JMS: writing now vs. then

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Mon May 20 06:18:32 EDT 1996

Subject: JMS: writing now vs. then
 No. | DATE        |  FROM
+  1: May 19, 1996: matm at (Matthew MacKenzie)
*  2: May 19, 1996: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)


From: matm at (Matthew MacKenzie)
Lines: 53

minor spoilers for War Without End pt. 1--

This is a rather large question about how your writing has evolved...

You've described many times the trial of getting B-5 onto the tube--
been working on this baby for the better part of a decade, I
understand.  You've also listed all your writing growth and experience
in the interim.  One specific that crops up now and then is the
replacement of Sinclair with Sheridan as the lead so you could take
the story in different directions (I can't remember your phrasing of
this, partly I think because I've never been sure what you meant.  :-)

If you'd care to speculate: How would the show have turned out
differently had you started working on the story right after
conceiving of it, when you were a young'en?  What, at this point in
the arc (WWE 1: taking B-4 to before) would be happening differently,
simply because you wouldn't have seen the possibilities?  Having never
seen season one, I'm especially curious what Sinclair would be up to
since I've got less of a handle on his personality than those of the
current regulars.

It's possible I should have asked this after WWE part 2, come to think
of it.  But what the heck.  With my memory I'd never hold onto the
idea for a whole week.

Cheers, and thanks as always for the show!
        "We have a saying on my world--how to translate--`Weird alien 
       aphorisms turn conversation into dogmeat.'  Yes, that says it."
                  matm at        Matthew MacKenzie


From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Lines: 41

Hmm...that's a tough question, and one I've never gotten before.  (And
those are hard to come by, lemme tell you.)

If I'd gone right into the series in 1986, what would've been different in
the writing and the show in general...hmmm.....

Given my notes of the time, I think it probably would've been more from
Sinclair's point of view.  The characters would've likely been more
defined in terms of their relationship with Sinclair, as opposed to seeing
their lives out on their own, without that defining *context*.  That's
probably the single biggest creative difference.  I don't know if I
could've given it the depth of characterization or sub-plots that I feel I
can do now.  Certainly, the time spent on Murder, She Wrote taught me a
*lot* about setting up clues, foreshadowing, construction, and playing
fair with an audience, experience I didn't have in 1986.

On the other side, you've got the reality that CGI wasn't available then,
and it'd all have to be done with models.  It would've been *very*
difficult to do all we've done now with CGI, using models; I think you'd
have to cut way back on the scale of the thing.  It's very doubtful we
could've done the Narn homeworld bombing from "Twilight," or the rescue in
"Fall."  I'd've had to come up with some other way to do that.

Basically, I think the show would've still presented an arc, still
would've been ambitious for its time, but I don't think it would've been
*as good* as it is now.  In a way, though the long wait was frustrating,
it put us in the right place at the right time to do this show the way it
needs to be done, both creatively and physically, from a production

On the other hand, one can probably make a good argument that if the show
were done in the year 1999 instead of 1996, with even 3 years more
advancement in CGI and EFX, and 3 more years of writing experience, it
might be even better then than now.  Who knows?  All I know for sure is
that the show being done now, is the show I want to do, the way I want to
do it, and I'm very comfortable with that.


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