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Episode 0: “And So It Begins”

Welcome to The Audio Guide to Babylon 5! Herewith our manifesto: this is a book club without books, an episode-by-episode walkthrough of one of the most influential and important modern SF series. Each podcast begins with a spoiler-free discussion of the episode for new viewers, then we give listeners a jumping-off point and switch to a discussion of how the episode fits into the five-year history of the show. Here’s our 000th episode, “And So It Begins,” where we tell new viewers why you should watch Babylon 5 and help you prepare for your journey.

24 thoughts on “Episode 0: “And So It Begins””

  1. Hello!

    Happy to be embarking on this journey with you. I will be one of those who has never before seen any B5, and strangely have managed to hear very little about it, despite having been around and watching scifi TV since before it was on. (Hey, continuing stories were intimidating back when you needed to have your butt in a seat at a particular time to follow it.)

    But I have to ask if you really think I am going to just listen to half a podcast! Nope. Your consideration of those that want to avoid spoilers is laudable, but I have to wonder if anyone is going to fall into that category. Me, I intend to dive in to those spoilers with both hands, just so you know.

    Fun!

    1. I’m sorry, “fierceturtle,” but that is not enjoying our show *correctly*. Please subject yourself to selective mindwiping following each podcast.

  2. This is awesome! I haven’t watched the show since my college days (late nineties). I have all 5 seasons on DVD though, so it will be fun to rewatch. And this time, I have my Doctor Who loving daughter to introduce to this classic scifi series. This will be fun!

  3. Babylon 5 had such a sporadic broadcast schedule that I never saw some of the last episodes of season 3 and season 4, and never saw season 5 at all until the DVDs came out. It was extremely frustrating when PTEN began to fail and B5 was moved to the wee hours on my local station, and then regularly preempted! I didn’t have cable TV, so when season 5 moved to TNT I wasn’t able to watch it at all. In hindsight, missing season 5 was a mixed blessing as I didn’t suffer Lochley-shock. B5 just isn’t right without Ivanova.

  4. Great news! Love your Doctor Who work guys so this should be fun.

    I also ran out of gas last re-listen attempt in Season 5, hope we all can make it to the end this time.

  5. Good to hear the first podcast. I’m looking forward to everyone’s opinions. I doubt I’ll be watching along, since I’ve recently seen some of the episodes again. (I don’t for Mission Log, so it’s not you, it’s me.) I don’t mind the format of every two weeks. I’m listening & watching quite a few podcasts, so it’s nice to have a new one that I can get to when I have time, and not worry about getting behind.

  6. Long-time listener (to two of the three of you in other podcasts), first-time commenter. Definitely also looking forward to this, especially to the spoiler-filled second half, since there is (I think) no other podcast out there at the moment that approaches B5 from that perspective. B5 was one of the first shows geared to be rewatched with the knowledge of later episodes in mind. I assume that this was basically with syndication in mind, since this was the ’90s, but also with a view to obsessive fans like me who would tape every episode.

    To anyone who is thinking of starting B5 and is hearing about all the horrible CGI: CGI in B5 is perhaps best thought of as a lot like CSO in Letts-era Doctor Who – an enthusiastic (OK, overenthusiastic) embrace of a new technology that allowed some things to be put onscreen more easily than they could before.

    [Very marginal spoiler about the sort of thing that you’ll see, but not a specific plot element] Ignore the unconvincing appearance of surfaces and notice how CGI is used to make fighter craft in space pivot, and move fluidly around one another. When B5 started, what we’d seen was mostly the sort of TNG set up where two vessels would pose opposite each other in an awfully static sort of way.

    Also, televisions in the ’90s were a lot more forgiving than DVD + a modern flatscreen TV is today.

    1. I agree, tv was more forgiving that the HD tv of today but while the CGI may be different to what current viewers might expect, it’s style represents a core part of the show. Sure, it could be redone, but it would change the whole look and feel of the show itself. The only shame is that while they filmed the live action in HD 16:9 (first to ever do so for TV), the CGI was done in standard 4:5 and in standard resolution which is why it hasn’t translated well to DVD.

