J. Michael Straczynski Wins All Conventions Ever
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J. Michael Straczynski Wins All Conventions Ever

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | May 29, 2013 | Comments ()


For the 20th anniversary of "Babylon 5", a good chunk of the remaining cast, plus creator J. Michael Straczynski, took the stage at the Phoenix Comicon over the weekend. It's a far smaller number than you might expect, since a statistically improbable proportion of the cast has died since the show went off the air. Perhaps surprisingly, the leading cause of death has not been being accidentally trampled by uncontrollable mobs of teenaged fans.

Straczynski apparently got annoyed by the questions and the moderators and summarily dismissed the lot of them in order to conduct his own conversation with the cast. In the process of this, Straczynski gave a gorgeous monologue about Michael O'Hare, the actor who played the commander of Babylon 5 for the show's first season, and who died last November. Straczynski revealed that O'Hare had been unable to continue with the show because of terrible mental illness, and had asked Straczynski to tell people after he was gone.

It's easy, especially with our jaded trade news cycles, to gloss over the actors as people. And while the big names with the million dollar contracts might live in another world entirely, many of the most memorable of the characters on our little screens are brought to life by people who in their day to day lives really still are normal people.

Here is the rest of the panel in two longer clips, if you're interested:

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • TrickyHD

    I was at an age where I was out Friday nights (I think that is when it aired) so I never saw it and dismissed it as a Star Trek clone. The few clips I saw with the goofy outfits and aliens didn't help me want to watch it.

    But then I "aquired" all five seasons, and on a lark watched Season 1 on my laptop. It was pretty good, but I had heard Season 2 is when it kicked into gear so I slogged through Season 1 and then...Season 2...oh my godtopus, each episode got better, even the "filler" episodes were great. But when the Shadow War kicked into gear, I believe greatness was achieved. At the conclusion of the Shadow War, I cheered for the brashness of the human race. To sum it up:

    "The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The
    language is not narn or human or centauri or gaim or minbari. It speaks in the
    language of hope."


  • logan

    I loved B5. My friends and I would watch an episode and then dissect it bit by bit arguing over every tiny detail. It was glorious. But now my friends are gone or moved away and I tried to re-watch by myself but it was too bitter sweet.
    I think it was unique and at times great or maybe it was just the last thing i shared with my best friends. Either way I wish I could go back....

  • Andrew

    People talk about how there are two basic types of writers, those who plan everything out and those who just make it up as they go.

    For me, the stories that are planned out are much more emotionally satisfying. B5 with its general plot arc and its individual character arcs is still much more fulfilling than many of the sci fi shows from the past ten years. Lost and Battlestar may be newer and flashier, but they had no idea where they were going, and their endings ultimately fell very flat because of this.

    B5 on the other hand had all the character arcs and beats laid out, and you could tell as you watched. The fall of Londo and the rise of G'Kar. The apotheosis of Sheridan. Vir changing from a cringing aid to the emperor of the Centauri Republic. That structure gave depth and meaning to the characters, instead of having the characters flailing around having random things happen to them.

    That's why after all these years B5 still lingers in my thoughts.

    "I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us...and
    a part of us remains. Go anywhere in this station, when it is quiet, and
    just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all of our conversations,
    every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone, our voices
    will linger in these walls, for as long as this place remains."

    G'Kar, "Objects in Motion"

  • Fabius_Maximus

    It's still a shit show. But I'll be damned if I didn't watch every last episode of it.

  • Fredo

    20 years later and the show still remains one of my favorites as well as one of the best dramas ever written (even with the uneven Season 5).

    As for that awesome header pic....Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas remain, as ever, the coolest.

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