JMS on CompuServe (May 13, 1996) *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* 1/3

Brent Barrett bbarrett at
Mon May 13 16:13:55 EDT 1996

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

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

 Continue at your own risk.





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 [ Summary of subjects in this section: ]
    Sb: #504128-Joe an atheist?
    Sb: #504072-B5 Act Structure
    Sb: #504109-<I&E - special ship?>
    Sb: #504134-#Joe an atheist?
    Sb: #504312-Joe an atheist?
    Sb: #504291-Joe an atheist?
    Sb: #504133-#Joe an atheist?
    Sb: #504379-Joe an atheist?
    Sb: #504215-JMS: Arc a Fake?
    Sb: #504283-<JMS: Arc a Fake?>
    Sb: #504324-#<Religon on B5>
    Sb: #504178-<<War Without End>>

 #: 504128 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  02:48:54
Sb: #503302-#Joe an atheist?

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

Joe, are there any other TV people who believe that?  I'd like to hope there
are, somewhere, but I don't see it.  I guess there have been a few - some of
the original Trek episodes, for instance - but far too few.

Sorry, I'm feeling rather cynical today.  But only another 7 hours to the next
B5 episode, and then I can feel paranoid as well <g>...


 #: 504388 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  13:58:18
Sb: #504128-Joe an atheist?

      Yes, there are definitely other TV folk who feel that way; difference is,
you just don't hear about them a lot.


 #: 504072 S5/Babylon 5: General
    11-May-96  22:44:34
Sb: #B5 Act Structure

Hello again.

I've been meaning to comment on this for quite some time, but only now
remembered while on-line.

One thing I find really unique (to me at least) about B5 is the way you
structure the acts.  Especially the final act.  Unlike every other hour-long TV
drama I can think of, you tend to resolve the episode's plot before the final
act and then treat us in the final act with more questions, or fun touches, or
other very interesting things.

Is this something that's common in TV drama?  Have I just not noticed it
before?  Or is this something uncommon that you've adopted?


  -- Brent Barrett 's

 #: 504389 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  13:58:20
Sb: #504072-B5 Act Structure

      It's actually something I had to fight for; a number of folks at WB
weren't sure about the notion of using the tag (which you refer to as the last
act) in quite the way I use it.  So yeah, it's a bit off the usual.


 [ Summary: Asks why there was one and only one red-orange Vorlon ship in 
   "Interludes & Examinations."  Wonders if it was special. ]

 #: 504390 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    12-May-96  13:58:22
Sb: #504109-<I&E - special ship?>

      Not special per se, just to establish that they have more than one


 #: 504134 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  04:15:52
Sb: #504059-#Joe an atheist?

>> And, again, you miss the point...the statement is not "X does not exist,"
that's the usual argument brought out to try and make someone prove a negative,
which is nearly impossible.<<

One of the bedrock elements of science is that for a theory to be taken
seriously it must be falsifiable.  If no experiment can be devised that would
demonstrate that what I think will happen will *not* happen I will not be taken
seriously.  If my theory is that smashing particle A into particle B will cause
the release of a gamma ray photon and I smash A into B and no photon is
detected then my theory is not proved and I go back to the drawing board.  The
existence of God is outside this realm.  There is no test that can be conducted
under laboratory conditions that will produce "A" result if God is real and
"not A" result if there is no God.

danupton at

 #: 504530 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  19:02:05
Sb: #504134-#Joe an atheist?

"One of the bedrock elements of science is that for a theory to be taken
seriously it must be falsifiable."

Nope.  If that's what you're thinking, then I suggest you go back and check,
because that's not correct in any respect.  To take the green penguins at the
north pole scenario again, I can search for 165 years, and not find any, and
you can say, "Well, I guess you just missed them, but they're there."

It is not the purpose of scientific endeavor to *disprove* every assertion,
only to prove them.

Your statement is simply false.  I'm sorry.  Saying it's so doesn't make it so.
So everything that proceeds from that is equally flawed.  Any scientist or
logician here will back me up on this.  You may not want to hear it, Daniel,
but you're simply wrong on this.


 [ Summary: Asks if JMS isn't really just an agnostic by definition. ]

 #: 504531 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  19:02:06
Sb: #504312-Joe an atheist?

      No, I'm an atheist.  I prefer to define myself.

      I don't say "maybe there is, maybe there isn't."  There isn't.  There is
no proof to this statement.


 [ Summary: Another user tries to define JMS as an agnostic. ]

 #: 504532 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  19:02:09
Sb: #504291-Joe an atheist?

      No, see my note to the, er, feeder...not an agnostic, an atheist.


 #: 504133 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  04:11:46
Sb: #504076-#Joe an atheist?

