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Babylon 5 (TV series)

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This article is about the TV Series. For the last of the Babylon Stations, see: Babylon 5

Babylon 5 is a television series created by J. Michael Straczynski. Due to its popularity, the series inspired a number of TV movies and spin-off series, and as such became a television franchise. The series first aired on PTEN on January 26, 1994, where it ran for four seasons. It then became apparent that PTEN would not order a fifth season and Straczynski's 5-year story arc would not be completed. However, at the eleventh hour, TNT picked up the show for a final, fifth season.

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Babylon 5 title screen
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Production informationEdit

Main castEdit

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G'Kar (left) of the Narn Regime and Londo Mollari of the Centauri Republic
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This list includes all actors who have ever received a "starring" credit in the show, including the pilot, but excluding all other TV movies.

PlotEdit

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The Babylon 5 Station
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The series consists of a five-year story arc taking place over five seasons of 22 episodes each.

The first season, entitled Signs and Portents, is taken up largely with establishing the main characters. Towards the end of the season, however, series creator J. Michael Straczynski realized that he had written Michael O'Hare's character (Jeffrey Sinclair) into a corner, and both agreed he should leave the show, although he would later guest star in a number of episodes.

Season two, entitled The Coming of Shadows, introduces the pivotal character, John Sheridan. This season also introduces the Anla'Shok and gears up to the Shadow War.

The third season, entitled Point of No Return, was written entirely by Straczynski. It shows Sheridan declaring Babylon 5 an independent state after President William Morgan Clark orders an attack on Martian civilians and declares Martial law. It also chronicles the Shadow War.

Season four, entitled No Surrender, No Retreat, chronicles the end of the Shadow War and Sheridan raising a fleet which he takes to Earth to arrest President Clark. Straczynski wrapped up the storyline of Sheridan rising up against Earth sooner than he had wanted because he believed they would not get another season.

The fifth and final season, entitled The Wheel of Fire, chronicles the problems facing John Sheridan as President of the new Interstellar Alliance. We also see Elizabeth Lochley take command of Babylon 5.

EpisodesEdit

Babylon 5 had 110 episodes over 5 seasons. For More Information See:

Alternate TitlesEdit

As various scripts were developed over the course of the series, they occasionally have very different titles to the episodes that where finally aired. Indeed, while the season titles for the first two years were decided upon very early on, J. Michael Straczynski took some time before finally settling on "Point of No Return." At one point "I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds" was somewhere near the top of the list. Some early working titles were intentionally vague or misleading so as to keep future plot directions secret for as long as possible.[1]

Original Title Final Title Writer
"Blood and Thunder" "Midnight on the Firing Line" J. Michael Straczynski
"Amaranth" [2][3] "Born to the Purple" Larry DiTillio
"Carnival!"[3] "The Parliament of Dreams" J. Michael Straczynski
"A Knife in the Shadows" [4] "Survivors" Marc Scott Zicree
"Backlash" [5] "By Any Means Necessary" Kathryn M. Drennan
"Raiding Party" [6][7][8] "Signs and Portents" J. Michael Straczynski
"The Resurrectionist" "The Quality of Mercy" J. Michael Straczynski
"Chrysalis, Part II" [9] "Points of Departure" J. Michael Straczynski
"A Trick of the Mind" [10] "A Spider in the Web" Lawrence G. DiTillio
"Pestilence, Famine & Death" [11] "Soul Mates" Peter David
"Cat and Mouse" [12] "A Tragedy of Telepaths" J. Michael Straczynski


TV MoviesEdit

Babylon 5 had 6 TV Movies, one of which served as the pilot to the series, one served as the pilot to the short lived spin off series Crusade and one was a pilot for a new TV Series which was never produced because the TV Movie did not receive high ratings. For More Information See:

Spin-offsEdit

CrusadeEdit

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The Excalibur
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Crusade was a spin off from Babylon 5. The TV Movie A Call to Arms serves as a pilot to the series. However, creative differences between Straczynski and TNT caused problems; the network wanted more sex and violence and forced Straczynski to begin the first episode with a fistfight. The sex-and-violence request was later withdrawn and TNT in fact allocated more money to Crusade, giving the actors better uniforms and new sets mid-season, but due to the creative differences TNT eventually decided to cancel the series after thirteen episodes had been produced, but before any of them were aired. At the time of the cancellation, no major story arcs had yet come into play,

The Legend of the RangersEdit

A made-for-TV movie titled To Live and Die in Starlight was produced by the Sci Fi Channel. It was the proposed pilot episode of a new series titled Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers. Rescheduled after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the movie aired on January 19, 2002. However, it was scheduled against a NFL AFC Divisional Championship playoff game featuring the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders. The pilot's poor ratings killed the network's interest in a series.

