JMS on CompuServe (May 11, 1996) *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* 1/2

Brent Barrett bbarrett at
Sat May 11 17:55:55 EDT 1996

 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WARNING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 The following posts may contain SPOILERS for
 upcoming Babylon 5 episodes.

 Continue at your own risk.





 Note that JMS has expressed his public permission 
 that all of his messages may be reproduced freely.

 I give permission for my summaries to be reposted in
 any form, however I reserve all rights to them and
 the right to revoke this permission at any time.

 [ Summary: Was moved by the Kosh death scene in "Interludes & 
   Examinations." ]

 #: 503295 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    10-May-96  13:17:46
Sb: #503093-<<I&E>>
Fm: J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI was a very moving moment for someone whose true face we've
never seen.


 [ Summary: Glowing thanks to JMS for B5 and especially for "Interludes &
   Examinations." ]

 #: 503296 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    10-May-96  13:17:48
Sb: #503099->>Interludes<<



 [ Summary: A poster who has been a bit negative in the group decides that
   she's leaving because she doesn't fit in like the fans who never question
   JMS. ]

 #: 503297 S5/Babylon 5: General
    10-May-96  13:17:50
Sb: #503101-#Joe an atheist?

       " have so many who never question your show that you're not gonna
miss me!" is where you show your stripes repeatedly in this
discussion.  There is a certain type of poster who is under the curious
assumption that only he or she questions me, or this show, and everybody else
is just a follower, never questioning.

       And it ain't true.  Believe me, I see more questions, go through more
heated drilling about this show than you can possibly *begin* to imagine; no
one here is in the least shy about expressing their opinions if something
doesn't strike them as being correct.

       Your comment here, as all have been to date, is self-congratulatory when
no such basis for congratulations exist.


 [ Summary: Enjoyed "Interludes & Examinations" and has a couple of 
   questions: 1) Was the glow of Kosh in Morden's mask purposefully 
   like the glow of Kosh in Lyta's mask earlier in the series? 
   2) Why wasn't Delenn more emotionally upset by Kosh's death? ]

 #: 503298 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    10-May-96  13:17:51
Sb: #503118-<Interludes comments>

       Yeah, certainly the flash of light was an echo of Lyta's mask.  As for
Delenn, I think she was just stunned, just emotionallly worn out over this.


 [ Summary: Wonders if Franklin's decision to resign was a bit hasty, when
   he should have sought medical treatment and Sheridan should've tried
   harder to keep him on. ]

 #: 503299 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    10-May-96  13:17:53
Sb: #503123->>Interludes<<

       One can certainly argue that Franklin's actions were hasty, that he is
basically running away from the *consequences* of the problem he has, as much
as from the problem itself.  This will, of course, have to be dealt with.


 [ Summary: This poster wants JMS to know that he feels Kosh's death was a
   "great idea," as opposed to the negative comments this poster has read
   recently about the event. ]

 #: 503301 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    10-May-96  13:18:00
Sb: #503197-#I&E Support

       Thanks...I'm just waiting for some nit to come out of the woodwork and
announce that the real reason for what happened to Kosh was that Kosh had a
contract dispute over money or walked off the show....


 [ Summary: A self-described "believer" thanks JMS for being so open minded
   and *not* trying to impose his beliefs onto the viewing public.  The 
   poster believes that this adds greatly to the show. ]

 #: 503302 S5/Babylon 5: General
    10-May-96  13:18:01
Sb: #503205-Joe an atheist?

       Thanks.  Like I've said..if I *had* any answers, I'd be happy to give
them in an episode.  But all I have are questions.

       Television, as well as entertaining, should try where possible to get us
TO think, not tell us WHAT to think.


 [ Summary: Asks if Psis can scan someone who is out of line-of-sight but
   known to be present (such as behind a door or wall). ]

 #: 503303 S5/Babylon 5: General
    10-May-96  13:18:02
Sb: #503212-<Rage's Thots: Teeps>

       No, if the person is behind a door, or otherwise can't be located
visually, it's difficult to impossible to scan.


 #: 503166 S5/Babylon 5: General
    10-May-96  06:38:52
Sb: #JMS: Arc a Fake?

