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Interviews: Ask J. Michael Straczynski What You Will

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the last-best-hope-for-answers dept.

Sci-Fi 215

He has written for many different comic book titles including Superman and The Amazing Spider-Man, and wrote the screenplay for the Academy Award-nominated movie Changeling, but J. Michael Straczynski (jms) is probably best known as being the creator, writer, and producer of Babylon 5. Recently, jms has teamed up with the Wachowskis and Netflix to create a new original sci-fi series, Sense8, coming out in late 2014. Straczynski has agreed to take a few minutes from writing sci-fi epics in order to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

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Reading/Writing Regimen? (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403075)

I've heard that to be a good writer you need to read and write several hours daily. On average how many hours do you spend reading each day? Writing? Do you have an average word count you aim to produce for each day?

Favorite Underrated Sci-Fi Writer? (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403105)

As the emergence of more Philip K. Dick movies (and remakes) indicate, there's a lot of great sleeper sci-fi out there.

Who's your favorite writer that no one else seems to be enjoying?

Academic Chops? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403117)

Do you frequently brush up on physics or cosmology or some scientific field to keep your forward looking ideas sharp and in-line with current academic trends or do you simply rely on your imagination? Any academic journals you subscribe to looking for something to stimulate you into envisioning a future with an interesting twist? Is this common in the writing community or do I have the wrong image in my head?

Time Travel in Sci-Fi? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403135)

Time travel is a sticky area in Sci-Fi stories and is so pervasive it has caught the eye of Chinese censors [] . Since H.G. Wells it's been a major staple of sci-fi movies and has become quite pervasive from fantasy books like Harry Potter to television series like Lost and Futurama. Even modern Sci-Fi stories like Stephen Baxter can still win awards for novels based on time travel. I'm not incredibly familiar with your work so I don't know if you've relied on time travel yet, however, I would like to hear your take on it. Is it a tired cliched mechanism that is overused or do you still find yourself thoroughly entertained with the possibilities it presents? If you wrote it, would/did you go infinite parallel universes or single universe with time travel paradox correcting crumple zones?

Re:Time Travel in Sci-Fi? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403181)

Babylon 5:
"Babylon Squared" (season 1) — Babylon 4 reappears four years after it first vanished, and is calling for help.
"War Without End" (season 3) — the fate of Babylon 4 is finally revealed.


Re:Time Travel in Sci-Fi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403563)

Nevermind the whole Valen thing, Minbari mysticism, and the prophecies of the Shadows hinge on time travel.

Re:Time Travel in Sci-Fi? (1)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404121)

Some of the best time travel stories ever written IMHO. Also Babylon Squared gave us the great fasten, zip - zip, fasten dialogue.

Re:Time Travel in Sci-Fi? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404041)

Babylon 5 does use a small amount of time travel, and it is summed up nicely in a single line from the character Jeffrey Sinclair: "It all happened, just the way I remember it". You can travel backwards in time, but everything happens as if you had done so. There is no changing history.

Getting more sci-fi on TV (5, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403139)

In your opinion is there anything we as viewers can do to get more quality sci-fi on TV and keep it there without being cancelled? It's always too expensive, takes a long time to gain a strong following and syndication, and then gets pushed out in favour of wrestling or some paranormal nonsense. We don't even have a proper sci-fi channel any more, despite there being literally hundreds of channels available.

I'd love to contribute to the funding of, say, more episodes of Stargate Universe, but at $2m/episode I just can't see how crowd funding would work.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

dump NBC / comcast from sci-fi channel / gopremium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403943)

dump NBC / comcast from sci-fi channel / go premium maybe $5 /mo with the chiller channel.

When are we getting more SCIFI (3, Funny)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403147)

Do you think a series like Babylon 5 could be made today? Could you please get right on that?

Re:When are we getting more SCIFI (2)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404139)

As a kind of follow on to this. Do you ever desire to work at creating more stories in the Babylon 5 universe? If so how likely is that to happen, or are there any major hurdles that would have to be cleared first?

What's It Like Being Funded By Netflix? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403151)

You've worked in television, what are the pros and cons in the deltas between Netflix and one of the big networks/cable goliaths? Do they still goad you into putting a cliff hanger at the end of the episode so the couch potato continues to veg-out and just hit 'play' on the next installment? Are you glad you don't need to plan for commercial bumps? Any dark sides to being paid by Netflix?