Since you don't believe in God what standard do you use to judge Mother Teresa
better than Hitler if it isn't human?  The point that I made was that if you
don't believe that rights descend from a transcendent source (whether one god
or a pantheon of gods) then all you are left with is the state.  I didn't say
that atheists must do evil because they don't believe in God I said that in the
absence of a divine standard all you have left is a human standard.  The Greeks
would have chosen Mother Teresa over Hitler, the Mongols would have probably
liked Hitler more.  Without a viewpoint that exists outside of the human race
what basis do you or the Greeks have for saying that one is ultimately better
than the other that doesn't finally come back to human opinion?

danupton at

 #: 504533 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  19:02:12
Sb: #504133-#Joe an atheist?

      Daniel, I hate to burst your balloon, but *everything* comes down to a
human standard, to human opinion.  Christianity as it's practiced today is
nothing like what was originally there around 100 AD.

      For a long time, the church had no problem with the concept of slavery.
Even used sections of the bible as proof that it was a proper activity.  Only
later, after society began to change, did they come around. Why?  Because they
reacted to changing human opinions.  Once, the proper way to deal with heretics
was to burn them at the stake, or press them with stones.  That changed as
society changed.

      And I'm sorry, but I've *read* the bible, twice, cover to cover, and I
don't see any perfect guide or example of right and wrong there.  I see a
fictional deity that is capricious, slightly insane, petty, inconsistent,
vindictive...jealous, by its own admission, a trait we would deplore in

      The whole Adam/Eve thing was a mean-spirited setup.  The tree was the
tree of knowledge, remember; the penalty was death.  But insofar as we know,
nothing died in the garden, certainly no other people had died.  So to say "you
shall surely die" was a meaningless concept.  They were children, they didn't
know what the penalty meant.  And the kicker is...if the tree truly *were* the
knowledge of good and evil, and they didn't have that knowledge until after
they ate the fruit...then THEY DIDN'T KNOW IT WAS WRONG WHEN THEY DID IT.
They'd only know it was wrong AFTERWARD.

      And for this they and their inheritors across ten thousnd generations
were sentenced to pain and death?

      This is the example of transcendental rightness you would hold before me?

      Thank you, but I'll apply elsewhere.


 #: 504379 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  13:44:08
Sb: #503985-#Joe an atheist?

Madalyn Murray (as she was then known; she later married a man named O'Hair)
was the person most responsible for getting mandatory, teacher-led, Christian
prayers out of American public school classrooms, in a lawsuit based on the
Constitutional separation of church and state.

In this, she did a good thing that was 100% in keeping with the Constitution
and the ORIGINAL United States motto "E Pluribus Unum" or "out of many, one."
As you might imagine, she has ever since been Satan Incarnate to all the people
who felt it necessary to get the original United States motto changed to In God
We Trust, and to their descendants, and to all the people who fervently believe
that the only thing that kept this country on the straight and narrow was all
those compulsory prayers and the only reason we're in the shape we're in today
is that the teachers aren't making those kids bow down in the morning.

Unfortunately, Madalyn Murray O'Hair was (or is, although there is some
uncertainty as to whether she's dead or alive at the present day) an abrasive,
unpleasant, in-your-face kind of person who alienated many people including
many of those who support the strict separation of church and state.  She was
possibly the only person who could have walked through the fire and gotten her
lawsuit all the way through the Supreme Court when she did, but she turned out
to be her own worst enemy afterwards.


 #: 504534 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  19:02:16
Sb: #504379-Joe an atheist?

      Here's a little interesting aside...I used to write for Madeline Murry
O'Hare's magazine, AMERIAN ATHEIST, back when I was in college.  I did a humor
column, the occasional article, that sort of thing.

      But over time, I came to the conclusion that she wasn't just trying to
push for rights for atheists, but in fact was working to *eliminate* religion,
which I had a moral and ethical problem with.  The constitution is there to
allow anyone to believe, or not believe, whatever they choose.  If the day
comes when certain relgions are banned, I'll be right there on the front lines
with everybody else fighting for the restoration of those rights (though I have
a quiet suspicion that the same might not happen if the situation were
reversed).  I felt that this was supremely wrong, and resigned as a result.


 [ Summary: A user responds to another's question of why Ironheart didn't
   detect Talia's hidden personality by suggesting that perhaps he just 
   didn't think to look for it. ]

 #: 504535 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  19:02:19
Sb: #504215-JMS: Arc a Fake?

      No, actually, there's a much simpler answer to the Ironheart question
than that.

      If we all remember the episode, he was trying as hard as he could to
control himself, lest his abilities tear the place apart.  He was deliberately
and with great pain trying NOT to use his abilities in any way, manner, shape
or form.  He was also in great physical pain, was later shot, and became
transcendent...which tends to kind of distract one....


 #: 504283 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  10:32:19
Sb: #<JMS: Arc a Fake?>


>> 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.<<

I just wanted to comment on the one technique I really admired for the
"Interludes" episode.  That is the voice-over's.  It was really quite effective
in this episode.  The irony of Ivana sending Sheridan to bed with thoughts of
good news and a happy reconciliation with Kosh as we "watch" how that moment
will never be possible was most effective.  Viewing it a second time didn't
dimish the impact.  Now that's craft!

