At first, I just watched the pilot and the first episode, and I didn't really like it. It seemed to be not that interesting, it even seemed lame and boring, nothing compared to the almighty Star Trek I was used to at those times.
Hmm. Some time later I switched it on again, following the second season irregularly and without much interest at first, until I couldn't get away. Is there a term for this? Addiction? I don't know, but suddenly Babylon 5 really had become one of my favorite shows (I dare not say I have 'the' favorite show, because they are all very different and one really shouldn't compare them).
But what - in retrospect - made me come near a show that I at first neglected? Well, there are shows whose pilot is quite nice when it is the only
thing you know about it. For instance the Star Trek pilots - if one knows some episodes from the late seasons, one nearly doesn't recognize that this old
stuff belongs to the rest of the series. So I came to the conclusion to forget about the B5 pilot, too (by the way, the pilot from 'Space: Above and Beyond' also is quite bad compared to the series, especially the first hour). What is different in B5 compared to Star Trek? The story arcs, the persons, the general feeling. The crew has become nearly perfectly fit together by the third and fourth season (which is also true for DS9, but the other Treks really suffer from main character syndrome, and TNG of course from Wesley Crusher).
B5 doesn't have a 'harmless' story arc, it doesn't just have a nice crew, there is conflict between the persons (another thing parallel to DS9), and the music is
great. The visual effects look quite nasty at the beginning, but one gets used to it - also because there is much more to be seen than in Star Trek.
However, B5 also suffers from its own structure. There aren't really any episodes that stand alone and that one could refer to a friend
without the need for explanation. This is the point where shows like The X-Files or the Star Trek shows are easier to handle, but latest DS9
tendencies seem to deny even this.
Would I say that any of the two - B5 or Trek - is better or worse than the other? No! Never! Because I don't see the reason within this silly dispute. I
really enjoy both, because there are things which make any one of the shows a little different from each other, and this makes it interesting. And to those
Star Trek fans who are already on a crusade against B5: Ever heard of IDIC? Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations? You haven't forgotten your
Surak, have you? There is plenty of room for both shows (counting the Trek shows as one) as there is room for DS9 and VGR. (Same argumentation of course for those who are on a crusade against Star Trek - fight the Shadows in your own universe, and do not let them infiltrate the Federation!)
But then, it's only television, all of them, and there should be no need to get aggressive. Live and let live, that's the combined message of B5 and Star Trek.
February 3rd, 1998