Binging – does this affect the writing? (5, Insightful)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403679)

For it’s original shows, Netflix tends to release all of the episodes at once so viewers can “binge” on all of the shows at once. What changes does force on the writer? Does the nature of cliff hangers change since you won’t have to wait until next week?

For me, this gives a very different viewing experience. When I am left with a cliff hanger, I get to turn it over in my mind, examine alternative theories floating out on the web, etc. In short, part of the pleasure is the (forced) slow unfolding of the story.

Babylon 5 (3, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403153)

Babylon 5 started off very strongly, but many fans feel that the show jumped the shark after Season 3, even as it's suggested that the series story arc was planned from the start. What actually happened?

Re:Babylon 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403295)

And... when do we get more of it :)

Re:Babylon 5 (4, Informative)

MaxToTheMax (1389399) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403349)

Seriously? B5 was awesome in Season 4, and although Season 5 was kind of a letdown as a whole, it also had a few really good episodes.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

noc007 (633443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403843)

Agreed. Season 4 definitely rocked. Season 5 almost felt like WB wanted to keep the gravy train rolling, but things weren't planned out as in-depth as the previous seasons. I could sworn I heard early on that it was originally intended to run four seasons.

Re:Babylon 5 (2)

meson_ray (1216924) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404007)

It was originally planned for 5 seasons but WB didn't want to renew for a 5th season, so they planned to tie up most of the loose ends after season 4. Then it was picked up and aired on TNT, to tie up the rest of the stories so Season 5 was sort of a combination of the planned last year but with many of the story arcs already finished.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

noc007 (633443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404243)

Thanks. It has been so long that I forgot about that.

Re:Babylon 5 (3, Informative)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404085)

No, it was always meant to be five seasons. The renewal for the fifth season came very late, though, so some of what should have been in the fifth season got moved up to the end of the fourth. If the renewal had been definite earlier, the fourth season would have ended about four episodes earlier, story-wise.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404671)

Seriously. I'm glad you enjoyed Season 4, but to me there was a sharp drop in both the plausibility of the plot events, and the amount of character development. Season 4 had way too much plot, crammed in, and Season 5 not enough. (Tracy Scoggins is hot but that was not enough to carry me through the whole season.)

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

MaxToTheMax (1389399) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404771)

That's part of what I liked about Seasons 3 and 4-- there was a major mind-blowing plot twist (a "wham episode") every single week. It was, as I said, thoroughly awesome. On the other hand, the episodes I liked from Season 5 were mostly the smaller-scale, character-driven ones (Long Night of Londo Molari, Day of the Dead,) rather than the story-driven ones.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

Nimey (114278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403661)

The network kept screwing around with them, so the B5 team never knew if the next season would get made until they were well into the current season.

It was originally intended as 5 seasons, but they thought they'd only get four so they compressed it, and then the network came back with money to make a fifth season so they had to start a new arc with the telepaths.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404123)

The telepath story of season five was always meant to be there, though not quite exactly as it played out (Ivanova was supposed to be part of that story). Maybe it would have been one or two episodes shorter, for better or worse. The long-term purpose of that story was to set up the Telepath War, which never ended up appearing on screen anywhere.

Re:Babylon 5 (2)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404221)

The best episode of season 5 in my opinion was "Day of the Dead."

JMS - If Ivonava had been on season 5 of Babylon 5, which previously deceased character would have visited her: Marcus, or Talia?

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

noc007 (633443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404747)

I really wish the Telepath War could have been explored. Really intriguing on what was setup for the story.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404719) was basically cancelled after season 4 by Warner Brothers. TNT saw it's popularity, and came in and picked it up. Giving it, it's 5th season. But many arcs were already ended.

Re:Babylon 5 (2)

quacking duck (607555) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403959)

Unlike other shows that claim or have the appearance of pre-planning (Lost, Battlestar Galactica), B5 truly did have a fully-planned 5-year story arc. Obviously it had to change a few times to accommodate real-life events (Michael O'Hare leaving at end of season 1, Claudia Christian leaving at end of season 4).

