brni (brni) wrote,


post surgical entertainment has largely been dvds of cheesy SF television. lexx - swedish erotica meets steampunk. farscape - muppets in space, how can you go wrong?. and babylon 5.

it's been a long while since i've watched bab 5. the first striking thing is the CGI. when we were watching it on tv (back before we had cable, and whatever the folks living upstairs were doing would make the screen go static, and we'd play with the rabbit ears until the picture cleared), at the time we were blown away by the realism of the cgi - they were using computer graphics for all the space scenes - no little models hanging on strings and firecracker explosions. now... its ancient video game graphics. you can practically see the pixels. in contrast, lexx - only a few years later - showed significantly improved cgi, and farscape, yet a couple more years down the pike, significantly more than that.

the second thing that is striking is how clumsy the scripts are. painfully so. season 1 gave us cardboard cutouts in place of characters, sometimes offensive stereotypes, infodumps instead of stories and the most wooden of performances of badly written dialogue. bab 5 was a vastly ambitious show, certainly more ambitious than could be supported by the director, the writers, the actors and the budget (especially in the early seasons).

still - they took on serious issues, if perhaps often in a ham-fisted way.

the one i found most chilling was that of free will, mind wiping, mind control and artificial personality constructs. the public's casual acceptance of "death of personality" as an appropriate and "humane" punishment strikes me as wrong on so many levels. and there are numerous incidents where people are controlled by [insert any number of mind controlling parasites, telepaths, aliens and what-nots]. and where in star trek these things are shrugged off, "well, it wasn't really you," and any sense of guilt or responsibility for things done while not in control of one's actions is shunted off on others (insert Kirk's anguished cry: "KHAN!"), in bab 5 these things are left less resolved, a realm of ethical ambiguity.

this, i think, is where bab 5 succeeded, despite any and all other failings. any number of characters could say, as Samuel from heroes put it: "i'm not one of the good guys, but i'm not all bad." people make decisions to achieve one good that result in another evil, or commit an evil to prevent a greater evil. actions have far-ranging and sometimes unexpected effects, and while blame is easy to assign, guilt and responsibility is a muddy, ugly thing. and the past always haunts.
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