Zocalo: Spoiler-free Discussion of “In the Beginning”

Put yourself in the mindset of someone who happened to turn on TNT on basic cable in the States on January 4, 1998, and saw Babylon 5 for the first time. Would this have grabbed you? Would it have spoiled too much from Seasons 1-4? How about that buzzcut on Sheridan?

8 thoughts on “Zocalo: Spoiler-free Discussion of “In the Beginning””

  1. When I first started watching B5, it was not when it was showing on television. It is not that I wasn’t interested, but I had hard people advising that it was best to watch the show from the beginning.

    My introduction to the series was via the DVD box sets that a friend recommended. I had a choice of starting with ‘In the Beginning’ or ‘The Gathering’ on DVD.

    My introduction to B5 was from ItB and as such I didn’t find too many surprises when I moved on to the first series of the show.

    Maybe, in hindsight, I made a poor decision there.
    Overall though, I don’t think it made me enjoy the series any less.

  2. To answer the episode note question, it’s more fully the Earth Alliance – Minbari Federation war, coming from the sci-fi convention that although we humans have a different name for our planet than our species, all other races will be named for their planets

  3. I don’t care that it’s recycled footage. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, the pain that Mira Furlan puts into “NO MERCY” makes me choke up.

  4. Watching this combat-heavy story again, it seems to me that the change in SFX from Foundation Imaging to the studio Netter group was not an improvement.

    Obviously the visuals are better than say The Gathering, because the computers were better for the same price. But Foundation improved over seasons 1-3 for the same reason.

    To me, the space ships in season 4 and In the Beginning tend to move more like aircraft, with banked turns and curves. Seasons 1-3 were more realistic for movement in space with straight lines and rotations on axis.

    And the battle scenes themselves are less organized. Seasons 1-3 tried to give the impression of great distances, and generally there was some sense of structure and tactical movement by both sides. Here, with the exception of the Lexington / Black Star, the spaceships just form up in a wall or cloud and hammer away at each other.

    OK, OK, I’m a space combat gamer (see my lengthy ramble about B5 game rules in the Deconstruction thread). What do other people think?

    1. I completely agree. The technical quality of the effects was mostly the same (obviously they used the same software and the same assets, so it was to be expected), and the quantity increased all the time, but the flight choreographies just seemed lazy. I believe I touched the subject briefly in the comments for Epiphanies, which is the first Netter Digital episode where Starfuries are prominently featured, and the change becomes obvious.

      And about space combat games, I believe you’re talking about tabletop and role playing games, but I’ve always been more into computer games. One of my all time favourite games is Warhead from 1989, which was one of the first space combat simulator games to do proper newtonian physics. It was very, very different from anything else, and had a bunch of autopilots to help handle the inertia. Ever since I have always wanted to see proper physics in scifi as well. The same developer, Glyn Williams, later made a little better known I-War games (also known as Independence War), which had very similar approach to piloting the ship.

      Ship physics after season three is one of the things that I would like to see redone if anyone ever got around doing the gargantuan, expensive and very unlikely task of remastering B5 to HD.

  5. I didn’t discover Babylon 5 until 2008 when I came across some VHS tapes in a thrift store. I bought all four of them as I love sci fi and the first episodes watched were A voice in the wilderness parts one and two. It was enough to get me hooked. Unaware of the movies I started watching from season one on through to the series finale. It was only after I finished that I discovered the movies. I’m actually glad I watched it the first time the way I did. I enjoyed In the beginning a lot better after having seen the series than I think I would have had I not had so much background information.

  6. I remember this time in B5 so well. I had fallen hard for the show when I randomly came across it sometime mid 3rd season. I was 14-15 at the time… Devestated that season 4 seemed like the end… although somehow I knew it was supposed to have 5 seasons…

    When I heard that they were going to rebroadcast the entire show on TNT I decided to record every episode off TV. I had to pre-set the VCR every morning since the show aired before I got home from school, and tape a note to it begging my family not to mess with the settings. I spent my meager allowance on brand new high quality VCR cassette tapes and meticulously labeled each with season, tape number, and episode titles.

    Years later, when I was dating the guy who is now my husband, I made him watch the entire series from my VCR tapes. Gosh, I love this show.

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