Thursday, September 24, 2015

Would I Rather Be Watching Babylon 5? Fall 2015 Season Edition

babylon52Each year about this time I ponder whether I want to tune in for the new and returning Fall sci fi / fantasy shows or if I would rather just go back and re-watch a classic sci fi series like Babylon 5 (one of my all-time favorites).  I love re-watching classic shows and B5 is a sci fi epic that just begs to be watched multiple times.  Of course, there are plenty of current genre offerings on television these days, in fact so many that it would be quite a task to keep up with them all.  On our Fall 2015 Schedule (which you can see at this link), there are 37 shows scheduled to air between now and December!  37!  That's practically a full time job just to keep up with all of those each week (I know that they are not all airing concurrently, but work with me here).  But how many of these are really worth watching?  I'm definitely looking forward to the return The Walking Dead as well as my guilty pleasure show The Librarians and The Originals.  Among the new entries Minority Report looks interesting as does Into the Badlands, Ash vs. the Evil Dead, The Expanse, and a few others.  And of course I have to check out the Heroes revival.  But while I enjoyed shows like Arrow and The Flash last season, I didn't find myself tuning in every week for them (though I am pumped for mid-season superhero-fest Legends of Tomorrow).  And I gave up on shows like Agents of SHIELD, The Leftovers, and The Last Man on Earth because they lost my interest.  I have to wonder at this point how many of the Fall entries will go that way as well.

Interestingly enough, the series that I have enjoyed watching the most this past year is not a genre entry at all.  A friend of mine kept badgering me to watch Breaking Bad and I finally gave in and started binge-watching the seasons (I'm down to the last eight episodes and prepared for a wild finale).  That is one hell of a good show and I highly recommend it.  I would put it in my all-time Top 10 (maybe even Top 5) favorite television shows.  And I found much more enjoyment watching that one than many of the current sci fi / fantasy shows like Grimm, Gotham, or Continuum.  And the show I enjoyed watching the most the Summer a year ago was 2003's Carnivale which I revisited on Amazon streaming (one of several HBO shows included with Prime Membership and I go into more detail on it at this link).  So as I think about how to invest my television watching time over the next few months, do I want to spend it on the current crop of shows or would I find more enjoyment going back to B5, Farscape, or Battlestar: Galactica (minus the finale)?  Or should I check into another of the recent, non-genre breakouts like Sons of Anarchy or House of Cards?

The fact is that there is a lot of sci fi on television these days and a lot of original scripted programming in general.  But how much of it is really good and worth investing my time?  I think of the number of shows that I watched or started watching and gave up on over the past few years because they just weren't any good (or started good then took a turn for the worse):  FastForward, The Event, Terra Nova, The River, Falling Skies, Under the Dome, Once Upon A Time, Agents of SHIELD, Sleepy Hollow, Defiance, Extant, etc., etc., etc.  That's a lot of time that I invested in those shows, with nothing much to show for it.

And among the many sci fi / fantasy shows from the past few years, how many will eventually be counted as classics?  Surely The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.  Maybe Person of Interest if it ends strong.  Beyond that?  Daredevil shows a lot of promise and The Last Ship is solid enough.  Arrow and The Flash have their moments.  Dark Matter and Killjoys have been fun, but I wouldn't call them great shows.  Beyond that, they all start to bleed together for me as one copies from another and others copy from all.  We have a state of sci fi mediocrity on television with far too much quantity and far too little attention to quality.

Meanwhile, I've really been wanting to go back and do a five season binge-watch of Babylon 5 (throwing in the movies and Crusade as well).  And I'd like to do the same with Lost.  Plus, I tuned out of Star Trek: DS9 during its fourth season which is when I understand it really hit its stride.  I'd like to go back and catch up on that one.  And there are plenty of other classic sci fi shows worth working into binge-watch weekends and the streaming services make that really easy these days.

So should I watch all the Fall sci fi / fantasy entries which have started debuting this week, or would I rather be watching Babylon 5?

For those interested, you can read my 2014 edition of Would I Rather Be Watching Babylon 5 at this link and my 2013 edition at this link.

Buy Babylon 5 on DVD from

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