As a fan, there was never any shark-jumping. That's a very specific act of doing some over-the-top sensational act to make up for lack of stories or loss of viewership.

However, my *engagement* lagged a bit in in the middle of season 4 as the focus shifted to Mars and Earth. This is probably the "jump the shark" you thought had happened, but when you go from super-epic villains to more typical villains, some let down is unavoidable.

They weren't promised a season 5 so the story arc was compressed... and then when S5 did get picked up by a different network, it was a double-edged sword because one particular storyline that was supposed to run simultaneously now had to stand almost by itself, for too many episodes, plus deal with an entirely new main character. The last half of S5 was good though.

The computer graphics, which had greatly improved season-over-season, also took a noticeable backwards step during season 4, and was especially pronounced in parts of season 5. This was my observation at the time, not through the filter of having watched more recent CGI-heavy shows like Galactica. I found out afterwards B5 had switched CGI companies, and there's some question as to whether the original left B5 or B5 left them. Either way, it didn't benefit the show on the CGI front, IMHO.

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404705)

How did it in any way jump the shark?

Re:Babylon 5 (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404707)

Babylon 5 started off very strongly, but many fans feel that the show jumped the shark after Season 3

I'm not well-versed in different cultures worldwide, so I have to ask. Is it Opposite Day in your country?

Online presence: positive or negative? (5, Interesting)

bobdehnhardt (18286) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403169)

You were one of the first Hollywood writers with an online presence, hanging out in newsgroups during production of Babylon 5. My memories of that were tidbits and insights from you, along with frequent "no story submissions" reminders and threats of your departure if the story ideas didn't stop. How do you remember that experience? Was it worth the hassle? And do you view the seeming explosion of writers, directors, producers and actors on social media as a positive or negative for the industry overall?

B5 on Bluray? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403211)

I bought them all on DVD. I'd gladly pay again to have them in HD with redone CGI/Post production. Especially if care is taken with the sound track. No idea what that would cost to produce. ST:TNG seems to be doing well cost/profit wise; I'd like to think B5 could garner similar sales. I'd rather have it done right with your input, or not at all (a la upscaling).

Re:B5 on Bluray? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403255)

I'm not sure if this was just an internet rumor or if this was fact but I thought they had lost all the original CG models to B5. Because of that improving the quality would be expensive.

Re:B5 on Bluray? (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403597)

If that is the case, maybe a good question to ask might be whether Straczynski has ever considered "crowdsourcing" the creation of new CG models by fans? (that is, if he has any clout in the matter)

Re:B5 on Bluray? (2)

noc007 (633443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403933)

Everything I've read confirms the original CG models were lost. IIRC it was either due to the company that did the CG going out of business or some accident. A lot of the model work has already been done by the community though. There are fan made game mods where they started from scratch on the models and texturing. I'd imagine with permission they could take the existing models and improve on them.

JMS, if this does happen, please ensure they don't rape us at the checkout counter. $40/season is within my budget. I'd be willing to pay a little more because of how much I love this work, but $70+/season is pretty hard on the budget.

Re:B5 on Bluray? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404155)

From what I've read, this will never happen, because getting the CGI and regular film to match at the higher resolution would be somewhere between insanely expensive and impossible.

Obligatory question: (5, Funny)

Hartree (191324) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403219)

Purple or green?

Re:Obligatory question: (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403891)


Re:Obligatory question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43404369)


Re:Obligatory question: (1)

noc007 (633443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404257)

Green. Definitely green.

Re:Obligatory question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43404409)

Follow up question...Zip and then buckle, or buckle and then zip?

Re:Obligatory question: (1)

MaxToTheMax (1389399) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404727)

Wanna talk socks?

Re:Obligatory question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43404821)

Purple or green?


Bottom-Up Sci-Fi Universe Synthesis (vs. Top-Down) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403229)

Big fan! I've thought for a long time about the idea of a distributed sci-fi fictional world, where people initiate and develop a universe in which their narratives, videos, propmaking, alien make-up, LARPing, what-have you can flourish, at the grassroots level, instead of the traditional top-down model where a TV show or movie initializes a world and "fans" pretend to be in the same world as their favorite stars. The Internet has made this potentially feasible as nothing before ever could have. Rather than dressing up as a Starfleet captain who never existed on the original show so you can go see Shatner, participants' contributions would be just as canonical and look just as high-tech as anyone else, and the characters they create would be as important and legitimate as anybody else's. Do you, as a sci-fi consumer as well as producer, see any potential in such an effort? Do you think there is a place for bottom-up sci-fi worlds alongside the studio film franchises and videogames?

