compiled by David Brain | back to scurra.com
(with apologies to The Lurker's Guide for "borrowing" their graphic)

Introduction:

This is an unashamed rip-off of Lyons & Howarth's guides to Star Trek and Doctor Who, and is obviously not as funny as either of them. It is also deeply indebted to Andy Lane's two volumes of "The Babylon File" amongst other sources. (see: Lane, Andy.) I am also grateful to the Couro Prido mailing list for a couple of the more surreal ideas contained within.
I use a number of common abbreviations throughout the text. B5 for Babylon 5. jms for J. Michael Straczynski and ST for Star Trek (since it crops up rather too frequently for its own good…) The text is packed full of spoilers, as it is rather difficult to write a guide like this without including any. So, if you don't want to know which episode Jack the Ripper was in, I suggest you don't carry on reading any further. Oh bum.

Alexander, Lyta
Resident telepath on B5 in the pilot episode and then disappeared inexplicably, only to return in season three. See also: Women

Alpha Centauri
The place you would think that the Centauri came from. However, this turns out not to be the case, which is a good job if you've ever seen the Doctor Who story "The Curse of Peladon" in which an inhabitant of Alpha Centauri is seen and appears to resemble a male reproductive organ. On second thoughts…

Apostrophe Syndrome
Infectious disease that all SF writers suffer from at some stage in their career. The most notable casualties on B5 are the Narn, although far too many of the lesser alien races have succumbed to the problem to a greater or lesser extent (I still feel slightly sorry for the Pak'ma'ra who obviously did something heinous in an earlier life, and, if they carry on the way they are, will soon become the P'ak'm'a'ra.)

Arc
(n.) 1. Part of the circumference of a circle or any other curve.
2. Pretentious way to describe a soap-opera plot-line when used in a science-fiction series.

Bester, Alfred
Name of respected science-fiction novelist, who is best known for writing "The Demolished Man", a (rather brilliant) novel about how an organisation of telepaths self-regulate themselves in a sort of Psi-Corps. Didn't jms have any original ideas? See also: Deconstruction of Falling Stars, Plagiarism.

Blake's Seven
Fondly remembered British telefantasy series which was chiefly famous for cardboard sets, cheesy special effects and Jacqueline Pearce's outfits. Oh, and the fact that everyone died at the end of the last episode. Often cited by jms as the first series when one writer (Terry Nation) wrote all the episodes for a single season*. Some people might unkindly suggest that jms didn't learn the obvious lesson from this observation, but not me.
*NB This claim is apparently untrue, as there are a couple of earlier examples.

Careers
On the whole there seem to be two sorts of careers that people have in B5. Either they get a job that lasts (if they're lucky) a whole year. Or they get one that lasts twenty years. Good jobs in the former category appear to be Commander of B5. Good jobs in the latter category appear to be President of the Alliance.

Centauri
Things not to say to the Centauri Ambassador: Number One "And would Sir like anything else before the bar closes?"

Chameleon Eclectic
Name of the company that wrote the ill-fated The Babylon Project role-playing game. The game itself wasn't too bad, but the rulebooks are notable for containing possibly the worst collection of interior art ever seen in a licensed publication. In fact they are so bad it is hard to pick out a highlight, but I personally think that the bloke on p65 really has got problems…

Cole, Marcus
Ranger who nobly self-sacrifices himself to save a fellow officer. Or perhaps he was just an idiot who couldn't find the off-switch in time. See also: Rangers, Sex

TEN POPULAR SONGS APPROPRIATE TO B5 CHARACTERS (well, eleven actually. So sue me.)
1. Like A Virgin (Marcus Cole)
2. I Am The One and Only (Valen)
3. I'm Going Slightly Mad (Cartagia)
4. Me and My Shadow (Mr Morden)
5. Who Wants To Live Forever? (Lorien)
6. Manic Monday (Ivanova)
7. I Want To Break Free (G'Kar)
8. It's The End of the World As We Know It (Londo & Vir)
9. Changes (Delenn)
10. Living in a Box (Kosh)
11. Jump (Sheridan)

Comes the Inquisitor (221)
It was this one. (see the Introduction).

Crusade
Short-lived spin-off series made by TNT. As a service to fans, I here include an episode guide to the series. This was compiled after extensive research and I've still got the headache to prove it.

