Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Timing is Everything: The Audio Guide to Babylon 5

In watching classic Doctor Who episodes for a second time, and mostly in order - I'm up to “Pyramids of Mars” - I was thrown off course by an episode of The Incomparable! podcast, discussing Babylon 5. I had never seen the show, not a single episode. I don't recall why - perhaps because I saw Babylon 5 as an inferior imitation of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, itself a show I rarely watched. How interesting could hanging around a space station be?

Very interesting indeed, according to the participants in the podcast: host Jason Snell, Erika Ensign (of the Verity! Doctor Who podcast), Chip Sudderth (of the Two-Minute Time Lord podcast), Andy Ihnatko, and Michael Gartenberg. Their love of the show convinced me to try it. Amazon had better prices on DVDs than I could get for iTunes downloads, so I bought Season 1 and was immediately hooked.

In a fortuitous coincidence, Erika Ensign and Chip and Shannon Sudderth have joined forces to start The Audio Guide to Babylon 5. They plan on discussing each episode of the series, in order, on a biweekly schedule. As I'm nearly done Seasons 1 and 2, I'm enough ahead of them that spoilers shouldn't be a problem, while I've watched those episodes recently enough that they're still reasonably fresh in memory.

And - spoiler alert! - the show is nothing like Deep Space 9. It's much better.


Jack said...

"As I'm nearly done Seasons 1 and 2, I'm enough ahead of them that spoilers shouldn't be a problem"

I would not necessarily take that as given. When the show was originally running, JMS was well known for playing the long game...there are some things that get said in season 1 or 2 that don't really pay off until season 5, so unless you're ok with knowing how this 5 year long novel ends while you're still halfway through, I wouldn't listen to the second/spoilery half of the podcasts until you've actually watched the last episode.

From the GEnie boards back in 1992, JMS said:

" "You think you've got it bad," I noted, "I've already worked out the last scene in the last episode of the last season (#5)...and I've still got to make Movie #1." They called me on it and asked what that scene was. Just to see their reaction, I told them. They looked at me as if I'd suddenly sprouted three heads and feathers. It was worth it. (Happily, they're sworn to secrecy.) It was also good because I think that, even without filling in the beats in between, it gave them a good sense of where the series was going to go."

Rhianon Jameson said...

I appreciate the warning, even as I foolishly do the opposite! I'm a little too lazy to go back to the podcasts and listen to the "spoiler" sections, so I'm betting on my ability to watch the episodes faster than the hosts can reveal upcoming plot twists. I'm closing in on the end of Season 4 right now, so maybe the smart approach is to let a few of the podcasts pile up, unheard, while I finish off the series.

So far, so good, though. The closest they came to a major spoiler for me was in discussing Commander Sinclair... mere days after I had seen the relevant episode.

But I do thank you for the advice.