Phoenix Rising/Captain Power Reboot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403237)

I heard rumors a few months ago about a possible Captain Power reboot? As a writing on the original Captian Power do you have any involvement with a possible reboot or any interest in it?

Have you learned... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403251)

Have you learned to write dialog between a man and a woman yet? Babylon 5 was painful.

BBT (5, Funny)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403279)

Do you have any beef with the writers of The Big Bang Theory? Sheldon seems to mock/complain about Babylon 5 a lot. Did you loose a bet or something?

Re:BBT (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403811)

Personally, I don’t the producers have anything against Babylon 5.

When I was growing up there was a long running geek debate on which one was better – Star Trek (Deep Space Nine in particular) or Babylon 5. Sheldon, dogmatically so, is in the Star Trek camp. Which, I think, is a nice nod to some of the esoteric and seemingly points debates that we geeks get into.

Re:BBT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403823)

Isn't it a compliment to be mocked by a character in an awful, idiotic sitcom?

Re:BBT (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403907)

Actually, not a bad question. JMS used to have some really good stories about tit-for-tat writing duels he's had with writers for other shows.

Re:BBT (3, Insightful)

spagthorpe (111133) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403977)

Given that BBT is basically geek blackface, and loathed by most that I know, I wouldn't take anything said about B5 to be anything more than a semi-obscure reference the writers put on there to make the primary audience of non-geeks laugh. I'd be wiling to bet that most people that are fans of BBT have never seen a B5 episode.

Re:BBT (4, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404245)

Given that BBT is basically geek blackface, and loathed by most that I know

Geek blackface? WTF?

Quit trying to be a hipster and enjoy the show. I work in a similar environment where the show takes place and sometimes it is spot on. Working relationships between scientists and engineers, scientists competing for tenure while remaining friends, Theoretical physicists views toward Applied physicists, and personality quirks.

My colleagues and I love it when it cuts close to home but so over the top that it's funny when discussed around the water cooler.

Re:BBT (2)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404535)

Given that BBT is basically geek blackface, and loathed by most that I know

Geek blackface? WTF?

I see where he's coming from. Big Bang Theory is the sort of show I really really want to like. I've tried several times. I've bounced off of it ... hard ... after about five minutes each time.

I can't say I loathe it, because I haven't watched enough of it to develop a loathing. Many people whose opinions I greatly respect love it. I just find it way too annoying -- too much of the "geeks" in the show come across to me as "what the jocks and 'in crowd' think geeks are like".

Re:BBT (4, Interesting)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404267)

If asked, would you guest star on Big Bang Theory?

What do you want? (4, Funny)

frakfrakfrak (1049468) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403307)

Hey, someone else was going to do it if I didn't!

Who are you? (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403571)

And now for the corollary that someone else was going to ask if I didn't.

Re:Who are you? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403779)

What do you want?

Why are you here? (1)

noc007 (633443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404319)

Let's keep it going.

Changes in SciFi since the 90s (5, Interesting)

MaxToTheMax (1389399) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403331)

Can you list any examples of shows that have changed your approach to Science Fiction since Babylon 5 was written? For example, the latent success of Firefly showed how smaller-scale science fiction can be effective. How have you been influenced by Firefly or any other show post-B5?

Suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403397)

My only questions is - can you please not make " Sense8" suck? At any time?

The Battle Star Galactica reboot started out great. Then at 2.5 it jumped the shark.

How not to suck:

Keep religion out of it - unless you can come up with something that's NOT Judeo-Christian Oriented or ANY other religion that we know (and that means worshiping ANY higher power [yeah, you're screwed on that part with me]).- then I may watch.

Going apeshit with aliens. Or at least humanoid looking aliens. See Arthur C. Clark for inspiration.

Frankly, you're a TV writer and you suck - until proven otherwise.

Yeah, I know - you're crying all the way to the bank.

