6mm-Minis

6mm-Minis is Maksim-Smelchak's blog to discuss gaming, miniatures, books, movies, food, Israel, Judaism, life in general and other funny crud. My favorite scale of miniatures is 6mm, which is also called 1/285 or 1/300 scale. I enjoy many different kinds of games including ancients, Napoleonics, WWI, WWII, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Car Wars AKA Autoduel (a sort of crash'n'derby automobile combat game), 6mm Godzilla AKA Kaiju games, and science fiction games. I'm open to everything though!

Monday, March 20, 2006

TELEVISION: "Babylon 5: Crusade" = A Bomb!

Hi Everyone!

Happy first day of Spring!

Of course, we have rain around these here parts, but it's nice to have rain nevertheless.

Well, yesterday, I finally finished the last episode of "Babylon 5: Crusade" and I can unabashedly say: "It was terrible! It had a lot of promise, but met very little of it."

My friend Eric "Chern" Royer lent me his "Crusade" DVD set after having gotten me into the "Babylon 5" Universe last year when he started playing all of the various "Babylon 5" starship games from Mongoose Publishing in the UK. And "Babylon 5" is a very interesting sci-fi universe. The original series held onto five seasons very well with only a minor decline of my interest occuring during the last season. "Crusade" was set to be a spin-off and took off where the "Babylon 5" plot line left off. After seeing "Babylon 5," I had some pretty high expectations for "Crusade," which were categorically not met.

A Mongoose Publishing link (they own the B5 gaming franchise at the moment):
http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/

Here are some PROs, things that "Crusade" had going for it:
- Good continuity and the plot had a good lead from "Babylon 5."
- Interesting characters based on fantasy RPG archtypes (Wizard, thief, cleric, fighter, etc.).
- The good writing of Straczynski who can spin a pretty good yarn.

The plot and storyline were very good and led off right from where the end of "Babylon 5" left it: Drakh plague has infected the Earth and the crew of the Excalibur must search the universe to find a cure to the plague while pursuing the Drakh. And the pilot episode did a great job of keeping to the plotline. It was from there that the show became increasingly disjointed... maybe I want to say discombobulated... often focusing on a single character with very little play between the cast and crew of the Excalibur. A number of episodes focussed on the audience-favorite character Galen, the technomage, which left most of the other characters in the lurch.

The fantasy archtypes that Straszynski used could have worked if he had kept to the fantasy convention of having a "dungeon party." Instead the crew are split up into episodes with little interaction between them and little to no attention to drama and the intercharacter romances / fights that keep a series alive. In the series' defence, TNT cut funding very early and wanted more Hollywood (read sex scenes and the like) than Strascynski wanted to give them. TNT also apparenty rearranged the epsiodes out of the order that Straszynski wanted. That could explain some of the disjointed feel of the series. I give Straczynski credit though. He seems like a pretty likeable fellow.

Here are some of the CONs that killed "Crusade":
- Terrible music by Evan Chen that killed the mood as often as not.
- A second-rate stable of actors including Gary "Lumberg" Cole of "Office Space."
- Poor plot continuity... it weaved all over the place.
- No romantic triangles... in fact, the cast suffered from a shortage of females.
- An alien shortage as well...

Probably the #1 problem with "Crusade" was the MUSIC. Evan Chen was hired to give a sort of "East / West fusion" to the soundtrack and instead what I got from the soundtrack were the crazy clanging drums of classical Chinese playhouses. And such music can work in certain situations, but NOT in the midst of a romance scene or a rooting out of the mysteries of the universe. Imagine: smooch, smooch, oh... CLANG, CLANG, CLANG! Instead we ended up with a phallic spaceship wandering the universe to the clang of funny drums...

The cast was the other big problem. Second-tier actors were hired, which might have worked, but it didn't. Gary Cole, probably best known for playing "Lumberg" in the comedy hit "Office Space" appeared to be recreating his "Lumberg" role. He just doesn't emote very well. He does cheese quite well (deadpan humour), but emotional depth, he does not. And much of the rest of the cast made him look good. Peter Woodward, as Galen the technomage, was way overboard... he sounded like a Shakespearian actor who'd been fired... a few times over. The accent was just about as annoying as I think could have been possible...

And perhaps a greater lack was the paucity of strong female actors (and accompanying roles) as well as alien characters in "Crusade." Part of what made "Babylon 5" work was the variety of well-developed alien characters and romantic tension between the B5 cast. "Crusade" didn't have that. It has one alien character and the male cast members outnumbered the female cast by a good margin (well over half). Very little development of romantic attention occurred and the one romance that was pushed between Captain "Lumberg" and Capt. Lochley was well... forced. Not only that but Capt. Lochley only appeared in roughly three of the thirteen or so episodes.

The thief archtype, Carrie Dobro as Dureena Nafeel, had the most interesting female character with a lot of interesting character background, but her character was never used to her full potential. She got the majority of female cast member air time, but, probably got the least amount of romantic consideration. Capt. Lochley has romantic tension with Captain "Lumberg" and the doctor had some minor romantic tension with various guest characters, but Dureena seemed to mostly be a vehicle for... cleavage exposure. Her outfits developed over the series from a skin-tight jumpsuit with undercut gauzy blouse covering to a Matrix-like leather body suit with a long exposed cleavage line by the end of the series. My amateur theory was that as the series began to fail, they showed more and more of Dobro's cleavage. I had expected to see her in a revealing bikini by the end, but Strascynski stuck to his guns... or rather didn't stick to Dobro's guns.

So, in summation, "Crusade" wasn't just bad... it was terrible. I think that I would have been better off having ended my Babylon 5 experience with Season 5 rather than ending it with the failed "Crusade."

A few more B5 and "Crusade" links:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00061QJSK/104-9568741-3282364?v=glance&n=130

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0149437/

http://www.isnnews.net/crusade/basics/introduction.shtml

http://www.isnnews.net/

Have a great day!

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

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