JMS on CompuServe (Jan 26, 1998) *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* (1/3)

bbarrett at bbarrett at
Mon Jan 26 15:24:35 EST 1998

 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 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: #16242-Season 5 Intro
    Sb: #16144-#Season 5 Intro
    Sb: #16231-Season 5 Intro
    Sb: #16141-#Season 5 - Final 10?
    Sb: #16236-No Compromises
    Sb: #16200-Compromise or No
    Sb: #16212-TNT Won't Show All...?
    Sb: #16300-Formulaic Television
    Sb: #16321-#Formulaic Television

 #: 16242 S2/Bab 5: General
    23-Jan-98  06:26:13
Sb: #16069-#Season 5 Intro


The thought just ocurred to me that the reaction isn't so much to the spoiler 
aspect as to the specificity aspect of the Clark line. All the other lines are 
much more vague, and general enough that they can be removed from context. The 
Clark line is very specific, and IMHO, what people are reacting to is that 
that contrasts with the generality of everything else. I.e., if the line was, 
"We are here to place the President under arrest," without naming Clark, I 
don't think people would react to it at all.

BTW, I loved that Lorien's question, "Do you have anything worth living for?" 
was voiced over the shot of the hypodermic-in-the-chest.


 #: 16294 S2/Bab 5: General
    23-Jan-98  12:41:13
Sb: #16242-Season 5 Intro

      If they don't want any reference to what happened in S4, why are they 
watching S5?  That line is no more specific than any other discussion about 
the fall of Clark in S5 episodes.

      This is a silly conversation.


 #: 16144 S2/Bab 5: General
    22-Jan-98  18:41:04
Sb: #16119-Season 5 Intro

<Spoiler space >
>>Okay, maybe that one's a bit iffy, but when you watch the actual episode the 
war against Clarke was referenced several times, anyway.  I really don't think 
you can shield people from learning what happened before.<<

	Well, that's Joe's point also, and of course I'm aware of it, which is 
why I've suggested to newbies to steer clear of season 5 at least for the time 
being if they really don't like Spoilers. I've told them to tape the episodes 
in the meantime and to put the tape aside, though granted, that's not so easy, 
but it really is an awkward predicament to be in if you happen to be a new 
viewer and just don't like Spoilers.

 #: 16216 S2/Bab 5: General
    23-Jan-98  02:06:10
Sb: #16144-#Season 5 Intro

      Thing is, I think we're taking the term "spoilers" and taking it to a 
new level of definition that simply isn't valid.  A spoiler means getting 
information on an episode that hasn't aired yet in one's area, it doesn't 
refer to things that a) have happened long ago, or b) one may not have seen 
the first time it aired.  I just don't think it's a valid approach on the face 
of it.


 [ Summary: "It looks as if you are going to have a lot to say this 
   season." ]

 #: 16293 S2/Bab 5: General
    23-Jan-98  12:41:13
Sb: #16231-Season 5 Intro

      Thanks...each season's intro ep is a bit easier going, designed to bring 
newbies into the show by introducing the characters and universe and 
backstory...the next one is pretty darned intense.


 #: 16141 S2/Bab 5: General
    22-Jan-98  18:25:02
Sb: #Season 5 - Final 10?

The Lurker's Guide is quoting a cable industry trade mag report that TNT plans 
to hold back the final 10 episodes of Season 5 until the Fall.  Any truth to 
this report?  Also noticed that their episode list now numbers "SiL" as 523.  
Not long ago you posted a note or reply here about having just finished the 
script for 519, and realizing that you only had "three more to go" until you 
were finished writing B5.  Didn't know if you were referring to the third TNT 
movie, or if late night work had scrambled your math circuits since finishing 
519 should only have left *two* more shows to write, 522 already having been 
written and shot.  Am I reading too much into this, or are we going to get a 
"bonus episode" somewhere along the line in S5?  BTW, loved "NC".  G'Kar's 
little editing job had me laughing all the way through the next commercial 


 #: 16217 S2/Bab 5: General
    23-Jan-98  02:06:10
Sb: #16141-#Season 5 - Final 10?

      No, this season you get 22 episodes, no extras in the series.

      Re: the was brought to our attention that the NBA coverage 
would lead to episodes being shunted around and pre-empted for a number of 
weeks.  Obviously this concerned us, and would concern viewers, so we 
discussed it with TNT, and they came back to us with the notion that we would 
continue new episodes until hitting #100, break for the NBA games, then come 
back (starting with another possible half-hour special) afterward at the same 
time to finish the season.

      It was either this, or get shuffled around the schedule due to the NBA, 
and the former is infinitely preferable.


 [ Summary: "You've always shown too much respect for your female 
   characters to let [Tracy Scoggins] be eye candy." ]

 #: 16295 S5/Seas. 5 SPOILERS
    23-Jan-98  12:41:14
Sb: #16236-No Compromises

      Thanks...she's a good character and a fine performer.


