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It would have to be reasonably budgeted, and "it would have to look unlike anything ever seen before on TV, presenting individual stories against a much broader canvas. Citing Mark Twain as an influence, Straczynski said he wanted the show to be a mirror to the real world and to covertly teach. Following production on Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future , Straczynski approached John Copeland and Doug Netter, who had also been involved with Captain Power and showed him the bible and pilot script for his show, and both were impressed with his ideas.

Warner Bros. According to Straczynski, Warner Bros. Straczynski wrote 92 of the episodes of Babylon 5 , including all 44 episodes in the third and fourth seasons; [20] according to Straczynski, a feat never before accomplished in American television. Drennan , Lawrence G. DiTillio , D. Fontana , and David Gerrold. Harlan Ellison , a creative consultant on the show, received story credits for two episodes. The rules of production were strict; scripts were written six episodes in advance, and changes could not be made once production had started.

With not all cast members being hired for every episode of a season, the five-year plot length caused some planning difficulties. If a critical scene involving an actor not hired for every episode had to be moved, that actor had to be paid for work on an extra episode. That was one of the big risks going into a long-term storyline which I considered long in advance; Michael Straczynski, [26].

Straczynski purposely went light on the five-year narrative elements during the first season as he felt the audience would not be ready for the full narrative at the time, but he still managed to drop in some scenes that would be critical to the future narrative. Unwilling to short-change fans of the show, Straczynski began preparing modifications to the fourth season that would allow him to conclude his overall arc should a fifth season not be greenlit, which ultimately became the direction the fourth season took.

Straczynski identified three primary narrative threads which would require resolution: the Shadow war, Earth's slide into a dictatorship, and a series of sub-threads which branched off from those. Estimating they would still take around 27 episodes to resolve without having the season feel rushed, the solution came when the TNT network commissioned two Babylon 5 television films. Several hours of material was thus able to be moved into the films, including a three-episode arc which would deal with the background to the Earth—Minbari War , and a sub-thread which would have set up the sequel series, Crusade.

Further standalone episodes and plot-threads were dropped from season four, which could be inserted into Crusade , or the fifth season, were it to be given the greenlight. When word came that TNT had picked up Babylon 5 , this was moved to the end of season five and replaced with a newly filmed season four finale, " The Deconstruction of Falling Stars ".

Ann Bruice Aling was costume designer for the show, after production designer John Iacovelli suggested her for the position having previously worked with Bruice on a number of film and theatrical productions.


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With the variety of costumes required she compared Babylon 5 to "eclectic theatre", with fewer rules about period, line, shape and textures having to be adhered to. With an interest in costume history, she initially worked closely with Straczynski to get a sense of the historical perspective of the major alien races, "so I knew if they were a peaceful people or a warring people, cold climate etc. As the main characters evolved, Bruice referred back to Straczynski and producer John Copeland who she viewed as "surprisingly more accessible to me as advisors than other producers and directors", so the costumes could reflect these changes.

Ambassador Londo Mollari 's purple coat became dark blue and more tailored while his waistcoats became less patterned and brightly colored as Bruice felt "Londo has evolved in my mind from a buffoonish character to one who has become more serious and darker. Normally there were three changes of costume for the primary actors; one for on set, one for the stunt double and one on standby in case of "coffee spills". For human civilians, garments were generally purchased off-the-rack and altered in various ways, such as removing lapels from jackets and shirts while rearranging closures , to suggest future fashions.

For some of the main female characters a more couture approach was taken, as in the suits worn by Talia Winters which Bruice described as being designed and fitted to within "an inch of their life". Costumes for the destitute residents of downbelow would be distressed through a combination of bleaching, sanding, dipping in dye baths and having stage blood added. Like many of the crew on the show, members of the costume department made onscreen cameos. During the season 4 episode " Atonement ", the tailors and costume supervisor appeared as the Minbari women fitting Zack Allan for his new uniform as the recently promoted head of security.