You suck.

Trolling to egg you on (somehow) to do some great SCI-FI (NOT sy-fy - sy-fy is for fags) because I think YOU sir have it in in you. I saw some brilliance in "Babylon 5" and I want to encourage that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you got your network pimps with their fingers in your ass telling you what you need to do. I'm just saying, YOU are the creative guy here - FUCK'EM! One way or another - you can do it.

Mel Brooks did it - he's still alive and from what I've heard in the media, he's a bit of a "punk". Talk to him - he got the farting scenes and the "Nigger" scenes in Blazing Saddles after all.

Just saying.

Other than that, keep being a Golly Wieird Scy-Fy sort of marketable hack. Yes, I acknowledge you are doing what you do to work and create ( and it IS GOOD - don't get me wrong! But it can be GREAT!!) - As a techy competing with everyone else in the World, I can REALLY empathize with that!!!

Re:Suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403695)

JMS is an atheist. Keeping religion out is not an issue. And when he addressed religion in B5 it was handled exceptionally evenly to all parties. Nobody can honestly say they were misrepresented in the show. Well, they can, but they'd be dishonest.

Legend of the Rangers (2)

MaxToTheMax (1389399) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403427)

_Legend of the Rangers_ was, at one point, a very promising pilot. What happened to keep the show out of production, how would history be different if it had gotten made?

Who was your favorite character of Bab5? (2)

Marrow (195242) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403469)

And why?

Fully Developed Storylines (5, Insightful)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403489)

There's a trend lately with TV shows writers to build mystery and suspense episode after episode without any consideration to the resolution of those arcs. The most famous instance of this is with JJ Abrams' Lost, but we saw the same thing happen to Battlestar Galactica. That's when we're even lucky enough to get a finale, often shows in danger of being cancelled will elect to end the season in a cliffhanger in an attempt to get an increased audience and help their chances of getting renewed. In contrast, with Babylon 5 you've shown great respect for the fans by coming up with a full storyline, complete with several outs in case of unexpected problems, such as actors being unable to return for one reason or another. In addition, when you thought Babylon 5 was going to get cancelled on its fourth season, you filmed the series finale to ensure we would get the full story, as much as it was possible. I truly thank you for that.

My question to you is whether you believe the type of long-term thinking into developing a good and complete story directly harms your overall numbers. After all, if Lost angered most of its viewers with the season finale, by then it doesn't matter anymore: the important thing to the bottom-line is that they were watching while the series is on. Have DVD sales helped somewhat in that people are more likely to buy the series if it's fully developed, and do studios take that into consideration in addition to Nielsen ratings? Do you have a complete story planned out for Sense8 similar to how you developed Babylon 5 and if so does working with Netflix make this process easier or harder than working with a traditional studio?

Re:Fully Developed Storylines (1)

Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404217)

It is a great question, even if I might disagree about some of the details suggested. It is worth noting that until recently even novels were most often chapters strung together in only somewhat coherent larger arcs. For example, we consider Dickens as an important early novelist, but most of his work were serials that faced many of the same kinds of pressures expected in a TV series. We remember the shining exceptions (LotR, Dune, etc.) but forget how many novels were quite appropriately forgotten.

Interacting with the community (2)

hrieke (126185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403491)

You have been one of the best known writers to interact with the community at large.
How do you feel that this has improved on your writing and character developments, and have there been any particular netizens which have caused you to stop and think about the stories your are telling in a different way or fashion than you initially thought?
(Is there anyone that you miss seeing?)

Forbidden Planet (2)

Jerslan (1088525) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403497)

Are you still working on the remake/reboot? Can you share any details (expected release date, etc..)? The original is one of my all-time favorite movies and I feel that there are very few writers/producers these days that could do it justice (possibly just you and Joss Whedon).

Do you see yourself as a desktop video pioneer? (2)

conspirator23 (207097) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403593)

As a former Amiga owner, I remember how excited the community was to learn that this new TV series called Babylon 5 was going to have it's visual effects developed on the NewTek Video Toaster [] . Many considered it a vindication of the Amiga platform as well as a milestone in the evolution of digital video. My understanding is that you moved away from this platform in later seasons because it wasn't scaling up to meet your needs.

