Tower of Babylon 002: Midnight on the Firing Line

Season one starts with an episode that I remember as being relatively strong, so I was pleased when it mostly held up. There’s a lot of adjustments that need to be done here to move on from the pilot, but they’re pretty smooth for the most part. Some smart moves, like not bringing in all the new cast at once, make that a lot better. Claudia Christian in particular is great as Ivanova, a character who is given much better characterisation than Takashima. There’s still some clumsy bits (the interactions with Talia for instance), but overall the writing is much stronger.

I was most interested in the G’Kar/Londo relationship and characterisation, knowing where everything would go. Londo works well – the sad clown who will go on to be a monster, and then redeem himself. You can look at him here in the knowledge of where he will go and feel satisfied. G’Kar works less well for me (although my brother suggests it’s an intentional mislead) – he’s simply too scenery chewing and one note, there’s not even a glimpse of the later complexity.

Finally, on the CG. It doesn’t hold up, and with the benefit of hindsight the models used by some other series have lasted better. Although the CG will improve over the years. But it has two great strengths. First, the designs. The Star Fury is one of the great SF ship designs – practical and beautiful. And second, the use of ‘show don’t tell’ – it’s really obvious compared to other series that this is a show that’s going to put the action on screen, not in dialog. It’s compelling and enjoyable, and is ultimately only possible because the CG makes every second a little cheaper. I wish more shows would learn from it.