 #: 16200 S5/Seas. 5 SPOILERS
    22-Jan-98  21:12:12
Sb: Compromise or No

"No Compromises" as a title seems to be an inherent warning to the characters 
for episodes yet to come -- compromise may be what's required in the 
authority-dance of Lochley and Sheridan, Lochley and Garibaldi, Garibaldi and 

I was highly satisfied by Lochley as a character and Tracy Scoggins' 
portrayal.  Her introduction as someone who thinks she knows it all signals 
mud-puddles in her path to come, perhaps the clearest suggestion that an 
uncompromising position is dangerous.  But you managed to throw in suggestions 
of other dimensions to Lochley -- her uncertainty in her first on-station 
meeting with Sheridan, her lack of paranoia in responding to Byron's initial 
"mute-button" communique (her later backup of security forces, to me, was 
cautionary, not paranoid <g>), her delight at Special Simon's greeting. <Odd 
thought -- interesting parallel between Byron's muting the environment for 
Lochley and Simon's actual muteness>  She is a character which much intrigues 
me and makes me eager to know more about her history.

I found Garibaldi's minister-without-portfolio (albeit later given a 
clandestine portfolio) mother-hennishness touching.  He was back to his 
original hot-dogging self, but with the additional impetus of expiating his 
Bester-generated sins.

What I find most intriguing about the telepath colony-to-be is that you've 
presented them as as sort of Mennonite bunch.  The anti-violence, 
anti-technology, soberly-dressed definition tends to make us sympathize with 
them, but makes me wonder if this isn't an uncompromising status that will 
lead to trouble.

Although Sheridan isn't compromising on having his inauguration go through as 
planned (although G'Kar's "abridgement" has to be seen as a compromise of 
sorts), and Delenn isn't willing to compromise his safety by having it go 
ahead as scheduled, they do seem to have achieved a temporary compromise of 
living arrangements. But the alignment of Sheridan and Lochley opposing 
Delenn's caution sets off an alarm-bell.

I suppose that the assassin-elect saw the end of Clarke's government as a 
compromise not to be borne.  But you've driven me nuts with the music box -- 
character quirk or portent of something?

On a second viewing (but only on second viewing), G'Kar's comment about "words 
and I locked in mortal combat" made me think that this is also authorial 
commentary (since S5's almost written you must be at least at a draw, a la 
TKO), as is possibly "geometries that circumscribe your waking life" 
(certainly an apt description of the constellations of details with which your 
producer-avatar must deal).

In "No Compromises" I enjoyed the feel of pieces being positioned on the 
board, ready for the next dice-throw (but I did miss Lennier, Vir and Lyta).  
B5's current position as independent, soon to be bought by the Alliance, but 
under the authority of an Earthforce officer, is wonderfully ambiguous and 
ripe for rich storytelling.


The best thing we can do is to make wherever we're lost in look as much like 
home as we can. -- Christopher Fry

 #: 16218 S5/Seas. 5 SPOILERS
    23-Jan-98  02:13:14
Sb: #16200-Compromise or No
Fm: J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI's a good stew.  I've got the ingredients in place now, all 
that remains is to start stirring the pot.


 #: 16212 (C) S5/Seas. 5 SPOILERS
    23-Jan-98  00:51:29
Sb: TNT Won't Show All...?


    Cable World is running a report on TNT's use of B5, and in the report, 
the following lines rather disturbed me:

"As of late last week, TNT hadn't determined when the fifth season would end. 
The 100th episode will air April 8, when the series will go on hiatus in 
deference to TNT's NBA playoff coverage. 

'There will be 10 episodes left,' Safon says. 'We'll probably run them into 
the fall. We're going to make a big deal about the 100th episode and will 
obviously ramp up to the finale. We want to make sure we provide the proper 

    What worries me is this: You said earlier that TNT wanted to run the 
series straight-through, yet Safon (a TNT employee), contradicts that in this 
statement.  And the other thing that bothers me a bit is that TNT has 
apparently planned, all along, to disrupt B5's schedule for NBA coverage.  

    I know that you can't control TNT, and you obviously don't know 
everything they plan or can predict everything they do, but I just wanted to 
let you know that I think this stinks.  :-(

    I'm very thankful to TNT for giving us a fifth season of your show, but 
I've been getting increasingly less and less pleased with the way in which 
they're treating the show itself.  Sure, they push it like crazy, but they 
tend to start it slightly off the top of the hour, run inane little tie-in 
clips that insult the show (transporters for the Rough Cut crew?  Come on!), 
and now it looks like they'll treat its schedule with as little respect as a 
number of the old syndicated stations.  


    Sorry to gripe at you.  I know this isn't really an issue for you, but I 
just had to vent somewhere...

  -- Brent

 #: 16219 S5/Seas. 5 SPOILERS
    23-Jan-98  02:13:14
Sb: #16212-TNT Won't Show All...?