His complaints, and the subsequent stabbing of him with a needle by costume supervisor Kim Holly, was a light-hearted reference to the previous security uniforms, a design carried over from the pilot movie which were difficult to work with and wear due to the combination of leather and wool. While the original pilot film featured some aliens which were puppets and animatronics , the decision was made early on in the show's production to portray most alien species as humanoid in appearance.

Barring isolated appearances, fully computer-generated aliens were discounted as an idea due to the "massive rendering power" [34] required. Long-term use of puppets and animatronics was also discounted, as Straczynski believed they would not be able to convey "real emotion" without an actor inside. In anticipation of future HDTV broadcasts and Laserdisc releases, rather than the usual format, the series was shot in , with the image cropped to for initial television transmissions.

Foundation Imaging provided the special effects for the pilot film for which it won an Emmy and the first three seasons of the show, led by Ron Thornton. After co-executive producer Douglas Netter and producer John Copeland approached Straczynski with the idea of producing the effects in-house, Straczynski agreed to replace Foundation, for season 4 and 5, once a new team had been established by Netter Digital , and an equal level of quality was assured, [38] by using similar technology and a number of former Foundation employees.

Christopher Franke composed and scored the musical soundtrack for all 5 years of the show when Stewart Copeland , who worked on the original telefilm, was unable to return for the first season due to recording and touring commitments. Initially concerned composing for an episodic television show could become "annoying because of the repetition", Franke found the evolving characters and story of Babylon 5 afforded him the opportunity to continually take new directions.

With his recording studio in the same building as his home located in the Hollywood Hills , Franke would attend creative meetings before scoring the on average 25 minutes of music for each episode. Utilising Cubase software through an electronic keyboard , or for more complex pieces a light pen and graphics tablet , he would begin by developing the melodic content round which the ambient components and transitions were added. Using playbacks with digital samples of the appropriate instruments, such as a group of violins, he would decide which tracks to produce electronically or record acoustically.

Scores for the acoustic tracks were emailed to his Berlin scoring stage, and would require from four musicians to the full orchestra, with a maximum of 24 present at any one time. One of three conductors would also be required for any score that involved more than 6 musicians. Franke would direct recording sessions via six fibre optic digital telephone lines to transmit and receive video, music and the SMPTE timecode. The final edit and mixing of the tracks would take place in his Los Angeles studio. A total of 24 episode and three television film soundtracks were released under Franke's record label, Sonic Images Records, between and These contain the musical scores in the same chronological order as they played in the corresponding episodes, or television films.

Three compilation albums were also produced, containing extensively re-orchestrated and remixed musical passages taken from throughout the series to create more elaborate suites. As original content from another studio, it was somewhat anomalous in a stable of syndicated content from Warner Bros. The pilot film, The Gathering , premiered on February 22, , with strong viewing figures, achieving a 9. Figures dipped in its second week, and while it posted a solid 5.

In the United Kingdom, the show aired every week on Channel 4 without a break, with the result that the last four or five episodes of the early seasons screened in the UK before the US. Babylon 5 successfully completed its five-year story arc on November 25, , after five seasons and aired episodes, when TNT aired the th epilogue episode " Sleeping in Light ," which had been filmed as the Season finale 4 when Babylon 5 was under threat of ending production at that point.

After a fifth season was assured, a new Season 4 finale was used so that " Sleeping in Light " could remain as the series finale.


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Throughout its run, Babylon 5 found ways to portray themes relevant to modern and historical social issues. It marked several firsts in television science fiction, such as the exploration of the political and social landscapes of the first human colonies, their interactions with Earth, and the underlying tensions. Michael Straczynski , [61]. The clash between order and chaos, and the people caught in between, plays an important role in Babylon 5. The conflict between two unimaginably powerful older races, the Vorlons and the Shadows , is represented as a battle between competing ideologies, each seeking to turn the humans and the other younger races to their beliefs.

The Vorlons represent an authoritarian philosophy of unquestioning obedience. Vorlon characters frequently ask, "who are you?

