Sunday, June 1, 2008

Babylon 5

My two favorite TV shows ever are Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5. They are both what I consider mature shows, for mature people. I'm having a hard time defining what I mean by that though. Mainly it is that the characters, and the issues they deal with, have a deep level of complexity. Real life is complex, and so should our imagined worlds be if they are to help us illuminate and cope with the real... and this is, in my humble opinion, one of the purposes of art.

I've spent a good part of this weekend starting at the beginning of Babylon 5 again, with the intention of viewing it all the way through. It has been long enough since I've watched it that the stories are fresh and exiting to see. Yet, having seen them before, I can now also view them rather like a doctor views a patient. I now see the sinews and bones as well as the skin. I can appreciate the terrible beauty of an episode like "Mind War" while seeing how well it serves to add in the thread of the Psy Corps which will be so important later. Very few shows are written like Babylon 5, where its creator had the major strands of the five year story in mind from the beginning. So here is a salute to J. Michael Straczynski, the visionary who created the show. It is hard to predict what art will survive through the centuries... did anyone who saw a Shakespeare play the first time it was performed have any idea of that author's impact through long years? But if I get a vote on what should survive from the 20th century (assuming, of course, that anything does), then one of my votes will go to Babylon 5. Now excuse me, I have to get back to watching it.

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