Saturday, January 26, 2019

Watch Your Back: Babylon 5, "TKO" (season 1, episode 14)

Tonight, on an all-new episode: a friend of Garibaldi's comes to the station looking for a fight, and Ivanova has to deal with her father's death.

(season 1, episode 14)
airdate:  May 25, 1994
written by:  Lawrence G. DiTillio
directed by:  John C. Flinn, III
Bryant's rating:   1/2 * / *****
Christ, do I have to actually write something?!?
I've got little inclination to talk about this episode, which is (unless I've forgotten something -- and no, I haven't forgotten "Grey 17 Is Missing") the worst hour of the entire series.  I'm grading it a half a star because there are a scattered handful of small moments that I do like.  Otherwise, I'd give it a flat zero stars.
In case you're unfamiliar, here's what happens:
Walker Smith, a friend of Garibaldi's (and a disgraced boxer who was cheated right out of the sport), comes onto the station in the hopes of entering a brutal fighting competition so as to help rehab his reputation.  Also coming on the station -- conveniently, he walks off the same shuttle as Walker -- is Rabbi Yosel Koslov, a friend of the Ivanov family, who has come to deliver a legacy left to Ivanova by her deceased father.  He discovers that she has not sat shiva, and tries to persuade her to do so.
It's not much of an episode, especially the Walker Smith plot.
Nevertheless, I took a few screencaps, so let's have a look and call it a morning.

Your eyes do not deceive you; that IS a Zima sign hanging in the background.  I almost gave another half a star just for that.

Not an actual book.  Kind of a weird joke, considering Ellison worked on the series; that sort of fourth-wall-breaking seems ill-advised to me.  Granted, I just thumbs-upped a Zima sign.

Rabbi Koslov is played by Theodore Bikel, who is good throughout.  Bikel formerly appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Worf's adoptive father.

His scene with Michael O'Hare brings out an interesting side to Sinclair; respectful, almost deferential.  Kind of interesting given the larger scope of Sinclair's story; not much, but something.

The Mutah-Do is played by Soon-Teck Oh, who -- thanks, IMDb! -- also played Lieutenant Hip in The Man with the Golden Gun.  He's good, actually.  But all of this is such a terrible idea that his performance being good is irrelevant.  It may actually make the whole thing worse.  This Mutai competition is supposed to be an elite competition that humans (for no apparent reason) are barred from.  But the whole thing is so clearly patterned on human martial arts that it reads as being about as alien as apple pie.

More thanks due to IMDb for informing me that another Bond vet -- Don Stroud, who played Heller in Licence to Kill -- plays Caliban, the trainer who agrees to take Walker under his wing.  Why "Caliban"?  This screenplay is atrocious.

Claudia Christian has a few good scenes, but the emotions of Ivanova's shiva scenes prove mostly to be beyond her.

The Mutai champion, Gyor, is played by James Jude Courtney, who played Michael Myers in the 2018 Halloween.  The fighting scenes are fairly good, considering how lousy much of the rest of the episode is.

There's a terrific (by which I mean AWFUL) brief shot as Walker takes the ring in which an extra appears 100% confused as to where he is and what is happening around him.

I think he may have wandered in off the street.

Gyor is an alien, so his blood isn't red.  It's white.  Which makes it appear as if Gyor has just gone a round with Peter North, if you know what I'm sayin'...

Walker Smith is played by Greg McKinney, who has a few shaky moments but is mostly pretty good in the role.  In this moment from the end of the episode, he has just told Garibaldi to watch his back, which is a callback to the beginning, when he saves the security chief from a guy with a knife who is sneaking up behind him.  It's also a deft foreshadowing of Garibaldi getting shot in the back in the season finale.
And that's all I have to say about that.  I'd say we're in for better times next episode, but ... we're kind of not.


  1. You might find this of interest.

    That’s the latest update to B5Scrolls up and running. A lot of new stuff on it, and all free to download as always. There’s now 21 interviews on the thing from those who helped create the show along with a ton of production artwork. A pile of the original 3D models used on B5 now feature throughout the site. Like this one showing a Shadow during the interview with Ron Thornton.

    40 odd of the rotating ship animations behind the ship screens now show the 3D models used on the show as well. There’s even a bit of video with re-rendered FX showing what the CGI looks like without the widescreen conversion!

    Here’s the link

    If your unfamiliar with it, it, it really is free to download with no strings attached.

    1. Never heard of it, but a quick bit of research seems quite promising. I appreciate the link!