Today desktop video is commonplace, and there are a million billion Youtube videos whose quality is only limited by the talent and time invested by the creators rather than any technological barriers. How do you feel about the progression from then till now and the role you played as an early adopter?

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403595)

I was just watching my He-Man collection from 1983 (I am 12 years old) and noticed in the episode credits:

"Written by J. Michael Straczynski"

In your opinion, what makes He-Man the greatest television show in the history of the universe? Was it the great story and dialogue? Or the groundbreaking animation? Or the fact that it was the last major show to be animated in the U.S.?

revisiting past work (1)

tloh (451585) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403599)

Lately, I've discovered that I've actually been a fan of yours long before Babylon 5. For those not familiar,
  Captain Power was short-lived but ground-breaking live action show that like Transformers, G.I.Joe, etc. was made to sell toys. Looking back at many things that helped define my childhood, this show is one of the few that somewhat stands the test of time through my adult eyes. I attribute that in large part to your high quality writing. It is generally known that a fully conceived second season would have continued telling the story if the series had not been canceled. Given the wild success of the big screen adaptations of Transformers and G.I.Joe and the recent record breaking kickstarter funded Veronica Mars movie, how do you feel about Gary Goddard's attempt at
  reviving the franchise you worked on so long ago? I personally feel that as written, the characters and story lines you crafted are as relevant and compelling today as they were more than 25 years ago. But are you at all nervous about the show being "re-imagined" a la Battlestar Galactica?

Re:revisiting past work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43404725)

I loved that show as a kid. It was quite dark for "a kids show designed to sell toys" (though I read later that wasn't quite the original idea). I still remember being awed by the unexpectedly violent finale episode where the good guys basically all lost and the pilot woman actually got killed. For years I secretly hoped a second season had been made and never shown, but would someday be released to DVD.

I may have one that nobody thought to ask. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43403659)

When you visited Andreas Katsulas before he went beyond the veil; you mentioned in an interview that you told him stories of B5 that never got to be told.
Would you consider telling us here, in a post somewhere, or even a compendium; those stories? I'd love to enrich the B5 Universe.

What happened? (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403663)

After having just re-watched all bab5/crusade/movies in the past few weeks it's become quite clear to me that Babylon 5 seasons 1-4 had a fairly well thought out story that engaged audiences and while a few movies have filled in some unanswered questions the overall quality of everything that came after was just not there. Why do you think that is and what will be different about your upcoming project?

A side question: Will you ever revisit [] and update the episode order fully? The order specified for Crusade has many seemingly unneeded inconsistencies - especially as it relates to the relationship between Gideon and Lochley

Rising Stars movie / tv show? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403667)

When Heroes came out (ie, the first season) many of the plot elements reminded me of Rising Stars. The wikipedia page for your comic mentions that there were some issues to movie rights:

The comic itself came to an unexpected halt after issue 21 due to internal arguments between Straczynski and Top Cow. Straczynski claimed he was cut out of the loop on the potential Rising Stars movie

... but that would've been years ago. If this series with Netflix is successful, is there any chance that we might see a similar treatment with Rising Stars?

B5 learning experience? (3, Interesting)

mblase (200735) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403685)

What would you say are the most valuable things you took away from your experience as creator/head writer of "Babylon 5"? In particular, the effort to create a single, long-running storyline over five seasons? Do you think you could have done things differently to avoid the issues with actors leaving mid-show and the network threatening to cancel the final season?

Jack (1)

Sharkus (677553) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403699)

Ripped (pun possibly intended) from The Lurkers Guide to Babylon 5, you stated, about Jack the Ripper:
"Actually, yes, I do have a pet theory about who the Ripper was, but I'm so embarrassed over the west end/east end typo in one of our episodes that I don't know if I'll ever have enough courage to broach it to anyone."

Do you have the courage to broach the theory now?

Reddit (-1, Troll)

neokushan (932374) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403727)

Once you're done here, would you mind doing an AMA on Reddit? Their mobile interface is a lot nicer.

teddy bear wars (1)

mblase (200735) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403739)

What was the final resolution of your "bear-bylon 5" teddy bear [] duel with Peter David?

Ben Aaronovitch (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403741)

Could you make sure that Ben Aaronovitch gets a decent job??