1. Racing the Night (103) This was first shown as episode 9
2. The Needs of Earth (101) This is actually episode 11 but was made first
3. The Memory of War (102) This is either episode 10 or episode 2
4. The Long Road (107) Hang on, I think this is supposed to be episode 2
5. Visitors from Down the Street (104) This could be episode 4. Or maybe episode 12?
6. The Well of Forever (106) On the other hand, this is definitely episode 3
7. Each Night I Dream of Home (105) This was the last episode. But not any more.
8. Patterns of the Soul (110) Although this was originally episode 5
9. The Path of Sorrows (109) There were only 12 episodes. How many different orders can there be, for jms' sake?
10. Ruling from the Tomb (111)    { These two episodes might actually be episodes 6 and
11. The Rules of the Game (112) { 7. But they were made as episodes 11 and 12. Who knows? Who cares?
12. War Zone (108) Oh I give up. This was originally episode 1!
13. Appearances and Other Deceits (113)

Deconstruction of Falling Stars, The (422)
Episode that was written in a hurry to fill the gap caused by TNT suddenly funding season five. Steals ideas from far too many famous SF novels, although the most obvious sources are Olaf Stapleton's "Last and First Men", and Walter Miller's "A Canticle for Leibowitz". See also: Plagiarism, Sleeping in Light.

Deep Space Nine
Star Trek spin-off set on a space station occupied by several alien species, some of whom were at war with each other at various times. Was notable for including story-lines that spanned several episodes and even entire series. Featured a male commander with a female second-in-command. Was located near a plot-device that allowed access to another part of the galaxy. Saw the introduction of an advanced space-ship about half-way through the run. Several stories were set in a bar frequented by major cast members. jms allegedly pitched his proposal for B5 to Paramount (producers of ST) a year or so before DS9 started, but this is just a coincidence. And Michael O'Hare is a good actor.

Delenn
Minbari ambassador on B5. She began the series completely bald (see: Hair) but underwent a major hair-transplant operation at the end of season one, and emerged sporting an impressive pony-tail at the start of season two. In the original conception for the series, Delenn would have been neuter until entering the Chrysalis. In this case, the hair transplant would have been much less obvious, so jms went for the easy option, thus denying himself the chance to become the Hugh Hefner of outer space. This is probably a Good Thing. See also: Grey Council, Women.

Doctor Who
Long-running British television SF series. There appears to be no connection at all between this and B5. Really.

Doors
You can tell Babylon 5 is a science-fiction show because all doors open automatically when you approach. Except when they don't. Like when someone needs to get out of a room in a hurry. Or when the occupant is dead, otherwise engaged, a burglar or asleep. Or all four.

Ellison, Harlan
Well known SF writer and "creative consultant" to B5. He has long rumoured to be working on an anthology of short stories that was originally to be known as "The Last Dangerous Visions", but should it ever appear, it will be known as "Bloody Hell, It's Finally Been Published" or more probably "Not As Good As We Were All Hoping".

Friends
Passably amusing sitcom starring several actors who'd prefer to be in films. Will be remembered for inspiring a slightly silly game involving renaming episodes of other popular television series.
.
TEN EPISODES OF B5 IF THEY WERE NAMED IN THE STYLE OF FRIENDS
1. The One with the One, the One and the One.
2. The One with Jack the Ripper. (Done it again, haven't I? Sorry.)
3. The One which jms directed.
4. The One where Sheridan dies.
5. The One where Sheridan dies again.
6. The One with the absurd dialogue. (Oh sorry, that's all of them, isn't it?)
7. The One with Michael York.
8. The One which Channel Four didn't cut. (Tough one, this…)
9. The One with the First One.
10. The One with the terrible actors in it. (see 6.)

Garibaldi, Michael
Security Officer on Babylon 5. His main claim to fame is in being the only human character who appeared in both the pilot episode and the very last episode. Played by Jerry Doyle (see: Moonlighting) who is notable mostly for being short of hair (see: Hair), hence the common fan nick-name of Goingbaldi Made the trains run on time.

General
Earthforce rank of military officer in charge of fleet of ships. As opposed to Admiral which is the usual designation for this position. See also: Military Ranks

Get The Hell Out Of Our Galaxy!
Obvious solution to interstellar war between immensely powerful aliens wielding weapons of huge destructive power now allied against vastly overmatched ragbag alliance fleet. It must have been a million-to-one shot, so it couldn't fail to work (© T.Pratchett et al.)

Great Maker, The
Nickname acquired by jms, and a sobriquet previously only given to God. Not that I'm suggesting anything here. Of course, there is also a parallel to Gene Rodenberry who was known as "The Great Bird of the Galaxy". So that's another Trek rip-off… er, homage then. (See: DS9, etc etc)

Grey Council
Minbari ruling council. So called because they "stand between the darkness and light" but I think it has more to do with those drab habits and cowls they go in for. Advice to any prospective members: Don't aspire to be the leader, as you will either be killed due to a misunderstanding during First Contact or go in for a bizarre make-over (see: Delenn). Always has nine members, except when it doesn't.

Hair
One area in which Babylon 5 scores over series like Star Trek is that it doesn't follow the school of "bumpy forehead" make-up for aliens. Oh no. B5 goes for the "bald" school instead. Even the fake Kosh (in "Fall of Night") was completely bald. It's slightly surprising that male Centauri are allowed some hair (albeit only as a crest), but even then the women seem to go in for that bald look. Personally I blame jms. If he'd had a full head of lustrous hair, would we be seeing so many bald aliens? I think not. See also: Delenn, Garibaldi

Ivanova, Commander Susan
Second in command on B5. See also: Women.

