If you asked me to pick my all-time favourite show, it would be no contest. Now, I love some great shows: West Wing, the X-Files, CSI, Star Trek, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But my favourite show by a mile is Babylon 5.
I'm not saying the writing, acting or special effects were always the best. But damn it, it had guts. Creator and writer J. Michael Straczynski had a vision, a five year story arc and despite innumerable challenges and set backs, he got it done. He also did something never done before in television - he wrote every episode in season two and three (In fact, of the roughly 100 episodes, he wrote about 80% of them). And it was mostly great. It was occasionally astonishing. I have all five seasons on DVD and plan on setting aside time in the next few months to sit down and watch them all over again.
I have two favourite characters in the show: Claudia Christian, who played the sarcastic, fatalistic Commander Susan Ivanova and G'Kar, played by Andreas Katsulas. I found out today that he passed away of lung cancer. This is the tribute written by Straczynski.
Even if you weren't a fan of Babylon 5 you probably spotted him somewhere else. He did a lot of work in his too short life.
Why did I love G'kar? I might have loved the sarcasm and dry wit of Ivanova, but no character on the show went through what G'kar did during the show's five seasons. From being the show's bad guy, the angry nationalist look for revenge, to a humbled broken man to a spiritual leader. He was repulsive, infuriating, charming, funny, heartbreaking, scary and always fascinating. It was an astonishing transformation in the character and a great piece of acting, especially considering the make-up he worked under.
Science fiction often gets a bad rap, especially in the acting. G'Kar was never anything less than captivating when he was on screen, and that's a tribute to Katsulas' acting. He should have won Emmy's, but never did. It's a pity.
Straczynski was right about one thing in his tribute: "Andreas is gone...and G'Kar with him, because no one else can ever play
that role, or ever will."