Visions '97

Since no one else has reported on Visions, I guess I should put in a few words.

I hadn't actually planned on going, but at the last minute Donna Wilson persuaded me to join her (this is the same hospitable lady who hosted Judith just before MediaWest Con). I drove to her home in East Lansing, MI, on Wednesday, and she drove us both to Chicago on Thursday. The hotel offered a spectacular Thanksgiving buffet, and I was very sorry that I'd eaten a sandwich on the way. It was the first of several expensive but extremely good meals that I ate in their restaurant.

The B7 guests were Sally Knyvette, series 1-3 producer David Maloney, and Sheelagh Wells and Joe Nazzaro, all of whom gave good con. David Maloney in particular was a happy surprise-- charming and articulate. It was interesting to hear about the making of the series from the viewpoint of a producer as opposed to an actor or writer. He, of course, was the person responsible for keeping the costs within the very tight budget, and for getting everything done on time, and even for matching a scriptwriter with a compatible director, a thing that could sometimes be difficult.

At Sally Knyvette's solo interview, I worked up my nerve and asked her which of the three fannish theories of the relationship between Blake and Jenna she considered the most probable:

  1. they were merely working colleagues, and nothing happened between them that we didn't see on screen; or
  2. she was interested in him, but he didn't reciprocate; or
  3. they were really having a steamy affair behind the scenes, which we didn't see on screen only because it was supposed to be a children's show.

She said, as I recall, "Definitely option three!"

However, David Maloney said on another occasion that there was not intended to be anything between Blake and Jenna, and furthermore that Avon was not intended to be a sex object. So I suppose the fans who see nothing sexual in the show are picking up on the intentions of the producer, if not perhaps those of the actors. Actually, I rather like this possibility for multiple interpretations.

Sally Knyvette also mentioned that although she didn't know whether anything would come of it, she and Jan Chappell had been approached by someone who had the idea of doing a continuation of the original series starring them. I thought that idea made a lot of sense. Certainly Jenna in particular could be easily resurrected, and Sally still looks plenty good enough to star in a major series, especially now that female spaceship captains of a certain age are a more common and acceptable thing. :) I could definitely see Jenna coming back, perhaps accompanied by one of Cally's clone-sisters (after all, we don't know for sure that Zelda was the only one) and leading a new group of rebels against the Federation to avenge Blake et al.

But the highlight of the B7 panels has to be Sheelagh Wells's showing of a videotape-- which had been handed to her just as she got on the plane-- of the scene at the Wolf 359 convention, when JMS received his award for B5 from none other than Gareth in full GP Blake costume! It was truly amazing how well Sheelagh had recreated his appearance of 16 years ago. And JMS was stunned. He said "That show was so f***ing cool," and was then literally at a loss for words, a thing that apparently hardly ever happens to him. Claudia Christian, who was MCing, was very funny. Gareth said that as Blake he'd never gotten a kiss on screen (I guess Cousin Inga didn't count!) and asked her for one. She obliged, and after he'd left the stage she said in a "nyah nyah nyah" kind of voice, "I kissed Blake, I kissed Blake!"

Sheelagh and Joe were selling copies of Blakes 7: The Inside Story (their book on the making of B7, highly recommended to any of you who don't already have it), as well as photos of Gareth in his Blake makeup for the awards ceremony, and very attractive bookmarks with photos of various characters; I bought several of those as Christmas presents.

I didn't go to the variety show, and from the reports I had of it afterwards I was just as glad to have missed it. Apparently some of the B5 and ST guests were pretty bad. However, I'm told that Sally Knyvette did a lovely job of singing "Summertime." Sheelagh also showed the video again-- what I'd seen was an unofficial preview at her makeup workshop, since she had to be sure the tape was OK.

And as usual at cons, it was nice to see old friends and meet new online friends in person for the first time.

Sarah Thompson

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