...with answers to some questions many people have been asking me of late.
Before I go any further, I need to address a few vocal critics who are tired of seeing so much Babylon 5 and Crusade news represented here on Coaxial. Well, the only response I can offer is: deal with it. I go out looking for as much information (on as many shows) as I can find. Some shows I get a lot of information about, some shows I do not. I then prepare whatever information I accumulate for presentation on Coaxial. If I get X-Files news, or NYPD Blue news, it gets covered. If I don't, it doesn't. It's really that simple.
I try to be as broad as possible in my coverage. But when all is said and done - I can only report that which comes my way. NO COVERAGE...of *any* show... is being sacrificed because some shows get more attention on Coaxial than others. If someone connected to Star Trek or Buffy wants to send information my way, it'll go up - unless there's a stated request not to run with it. The same goes for shows like 90210 or Mad About You or The Simpsons.. Or any show.
If the info is here (or if I find it), I'll likely use it. If it isn't, I'll use whatever I come across -as long as I think it's interesting, or believe it to be of interest to others. Since B5 and Crusade are of interest to me...and others...it's not going anywhere.
Which brings me full-circle to Crusade. One of the biggest questions surrounding the show seems to be: how will the (TNT mandated) "changes" in the show's set design, costume design, etc. be integrated into the framework of the series' story line?
As many may recall - the show began production with one assortment of costumes and sets, but was subsequently redesigned after five or six episodes were already in the can. In itself, this re-design wasn't too big a deal. But complicating the issue substantially was the fact that TNT (Crusade's network) asked for the series to begin differently, as The Powers That Be felt a need to enhance character and concept set-up in the show's early stages.
This meant: the already filmed opening episodes of Crusade would have to be pushed back to latter in the season, to accommodate the series' new opening episodes. Fortunately, the original opening episodes jumped right into their stories - so it was possible...in an over-all structural sense...to move them deeper into the season with no harm being done.
But this left for a whopping discontinuity in the design scheme of the show. The new opening episodes (filmed after the original opening episodes were filmed) were to incorporate the more recent design set & costume design schemes. As such, the original opening episodes would appear discontinuitous and awkward when they were finally aired - as viewers would already be used to the show looking one way (since the re-design was incorporated right out of the gates), and would then be barraged with the show's original designs when the original opening episodes (sporting the original series' designs) aired a month or two into the season.
Gotta headache yet?
What to do, what to do?
When news of the redesigns broke, there were all kinds of funky and unpleasant rumors flitting about - including several (ultimately disproven) indications that the original opening episodes were being completely re-shot to accommodate for the newer designs. All kinds of both conjecture (both educated and irresponsible) has been bandied about. But...finally... I have some answers.
Since TNT's "re-design" was now the standard design for the series, JMS decided to make the (now discontinuitious) original designs the oddity when all was said and done. He'd have episodes incorporating the new designs BEFORE the original episodes aired, then an entire series using the newer designs AFTER the original episodes aired. So how does one account for the sudden (and temporary) cosmetic change for only five episodes?
The changes will appear in an episode called "Appearances and Other Deceits". This is one of the newer episodes mentioned above. In this episode, characters named DAVID RICE and KEVIN SPRACH - two propaganda specialists from Earth Gov - will be sent to the Excalibur (the ship in Crusade) in an effort to improve the image of the ship and her crew in the eyes of the people back home on Earth. Seems morale back on Earth is pretty low. After all, everyone on the planet is sitting around, waiting to die - and the government needs the masses to feel that Excalibur and her crew have it going on, and are truly a beacon of hope.
Rice and Sprach come to the conclusion that the uniforms worn by the ship's crew...indeed the inner appearance of the ship itself...do not convey the proper sense of "power, dignity, and presence" to the people back home. The two set forth on a public relations campaign to change the look of the ship to a color scheme they think will be more commanding. These changes will result in Excalibur's interiors (and her crew's uniforms) being significantly altered to better convey a sense of "power, dignity, and presence."
Said changes begin taking place at the end of "Appearances and Other Deceits", which will then allow for a conceptual / visual segue immediately into the *original* opening episodes mentioned above. For the duration of said episodes (still sporting the original designs for the series), the Excalibur will be presumed (by the audience) to be the unfortunate victim of a governmental propaganda onslaught. At the end of her PR circuit, the Excalibur and her crew will be allowed to (in fact, really want to) go back to the way things used to be on the ship - which will allow for a between-episode & off screen segue back towards the look the show had established from the outset. So, all of the original episodes are being utilized, pretty much as they were originally shot and assembled (although, I'm told some FX may have been upgraded, but that's a different story - and un-related to the matters at hand).
The irony that Rice and Sprach believe Crusade's *original* designs to be the "look" best conveying authority and presence" is difficult to escape. And...as proof that series overlord J. Michael Straczynski does have eyes and ears everywhere...Excalibur commander Matthew Gideon will characterize himself as looking "like a bellhop" once he is forced to put on the politically correct (series' original) uniforms. Looking "like a bellhop" was a sentiment frequently articulated by Babylon 5 fans after TV Guide unveiled the original uniforms in its Fall Preview issue a few months back.
Throughout "Appearances and Other Deceits", numerous other (begrudging) references will be made to the visual changes looming on the horizon for Excalibur. In one sequence, an alien is brought to MedBay. It appears to be stable, then has a seizure and inexplicably dies. Gideon asks how a stable patient can just up and die like that.
The ship's doctor (Chambers) will respond: "I don't know. Maybe some kind of cultural imperative against being helped by another race, maybe he didn't like the decor."
Gideon thinks on this: "Well, he wouldn't be the first person today to make that observation."
All of this cosmetic upheaval on Excalibur will be a running theme behind the central thrust of the episode (the A-plot), which will revolve around the discovery of a massive derelict alien ship in space, and a subsequent (and not coincident) invasion of Excalibur. Wanna see twelve thruster-suited Excalibur crew members boarding and alien ship? Watch this episode. Also look for some sensitive, touching, and substantive moments from the character named Eilerson - who will have something of an awakening in this episode, which makes us realize he's not entirely the hard-assed jerk he frequently appears to be.
So, I hope this helps clear things up - and helps explain how the much feared aesthetic changes in Crusade will be implemented. Finally, NO - I haven't heard anything definite about when Crusade will air. I honestly don't think they know yet, the previously anticipated target date of June seems probable now that the NBA strike has been resolved.
More Crusade stuff in the coming weeks...