      This came out of discussions with TNT when it came out that we would 
have to be pre-empted and shuffled around for the NBA playoffs.  It made more 
sense to let them go through unobstructed, then come back afterward in the 
same slot rather than forcing fans to go hunting again.  It's not a big.


 [ Summary: Has it all been worth it? ]

 #: 16535 S2/Bab 5: General
    25-Jan-98  00:29:07
Sb: #16300-Formulaic Television

      Has it been worth it for me?  Yeah, I think it's been tough, 
but worthwhile.  What matters is if, in the long run, viewers will think it 
was worth it.  Me, I was gonna be here anyway, and the story was gonna tell 
itself in my brain anyway, so I may as well have gone along with it....


 #: 16321 S2/Bab 5: General
    23-Jan-98  16:13:08
Sb: #16168-#Formulaic Television

>>  I picked TV because this sort of saga has been *done* for print before, 
but nobody's done it for TV in the US before.  It's more of a challenge to do 
it here.

I think I have mentioned this before but the more I think about it the more 
relevant it seems.

You have created a team, a production company, the is *really damn good* at 
bringing first rate SF to the small screen for *tiny little budgets*, and you 
don't compromise the details one whit. It seems to me that you write pretty 
well anything you want and then dare the SFX people to tell you it can't be 

You *cannot* let this all go tits-up when the season ends. 

I know you never wanted to be a Producer, I know you're a writer, but the fact 
is there are no other production companies putting together great first run SF 
shows on-time and on-budget. You *need* to see if you can make this fly with 
other peoples work.

Why cna't Babylonian Productions Inc. expand? You could get additional sound 
stages, give the people training under your current production staff some 
additional opprotunities and get some mileage out of the company spirit you've 
already developed.

Just think about it. Other writers are going to know you'll give their work 
fair treatment. You've got contacts at TNT and Ted Turner seems to love to 
produce new stuff. You could do mini-series, series, TV movies, and use all 
the tricks you've come up with keep the production cost down.

You have really made a difference in what is expected of SF television. If you 
want proof, may I cal to your attention.
	Earth: Final Conflict
	ST Voyager
	Buffy the Vampire Slayer
	and now after *much* revision Sliders.

Every damn one of these shows is sporting *some* kind of an arc. EVEN STAR 
TREK where such a thing was ANATHEMA. 

Do you remember when they broke up Troy and Riker because the wanted to leave 
them available for *aliens*. Geeze, Worf and Dax just got *MARRIED*. Sure they 
don't really get it yet, and won't as long as they stick with collective 
wriring sessions, but they are at least *moving*.

Babylon 5 without a 5th season would have been unfortunate for the fans and SF 
in general.

The end of the production arm of your business would be the most tragic event 
in the history of SF, and I am *not* over the top here. YYou are the only 
organization in the history of television to do this stuff right, 
consistantly, over a course of years, in the United States. The US *dominates* 
the world entertainment markets. There is *NO ONE* positioned to pick up the 
flag and continue the march if you people go away. 

'Course, maybe I'm assuming facts not in evidence. So, tell us, is Netter 
already thinking along these lines?


 #: 16536 S2/Bab 5: General
    25-Jan-98  00:29:08
Sb: #16321-#Formulaic Television

      Certainly, it's our intent to keep the production team together on 
Crusade, once that gets going...if I sold any other shows, we've discussed the 
possibility of splitting the team in half, bringing in some new guys on the 
current show (whichever that is), and putting half our current team on the new 
show, so that both can learn from one another....

      But in terms of doing other writers' shows...that's not something I'm 
interested in doing.  It's just too damned hard to do all this for someone 
else's story.  I don't want to be the exec supervising somebody else's show; 
that would turn me into a Suit, and that would be the end of me.

      NDEI, as a separate entity, is better able to handle some of this sort 
of thing, but I'm not directly involved with any of that.  I know they've got 
another project of their own that's nearly solid now, called Rail Runners 
(steampunk SF), and I'm confident that they will use the lessons we've learned 
on B5 in doing that show, or any others down the road.

      We're having an effect on TV more by osmosis than by making it ourselves 
in terms of doing other shows...the term 5-year arc is showing up more and 
more, first in Dark Skies then Earth: Final Conflict, and now others in the 
works...the CGI we pioneered for TV is now showing up in a lot of other 
series...and other shows are studying our methods.  The Directors Guild 
magazine has already done one major article on some new things we're doing, 
and another one is due out soon.  We've given tours to other producers to show 
them how we do what we do.  And our directors, some of whom were fairly new to 
dramatic TV (having done documentaries and afternoon specials and the like) 
before coming to B5 have now become in demand on other shows (you'll note that 
a lot of B5 directors are now doing ST shows because they've learned our 
methods...which is kinda ironic since no ST directors have done B5 because of 
studio pressure not to)....

      So the impact is already there, and will continue to grow over the 
coming years.


 [ Continued in next section -- BB ]

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