Thanks for the writing lesson.


 #: 504536 S5/Babylon 5: General
    12-May-96  19:02:22
Sb: #504283-<JMS: Arc a Fake?>

      Thanks.  The voice-over is something I mentioned here a few months ago as
a tool I was adding to my toolbox to use as counterpoint, or segue, in ways I
hadn't tried before.  I use it again here and there, though the key with any
new tool is not to go nuts and use it all over the place when a better one,
maybe the one you already had, is better suited to the task.


 [ Summary: Two users argue over JMS' closedmindedness. ]

 #: 504537 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    12-May-96  19:02:25
Sb: #504324-#<Religon on B5>

      I think the nature of the debate is using the wrong language here; I
think when people are saying I'm "open-minded" it's possible -- and I'm only
suggesting this, not to put words in anybody's mouth -- that the word being
searched for is actually "fair."  Am I open minded about the possibility of
deities?  No, in that you're correct.  Am I fair and/or open-minded in the
treatment of religions on the show, in saying that for many people, it's a good
thing *for them*?  I like to think so.  And that may be what's under


 #: 504178 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    12-May-96  07:38:08
Sb: #<<War Without End>>

<<Spoiler Space Ahead!!>>




Ow.  Time travel makes my head hurt<G>.

I don't know what to say.  That was one of the best hours of television I've
seen this year.  I'll say right off that the biggest reason it was one of the
best was the emotional investment I have in *all* the  characters.  We know the
relationship between Garibaldi and Sinclair, so it pains us that they couldn't
meet.  We know the connection between Sheridan and Delenn, so after his
disappearance we feel *her* pain, only to see her reassured by Sinclair's words
and then immediately worried again because now she knows what *he* (Sinclair)
knows about his future.  What has gone before is what made this hour so
exciting, so riveting.  Once again I had that time dilation effect where I
could hardly believe that only an hour had passed because *so* much had
happened on screen.

It was wonderful to see Michael O'Hare again.  I forgot how much I enjoyed
watching him perform as Sinclair.  I hope there is an opportunity to see him
again after this is all said and done (but suspecting where this is leading, I
doubt it.(But then again...))  This was quite the ensemble performance.  I
think what I liked best were all the knowing looks:  Sinclair smiling as
Sheridan and Delenn held hands on the Whitestar, Marcus staring at Sinclair as
he sat in the command chair of the Whitestar after Sheridan disappeared.

Let me not forget to mention the Vorlon on Minbar.  Apparently every encounter
suit is not the same, neh?  The Vorlon's voice was remarkably...young sounding.
Makes me think that Kosh might have been ancient indeed.

The humor:Marcus' wry comments about Sinclair were priceless.  Also Lennier
explanation about how the Whitestar withstood hits (cool, indeed!) Lucy and
Ethel!  I was ROFLing!  Who knows, maybe B5 is far enough out that they're just
now getting shows from the 1950's<g>.  Also, almost anything Zathras said was
just a kill.  The biz about not saying anything about The One was hilarious.

The special effects were seamless, as usual and whatever the mixed shots from
previous episodes were, I couldn't notice any difference in quality.  The scary
thing is that B5 has spoiled me.  I see anything of less quality on other shows
and I'm dissatisfied.<G>

Now to time travel.  Just make sure I understand this.  The message from
Ivanova is beginning to come through because...of the temporal rift AND because
there was no guarantee that the Whitestar would go 6 years into the past to
save B4 from the Shadow attack, right?  Once that is accomplished, THAT future
can't exist.  Okay, now at the end Sinclair is remembering a future where he's
on B5 as commander(maybe not, but at least next to Garibaldi) and Garibaldi
stays behind.  Again this is a future that might-have-been.  So my question is
this:  Hypothetically, if B4 is not saved from the Shadow attack 6 years in the
past, it never goes back a thousand years, the Shadows are not as badly
defeated and they would become much stronger by 2260.  Then was the vision
Sinclair had of a future B5 being attacked by a much stronger Shadow fleet a
vision (again) of an alternate future, where he never became ambassador and
remained on B5?  Doesn't matter what it is, just wanted to know your

So the B4 timeline is supposed to be like this:

Built 6 years ago, then disappears

Shows up about 3 years ago and disappears again.

Eventually makes it 1000 years into the past to be used in the Shadow War.

One last thing.  I assume that Sheridan's message being 900 years old and the
war being 1000 years ago is significant.  The difference, that is.

Thanks for a great show, Joe.  I have enjoyed this group of 7(soon to be 8)
shows more than I have enjoyed any others.  You've really hit your stride.  I
can't imagine what the last 4 will bring.

Best, Dave

 #: 504538 S6/Babylon 5: Upcoming
    12-May-96  19:02:28
Sb: #504178-<<War Without End>>

      Thanks, and yep, you nailed the timeline just right.


 [ Continued in next section -- BB ]

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