Please forgive me if the title of this thread is a little provocative, it is
not meant to offend, but to stir people into thinking about things.
I have been spending some time pondering the Babylon 5 universe and the whole
'arc' thing. What I cannot help but come up with is, magnificence of the series
and storytelling aside, are we being had?

My first impression of B5, gleaned from reading the FAQ is that it is a
multifaceted, extremely coherent story which has a start, a middle, and an end.
It is a three dimensional story which is 'interactive' on the level that in
many cases characters on screen may lie to each other and by extension to us as
well. The interaction would come from considering the whole universe and the
pieces of the bigger picture that are being given to us. Without the benefit of
hindsight (which we will hopefully have in little over two years time), it is
easy to get misled about the 'scale' of this willing suspension of disbelief. I
read a recent interview with JMS in which he described the arc in context of
Sinclair leaving, as being like World War II, people will come and go, but the
Germans will still lose the war. This to me shoves the 'arc' firmly into the
background with the show being a day to day episode of people living in
remarkable times. Not that there is anything wrong with this, it is still a
brilliant show, but have we been drawn to the show to see something, only to be
let down in that context.

Have we been subject to sales banter and are still expecting to see what we

Have we been distracted from our original impressions by the sheer brilliance
of the show?

If there is an arc for each character (as I believed), how come some of the
following have occoured:

In the V.O. on the pilot, Londo describes Sinclair as the last commander of B5.
(Okay, he says something along the lines of 'Under her last commander' while we
see Sinclair, but that to me counts as him describing Sinclair)

Some time in the first season is spent developing Talia, particularly with the
'gift' that Ironheart gave her. (i) How come Ironheart who 'knew everything'
didn't see the fake personality? (ii) We saw  interaction between Kosh and her
in (was it?) 'Deathwalker' which resulted in Kosh recording something of her -
what ever happened to that? (as a side note I always felt that the alternate
Talia was a cop-out, what really happened was that Kosh wanted her out of the
way for some reason, after all who was it that transmitted the 'password')

The first half of season 2 seemed to lead us along the path of ''what is going
on is related to Bible/Revelation prophecy as far as the millenium et al is
concerned', it later seemed to take on WWII imagery. While I love being led
like this through a story with later revelation hitting me and casting my
impressions anew, I cannot help but feel that I am being led in the same way
with respect to the whole 'arc' thing.

Not that I will ever stop watching the show, I love it. But these questions
sure are nagging.....


 #: 503311 S5/Babylon 5: General
    10-May-96  14:01:14
Sb: #503166-#JMS: Arc a Fake?

       It's a fair question.  I'm going to try and deal with it as best I can.
The problem, first and foremost, is trying to explain the craft of writing to
someone who isn't a writer.  This isn't intended as a slight; if a brain
surgeon tried to explain his work to me, I'd be about as much in the dark.  I
have no idea where music comes from; I can sit with Chris Franke for hours,
trying to understand that process.  I never will.  I'm not hardwired that way.
I *am* hardwired for writing.  So it's not a judgment, just a minor truth.

       The creative process is fluid.  Has to be.  Consider for a moment the
position in which I find myself.  Let's say I'm writing a novel.  I start with
a fairly clear notion of where I'm going.  Six chapters in, I get a better way
of doing something, so I go back and revise chapters 1-5, so it now all fits;
you never see what went before.  Now, compare that to a situation where you're
publishing each chapter as you go, and you can't go back and change anything.
(This is pretty much the situation Dickens found himself in, as he published
his works chapter by chapter; you can never back up, only go forward.)

       At the same time, because we're using actors who have real lives of
their own, to whom things happen -- broken limbs, health problems that may
preclude appearing in a given episode, sudden career changes, you name it --
you have real-life obstacles constantly in your way.

       The closest thing I can compare this if you're on stage, in
front of a large audience, and you have to do a very elaborate dance...and all
the while people are throwing bowling balls and chainsaws at you.  You either
learn how to accommodate all that, and keep pretty much on rhythm, or you're

       This show was originally conceived in 1986/87.  About 10 years ago. Back
then, all TV episodic stuff was done pretty much from one person's point of
view, your nominal hero.  Yes, you'd occasionally dive outside that for a quick
scene with other characters, usually to set up something, but for the most
part, it was about that one person.  In MURDER, SHE WROTE, Jessica Fletcher was
always at the heart of every episode; you had the occasional guest character
with whom she'd interact, and the recurring supporting cast, but none of them
ever changed, and none of them ever really took center stage for more than a
few minutes at a time.  That's how TV has been done up until now.

