Ben, I have the same feeling about BSG: many individual episodes have been brilliant, but the overall story arc is really just a premise for the show rather than a story in its own right. That’s borne out by Ron Moore’s podcast commentaries, which I’ve been listening to as I work my way through the series; it’s frequently evident that the writers sometimes introduce long-running plot threads with no clue where they will lead. Unlike JMS, I don’t think they had the answers in the back of the book.

Sometimes that kind of “make it up as we go along” writing is a really bad idea. It was the fatal flaw of Twin Peaks, and I’ve heard suggestions (though I wouldn’t know) that Lost suffers from a similar directionlessness. But I think Ron Moore is too savvy a writer to fall into that trap, as evidenced by his willingness to wrap up the story after four seasons.

Pat, as it happens, I was thinking about exactly that same subject (the influence of B5) just yesterday, after reading JMS’s 1999 column. I agree that (especially in SF) such storytelling is almost a requirement now, and that B5 must be largely responsible. But on the other hand, how do you account for pre-B5 primetime serials like Dallas?