The Cynics Corner

Babylon 5

"Babylon 5: Thirdspace"

by David E. Sluss

20 July 1998

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE: "Turdspace" circles the bowl. One of the worst ten hours I've ever spent in front of a television. It was only two hours, you say? My internal clock says different. Dull and plodding with an unimaginative payoff, "Turdspace" should be flushed from memory as soon as possible. [Oh, and thanks to Arthur Levesque for the alternate title. I feel certain I would have come up with it independantly, but he posted it it first, and the glory, such as it is, belongs to him.]

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 4.0 (F)

SYMBOLISM OF THE WEEK: You know that gateway looked a lot like water swirling in a ... bah, just coincidence...

INTERMINABLE SCENE OF THE WEEK: It's a tough call. All too many scenes featured enough padding to make Kate Moss a 38DD, but I think that the winnah and still champeen has to be the "Elevator Scene" with Zack and Lyta. Embarassing dialogue, embarassing performances (Tallman should count herself lucky she didn't have to speak). I breathed an actual sign of relief when it was over. All this padding was designed, I assume, to build up the suspense. Unfortunately, it failed for at least two reasons:

  1. It consisted of characters acting like "Night of the Living Dead" extras, babbling incoherently, and becoming violent, over and over and over again.
  2. The payoff proves not to have been worth all the time spent in the set-up (more below).

WEIRD SCIENCE OF THE WEEK: As others have already noted, the use of carbon-dating for million-year old artifacts is not likely to work (alhough a later reference suggests that it is only a thousand years old -- maybe the Vorlons built it a million years ago, but only got around to using it thousands of years ago?). JMS fell for the same trap that Voyager's writers did with their deuterium claptrap: misusing an actual scientific term. Why not say "We've dated it to a million years ago" and leave it at that?

INSENSITIVE CLOD OF THE WEEK: John "Numb-nuts" Sheridan, of course, apparently foreshadowing the repeated diplay of his unfeeling dingleberries in the fifth season. In his closing log entry, he says, "We made it and everyone's fine." Hey, Johnny, some of your pilots died, some of your Rangers died, some of the Minbari died. Get a clue: "Everyone is fine" is not equivalent to "My own little clique is fine."

RETCON OF THE WEEK: Well, the whole movie is a retcon, of course, a major incident stuck smack in the middle of the fourth season. And you have to wonder exactly when this took place, how and when all the damage to the station was repaired before the "next episode," whatever that was, how the number of Starfuries and Whitestars destroyed in this movie squares with the number of ships lost in the Shadow War and used in the Earth Civil War, why no one has ever mentioned this incident before, and so forth.

HYPERHYDROSIS OF THE WEEK: Is it just me, or was Ivanova sweating profusely in every scene she appeared in? "Don't be nervous, Claudia, the contract negotions are going just fine..."

BORING BEINGS OF THE WEEK: After an hour and a half of buildup, the bad guys turn out to be.... beings in funny-looking spaceships <yawn>. This is what I meant by "unimaginative payoff." For the most part, the threat turned out to be tuff guys in tuff ships, and, for the B5 universe, the design of said ships was rather uninspired. I gather that this is based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Now my experience with HPL is for the most part limited to having seen "From Beyond" and a couple of the "Re-Animator" films years ago, but my sense is that JMS and company did not come anywhere close to realizing the grandeur and terror of HPL's mythos. The Turdspacers seem like any other "ultimate alien race" we've ever seen. I mean, the Shadows seemed more menacing when they first appeared. And all it required was a little suitcase nuke to take out the Turdspace Death Star and the Gateway? Heck, they needed two larger devices to wreck the Shadow Palace on Z'Ha'Dum, and even then there were survivors. In short, the Turdspacers didn't seem particularly impressive or dangerous, which makes the hour-and-a-half buildup to their appearance seem absolutely wasted.

   

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This review is copyright 1998 David E. Sluss
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