Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Goodbye G'Kar...

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."


Jason Bartlett said...

Yeah I heard about this on Peter David's site. I like G'Kar as well, he's the only Babylon 5 action figure I have. Susan Ivanova? You liked her? I would have picked Sheridan or Marcus as a second or, wait damn it I'm begining to forget all the characters. I'll have to buy the box set but they are always so so pricey.

P.S. Thank god Craig something other then curling you posted. Sorry curling bores me to tears.

Debbie Robbins said...

Wasen't he the "One armed man" in Harrison Ford's The Fugitive??

I too am a Sci-Fi fan and have followed a few shows over the years. You're right, it's easy to get attached to some of these characters when you've followed them over several seasons as you have with Babylon 5.

I only saw parts of the first season, I really liked it not sure why I didn't continue watching it, probably was more interested in DS9 or Voyager or whatever Star Trek was on at the time.

towniebastard said...

He was actually the one armed man. Good memory. He was also Tamolak, the scheming Romulan, on ST:TNG.

The reason you might have given up on B5 after the first season was that it wasn't a great show. There were maybe 3-4 really good episodes. It wasn't until the second seaon the show hit its stride.

And you're right, Jason. The show's sets are damn expensive. I paid about $75 each for them when they came out and I don't think they've gone down in value since then.