The Memory of ShadowsEdit

In 2004 and early 2005, rumors widely circulated about a planned Babylon 5 movie for theatrical release. However, on February 25, 2005, a post from Straczynski announced that the project had fallen through and was for all practical purposes dead. The proposed movie titled The Memory of Shadows (TMOS), was written by Straczynski. Filming was to have begun in April 2005 in the UK with Steven Beck as the director.

Several sources have claimed that factions within Warner Bros. wanted to recast established Babylon 5 roles with younger and more well known actors, causing a major controversy among fans. Straczynski has acknowledged the subject and has stated that the negotiations were problematic, but has said that he is unable to directly comment on the issue

The Lost TalesEdit

A new project set in "Babylon 5" universe was announced by Straczynski at San Diego Comic Con 2006. Babylon 5: The Lost Tales was supposed to be a set of mini-stories featuring established characters from the series. The project was intended to be a straight-to-video DVD release. The production of the first anthology of two stories, named collectively Voices in the Dark commenced in November 2006 with Straczynski writing, producing and directing. Voices in the Dark was released on July 31st, 2007. Straczynski has since announced that there will be no more future releases of the Lost Tales, as the only thing he is interested in making regarding Babylon 5 is a full budget feature film.

DVD ReleasesEdit

All 110 episodes have been released on DVD with extensive Special Features. For More Information See:

