Retrospeculative TV

RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Born to the Purple” (Season 1, Episode 3)

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I remembered this one as being kind of weak, with a couple particularly terrible scenes, but it was actually rather weaker than I remembered. As usual, there’s some interesting stuff in here, but you’ve got to run a lot of water through your sperm whale to catch this low level of plankton.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Battlestar Galactica: “Experiment in Terra” (Story 15)

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We come to the end of the Terra arc with Blue Squadron tracking that Eastern Alliance destroyer that escaped last week. Adama’s journal informs us that it’s a week later (Apparently, but there’s some squishiness with colonial units of measure yet again. It’s either seven days, seven weeks, or seven months). Suddenly the ship of lights shows up and abducts Apollo.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Soul Hunter” (Season 1, Episode 2)

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This episode is more linear than the previous one, and doesn’t feel quite as ‘in the middle of a busy world’ as the previous one did. It’s still pretty good, though the lack of a subplot makes it feel a bit more like “The entire world came to a stop while we were doing this” than they intended. Still, there’s some neat bits hid in the cracks, and some seeds that’ll germinate later on.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Battlestar Galactica: “Baltar’s Escape” (Story 14)

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The Terra arc continues: We pick up with Adama dictating his journal, talking about how the council wants to release the Alliance prisoners they captured in “Greetings from Earth,” treat them as diplomats, and send ‘em home. Adama, of course, opposes this, but the council has never been presented as anything other than a buncha’ self-destructive goons, and now is no different.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Max Headroom: "Rakers" (Episode 2)

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Successful pop acts often suffer from what critics call "difficult second album syndrome". An artist pours everything he has into one perfect record, everybody loves it and a two weeks later, the record company insists on a quick follow-up to keep the fires burning. And it'd better be as good as the debut, or better. Max Headroom suffers from a similar problem, only slightly worse.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Midnight on the Firing Line” (Season 1, Episode 1)

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Babylon 5 was intended to go into production immediately after the pilot wrapped in 1993, but financing fell apart, and the whole thing lingered in limboland until January of ‘94 when the series itself was launched. As with any series, there are a lot of obvious changes between the pilot and the series proper, but here we have more than most. Not only was there the long delay, but much of the cast was fired, and the entire production was moved to a new studio across town, with many sets being redesigned, abandoned, or trashed in the process.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Battlestar Galactica (1978): “Greetings from Earth” (Story 13)

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Adama is narrating his journal about how he feels they’re drawing closer to earth. Meanwhile, Starbuck and Apollo are on a long-range patrol, asleep in their cockpits. They wake in time to find a sub-light spacecraft of some sort adrift with what appear to be human life signs aboard. They haul it back to the Galactica.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Max Headroom: "Blipverts"

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"Max Headroom" is an odd beast: An American series based on a British TV film whose main character first became familiar to American viewers through a series of advertisements. Furthermore, it's a TV series about a TV reporter which openly criticizes and ridicules TV networks and the way "news" is made. It doesn't get much more meta than this.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “The Gathering” (Pilot 1993)

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Babylon 5 was, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the best American SF show since the original Star Trek, and the most influential. Though never amazingly popular here in the states, pretty much every genre program since has owed at least an indirect debt to ground plowed and made fallow by it.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Battlestar Galactica (1978): “Murder on the Rising Star” (Story 12)

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A lot of people decry this episode as one of the weaker ones, but it’s also the one I’ve probably seen least from the series. In fact, I never saw it in its uncut entirety until I got the DVD set. Weak it may be, but it’s a whole lot better than “The Long Patrol” or “The Magnificent Warriors.” I’m up in the air about “The Young Lords.” That was pretty terrible all around, but the eye-popping production values make up for it.

Anyway:

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