As requested - The Good Points of B-5
Firstly the generic character classes - I love these (even the lurker) as they are nice and broad, and easily applied to almost any game (for example unlike Legend of the 5 Rings).
Combat - The reduced HPs idea is fantastic and adds something of the series to the game. Almost anyone is going to get into trouble if they solve everything by simply blazing away.
Telepaths - A nice new take on Psi, that reflects the setting supremely well, especially the powers gained at different levels.
System - I like the feats, all of them read well. Especially interesting are the Starship feats rather than skills. Explosives is a bit of a let down, I'd rather have seen this as a feat than a skill, but then I could be in error here thinking of Crime Scene (I got it the same day). Racial feats are a nice touch, and the use of specialist and new feats is something of a great mongoose achievement, considering how many games they publish with differing new feats. Much better handled than in Judge Dredd (for example).
Lots of very good points. I like the episodes with their possible spin off stories. Enough to keep a game close to the main story but without actual mucking up the timeline.
The presige classes are a little too specific. I can't see my players wanting to become any of them.
Trial By Fire - Juries out on this until I run it. Either one of the best published collection of related scenarios and one off tie ins or seriously flawed. Only time will tell.... I suspect its actually great
It is a good collection of connected stories, and the 'in between' episodes give it added depth. But there's a little too much reliance on B5 Wars material, without sufficient descriptions or BG.
Starship Combat - I love the setting realism. The idea of stealth for locking on targets makes the Minbari and Vorlons absolutely lethal except at close ranges (by which point you are likely vapourised). Some parts of the system don't work as well as you might have hoped, and I wouldn't want to run a mass combat, but the rules are not there for that, its for character play, so its fine.
I agree, it simulates the TV series well. But I can't see me using much cruiser vs cruiser combat in my game.
Metaplot - The underlying plots that slowely collesed into the domination of a series were fantastic. The hints and substories came togeather so well that one could only describe them as highly literate.
Absolutely. The best part of the series. Something no other has matched.
Background - The setting and background of the alien races was well handled. The Minbari come across as very wise and alien, capable of genocide and spirituality. The Centari were a wonderous yet jaded race, akin to France around the post revolutionary times. The Vorlons and Shadows were so alien as to be impossible to truely understand, yet remained exceptionally interesting. Kosh came off as this friendly God like figure, with a unknowable agenda - The living ships was a particually nice touch. Only the narn were disappointing at times, not nearly as militant and self reliant as youd expect from a revolutionary liberated people.
I felt the Narn were very well played. They could quite easily have become a poor-man's Klingon. Their spiritualism was a good counterpoint to their agression.
Characters - Some interesting characters, and ideas. The stim addiction of the doctor and the retreat into or towards alchoholism of Garibaldi when faced with failure was well done, and built well into the characters. Most of the crew were somewhat 2-Dimensional however. Especially Ivannova (though the latent repressed homosexuality towards Talia was well handled and quite mature). Sadly Ivannova came across as too cliched to be believable. Bestor was particually interesting as he mixed a weird alieness to humans, with a deep humanity for the core, exceeded only by the concept of the Greater Good for the corp.
Ivanova's 'Russian-ness' was a little grating during season 1. But for the most part I liked her character - the fearlessness, the way she could intimidate anybody, the loss of her mother to the corps, the loss of her father, her relationship with Marcus.
Talia Winters was also a great character. Her arc from loyal psi corp operative, then begining to doubt, to being unmasked as a infiltrator, was very cool.
Dialogue - Human dialogue was terrible. The Minbari came across as being simply new age boll*ck talking hand wavers (though they did a nice line in patronising). Only Londo and Kosh seemed to get the best use of dialogue, and it was impressive (in a way) to see a 8' tall suit with no facial expressions, out act Sheriden and co. who left a lot to be desired (but Sci-Fi always has a line in cheap actors and script - something presumably to do with the budget for special effects).
Why do you say the Human dialogue was terrible? I thought it didn't stand out as good or bad, just functional. With the exception of Ivanova's speech to the commanders of the EA/Shadow ships, which I loved.
Vir and Londo had some great lines together, too.
Acting - Best not to mention. Wooden and stiff. Londo came across well, as did Vir, Kosh and Lennier. Bestor was nicely camped up and Lyta Alexander did some good work in the later apperances (though I may have got used to her by then). Marcus possibly was either too good to shine or not interested (I have seen him since and he's actually quite good - Like Antony Stewert Head in Buffy (you should have seen him in Spooks), both are probably not overly into their roles and maybe are too talented they look bad - Much ado about nothing syndrome....).
I don't understand how you can say Kosh was a good actor.
IMHO, most of the actors did a good job. Claudia Christian's scenes where Ivanova discusses her father can move me to tears. Mira Furlan gives Delenn a quiet gravitas. Jerry Doyle was great at giving Garibaldi an everyman kind of feel as well as imbuing him with both flaws and heroism. Andrea Thompson gave Talia the reserve and emotional caution neccesary for a telepath. Peter Jurasik was great as Londo. Andreas Katsulas made G'kar both a great villian and pitiable victim (not bad through all that makeup IMHO).
As for the leads, I felt Michael O'Hare was good in the scenes were he needed to be stern and commanding, but struggled when his character was required to show emotion. Bruce Boxleitner on the other hand never possessed the leadership presence required by a captain, nor the essential hardness of a war veteran.
Unrelated Episodes - The bane of the american series, is that a large number of episodes are simply irrelivent. Its a bit like trying to read a novel interspaced by short stories, containing the same characters, but are unrelated to the main story lines. Of course this is an American Broadcaster problem, that a series has to have 22+ episodes, so there tends to be a lot of filler material dropped in. The X-files was also ruined by the constant pointless stories. One or two is fine, but why so many. Sad but true, this does distract from the story.
B5 had the some of the worst unrelated episodes ever, IMHO. But as the series progressed into seasons 2-4, they became few and far between.
So there thats what I liked, rather than mostly disliked, constructively about the game and series in general.
My likes too. Inevitable a few dislikes crept in there too, but that can't be helped when contrasting and comparing. It's nice discuss something postively.