      While a part of me would love to see a B5 remastered, I think all I would want is for the vision to be cleaned up and redone for 16:9, if possible, rather than new CGI a la trek. That would be like trying to re-animate a disney classic in a whole new style! You just can’t do it without changing the soul of the show.

      1. I’ve been listening to this podcast since the start, but just got seasons 1 & 2 for Christmas. Rewatching them on our large hi-def tv I’m impressed with how good the CGI looks after 20 years. I can tell of course what’s generated and what is real, but I rarely find it distracting or even detracting from the story.

        So glad I heard about this podcast and looking forward to being able to follow along from now on 🙂

  7. I just finished watching B5 about 6 months ago (for about the 4th time), but I’ve always watched then in DVD order. So, I’m kinda looking forward to getting a different perspective of the greatest sci-fi show ever made.

    You do realize that at an episode every other week, you’ll still be doing this in late 2018, right? I’m here for the long haul so long as you are! 🙂

    1. Well, given that two of us have been married for 18 years and counting and have an almost-teen, we’re kind of used to long-term projects 🙂

  8. I just rewatched the series (with all the tv movies and all the Crusade episodes) last year, but I’m ready to watch them all again. My only problem so far is watching as slow as your podcast will come out. I’m already up to “By Any Means Necessary”. Oops… sorry folks. I can’t help myself…

    1. Alas! We’re producing them as quickly as we can at the moment. But we hope you’ll come back around to our episodes, and there are other rewatch podcasts out there as well. 🙂

  9. I just started watching B5 again for the first time in years a few weeks ago, but of course I’m way ahead of you because I’m watching in marathons instead of one at a time. But when I’m finished, I’ll come back and catch up with your cycle again. After the first few podcast episodes (and the “intro” to Season 2 on the DVDs) reminded/spoiled me of a couple of things I’d forgotten, I decided to go with the spoiler-free zones until I finish watching it again. I really appreciate your decision to provide a spoiler-free zone!

    I also just got a friend hooked. She was only a kid when the show was first being broadcast, but I thought she’d like it and I got her to watch “The Gathering” with me and she loved it, so I’ll be loaning her the DVDs season by season as I finish with them. I was hooked myself from the very first broadcast– though I don’t know if I saw “The Gathering” or “Midnight on the Firing Line” first. It’s mind-boggling that it was 20 years ago!

    Anyway, I’m thrilled to have found your podcasts and am really enjoying them. I am of course rereading the Lurker’s Guide as I go along too, and had already decided to watch in the Lurker’s Guide recommended order, so I applaud Chip’s choice there of course. Not that I’m OCD either. Nope.

  10. A word of warning to anyone watching B5 for the first time: Do NOT watch the season “introductions,” featurettes, or listen to any of the commentary on the DVDs the first time through. There are too many spoilers because they were all done ten years later. (You might be okay watching the “introductions” after each season, instead of before it, but even that might get you into trouble.)

    I would give the same advice to anyone who’s re-watching for the first time in several years. I got reminded/spoiled for a few things I had forgotten by watching the “introduction” to Season 2, which really annoyed me!

    I highly recommend the Lurker’s Guide as it’s pretty much spoiler-free episode by episode (and it’s pretty rich content-wise). The LG combined with this podcast is going to be a great combination!

    I also strongly endorse Chip’s advocacy of watching The Gathering first as opposed to In the Beginning (or skipping them both and starting with S1E1, “Midnight on the Firing Line”). But then, I’m spoiler-phobic. I also think that The Gathering fits better with Season 1 because of the rate that graphics improved during the series. By the time The Gathering was made, the graphics were substantially better IIRC and going from it into Season 1 would be a bit disjointed.

    Needless to say, I love the spoiler-free zones here!

  11. Wish I’d known back in May that this podcast was starting, but am glad Chip mentioned it on this week’s 2MTL and am happy to jump aboard and try to catch up asap! I last watched B5 about 13 years ago (!) – introduced to it in the same way Chip was: a friend sent me a box full of VHS tapes (remember those?!?) – and have been meaning to rewatch for a while. This show is the perfect impetus to do so. Looking forward to it!

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