Babylon 5, which ran from a 1993 pilot movie until its final episode in 1998, has been called the greatest science fiction show ever created. Producer, director, and writer J. Michael Straczynski created a high drama that set a new standard for science fiction television. Here are some things that you might not know about the series:
1. Straczynski planned the entire story arc from the beginning. He kept a written copy of it on a 200-page encrypted computer file. Straczynski never revealed his full plans to his writing team until the very end of the series. He intentionally included red herrings in the plot so that viewers would not be able to predict the outcome of the series.
2. Staczynski wanted to create mature, adult science fiction -- not a kids’ show. His rule was that any cute kids that appeared in an episode had to be killed off by the end of that episode (e.g. “Believers” and “Confessions and Lamentations.”)
3. The design of Vorlon ships (right) by special effects artist Ron Thornton is based on the shape of a bulb of garlic.
4. In the episodes “Shadow Dancing” and “Z’ha’dum”, Bruce Boxleitner (John Sheridan) played opposite of Melissa Gilbert (Anna Sheridan), John’s late wife returned from the dead. In real life, Gilbert and Boxleitner are married.
5. Naval personnel in particular were fans of Babylon 5 because, compared to other science fiction shows, it realistically showed life inside a small metal box far away from home.
6. The space suit props worn by B5 Starfury fighter pilots were liquid-cooled. The detailed helmets alone cost $3,000 each.
7. Jerry Doyle’s (Michael Garibaldi) favorite episode was “Points of Departure” because his character spent the entire episode in a coma, but Doyle received full salary for that role.
8. Author Peter David made J. Michael Straczynski a teddy bear wearing a baseball jersey. The shirt was inscribed “Babearlyon 5” on the front and “J.S.” (for Joe Straczynski) on the front. Straczynski made it the topic of conversation in a scene between Sheridan and Ivonova.
9. Babylon 5 actors Jerry Doyle (Michael Garibaldi) and Andrea Thompson (Talia Winters) married in 1995.(Video Link)
10. The Psi Corps recruiting commercial that appears in the episode “And Now for a Word” contains a subliminal message that says “The Psi Corps is your friend. Trust the Corps.” It’s at 1:49. Sources: Bassom, David. Creating Babylon 5. New York: Random House, 1997. Lane, Andy. The Babylon File: The Definitive Unauthorised Guide to J. Michael Straczynski's TV Series Babylon 5. London: Virgin, 1997. Images: Warner Bros.