JMS on CompuServe (Sep 15, 1997) *POSSIBLE SPOILERS*

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Tue Sep 16 02:03:27 EDT 1997

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 [ Summary of subjects in this section: ]
    Sb: #700578-DS9 IS A COPY !
    Sb: #700623-#Grand Theft, drama!
    Sb: #700635-#When TNT reruns...
    Sb: #700721-Lyta inconsistency
    Sb: #700645-<ST:Voyager>
    Sb: #700708-Grand Theft, drama!

 [ Summary: (See below.) ]

 #: 700703 S3/Star Trek: DS9
    14-Sep-97  20:29:57
Sb: #700578-DS9 IS A COPY !

"And as for B5 being the number one Sci-Fi show, does it really come any close
to the worldwide popularity of The X Files?"

      Oddly enough, the show tends to do much better overseas than it does
here.  Well, not oddly, actually, since overseas it tends to end up on actual
networks, which give it a regular time period, whereas here you have to have a
hunting dog and a Ouija board to find the darned thing.  The videotapes are
invariably in the top-10 sell-throughs overseas, in fan polls it comes out
ahead of X-Files (having just won the SFX Magazine poll for best SF series of
all time), and the ratings are comparable.  If anything, X-Files has gotten a
bit soft lately, while B5 has been improving.  Most of the B5 licensing to date
has been overseas, with a huge line of books in the UK, along with a monthly

      That's expected to change when the show hits TNT, with a regular
schedule, starting in January.


 #: 700623 S5/Babylon 5: General
    14-Sep-97  14:38:52
Sb: #700594-#Grand Theft, drama!


<<But keep in mind, I used the word "rip off" myself and JMS was none too fond
of it. I'm guilty of the same thing - though I only used it in reaction to the
exact same accusation used in the first place. Two wrongs don't make a right, I
suppose. :(>>

Sorry...thought I'd made it clear that I kinda didn't like it on either side
<g>.  However, it does seem that people are awfully defensive when it's
mentioned in conjunction with B-5 and yet they use it and/or are conspicuously
silent when it comes to defending against it's use in regards to other folks.

Either (a) it's right or (b) it's wrong to make such can't
have it both ways. <shrug>


 #: 700704 S5/Babylon 5: General
    14-Sep-97  20:30:00
Sb: #700623-#Grand Theft, drama!

"Either (a) it's right or (b) it's wrong to make such can't
have it both ways. <shrug>"

      Incorrect.  It's right if it's true, and wrong if it's not.  The
statement itself is neither wrong nor right.


 [ Summary: "I were to talk a friend into watching the show from start, 
   would I want him to watch 'In the Beginning' or would that movie give 
   away secrets and mysteries from the 5 season story?" ]

 #: 700768 S5/Babylon 5: General
    15-Sep-97  01:31:44
Sb: #700635-#When TNT reruns...

      That's an interesting question.  When I sat down to write In the
Beginning, my feeling was that I should look at the long term.  Would the hole
in Sinclair's mind be the same mystery it was in season one, or would it be
kind of known thereafter?  If so, then do you want to play with the mystery, or
set up what actually happened?  I figured, okay, let's go for the
latter...let's let the audience know (which will mostly know by now anyway),
and set up the background, with the characters not knowing the first season. I
took basic greek tragedy as my model, with ItB functioning more or less as a
Greek chorus that sets things up.

      If you want to play it as a strict mystery, then no, probably don't go
near ItB...but frankly, if I were going to start someone off on B5, I'd
definitely want to start with ItB, which sort of skims in and out of the
overall storyline in a beautiful fashion.


 [ Summary: Lyta refuses to scan Garibaldi, but she's willing to scan
   the Centauri teep in season three.  Why? ]

 #: 701045 S5/Babylon 5: General
    15-Sep-97  21:17:18
Sb: #700721-Lyta inconsistency

      Yes, it's an inconsistency; because humans are inconsistent.  But it's
only an inconsistency subject to Lyta's rationalizations...which are quite

      She didn't know the Centauri; she knew Garibaldi...they knew beyond a
shadow of a doubt that Brother Edward's *life* was in jeapordy, and that this
person may hold the key to saving his life and every instant they waited meant
he could be dying, whereas there is no such crisis in the Garibaldi
situation...they were able to hide her identity from the Centauri whereas they
would not be able to do so with her and Garibaldi....

      The decision to scan or not to scan is essentially a moral or ethical
decision.  When someone's life is on the line, that raises one ethical concern,
as opposed to Zack just having a vague suspicion about Garibaldi's character
and asking her to engage in a fishing expedition.  There is a quantum
difference between the two of them.

