Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TV Episodes Review: Babylon 5 - Born to the Purple and Infection


Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: "Born to the Purple"
Cons: "Infection"
Bottom Line:
These two episodes
Represent the good and bad
Get the DVD




Two Early Babylon 5 Episodes of Mixed Quality

In the days before TV on DVD, a few TV shows were released on VHS two episodes to the tape.  Ironically enough, only part of Babylon 5 was released this way.  (Since this show was the pioneer of the story arc, it makes little sense only part of the show was released in this format, but that’s a different rant.)  This tape collects the third and fourth episodes ever of the series, but they are vastly different in quality.

If you aren’t familiar with the show, Babylon 5 is an Earth run space station designed to be a self-supporting UN.  Ambassadors from various alien races live there to conduct business and help foster peace.  Of course, it is far from peaceful, or this would be the most boring TV show ever.

Up first is “Born to the Purple.”  For the most part, this episode focuses on the character of Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik).  While he is trying to broker a trade treaty with rival G’Kar of the Narns (Andreas Katsulas), his personal life turns upside down when his latest girlfriend and possible true love Adira (guest star Fabiana Udenio).  Unbeknownst to Londo, Adira is a slave who is being used by her master to get certain files from Londo that could hurt him and the entire ruling class back on Centauri Prime.  And he must turn to a surprising ally to save the day.

This episode is at times romantic and at times very funny.  It should be pointed out it is the only episode to feature G’Kar’s first assistant, guest star Mary Woronov and Ko D’Ath.  There are some wonderful lines and moments that I love to quote with my fellow fans.

However, the episode also plays an important role in the story arc of the series.  I’m not going to spoil anything, but I will say you need to watch it to understand stuff that happens in seasons three and four.

The actors are still developing the characters at this point, but the acting here is good from everyone.  This is especially important since Londo and G’Kar would undergo so much character growth as the series goes on.  But if you are looking for these two are their fighting best and Londo as more happy go lucky, this is the place to go.

So let’s turn our attention to the second episode on this tape.  “Infection” just may be my least favorite episode of the show.  In fact, in my latest rewatch of the series, I actually skipped the episode completely.

Part of the problem is the story has a been there done that feel to it.  It’s a showcase for Dr. Stephen Franklin (Richard Biggs), and only his second episode on the show.  It involves his former mentor arriving with artifacts from a planet, and as the two start investigating them, one of the comes to life and starts attacking the station.  Meanwhile, the station head Commander Sinclair (Michael O’Hare) is dodging an interview from news station ISN for the first anniversary of Babylon 5 going operational.

Yes, this is a space monster of the weak episode.  While many of the first season episodes especially are episodic in nature, this is the one that feels most like a rip off of other shows.  It doesn’t help that hardly any of the main cast appear in the episode at all.  It does help define the character of Dr. Franklin, but it’s not anything you couldn’t pick up later.

The acting is okay here.  The guest stars could be a little better, but the four actors from the regular cast who show up are fine.

The episode does have a few redeeming moments, like Sinclair’s monolog at the end, but it’s not the strongest episode by far overall.

So basically this tape, which I am rating, has a good episode and a bad episode.  I’m balancing them out to be average.

Having said that, I don’t recommend hunting down this tape.  Why would you want a VHS?  Instead, I recommend watching them on disc one of the Complete First season set of Babylon 5.  Just be prepared that "Born to The Purple" and "Infection" aren't of the same quality.

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