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Babylon 5 - Phoenix Rising arc

lapis molari

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JMS must have had a mad scramble writing the first several episodes of season 5. After all, WB cancelled Babylon 5 after season 4, and TNT picked them up only at the last moment.  That makes weak narrative understandable, though still not enjoyable. Hence this effort to improve the start of Season 5.

Goal: Make the first half of Season 5 more enjoyable by making Byron less pretentious and a little less prominent. This fits the idea that he is a catalyst for Lyta rather than a driving force in his own right.

How: Cut, trim, and dub Byron where he is most condescending / look I'm so erudite / everybody owes us / I want to be a main cast member but my character isn't fleshed out enough. No more angels dancing on a pin, less Shakespeare, and shorter singing.

Result: The story flows more smoothly. There are fewer "he is sooo insufferable!" moments, and the cut bits didn't advance the story.

Consideration 1: I was never convinced that Byron is a martyr, with a place in (future) history books, rather than someone who wants to be a martyr, and will be forgotten with time. I prefer the second interpretation because that fits Lyta being the liberator for her people, with Byron merely being the catalyst that drives her there. To reinforce that narrative, the focus on Byron's character is slightly reduced. It's a bit more evident that Lyta, not Byron, is the titular Phoenix.

Consideration 2: Effort was made to keep the cuts as small as possible while achieving the desired effect. Many of them are micro-edits. Annoying bits that are relevant to advance the overall story are retained or only minimally trimmed. Again, I'm not trying to remove Byron. I make it clearer that he's a secondary character, not a primary one.

Scope: This includes all eight episodes with Byron. I'm not merging them into one big movie, I'm simply trimming the episodes.

Here's the cover for the concluding episode in this story arc:
Cutlist by episode:

s5e01 No Compromises (17 seconds cut)
- Cut "The geometries that circumscribe your waking life. Drawn narrower and narrower until nothing fits inside them anymore."
- Cut "Come alone."
- Cut "Ours is a simple way, as you will discover."

s5e03 The Paragon of Animals (43 seconds cut)
- Cut "That little personality quirk must have cost you more than a few relationships."
- Cut "and babble" in the otherwise retained "mundanes want us to fill our heads with noise so we won't hear ...".
- Trim "We will work, we will fix, sell , rent our services. We will do whatever we must to survive. But we will no longer take orders from mundanes, or belong to organizations which take us in only when it is convenient." I had no issue with the word "rent", I cut that to solve a bad visual cut.
- Trim Byron and Lyta's first meeting. His behavior felt like watching an abusive relationship play out on screen. Cut "I can see it in your eyes. Your bearing. Here, sit. [Byron kicks over chair] No! It was not phrased as a request, now was it? It was phrased as an order: Sit. Stand. Roll over! Bark! Always taking orders." Retained some taunting before Byron turns polite. Cut the subsequent "It felt better, didn't it? To be asked? To have someone do for you for a change." I used a trimmed cutaway shot of Lyta's face, flipped for directional accuracy, to let Byron's lines flow together without visual jump. Watch the edited result in a later post.

s5e04 A View from the Gallery (9 seconds cut)
- Cut "A fellow of infinite jest". Retain "I knew him, Horatio", because that sets up the subsequent dialog. The Shakespeare quote was incomplete and our of order, now it's merely incomplete.
- Cut "Tell me that it matters to you." And the reply "Yes, it matters to me." Rant: on. Pedant. Rant: off.

s5e06 Strange Relations (60 seconds cut)
- Cut "After the rest of my people are freed. Good day." A silly line, right after Lochley ordered Zach to free the telepaths.
- Trim the telepaths' candlelit song. The focus is on Lyta and her willingness to join the group.

s5e07 Secrets of the Soul (30 seconds cut)
- Cut the awfully condescending "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? That question baffled religious thinkers for centuries. Until someone finally hit upon the answer. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? As many as want to. How many of my brother and sister telepaths are coming? As many as want to." Cut Zach's reply "Yeah, well, the Captain...". Change Byron's response from "Is under orders from..." to "You're under orders from..."
- Cut Lyta's "Yeah, you look fine. Why isn't somebody taking care of you?" and Byron's passive aggressive answer "Because they understand at times like this, I prefer not to be disturbed."

s5e08 In the Kingdom of the Blind (10 seconds cut)
- Cut Byron's Captain-Obvious line "but it is dangerous."
- Cut "I'm sorry" at the start of Byron's blackmail-speech to the Council to make him less of a hypocrite, since he's not sorry at all.
- Cut "They have to see we're not acting against them." to make Byron less naive.
- Remove one intercut of upset telepaths while their brethren are fighting Drazi, to focus more on Lyta getting upset over it.

s5e09 A Tragedy of Telepaths (21 seconds cut)
- Remove one unflattering cutaway shot of bystander telepaths while Lochley and Byron talk. They looked morose with wigs. No one should be that passive in the face of urgent mortal danger! I don't mind the long hair, just make it look like real hair, not wigs.
- Trim a shot of telepaths straining to mentally resist Bester. The facial overacting from the front-and-center telepath was distracting like Dan Ackroyd on SNL.
- Cut a shot of telepaths looking morose.