      Would a physician give someone the tools necessary to end his life? No.
Would he do so if the person were chronically ill and in constant, terrible
pain?  Very possibly.  It's the *context*.  You can't expect people to act the
same in every situation regardless of context, context is everything.

      People are not robots, they rationalize, they are inconsistent, but they
generally have *reasons* for it that they can justify.  As somebody once said,
rationalizations are more important than sex, because you can *go* a day
without sex....


 #: 700645 S6/Babylon 5: Spoilers
    14-Sep-97  16:25:08
Sb: #700029-#<ST:Voyager>

>> I know that Jeri Taylor is a friend of yours, but who the heck has control
and is making these aweful decisions?  I feel for her in a way because she's
being connected with this show and who knows if these decsions are hers.  I
never thought I would stop watching Trek (been watching since day one when I
was six), but the writing in the show is aweful. <<

I agree with you.  What confuses me, however, is how the writing on DS9 is so
much better.  If the studio is holding back the writing on Voyager, why aren't
they doing the same for DS9?

                                   ...Gary Weinfurther

 #: 701046 S6/Babylon 5: Spoilers
    15-Sep-97  21:17:21
Sb: #700645-<ST:Voyager>

      I think Paramount is now more concerned with Voyager than DS9 because DS9
is a syndicated show whereas Voyager is the linchpin of their network. The more
visible you are, the more they want to..."help" you.


 #: 700708 S5/Babylon 5: General
    14-Sep-97  20:37:51
Sb: #700704-#Grand Theft, drama!


To make the accusation without proof.  You said it yourself and it should apply
to *all* writers and not just to you and others on B-5.

You told Joel he shouldn't make such accusations.  Neither should anyone else.


 #: 701047 S5/Babylon 5: General
    15-Sep-97  21:17:23
Sb: #700708-Grand Theft, drama!

      You keep saying proof, but what sort of proof do you require?  The fact
is that you say "proof" in such a way that no such proof can be supplied
outside of a courtroom.  What constitutes proof?  If you've said this is what
you want, then you must now define it otherwise it's unfair.  And it has to be
reasonable proof...bearing in mind that there are no smoking guns, no
videotapes, no bloody gloves here.

      What can be suggested, in the case of B5, is to provide certain facts,
which are next door neighbors to truth.  It is a *fact* that Paramount was
given the B5 bible, treatment, sample screenplay, and artwork.  This is not
open to dispute; we have the paperwork from the Paramount development execs.

      It is a *fact* that Paramount and WB were both trying to launch networks
at the same time, UPN and PTEN, and that there is a *fierce* competition
between them that has been well and widely documented, enough so that Paramount
would have a vested interest in attempting to co-opt anything that Warner Bros.
was doing.  One way to do this (enter supposition stage left) would be to put
out their *own* space station series, under the ST banner, which would
hopefully undercut the other show and drive it (and PTEN) out of the

      It is a *fact* that the development of ANY TV show for a studio is guided
by that studio's development execs.

      It is a *fact* that the two pilots for DS9 and B5 are extremely similar
on major, non-generic points.  It is also a fact that the two diverge quite a
bit therafter, showing that the writers there were capable of doing their own
stuff, putting us back again at the studio level.

      It is a *fact* that I have never, at any time, implied, stated or said
that either of the individuals who created DS9 had ever seen the B5 material,
or consciously took it.  I think that if asked to do so, they would have
declined.  What I have always questioned, or strongly suspected, was the degree
to which the development or inception of that show was guided by the Paramount
development execs.  So I have NOT accused either of them of "ripping off" B5,
and thus don't fall prey to your accusation of being unfair, whereas Joel's
comment about Mindwar *was* a statement about a story being ripped off, hence
my reaction.  There is not a contradiction there.

     From day one, Paramount has done everything conceivable to subvert,
sabotage, and drive this show out of the market short of firing a LAWS rocket
into the middle of stage A.  They hate us over there, because they want to have
the exclusive lock on space SF.  So yeah, I'm quite willing to believe that
they could've decided to co-opt our format...and it almost worked, too, when WB
wondered if the market could sustain two space station series, and we came
within an inch of losing the show before we'd even shot a frame of film...but
I've never accused either of the two folks who created DS9 of deliberately
ripping us off because I don't believe they did so.  I have no reason to
believe they are anything other than honorable, stand-up men.  My area of
concern has always been in the area of corporate influence and intent.



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