Our Last, Best, Hope for TV?

You wait years for a beloved three-letter-creator to return to a beloved SF show, and then two happen in one week. After the news of RTD returning to Doctor Who, we have… JMS returning to – and rebooting – Babylon 5?

I did not see that coming. And I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Babylon 5was among my favourite programmes of the nineties. It was groundbreaking, in that it was probably the first such show to be planned from the start as a single long (five year) story. With many sub-stories and side plots along the way, as you might imagine.

It was, of course, flawed, especially in the rushed completion of season 4. They thought they were going to be cancelled, so JMS tried to tie up most of the loose ends in that season. Then season 5 was saved, and ended up being slow and underpowered by comparison.

For this proposed reboot – it’s TV, so nothing is definite till it’s in the can – he says he will ‘not be retelling the same story in the same way because of what Heraclitus said about the river’, but that ‘this is a reboot from the ground up rather than a continuation’.

If anyone else was running it, you could count me out. Straczynski could make it great again, but I sort of wonder why he wants to. Not unlike my wondering about why RTD wants to return to Who. I suppose we’re never entirely satisfied with our creations, so getting the opportunity to go back and rework them can be tempting. But I’m not sure it’s always healthy.

Still, we live in hope.


Deeply saddened to learn that Mira Furlan, who played Delenn in Babylon 5, has died. Only 65.

Over to JMS:


Space Suits You

Back to form, then, with Doctor Who season 10 episode 4, “Oxygen.” Jamie Mathieson has written some good episodes before, and he keeps up the standard here. A tale of capitalism red in tooth and claw, it reminds us at times of “Silence in the Library,” and also of Duncan Jones’s Moon.1

It’s a “monster of the week” episode, but the monster is capitalism. This season so far has been surprisingly political. Well, maybe not surprisingly. These are politically-charged times, and science fiction is nothing if not of its time.

There are no particularly egregious pieces of nonsense here, either. Why the suit’s force-field helmets are OK inside the station but not enough outside isn’t really explained, but the real reason is so the actors don’t have to wear helmets for the whole episode, so that’s all right.

Oh, one thing: they’re on a space station: what are they mining? I mean, for copper, but in what? We have to assume it’s asteroids, but they could just have said.

The really interesting stuff is what we might call the “arc” material (if we are harking back to our Babylon 5 days). The shades are back, but only because The Doctor is blind now. Can he fix it by regenerating, maybe? Or by doing a partial regeneration, like Ten? And more about the vault and The Doctor’s oath. Nardole fears what would happen “if that door opens.” But we saw it open last week, so things are not quite as Nardole thinks, at least.

And the very last scene in the “Next Time…” Yes!


  1. Which is a great film that you should see at once if you haven’t already. ↩︎


Jerry Doyle Dead

Sorry to hear about this:

Jerry Doyle — best known for his role on Babylon 5 — died Wednesday.