Babylon 5

The opening Babylon 5 movie "In the Beginning" was fairly bad. Not a bad idea, necessarily - and often a good idea is all that SF fans hope for - but not terribly well executed. The series stumbled through a weak first season that looked a bit like a slightly lower rent version of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," with which it ran concurrently. Watching it this second time through it's very interesting to notice how, in the last five or six episodes of the first season and the first three of the second season, Straczynski starts pulling together the pieces, showing us the politics and the ideas that form the bedrock of the staggering story arc to follow. The former part of the first season was essentially "Wee, we have a space station! And aliens!" It establishes characters, but doesn't significantly advance the story arc (or even tell good stories) until the last third of the season.

And then I watched episode 4 of season 2 and celebrated, because now silly cocoon thing is over and Boxleitner is settling in to the character of the station commander, and they're getting past the fact that they have interior shots of the grand arc of the station. Straczynski really starts to tell a story here: not just a small one in each episode, although those happen (with more grace than previously), but it's all directed now, part of the huge drama of an entire galaxy headed toward a devastating war. And the writing ... so much better. Just an utterly brilliant show once it found its feet ... and something of a miracle that it was given more than a year to do so.