Contents: Overview - Backplot - Questions - Analysis - Notes - JMS
Delenn agrees to lead the Rangers, but Marcus must protect her from a deadly threat. Garibaldi investigates a secret level of the station. Robert Englund as Jeremiah. John Vickery as Neroon. Time Winters as Rathenn.
P5 Rating: 6.93 Production number: 319 Original air week: September 10, 1996 (UK) October 7, 1996 (US) Written by J. Michael Straczynski Directed by John Flinn III
I think in part it's also my fault, in that my brain was gearing up for the stuff that begins ramping up starting with the next episode, and the Grey 17 thing was something I'd wanted to do for a long time, and there wasn't going to be a chance to do it down the road, if at all, after this season, so I went for it. As for the Zarg, that's also one of those things that didn't come off visually as I'd wanted. So overall, I'd agree...of all the season 3 eps, this one is probably the least effective of them all. But one in a season, that ain't too bad....
Nope. No incident. The situation with year 3 was that *so much* was being paid off, and set up, and foreshadowed, and required such intimate knowledge of where the show was going, and where it'd been, that it made it nearly impossible to bring in any outside writers.
There has never been any series in television history where every episode was utterly beyond criticism. Some are better, some are worse, some are average. There are many Twilight Zones by Rod Serling that are utterly brilliant. And some that just fall flat. That's the nature of the beast. Sometimes something will look great on the page, and fall flat on the stage. (And sometimes it happens in reverse; you think you've got something that won't work, and somehow the filmed version just takes off.) There's a lot about Walkabout I like; and there's some stuff that just didn't work out. You try something different here and there, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it don't. TV, or any form of writing, is the constant process of trial and error. It's not like one day you forget how to write, or you're writing bad...you very rarely fall below a certain facility once you reach it.
There's not a writer alive who has turned out nothing but terrific stuff. Now, one could turn out a lifetime of mediocre stuff, by not trying...but I think it's better to shoot high, and sometimes fall, knowing that you'll get something great one out of every five tries, than not try at all and just do okay.
"Grey 17" is the same thing, for me. There are bits in that I like a lot. And some parts of it just fell down dreadfully. That's simply the nature of the beast. I thought I'd try something different in the tone of "Grey" and while most of the writing works (mostly), the production fell down on a couple of aspects. It happens. It doesn't mean anything.
On the other hand, the following 3, "Rock," "Shadow" and "Z'ha'dum" are some of the best stuff we've done. The preliminary P5 survey has "Z'ha'dum" as the best episode of the entire series to date. Did I suddenly learn to write better? If there were a problem with being tired, then by all rights you should see a descending order in quality. But these last 3 are some of our best work.
The real key here is something I heard someone say a while back about TV: a flaw, or a flop, or a misstep happens by accident as often as by inability; but real quality is never an accident. So the latter is more indicative of the level of the show than the former, since accidents or missteps *always* happen.
"Walkabout," for me, is a good episode with a very few clunky parts; for me, it's a middle of the road episode. "Grey" falls a bit short of that, for me. But then, I'm very hard on my shows; a lot of folks have liked "Walkabout" a *lot*. I didn't much like "Infection," but many did; and some shows I love dearly, like "Geometry," don't catch on. It's subjective. And where you say the battle falls short, others like it...so on one level, I'd caution against applying your standard as an objective one that is somehow more true than another, and thus asking "what's wrong with *you* that I had this opinion?" If everyone on the planet shares that opinion, then you've got something. Otherwise....
And there are always some people who don't want the character stuff at all, they want battles...and some for whom the CGI is of secondary interest to the plot...and those who want arc stories *only*...and those who like the stand-alones. Some of it is a function of what you want.
Anyway...point being, and I went around the barn a few times to get there, no, there's no "incident" and I don't even know what this could refer to. Some episodes work better for some people than others. That will happen whether you've got 1 person or 50 people writing scripts. I caught a lot of *very* negative comments on Peter David's script, which you cite (as well as many positive ones). The Brits in particular seem to uniformly dislike that one. And in the P5 surveys, the freelance scripts are *all* in the bottom third of the rankings. So it's really not a question of freelancers or no, it's just that TV is variable, as is any kind of writing. Not every episode is going to work for you. Nor should you expect it to. I'm very much an X-Files fan...but there are some scripts that work better for me than others. Doesn't mean anything other than that show didn't quite jell for me. That's the nature of TV.
I'm sure somebody will cite this as being defensive about it, but honest and true, I'm not. I'm just trying to explain it from this end of things. My prior exec producer said, "You're doing *real* good if, in a season, you've got one-third that are pretty good, one-third that are okay, and one-third you never want to see again the rest of your natural life." I think we do a heck of a lot better than that, and that's a heck of an accomplishment.
And no matter how much Ivanvoa trains, she'll never be much past a P1, and that's more or less useless to them.
Originally compiled by Jason Snell.