For real... the guy wrote "Remembrance of the Daleks!" I found out this week that he has to work selling books. What is up with that? He deserves a decent writing gig.

Jeremiah wrap-up? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403759)

Both Firefly and Jericho put out comics after the shows were prematurely canceled to help tie up some of the dangling plot elements. Are there any chances of Jeremiah ever being continued in some other form, such as novels or comics?

tell us about the new netflix series (3, Interesting)

apcullen (2504324) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403801)

You know you want to.

Is it going to have a long story ark over several seasons with a definite beginning, middle and end like B5 did?

The Lensman Series (2)

Shugart (598491) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403833)

I remember a few years back hearing that you were writing a screenplay for Edward Elmer Smith's the Lensman Series. What has become of that? Isn't writing for that really difficult without it being corny, old fashioned and a parody of itself?

Nerd Stunt Casting (3, Interesting)

conspirator23 (207097) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403835)

One of the things about Bab5 that was always fun for the hardcore SF fans was bringing back actors from classic SF television. Casting Billy Mumy (Lost in Space) as Lennier and Walter Koenig as Alfred Bester (a personal fav) were entertaining beyond the performances they delivered. Are there any cool casting choices about Sense8 that you have planned or can dish on?

Firefly! (0, Offtopic)

fogbrain99 (1122057) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403855)

Why did they cancel Firefly? It was such a great show!

Are we out of space? (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403879)

1) First off, thank you for such fun works as Babylon 5 and Jeremiah. I am excited about thew new series. Is there any chance we could see some old friends (Claudia Christian, Jerry Doyle, Walter Koenig) as guests in the new series?

2) At present there are zero dedicated "space" based television series in production. About the closest we get is the occasional Doctor Who. Why do you think there is a dearth of such series right now? It seems like the timing is perfect to do a show that focus' on colonizing Mars.

I feel that such a show could help bolster support for the flailing space program, and further the new commercial ventures. What role do you see space faring science fictions shows having on humanity's progress?

B5 Universe. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43403971)

Do you see any future in the Babylon 5 universe, you do you feel that you have milked it to death.

Feelings on the so-called "Babylon 5 Curse" (2)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404011)

The Babylon 5 cast has lost several members - many younger than expected

- Andreas Katsulas
- Tim Choate
- Richard Biggs
- Jeff Conaway
- Michael O'Hare

It's even been referred to as the "Curse of Babylon 5". Can you share a favorite memory of each from your time on Babylon? Or perhaps, the scene that most epitomizes each character/actor?

how do reconcile philosophy and action? (2)

peter303 (12292) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404063)

Many readers are attracted to science fiction literature by their attempts to answer the Big Questions like "why are we here?", 'what is out there?", "where are we going?". Especially in the novels written in the decades after WWII. On the other hand many movies are obsessed with action- spaceships, superpower fights and so on. They dont really exercise our brains. Some go even as far to suggest that philosophical science fiction is essentially unfilmable, especially if you want to make a profit. How can you put more provocative ideas into scifi movies and shows?

Does it always have to be military? (1)

CaraCalla (219718) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404071)

Why are so many SciFi shows about the life of military officers? I enjoy SciFi, but I'm through with ranks, military discipline, honour and all that crap. Can't there be more shows about space-faring civil society?

Sorry. I've got to ask about more B5. (1)

noc007 (633443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404203)

Is there any potential to continue making content in the B5 universe and perhaps producing the stories you've already written or are any potential initiatives dead? I understand getting WB to budge along with funding is a RPITA. I also respect your opinion that no one can replace the actors that have passed away and any future content with those characters wouldn't include the characters on screen. /Big B5 fan. I'm a bigger fan of it than Star Trek or Star Wars.

So what happened with World War Z? (5, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404313)

The trailers for the World War Z movie suggest that it is radically different from the source material. Most obviously that would be things such as the whole fast vs slow zombie deal but perhaps more importantly the focus appears to have turned on a single globetrotting protagonist in the thick of the action. What was your original vision for the script and why do you think it has turned out the way it has?

Writing the story out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43404327)

With B5, the story arc was written ahead of time with things happening in the past being vetted out in the future. This was one of the most enjoyable aspects of that series was the time taken to write the story out season to season ahead of time. Can something like that be done today? Will Sense8 be written like this? Also much like in He-Man and B5, will you reintroduce the delicacy, Spoo?

