Londo and G'Kar. Impossible.

SFF said...

Big H! Always a pleasure. Loads of thought from the man of the north. You are funny. I thought four times was alot. 19 times?! WHOA! There is no question there is much that can be gained from Babylon 5 upon repeat viewings. There's alot of nuaince and depth to these stories. I love how you call it your choice. AMEN!

So, your list. Interesting how much we have in common here. You and I had six episodes in our top ten. Talk about being on the same page and The Face Of The Enemy was close to being on my top ten list. I almost pulled the trigger on that one. Anyway, great list and your other picks are solid every one of them making the close call on my list. You are so right, there are 20-30 others that are top of the heep.

Hope all is well. Best in the Ney Year.

Tom Slatter said...

See I got my significant other along for the ride on number 4.

The flip side of which is that I'm now one episode away from having watched 5 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Buffy's kind of all right. But it isn't B5.

SFF said...

No easy task Tom to pull the other half on board. Well done. I think Havremunken would agree. I'm lucky to get The One To Be Pitied to watch Dexter or The Shield. Taking her into science fiction has been no small feat.

I started on Buffy once and gave up after about three episodes. I probably didn't give it enough time.

Todd W in NC said...

Babylon 5 is the greatest show in the history of TV, and since I also love lists, I've tried several times to try to narrow down & rank my favorite episodes...

It can't be done.

There are too many brilliant episodes to limit a list to just 10, and too many are virtually perfect to realistically say one is better than another, which is better than another, etc.

Here's my best effort to list the Best *35* Episodes of Babylon 5, first by grade, then in chronological order:

Top 15 "A+" Episodes
2.18 "Confessions and Lamentations"
3.06 "Dust to Dust"
3.09 "Point of No Return"
3.10 "Severed Dreams"
3.20 "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place"
3.22 "Z'Ha'Dum"
4.01 "The Hour of the Wolf"
4.02 "Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi"
4.03 "The Summoning"
4.04 "Falling Toward Apotheosis"
4.05 "The Long Night"
4.06 "Into the Fire"
4.20 "Endgame"
5.18 "The Fall of Centauri Prime"
5.22 "Sleeping in Light"

My Next 10 "A" Episodes
2.09 "The Coming of Shadows"
2.20 "The Long, Twilight Struggle"
2.22 "The Fall of Night"
3.04 "Passing Through Gethsemane"
3.08 "Messages From Earth"
3.16 "War Without End, Part 1"
3.17 "War Without End, Part 2"
3.21 "Shadow Dancing"
4.15 "No Surrender, No Retreat"
5.21 "Objects at Rest"

My Next 10 "A-" Episodes
1.09 "Deathwalker"
1.21 "The Quality of Mercy"
2.03 "The Geometry of Shadows"
2.07 "Soul Mates"
3.11 "Ceremonies of Light and Dark"
3.15 "Interludes and Examinations"
4.21 "Rising Star"
5.16 "And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder"
5.17 "Movements of Fire and Shadow"
5.20 "Objects in Motion"

...Trust me, I'm leaving out a lot of B+'s, including four from season 1 and probably "Face of the Enemy" from season 4 (which I don't remember liking as much as the rest of the world does). But, this might be the best I've ever been able to do listing my favorite episodes.

My 6 Least Favorite Episodes
1.02 "Soul Hunter" (D+)
1.04 "Infection" (C-)
1.05 "Believers" (C-)
2.06 "A Spider in the Web" (C)
3.19 "Grey 17 Is Missing" (C)
4.18 "Intersections in Real Time" (C)

SFF said...

Todd W in NC. Love North Carolina by the way!

A pleasure to read your comments today.

This is the first chance I've had to write back because I came down with some sort of 24 hour bug. Getting better.

It's funny, but you're not wrong. I love the lists but it's really hard to come up with 10 best. It would have to be a short series like Firefly, because these series that go on three or more seasons, well, it's very hard to stick to 10 or 15.

As you can see by my own runner-up list, it was hard for me to do too.

I also think you really nail the list with your grading. I think you have accurately captured the best of the best.

My only suggestion is Face Of The Enemy would definitely deserve a B+ spot if you did a list at the very least so you should see that one again.

Also, my only objection would be Intersections In Real Time which for me was a bit of a masterpiece, which is why I love to see others lists. Thanks so much for stopping and sharing this one with us Todd.


Todd W in NC said...

I think my problem with "Face of the Enemy" is that I don't remember it as well as other major episodes. In fact, as much I love the whole series, I tend to re-watch season 2 & 3 about twice as much as I do seasons 1, 4, and 5.

You can probably tell from my choices that I consider the first six episodes of season 4 to be one of the best blocks of episodes. But, the rest of season 4 kind of blends together for me. I know that there's a lot of Mars, civil war, and Voice of the Resistance stuff that happens in season 4, but it's always hard for me to remember that episode 4.xx is the one where so-and-so happens. I probably need to re-watch seasons 4 and 5 again, but I'm still not totally done with re-watches of seasons 2 & 3 yet.

