Tuesday, 22 July 2008

B5 Review: The Gathering

In which I start to make my way through the Babylon 5 box set and share my thoughts.....

In the set, The Gathering is a stand-alone movie, so it gives me a chance to view a few things and give a few thoughts. I need to preface this with the fact that this was NOT the first episode of B5 I saw - that was The Parliament of Dreams - and it was not until they started to repeat the series in the UK that I caught this one.

Plotwise, it set up the story and the concept of Babylon 5 fairly well, but like a lit of TV pilots it does tend to try and pull a little too much in. That's not the fault of the writer or director - it's the fault of the American television system where you have to try and sell the entire concept in one pilot program, and that can cause some problems as we will see later. As an example, if you ever see the pilot for Hill Street Blues, Hill and Renko (two of the more popular and complex characters) were shot and killed in the pilot - the first proper episode had to deal with that by finding them at the end near death.

The plot revolves essentially around an attempt to assassinate one of the alien ambassadors, Kosh of the Vorlon Empire, and also introduce the other major characters.

G'Kar of the Narn Regime and Mollari of the Centauri Empire are there in almost complete form, with their mutual enmity and hatred fully formed, but even in those early days the seeds are sown of the respect that will grow as the series develops.

Delenn of the Minbari is also present, but in a harsher and different from from the series character. I found both her look and voice a bit too grating, but this was one of the things that was addressed when the series proper began.

Also conspicuous by their absence in the pilot were the diplomatic aides - all of whom went on to be important characters in the series proper.

On the human side, Commander Sinclair and Chief of Security Garibaldi are also there, but we have a different head of MedLab (Doctor Kyle) and a different Second in Command (Lt Commander Takashima). There was also a different love interest for Sinclair, Carolyn Sykes. All were meant to be recurring characters - all were replaced fro various reasons. At least Dr Kyle and Carolyn were acknowledged later - I'm not sure yet if we ever found out what happened to Takashima, although some of the things planned for her did come around with another character later.

There was also Lyta Alexander, the assigned commercial telepath. She would come back in a major way in later stories.

As pilots and introductiosn go, it;s a good action film which sets up a number of mysteries picked up in the main series.

  1. What the heck are the Vorlons?
  2. Why are Sinclair and Delenn so friendly?
  3. What is the "hole in your mind" that Sinclair hears about?
  4. Just what did Lyta see?

I give it 4 out of 5 - now for the series proper....

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