s5e10 Phoenix Rising (32 seconds cut)
- Cut Byron kissing Lyta in the middle of the telepath group, with the telepaths immediately all putting their hands on them. The hands-on thing is weird and does not improve the story.
- Cut a brief shot of Byron during the main firefight, of him flicking his hair in much too casual a manner.
- Cut "If you stay then our love was false and my life was in vain. It'll be the end of everything I've worked for." Really, Byron? If Lyta chooses to die with you then her love is false? And she'd responsible for your whole life being in vain? Stop it with the abusive relationship talk, Byron!
- Cut Lyta saying "remember Byron" to each telepath as they leave, as if she's giving holy communion. I don't want to remember Byron,  I want to remember Lyta. She's the key telepath!

Total time cut over the 8 episodes is 3 minutes and 42 seconds.
These episodes will now all come together in a better place :p
I'm pretty curious how you're tackling this one! My film will definitely be hacking chunks away but I'd love to see your cut list for some inspiration.
I'd never thought about the "dark phoenix"/Jean Grey type angle of Lyta's arc until I saw that poster image with that title.

TM2YC said:
I'd never thought about the "dark phoenix"/Jean Grey type angle of Lyta's arc until I saw that poster image with that title.

Yeah, right? I hadn't realized it either, until I started to examine the arc's plot development. Now I can't un-see it! Red hair and all. :)
Clip from s5e03 The Paragon of Animals, when Lyta first meets Byron. His abusive-relationship type of language is cut.
Pw: fanedit.org.

Great, didn't see anything out of place.
Another episode done. Two more to go.

Here are the covers for the individual episodes. They're screenshots with a few tweaks. Except for the most professional looking one, In the Kingdom of the Blind. That comes from IOV, with my text. 


Note: I have Day of the Dead as s5e12, after Ragged Edge, consistent with JMS' viewing order (as listed on B5TV.com). That puts only two Byron-free episodes before Phoenix Rising, which had nothing trimmed.

I'm not sure how to classify this edit. Does it fit better to submit this as one FanFix or as one Special Project? I think a FanFix is more accurate, but it's an atypical one.

The fix is consistent, but it's more a fix of one character than of a whole film or TV series. I'm not merging the eight episodes into one big movie, I'm not even incorporating the two episodes in-between that don't feature Byron. I believe that the entire story and overall enjoyment are improved by addressing this one facet, but I understand that can be subjective.

@"TM2YC" with your experience on IFDB, and as a Babylon 5 fan, do you have a recommendation which category is the better fit?

Here's another example of the approach in this edit. pw: fanedit.org
Zach is annoyed at arriving telepaths. Byron comes to their defense. Curt but matter of fact, without referencing medieval religious texts.
So will the episodes be submitted all in one go like the Senfeld edits, or submitted independently? If the latter that would justify all the covers you made, where as if it were the former you'd only require one of the covers (and if I had to pick one, it'd be "In The Kingdom of the Blind")

Great edit by the way, cuts were completly invisible ;)
@"Zarius"  here's the first draft of my cover, it shows you how I want to present this edit. As one listed item containing the eight separate B5 episodes that include Byron. In other words, the Phoenix Rising arc.


And the draft of an inside cover, I printed this double-sided for a clear DVD case, to fit all the text I think should accompany the edit.

Gotcha, most impressive there :)
After some consideration I have submitted this edit as a FanFix, not a Special Project. I realize some of you may not care so long as the edit is great, which is fine, but these categories exist for a reason. My reasoning for this edit is:

- The goal of the edit is a typical Fix: To improve the story by improving / changing a character.
- The method is also a typical Fix: Video and audio trims, cuts, and changes to achieve the above.
- The scope is not a typical Fix: This edit is not 1 film, nor makes a film out of a TV series, nor merges several episodes. Instead this edit retains the original structure of all 8 episodes with the Byron character (and excludes 2 non-Byron stories that fall in between these 8).

Weighing these, my conclusion is that classifying the Phoenix Rising Arc as a FanFix is more accurate than as a Special Project.

Watch it and judge for yourself! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. :)
^ FanFix sounds fine to me.

This is now on ifdb and on the Interstellar Network News streaming service.
We are open for viewing. ;) 


Hate to be "that guy", especially since you put a lot of hard work into this, but I've found ghosting issues :(


^ What is program that you are playing it on Zarius?
/\ I'll check the edits, the rips, and my dvds. So long as it's not baked into the PAL dvds, I'll fix it ASAP.

I ripped my B5 dvds many years ago, it's possible I used a wrong setting. I didn't know much about video software or settings back then!
TM2YC said:
^ What is program that you are playing it on Zarius?

Standard windows media player. You want me to try any others?

Update Just tried it in Power Media Player and it works much better
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