You can probably also tell that I have very different opinions about season 1 episodes. I know s1 has several important episodes in laying groundwork, but they're not as likable to me in overall quality compared to the rest of the series. I'm probably the only person on Earth whose favorite s1 episode is "Quality of Mercy." I also don't hate "Grail" and consider the much-hated "TKO" to be my 7th favorite episode of season 1. No, seriously, I do. ;)

In case you're curious, here are some episodes I that I would either definitely or at least probably (off the top of my head) give a B+:

1.06 "Mind War"
1.13 "Signs and Portents"
1.20 "Babylon Squared"
1.22 "Chrysalis"
2.01 "Points of Departure"
2.14 "There All Honor Lies"
2.16 "In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum"
2.17 "Knives"
2.19 "Divided Loyalties"
2.21 "Comes the Inquisitor"
3.01 "Matters of Honor"
3.02 "Convictions"
3.03 "A Day in the Strife"
3.05 "Voices of Authority"
3.12 "Sic Transit Vir"
3.14 "Ship of Tears"
3.18 "Walkabout"
4.09 "Atonement"
4.17 "Face of the Enemy"
4.19 "Between the Darkness and the Light"
4.22 "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars"
5.02 "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari" (maybe)

...And, my memories of season 5 are too vague to add further episodes.

SFF said...

I have to tell you once again.

Your B+ list is pretty spot on!

I think I would spend time revisiting the smae seasons you enjoy for many of the same reasons.

Season One isn't great apart from some standouts. But truthfully, I can hack that season more than Season Five.

I laughed with your "maybe" next to The Long Night Of Londo Mollari because I would hazard to guess I would do the same. Even that episode is just, well, good.

Season Five is pretty tough to stomach. It's relatively unmemorable I'm afraid and feels different from the previous four seasons. It's definitely my least favorite except for Sleeping In Light as the exception, and as you and I both know, that was supose to be the series ender on Season Four. That's a beautiful episode to go out on as evidence by your A+. Well done indeed!

Todd W in NC said...

Last night, I *finally* finished up a long, drawn-out re-watch of season 2. I'm still debating whether to finish up the last five episodes of season 3 to be totally caught up with the season 4 re-watch going on at the Tuning Into Sci-Fi TV podcast, or if I should just continue skipping around.

Anyway, I've been grading the episodes along the way, and I have a few revisions to my previous comments about B+ to A+ episodes.

My original estimations were mostly correct except I gave "The Long Twilight Struggle" an A+ instead of an A, I gave "And Now For a Word" an A-, and I also gave "Revelations" a B+.

The worst episode of the season remains "A Spider in the Web" which I gave a C, leaving two B's and five B-'s in the middle.

For a full list of how I ranked all 22 season 2 episodes, see my comment at the Tuning Into Sci-Fi TV forums here:

Todd W in NC said...

I recently finished up a season 3 re-watch too. My original estimations were correct except I gave 3.18 "Walkabout" an A- instead of a B+. I think I like that episode more than most people do.

I'm finally able to start my season 4 re-watch. I'm afraid I already gave 4.01 "The Hour of the Wolf" an A instead of an A+ as originally guessed. That one doesn't surprise me, but I'm thinking a few others of those first six will still hold up as A+'s.

Go here for a my complete ranking of all season 3 episodes:

SFF said...


I've enjoyed your post follow-ups.

Boy, isn't funny how we can see things slightly eschew from our original viewings?

It's funny how we can like something a little more or a little less or have a profoundly different view on picture or episode of television through the wisdom of time.

At least it does seem fascinating to me.

Thanks for sharing these rankings here! Best, sff

Todd W in NC said...

Hi. Me again. I finished my season 4 re-watch along with the Tuning Into Sci-Fi TV Podcast this summer and I've been meaning to update my revised impressions.

My actual grades are quite a bit different than my original assumptions with 3 episodes higher than expected and 6 episodes lower than expected.

Here my actual re-watch scores...

Grade A+ Episodes
4.02 "Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi"
4.03 "The Summoning"
4.06 "Into the Fire"
4.15 "No Surrender, No Retreat"

Grade A Episodes
4.01 "The Hour of the Wolf"
4.05 "The Long Night"
4.20 "Endgame"

Grade A- Episodes
4.04 "Falling Toward Apotheosis"
4.17 "The Face of the Enemy"

Grade B+ Episodes
4.07 "Epiphanies"
4.09 "Atonement"
4.19 "Between the Darkness and the Light"
4.21 "Rising Star"
4.22 "The Deconstructions of Falling Stars"

Least Favorite Episodes
4.16 "The Exercise of Vital Powers" (B-)
4.18 "Intersections in Real Time" (C-)

...And, the remaining 6 episodes in the middle of the season (5 of them consecutive) I gave a plain B.

- That I didn't grade episodes 1 to 6 all A+. :(
- "Epiphanies" was a B+, and I didn't remember it being that good.
- "No Surrender, No Retreat" was not only an A+ instead of an A, but it has also become my favorite episode of season 4.
- I liked "The Face of the Enemy" more than I remembered.
- "Intersections in Real Time" sunk a letter grade lower and is now my 3rd-least favorite episode of the series.
- "Endgame" & "Rising Star" were slightly less good than expected.

But, with 9 out of 22 episodes being in the A range, it's still an excellent season. I'm just now more positive that season 3 is my favorite season of B5 (and, therefore, of all TV shows).

Try this link for my complete rankings:

SFF said...

Sorry for the delay in getting to your [always] terrific comments.

It was awaiting moderation and I never really noticed it until today.

It is amazing how our impressions change with time. The great shows leave so much room for itnerpretation and when they are smartly written like this one, our moods and our actual place in life has a lot to do with our perspectives.

I remember really enjoying Epiphanies as well. Glad you rated that higher.

A re-watch will one day be in order. I'm still holding out for something like a Blu-Ray to improve the viewinng experience though. I'm beginning to wonder.

All the best