       Novels, on the other hand, are often omniscient in narrative structure,
and you blip in and out of multiple points of view.  THE STAND, for instance.

       Now, I've done both; I've written novels and I've written TV.  When it
came time to pull together B5 initially, you go into the "okay, who is the TV
point of view character" question.  Which was Londo's narration, and which was
the way I'd learned to write TV all these years.  Once the series got going, it
quickly became apparent that I'd have to learn a whole new way of writing TV
that was a lot more like what I'd been writing in my novels, which were
multi-POV huge stories.  It's a kind of writing that's never really been done
before for American TV; and I had to somewhat invent that style or form of
writing as I went, in front of millions of viewers.

       You can't prepare for something like this, as much as you try, because
it's never been done before.

       (On reflection, probably the closest thing to what I've been doing here
was the miniseries The Winds of War, in terms of the multiple viewpoints

       Also, in the last 10 years, I've become a better writer, learned more
about my craft, added more tools to my toolbox.  That means being able to
perceive better ways of doing things now than I could've seen before.

       So here we are.  I sit at my word processor with my notes from 1986, and
I see a better way of doing something from those I go with what's
there, or do I strike off and do the better approach, PROVIDED that it still
takes me where I want to go in the arc?  To ignore it is to be inflexible.

       I've stayed fluid.  It's the same way I write a novel.  You're just
seeing the *process* acted out right in front of you, a process which normally
the public never gets to see.  That, I think, is some part of what you're
reacting to.

       Also, you have to be careful in how you define an arc.  There have been
definite arcs of character all through this.  Look at Londo when we first met
him...and look at him now.  Same for G'Kar, Delenn, Franklin... look at
Sheridan when he first arrived: happy go lucky, smiling, glad to be there,
fresh fruit and a hot shower, able to take care of anything and everything, how
bad can it be?...and look at the dark, haunted, almost overwhelmed figure we
see now.

       The story has also arc'd, peeling off layer by layer.  The Minbari war
leads to the secret of the Grey Council, which leads back to the first shadow
war, which leads to the current shadow war, each really on a direct line one
from the other.  The slow corruption of Earthgov, the death of President
Santiago, the rise of Clark, the fall from Earth...all of it a very definite

       It's not just a matter of "living in interesting times."  What makes a
story is *causality*.  A sequence of linked events.  "The king died, and then
the queen died" is not a story.  "The king died, and then the queen died of
grief" is a story.  It is an arc, however small.

       Finally, I'd just note the posts -- public and private -- from folks who
have sat down and watched the *whole show* as a unit, once per day, or several
per day...and the linked aspect, the real *arc* of the show, becomes far more
apparent when watched that way right now.  It's there.


 [ Summary: Asks if JMS had the Arisians from Lensman in mind when he
   created the idea of the Vorlons. ]

 #: 503543 S5/Babylon 5: General
    10-May-96  22:08:06
Sb: #503393-Arisians and Vorlons

      No, I really hadn't been thinking of the Arisians in either direction
when I came up with the Vorlons...just what they were, not in relation to
anything else.


 [ Summary: A new fan admits to falling in love with B5 and asks if there's
   any way she can get videos of the first two seasons. ]

 #: 503544 S5/Babylon 5: General
    10-May-96  22:08:08
Sb: #503402-I admit I'm an idiot

      Welcome to the party.  Videos aren't currently available, though the
second and third season episodes can get rerun over the coming year.

      And you can always disagree with a decision...and explain why.  Around
the stage, we have a simple policy...anybody can go up to me and say, "Joe, it
sucks."  And tell me why.  And if they're right, they get to stay....


 [ Continued in next section -- BB ]

-*** B5JMS SUBSCRIBERS: Messages to this list come from various sources.
-*** Replies to them, automatically to go the maintainer of this list
-*** <b5jms-owner at>.  If you want to reply to
-*** someone else, make sure the "To:" header line is correctly set.

More information about the B5JMS mailing list