[Episode written by: JMS] (6/10/99)
The crew of the Excalibur comes together to start battling the plague. An effort is made to capture on of the Drahk reponsible for the infection.
Let's keep in mind first of all as we review the first few episodes that this is not JMS's ultimate vision for the start of Crusade. Due to TNT meddling, a new first episode was created which brings together the cast. Yes, this kind of episode has been done over and over in science fiction to start series. But TNT insisted and they got it. Originally JMS wanted the whole crew together and off the starting blocks running. So, we now see a slightly slower start to the series. War Zone is actually the 8th episode filmed.
Seeing this episode was added as an afterthought, the episode itself was very well done and fit in nicely. You've got to stand up and say good job when you consider the pressure B5 productions was under.
In war zone we get to see much more of the weapon potential of the ship. In A Call to Arms we saw rear facing slicer beams, as well as a series of front slicers. Mounted at front were also a couple of rotating secondary guns. Now, we see a whole array of other cannons and guns. They seem to be mounted all over the place and they are also able to hide themselves to prevent damage. The slicers in the rear and front also appear to be able to pivot, a very important fact when you consider that earthforce ships can only fire their main beams in one direction.
We also see that the ships landing bay is located in the large outcropping on the bottom of the mid-section. This wasn't established before. They seem to have the capability to hold quite a number of ships, maybe even as many as B5 did. However, we have yet to see the launching system.
Since they will be planet hopping, it is likely that we will see a lot more of the atmospheric starfuries...maybe even exclusively. They were never really used effectively in Babylon-5.
MUSIC: (1.5 STARS)
You can't get any worse than A Call to Arms, at least I hope not. They actually lowered the level of the music so its slightly less bothersome. Some sections were well done; however, the portion where all sound stops and all you hear is music (towards the end) was horrendous. Why on earth would you want to listen to that?
It seems as if there is a very limited amount of sounds that this composure can make. The range of where he can take the mood of this series is tiny. There is no chance for a soft melody which you need in drama. At this early stage I have to say that using this sharp sounding music is a major mistake and they will loose viewers just tuning in because of it.
ACTING: (3 STARS)
There is come serious acting ability in this cast....Gideon is going to make a fine captain. His motivations are still evolving but its obvious this guy can act if he's given the right script. Seems to be a lot like Sheriden in his inability to take a command from superiors without questioning it. Although Matheson (the second in command, played by Kim) got very limited screen time its pretty obvious that he is going to be interesting to watch. All the telepaths we have seen in the B5 universe thus far are dark but Matheson seems to be grounded and actually soft...now that is a change.
PLOT: (2 STARS)
Like I said above, this was a forced episode. The writing was
good in that it introduced the characters but the episode as a whole seemed
pretty pointless from a story line perspective.
The whole Galen thing seemed pretty silly. He looked like he was clowning around with everyone for the hell of it instead of for a reason. Then again maybe he was just clowning around...he is a weird one. Also, Gideon's ability to take everyone that comes around onto his team was a bit comical. I know this was a forces episode and he had to do this, but man think about it. OK...I've never been in space and have no abilities whatsoever, can I come. Why sure, and bring your friend over there too..... :0
CGI: (1 STARS)
I was severely disappointed here...severely. I don't know quite when this happened in B5, but all of a sudden they switched the way they showed ships. In the first season of B5 they showed ships moving slowly and we could watch them in detail as they moved through space naturally. As soon as the White Stars were introduced, all of a sudden all the filming of the ships got much faster. Everything whizzes by you and you can't stop and look at them....HELL GUYS, WE WANT TO LOOK AT THEM...NO RUSH! Also, as a direct result of this whizzing effect, everything seems unnatural. Ships bank and fly like they are in an atmosphere instead of in space. They should concentrate on the thrusters aspect of all ships and rotation to return to realism.
It was also apparent that they tried to squash the Excalibur into the frame of the television as if to give the effect that its really big. Thus we only saw like 25% of the ship at any one time. OK...its big, we know that. But again, we want to see detail which we did not see.
In short...slow things down...we like to admire your work!