The Cynics Corner


"War Zone"

by David E. Sluss

13 June 1999

>> Babylon 5

>> >> Episode Review



Episode Guide:
Lurker's Guide





: Tepid and talky, with dialogue that could not conceivably have come out of the mouth of a real human(oid).


SUICIDE WATCH OF THE WEEK: The media has been alerted to the possibility of mass suicides as a result of viewers hearing Evan Chen's score to Crusade. This concern is based on the massive numbers of wrist-slittings, self-immolations, and subway-dives that took place after Chen's score for the TNT Original Movie "A Call To Farm" first aired. But I'm happy to report that while Chen's music in this episode was not what I'd call good, it isn't as teeth-grindingly bad and disruptive to viewing as his "Call To Farm" score was. Let's hope it stays that way, since otherwise the ranks of the "Save Crusade" movement will suffer heavy attrition.

MALE DEMO PLOY OF THE WEEK: Looks like we got our first dose of TNT interference already, with a full scale brawl occurring some thirty seconds into the first episode, and a badly choreographed one at that, with several obvious phantom punches in plain sight.

BUDGET-CUTTING OF THE WEEK: I don't know if the per-episode budget of Crusade is less than it was for Babylon 5, but it certainly looks as though it is. Some of the computer-generated imagery seemed to have reverted to the "Atari 2600" look, a la Babylon 5's first season. Particularly bad were the exterior "shots" of the Martian landscape, the PPG gunfight in the Drakh ship, which looked as though crack-addicted orangutans had painted the PPG blasts directly onto the film with magic markers, and the final battle with the Drakh fleet, which didn't look all that bad, but was muddled to the extreme. In addition, the Drakh make-up and costuming looked ultra-cheapo, making Original Star Trek's Gorn suit look like an Emmy-award-winning outfit. But perhaps the best evidence of less money for Crusade (or more pockets along the way) is...

LAUGH RIOT OF THE WEEK: The "riot footage" was laughable, with stock footage featuring -- let's see, the Japanese cult that gassed the Tokyo subway a few years back, local yokel newschopper fire coverage, maybe Tiananmen Square. In any case, it's footage that's dated even today, and sure as hell did not look like Earth in 2270. I know "show, don't tell" is generally a good rule of storytelling, but in this case...

BAD DIALOGUE OF THE WEEK: Some of the exposition this week was so ridiculous that the actor speaking it might as well have been looking directly into the camera. But the worst has to be in the closing scene between Gideon and Galen, in which the No-nonsense Captain tells the Enigmatic Englishman: "You're a technomage. You use technology to simulate magic, and you all packed your bags and left for the rim." Hey, Cap, I think he knows that.

BAD DIALOGUE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: I don't know about all of you, but I really choked up when the Senator started waxing poetic about the old Martian civilization ("We'll never know what songs they sang, what stories they told, who they loved, who they lost, who they owed money to..."), but that's because Köstritzer Schwartzbier was coming up my nose from the laughter.

OLD HAT OF THE WEEK: The commanding officer experienced a life-threatening, life-changing episode about ten years in the past, the memory of which haunts him to this very day. Hey, JMS, "There is a hole in your script"; how about something a little fresher?

OLD HAT OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Why not just put Galen in an encounter suit (or the nearest airlock), if all he's going to do is spout Kosh-isms all day?

NEXT WEEK: Don't let your humanoids grow up to be cowboys -- unless network culture dictates it. (not reviewed)




satisfied customers
since 31 January 1999

This review is copyright © 1999 David E. Sluss
Crusade is a trademark of Time Warner Entertainment