TriviaEdit

  • Claudia Christian auditioned for the role of Seven of Nine on "Star Trek: Voyager". In fact, several Babylon 5 actors also did Trek: Andreas Katsulas was a Romulan ship commander; Bill Mumy was an engineer on Starfleet's AR-558 outpost; and more. Trek co-creator Majel Barrett made an appearance on Babylon 5 as the seer who foretells Londo's ascension to the throne. Majel Barrett's character, Lady Morella, was the widow of the recently deceased Emperor Turhan, no doubt a homage to Gene Roddenberry.
  • When Babylon 5 entered production, there were claims that the creators of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" had stolen the basic Babylon 5 premise. It was never proven, though both shows share striking similarities. This controversy led to friction between Babylon 5 and Star Trek fans over the course of both series.
  • The Babylon 5 station is an "O'Neil class space station". Gerard K. O'Neill was a physicist and space visionary who suggested the use of large rotating cylindrical habitats for future space stations.
  • The Medlab was deliberately designed to display few tools and instruments. The designers considered less to be more in guessing future medical technology.
  • The Babylon 5 station is claimed to be operated by an artificial intelligence computer system provided by the Centauri.
  • Babylon 5 filmmakers received informal technical advice on the series from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • According to Usenet posts by series creator J. Michael Straczynski, the term "psi cop" intentionally echoes the acronym "CSICOP" - the acronym for the "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal", a group of scientists and professional magicians who investigate psychic phenomena and unmask frauds and hoaxes.
  • During the fifth season, Producer J. Michael Straczynski wanted to have actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson do a cameo appearance playing Psi Cops, but the plan fell through.
  • The series was conceived to run for five seasons as a sort of giant video novel. This plan was nearly shelved when it appeared Babylon 5 was going to be canceled after the fourth season. J Michael Straczynski pushed forward much of the material he had planned for the fifth season into the fourth, and even filmed the planned series finale for that year. When word came that the fifth season had been granted after all, the series finale was held back and used in its proper place.
  • J. Michael Straczynski made a cameo appearance as the technician who turns off the station's lights in the series finale.
  • Series creator J. Michael Straczynski once said that the Earth Alliance military used a "blending" of rank systems, although this was never spelled out in detail on the show. Thus, the exact EA rank structure remains unknown, although most fans assume the different branches (Navy, Marines, Security) each use the appropriate system of ranks for that branch. (Contrary to popular belief, Admirals have been mentioned twice on the show, in "And the Sky Full of Stars" and "Signs and Portents") There are Generals who have been seen wearing the blue Navy uniform, although this could be evidence of yet another branch (Air Force?).
  • During the run of the show, the show's creator, J. Michael Straczynski, was contacted by NASA officials who asked if they could borrow the design of the show's fighters - called, 'Starfuries' - for use on the International Space Station. NASA wanted to use the ships as a combination tug and forklift, adding, "Your design is the most practical we've seen." Straczynski replied that it was fine with him, but that NASA had to call them Starfuries. NASA agreed.
  • Series creator J. Michael Straczynski made television history by becoming the first person to write an entire 22-episode season of a television series.
  • Because of the epic five-season "video novel", adlibs were forbidden on set. Any script changes had to be approved by series creator J. Michael Straczynski.
  • Based on onscreen evidence, the Earth Alliance military appears to have at least three different branches: Marines (brown uniforms), Security (gray), and Navy (blue). We have seen blue-uniformed officers with 'ground' ranks (like General); it is unclear what this means, possibly a fourth branch ("Air Force"?). A popular fan theory is that this last branch is for Earthforce officers who work in space but have not yet received flight status (i.e. certification as a starship officer or StarFury pilot).
  • The Omega-class destroyers used by the Earth Alliance military were based on the design of the Russian spaceship 'Leonov' from the film 2010.
  • Walter Koenig plays Psi Cop Alfred Bester. Alfred Bester was a leading science fiction writer, one of whose best works, The Demolished Man, deals with murder in a world where the police are telepathic, as is the Bester character in Babylon 5.
  • During the first season, Commander Sinclair said, "This station created artificial gravity by rotation, so the room never stops spinning." Reportedly, the animating team had the station spinning at a near-Earth gravity simulation. This was determined by a physicist who was also a fan of the show, who determined the approximate size of a human being on the edge of the station and extrapolating.
  • Delenn was originally going to be a male character. The "transformation" at the start of season 2 would have been from a male character to a female character - both incarnations were to have been played by Mira Furlan. This is why, in the pilot, Delenn's appearance is much more severe and masculine than in the first series. The plan was to electronically modulate Furlan's voice into a lower register, so her voice would sound male. JMS wasn't happy with the results, so the male-to-female idea was dropped; Furlan's unaltered voice was used for the pilot, and her makeup was made more feminine for the series.
  • Babylon 5 was Ranked #13 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Top Cult Shows Ever.
  • Captain John Sheridan was ranked #9 in TV Guide's list of the "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends".
  • Babylon 5 won two Hugo awards in two consecutive years.
  • Robert Foxworth, who played General Hague during Season 2, was supposed to return for "Severed Dreams". However he got booked on an episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" that same week. So they re-wrote the script, killed off his character and brought in 'Bruce McGill', Major Ryan. Oddly enough, Foxworths Deep Space Nine character attempted a coup on Earth, whereas his Babylon 5 character was a loyalist fighting against a coup on Earth. Also, in a Stargate SG-1 episode, Foxworths character was nearly the victim of a coup on his homeworld, and in an Enterprise episode, he attempted yet another coup on the planet Vulcan.
  • Claudia Christian was originally scheduled to appear in season 5. According to series creator J. Michael Straczynski, she backed out of the final season due to a contract dispute. However, according to Christian the producers fired her.
  • The Vorlon encounter suit actually didn't fit through the doorways on the set, so the alien was never shown entering or leaving a room.
  • Although Producer J. Michael Straczynski had said several times in public that the series outline was on his computer under a triple-encrypted code lock, the series plans were also in a couple of three-ring binders directly above his desk in his studio office.
  • The actors were never told in advance what was in store for their characters. Each new episode was just as much a surprise for them as it was for the viewers.
  • Originally the character of Jeffrey Sinclair was supposed to continue throughout the series and fight the shadows as well as eventually returning in time to become Valen. At the end of season one it was decided to write Sinclair out because, among other reasons, this amounted to too many plot lines for one character. The back-story involving Sinclair's fight with the Shadows was transferred to the new character of John Sheridan. Originally the role that Sheridan's wife played in uncovering the Shadows would have been filled by Sinclair's on-again/off-again lover Catherine Sakai.
  • Two blooper video cassettes were made of various gaffes and mistakes, but they were never commercially released.
  • The inspiration for the design of the Vorlon ships was a clove of garlic.
  • Many of the plot elements and the storyline itself were inspired by the poem, "Ulysses", by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The poem is mentioned four times throughout the series.

External LinksEdit


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