The Nineties

Have you ever uttered the words: “It was better back then” or “They don’t do [X] like that any more”? Well it wasn’t, and that’s just a fact. Things have always been awful, but the good things last forever. A few things slip through the cracks, like disco or Pauly Shore, but for the most part we remember each period for it’s successes because we’d rather remember the good things.

Why bring it up? And what does this have to do with nerd culture?

I’m rewatching Babylon 5. I love this show, it brings back a lot of positive memories of time spent with my dad. Even now, finishing off season one, it all comes flooding back. It’s like an early version of Battlestar Gallactica (the new version, of course), politics, religion, crime, very real issues against a backdrop of stars, plots that permeate the entire show from the pilot to the very last episode. It gets a bad rap and I really don’t know why, perhaps someone can explain. So far as I can see, Babylon 5 was ahead of it’s time by about a decade.


And yet, how deeply flawed. I’m at the end of the first season right now, and much of their “advanced technology” is laughably behind us, it has the typically hilarious future fashions of shiny rings and mish-mash cultural attire with extra sequins. I’ve asked many times exactly how many alien species could end up looking and behaving so very much like humans, my word, it’s like they’re all just people in prosthetics! It couldn’t possibly be!

The dialogue is cheesy, the acting his a little hit and miss, and at times the visual effects are painful. So why do I still love it? It’d be hard to fight through all of these issues if this show had been made today, but it was the nineties. One of the most popular shows of the decade was Baywatch. And can we honestly say that Star Trek TNG or DS9 were much of an improvement? Same acting, same quality of dialogue, and a lot more episodic than Babylon 5.

Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is about to be re-released in HD at the end of January. Here’s something else that has suffered the burden of the decade in which it was released (1999), and yet the new owners of the franchise have seen fit to resurrect it in higher resolution. They’ve spent the last month showing off the updated graphics, and it is beautiful, but it doesn’t change the fact that turn-based strategy has been done much better in the 16 years since initial release.


The point being that hindsight isn’t exactly 20/20, everything past about eighteen months ago we apparently need nice thick rosy-glasses to see it at all. The new year is almost upon us, and isn’t it much nicer to look back fondly, draw the positives from the past and politely forget how lousy some of it was.

Now  can someone please explain to me why Babylon 5 gets such a raw deal?

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