The climax of this conflict comes with the younger races' exposing of the Vorlons' and the Shadows' "true faces" [61] and the rejection of both philosophies, [63] heralding the dawn of a new age without their interference. The notion that the war was about "killing your parents" [61] is echoed in the portrayal of the civil war between the human colonies and Earth.

Deliberately dealing in historical and political metaphor, with particular emphasis upon McCarthyism and the HUAC , [67] the Earth Alliance becomes increasingly authoritarian, eventually sliding into a dictatorship. The show examines the impositions on civil liberties under the pretext of greater defense against outside threats which aid its rise, and the self-delusion of a populace which believes its moral superiority will never allow a dictatorship to come to power, until it is too late. Michael Straczynski, [70]. The Babylon 5 universe deals with numerous armed conflicts which range on an interstellar scale.

The story begins in the aftermath of a war which brought the human race to the brink of extinction, caused by a misunderstanding during a first contact.

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Wars between separate alien civilizations are featured. The conflict between the Narn and the Centauri is followed from its beginnings as a minor territorial dispute amplified by historical animosity, through to its end, in which weapons of mass destruction are employed to subjugate and enslave a planet. The war is an attempt to portray a more sobering kind of conflict than usually seen on science fiction television. Informed by the events of the first Gulf War , the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Soviet invasion of Prague , the intent was to recreate these moments when "the world held its breath" and the emotional core of the conflict was the disbelief that the situation could have occurred at all, and the desperation to find a way to bring it to an end.

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The Shadow War also features prominently in the show, wherein the Shadows work to instigate conflict between other races to promote technological and cultural advancement, opposed by the Vorlons who are attempting to impose their own authoritarian philosophy of obedience. The gradual discovery of the scheme and the rebellion against it underpin the first three seasons, [74] but also as a wider metaphor for competing forces of order and chaos.

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In that respect, Straczynski stated he presented Earth's descent into a dictatorship as its own "shadow war". The struggle for independence between Mars and Earth culminates with a civil war between the human colonies led by the Babylon 5 station and the home planet. Choosing Mars as both the spark for the civil war, and the staging ground for its dramatic conclusion, enabled the viewer to understand the conflict more fully than had it involved an anonymous colony orbiting a distant star.

The post-war landscape has its roots in the Reconstruction.

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The attempt to resolve the issues of the American Civil War after the conflict had ended, and this struggle for survival in a changed world was also informed by works such as Alas, Babylon , a novel dealing with the after-effects of a nuclear war on a small American town. Events shown hundreds of years into the show's future tell of wars which will once again bring the human race to the edge of annihilation, demonstrating that humanity will not change, and the best that can be hoped for after it falls is that it climbs a little higher each time, until it can one day "take [its] place among the stars, teaching those who follow.

Michael Straczynski, [80].

Many of Earth's contemporary religions are shown to still exist, with the main human characters often having religious convictions. Among those specifically identified are the Roman Catholic branch of Christianity including the Jesuits , Judaism , and the fictional Foundationism which developed after first contact with alien races.

References to both human and alien religion is often subtle and brief, but can also form the main theme of an episode. When religion is an integral part of an episode, various characters express differing view points. In the episode " Soul Hunter ", where the concept of an immortal soul is touched upon, and whether after death it is destroyed, reincarnated, or simply does not exist. The character arguing the latter, Doctor Stephen Franklin , often appears in the more spiritual storylines as his scientific rationality is used to create dramatic conflict.

Undercurrents of religions such as Buddhism have been viewed by some in various episode scripts, [89] and while identifying himself as an atheist , [80] Straczynski believes that passages of dialog can take on distinct meanings to viewers of differing faiths, and that the show ultimately expresses ideas which cross religious boundaries. Substance abuse and its impact on human personalities also features in the Babylon 5 storyline. Garibaldi is a relapsing-remitting alcoholic, who practices complete abstinence throughout most of the series until the middle of season five , only recovering at the end of the season.

Zack Allan , his eventual replacement as chief of security, was given a second chance by Garibaldi after overcoming his own addiction to an unspecified drug.

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