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B5: THE COMING OF SHADOWS (Babylon 5, Season by Season) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 21. April 2008

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Now in its fifth hit season, Babylon 5--TV's hottest interstellar science-fiction phenomenon--has spawned its own series of definitive episode guides! Catch up on all the action, show by show, from the very beginning with the Babylon 5: Season by Season guidebooks.
Babylon 5: The Coming of Shadows, opens with "By Any Means Necessary: Making Babylon 5 on a Budget," a behind-the-scenes account of how series creator J. Michael Straczynski and his production team bucked the system to create the extraordinary twenty-first century world that would change the face of sci-fi TV. Then, in a thrilling second season overview, experience the arrival of Bruce Boxleitner as John J. Sheridan, new captain of the Babylon 5 station, and the looming threat of the sinister Shadows.
In-depth, episode-by-episode summaries--with detailed analysis by author and B5 expert Jane Killick--cover all of the second season's twenty-two shows, including "Points of Departure," "Spider in the Web," "Comes the Inquisitor," and the dramatic season finale, "The Fall of Night."
Veteran viewers or first-time fans, relive the adventure--or find out what you've been missing--with the complete companions to Babylon 5!

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By Any Means Necessary: Making Babylon 5 on a Budget

Babylon 5 has changed the face of television science fiction with its
epic storyline, detailed futuristic world, intriguing Human and alien
characters, and its use of computer-generated special effects. But it
probably would never even have been made without its ability to stick to a
budget. The production model that makes Babylon 5 possible was so
ambitious in the beginning that many people didn't believe it could be
done.

Science fiction has a reputation for runaway budgets, and it's easy to
see why. When a series is set in the future, everything has to be designed
from scratch. While a contemporary show might put a desk in an office and
dress it with standard objects like a telephone, a desk diary, and a
computer, a futuristic show has to reinvent everything. If the show has
aliens, then they have to have makeup and specially designed costumes.
Special effects always add a large slice to the budget, especially with
shows set in space as creating inserts of spaceships or planets costs
money. Wandering space shows in the Star Trek mold incur even more expense
because they are constantly moving from place to place, requiring a new
alien world every week.

Babylon 5's producers knew the reputation of their genre, and they
were determined not to go down the runaway route that leads to
cancellation. At the heart of that determination was producer John
Copeland's production plan. It was an ambitious document right from the
start, and he remembers that even his own staff--production manager Kevin
G. Cremin and production accountant Sarah Fischer--was doubtful when he
showed it to them in the first season. "Both Kevin and Sarah looked at
this budget and said, 'You're out of your mind. You'll never do this!' "

One or two things gave the production an advantage over other shows,
however. The first was getting a commitment for a whole first season of
twenty-two episodes. This is extremely unusual for American television,
which usually commits for half a season to see how things go, how many
people tune in, and what the reaction of the advertisers is before
committing to the second half if things go well. The president of Warner
Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, Dick Robertson, remembers how
important that initial decision was. "That allowed us to put a lot more
money on the screen," he says. "We didn't have to pay holding fees to
actors; we didn't have to pay holding fees to the guy that owned the
building where we produced the show. We could commit up front for
twenty-two episodes, and the savings on that was probably at least
$300,000 an episode."

It gave the production the assurance of knowing exactly how much money
they had to spread over the first season and the freedom to make some big
decisions up front. One of the biggest was creating their own studio
complex in a warehouse on the outskirts of Los Angeles. At this time, many
American TV shows were relocating to Canada or even further afield in
search of lower production costs. This would have been more trouble than
it was worth for Babylon 5. Its reliance on postproduction and special
effects meant there was a real advantage to staying in L.A., where all
those facilities are on the doorstep.

"It was more efficient for us to come in here and build three
soundstages from the ground up," says John Copeland. "We had way more
space and way more control here than we ever would have had [in a
ready-made studio facility]. Where we shot the pilot, we had two little
soundstages side by side. We would just have had those two little
soundstages for a whole season. Our main stage, with the Observation Dome,
the customs bay, and the Central Corridor, is bigger out here than those
two soundstages were combined."

Another thing that sets Babylon 5 apart from many other shows is the
level of planning. While other shows have traditionally learned to cope
with last-minute scripts and late rewrites, Babylon 5 works four or five
scripts ahead of time. "That's one of the very unique facets of this
production," says John. "Very few other series have the ability to see
four or five episodes beyond the point that they are in any given time.
You can plan to spend your money that way. We have a budget for the
season, and we break that down into a pattern budget for what a typical
episode should cost--that's our yardstick for production. And we budget
every episode. So some of them will be right at that pattern; some of them
will be a little less. If we have come under budget on a few episodes, and
we know that down the road on episode eight, nine, or ten it's going to be
really ambitious, we can plan to spend extra money on that. Joe [J.
Michael Straczynski, executive producer and creator of Babylon 5] always
gives me a couple of pages at the beginning of a season, which is an
outline, so I can see where we're going and I can plan for things. One of
the fundamentals that we adopted going into this was, 'Okay, we're going
to have to make choices because of the economics we've got on Babylon 5,
and once we've made the choice, that means we've decided we're going to do
this, and the four things over here we're not going to do.' "

"We had to play what we call in American football 'no-mistakes
ball,' " says Kevin G. Cremin, who remained production manager for the
first two years. "We have to not make mistakes. We can't afford to build
something and then decide, 'We're really not going to shoot it that way;
we're going to have our back to that.' Everything that we'd built, once
we'd committed to it, we really had to stay with the idea. There wasn't
the luxury of being able to say, 'Well, nice idea, we'll try it later.' We
couldn't come up with something less than what the producers and directors
expected. We couldn't come up with a cheesy-looking prop or a
cheesy-looking costume or a cheesy-looking set. We always had to make sure
that if we could build a three-walled set and shoot in it and those three
walls were going to look substantially better than spending for the fourth
wall and then having to downgrade all of the dressing, then that was a
decision we had to make."

In terms of set design, the philosophy of making choices became what
the production designer, John Iacovelli, describes as a mantra for the
show. He had previously worked with the producers on Captain Power and the
Soldiers of the Future and was invited to draw up a plan for Babylon 5
before it was even commissioned because of his reputation for working on a
budget. "The basic elements of doing a show on a budget are knowing what
your budget is and being respectful of it," he says. "To make choices that
are very clear and to make the better choice rather than the idealized
choice, to make the choice you know you can win at, not the choice that
you know you may possibly lose at."

Those choices shaped the show in a variety of ways, particularly in
John's department, which designs and builds all the sets. "The money, and
how little we have of it, made so many decisions for us," he says. "For
example, the idea of putting contrasting colors and values on the sets in
a very textural way came from the fact that we couldn't afford the very
polished-looking sets that they have over at Trek and the other kinds of
shows. We just couldn't afford that kind of finish. So my point of view
was, like in the theater, if you've got to hide a bunch...


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