True Science Fiction (2)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404385)

Babylon 5 was great on many levels, but I enjoyed the most for its well-thought-out story and as an example of true science fiction. It contained many elements that were based much more in fact than in fantasy, something that was rare for its time, and even more rare today. What research and/or advisers did you have to go on when writing/producing for the show? What do you foresee for the future of science fiction television (or streaming or online) content in terms of using real-world science?

And thank you again for Babylon 5. :)

Babylon 5 in HD? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404503)

Will we ever see Babylon 5 remastered in high definition (or even 4K) similar to Star Trek: The Next Generation? How much would you need to raise on KickStarter to make this possible?

Comics: The Brave and The Bold (1)

Lieutenant_Dan (583843) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404531)

A while back you did a bunch of issues of The Brave and The Bold. I have to say, all of them were outstanding and brought some unusual/forgotten characters to the fore.

Were there any DC characters that you had wished you had the opportunity to tackle?

Ever have one of those days ... (1)

dotcommando (2033556) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404615)

... where you're actually open to reading a stranger's spec screenplay and providing potentially life-changing feedback? The predictable answer would of course be no.

Obvious stuff (1)

lcam (848192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404629)

The problem with an ordinary Sci-Fi is that the viewer is left without much real meaning for complex on-screen ideas being conveyed, especially if such concepts are not properly developed. And even if they are, the non-geek doesn't have a reference point to put the minds imaginative centers to work with the ideas and interactions.

In B5 we see telepaths putting their fingers to the temples, squinting and even making "jedi" type hand genstures. Even though we see great plot setups for story-lines following the telepaths, that area was left rather somewhat untouched. How limited is audience interactivity/associability with these types of non-visual concepts on screen? The second part of the question is: Do you feel there are other/better ways to story-tell an interaction with a telepath? Maybe make their tell-tail a bit more musical? And lastly, does this difficulty make story-telling telepathic interactions overly burdensome or inviable?

The vorlon speaking was always over "music" and the screams when sighting a "shadow vessel" are possible starting points for the concept; it would have made perfect sense to show the similarity/parallel of the lesser telepaths to their "makers/engineers".

Overall, B5 is a great example of how a Sci-Fi should be done. I love the socio/political scenarios and the incorporation of religion and belief. I really liked the religious parallel made with sightings of Kosh. I didn't like the soul hunter, especially because the only attempt to create a dynamic character out of one was never followed up. The entire concept just plays with the idea of a soul existing, possibly as a being semi-tangible in an effort not to lose the audience with the concept. The presence of such a being does not further the character or plot development in any way.

The biggest change I would have made is to have the Shadows as only a different clan of Vorlon. They didn't need to be a different race of alien. They only need to be powerful ideal extremists. In that way, the possibilities of mending a rift can be more profound than them just agreeing to disagree and then accepting they are not needed anymore.

Forbidden Planet prequel - dead? (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404655)

This covers the same ground as a previously submitted question, but I seem to have some information that poster does not or at least failed to mention that might make this a (hopefully) better choice.

I read that you were working on a prequel to "Forbidden Planet" which really excited me because I think that the movie is still one of the all time great SciFi movies. I respect your work and I know that you would treat the subject with the respect it deserves. I read that you had a screenplay but it got leaked on the internet and after that the whole project seems to have just disappeared. Is there any realistic hope of ever seeing this project or did the leak kill it?

About writing for visual media (1)

TheOneFreeman (2892465) | about a year and a half ago | (#43404683)

I recently got through the whole Babylon 5+Crusade+B5 movies video content and thankfully managed to get some of the books (which greatly expand the universe and answer many questions) and it got me thinking, as a writer what makes you prefer Hollywood/comic book writing which is fraught with production delays, messed up business heads, actor problems and editorial headaches over directly writing your stories into novels and having them adapted with some degree of screenplay control? Is it the satisfaction of crafting the audiovisual identity of your stories yourself or is there more to it? Also, thanks for making some of the best sci-fi of all time (educational too: the B5 pilot taught me the word ambassador when I was a kid, got me through a test back then).
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