Friday, July 18, 2008

B5 - Do It Right or Not at All

SF Signal had a link to “Babylon 5” creator J. Michael Straczynski’s page the other day, on which JMS says he’s given it a lot of thought and come to the conclusion that he won’t be doing any more B5 projects unless a studio gives him enough money to do it properly – “a full-featured, big-budget, feature film.”

Good for you, JMS.

That had to be a hard place for him to come to in his reflections, but I think it’s the mature and artistically correct conclusion.

I’m a huge fan of B5. It was an incredibly written show with compelling characters. For its time, it was the best damn show on TV and is still eminently watchable. Sure there was the odd weak episode (but what show wouldn’t have some with that kind of on-air lifespan), and season 5 seemed a bit rushed, and yeah “The Legend of the Rangers” was a monstrous steaming pile of shit, but overall, B5 had a vision and it followed it, and it had a story to tell and it told it well and made us care.

But in some ways, it’s a good thing it’s over. It’s because the story of B5 was so good that it’s a good thing it’s over. Some stories don’t have to go on forever. They’re good enough to continue to be good over time without constantly tacking on extra installments here and there every couple of years. A good dish doesn’t need an entire buffet to make it better – sometimes the food on that one plate is great on its own. To keep adding on more and more is to risk losing that original wonderful product amid the clutter; it is to risk making the original beloved thing no longer special. There’s an old saying that an artist has to know when to walk away from the piece of art he’s working on. George Lucas hasn’t figured that out (don’t get me wrong, while I love the original Trilogy, I don’t hate all of the stuff that’s followed it – but the other stuff is just unnecessary and doesn’t stack up), but the afore-mentioned posting proves Straczynski has.

Part of me is hopeful that someday JMS will be offered enough money and be given enough time to create another great installment in the B5 saga. But if that doesn’t happen, that’s okay. We’ve still got the B5 story that has been told, and it’s good enough as-is.
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