TEN BEST IVANOVA LINES
1. I think you're about to go where everyone has gone before. (305)
2. Ivanova is God. (118)
3. No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow. (115)
4. Sleeping is not the problem. Waking up is the problem. (113)
5. Doesn't anything come under warranty anymore? (317)
6. Worst case of testosterone poisoning I've ever seen. (119)
7. Engines at full. High power, hatrack, ratcatcher, to port weapons. Brickbat lingerie. (403)
(OK, so she doesn't technically say this, but it's still a great line.)
8. Does the phrase "No Way In Hell" ring a bell? (219)
9. Zog? What do you mean, Zog? Zog yes? Zog no? (305)
10. What's going on? You all look like a Pak'ma'ra just ate your cat. (417)

Jack the Ripper
Historical figure whose identity is still unknown, despite a large number of suggestions as to possible suspects (my money is on Queen Victoria.) Is still the only character to have appeared in both B5 and another SF show (ST), although had Harlan Ellison ever got around to writing the much-rumoured "Demon with a Glass Hand" then there might have been evidence of a cross-over with "The Outer Limits". Arguments that King Arthur (in A Late Delivery From Avalon, 313) has appeared in lots of telefantasy shows can be dismissed as specious. On the other hand a strong case has been made that Species 8472 from Voyager were, in fact, the Shadows following their banishment from the B5 universe. Quite frankly this is slightly less ludicrous than the cause of their leaving in the first place (see: Get The Hell Out Of Our Galaxy!).

Koenig, Walter
Actor who played "Chekov" on ST. See also: Bester, Alfred

TOP TEN ACTORS WHO HAVE APPEARED IN STAR TREK AND BABYLON 5
1. Walter Koenig (see above)
2. Majel Barrett. She appeared in "Point of No Return" (309) as Lady Morella, and played Nurse Christine Chapel in ST (she was also the omnipresent voice of the computer in the later incarnations of the show.)
3. Dwight Shultz, in "The Long Dark" (205). Played Lt Barclay in ST:TNG.
4. David Warner, in "Grail" (115). Appeared in ST:VI and in ST:TNG.
5. Um… Bill Mumy? No, he was in "Lost in Space".*
6. Oh yes. Michael Ansara, Elric the Technomage in "The Geometry of Shadows" (203), played Kang in the original ST and reprised the role in DS9.
7. Caroline Seymour must have been in it. She's been in everything else. And, lo and behold, she was in "Endgame" (420)
8. There must be more than that, surely?
9. Yes, lots, but you won't have heard of most of them.
10. Well I hadn't, anyway. Apart from one really obvious one.
(*Of course, Bill Mumy did appear in a season six episode of DS9, but it was only a matter of time.)

In The Beginning
TV movie that explains the background to the series, although rather confusingly it should only be watched after the series (well, up to the end of season 4 at least.) Also the first words of the book of Genesis in the Bible, usually followed by the words "God created…" See also: Great Maker, Thirdspace.

Lane, Andy
Fan author of "The Babylon File", an indispensable episode-by-episode guide to the first three series, and of "The Babylon File: volume 2", a slightly bitter and perhaps less-than-objective guide to the last two series. On the other hand, this present work owes far too much to both books for me to criticise him. See: also Plagiarism (not on his part, I hasten to add.)

Lennier
Aide to the Minbari ambassador. Went nuts and tried to kill the President of the Alliance. Shame really, as all he needed was the love of a good woman. Was too dumb to notice that the good woman in question was in love with somebody else. See also: Rangers.

Lord of the Rings, The
Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, and voted Best Book of the Twentieth Century according to numerous surveys (and a good thing too.) Has absolutely no connection with B5 at all. See also: Lorien, Rangers, Technomages, Z'ha'dum etc etc.

Lorien
The first First One. So why aren't all the others called "Second Ones" then? I wonder what he was doing in that hole in Zha'ha'dum for all those millennia? Trying to solve all the games of "Freecell" I would guess (#11982 is particularly tricky, not to say impossible.)

Lovecraft, H.P.
Writer of gothic horror stories about the Great Old Ones, which were notable for having more than the usual number of tentacles (that's the Old Ones, not the stories.) See also: Plagiarism.

Military Ranks
So, Captain Sheridan outranks Major Ryan who outranks Captain Hiroshi. Riiiight... (see also: General)

Minbari
Chiefly notable for being an anagram of mini-bar. Things not to say to the Minbari Ambassador: Number One "Like the wig." See also: Grey Council.

Moonlighting
Jerry Doyle (Garibaldi) was apparently Bruce Willis' stand-in on this mid-Eighties television series. It's a shame he wasn't playing Garibaldi at the time, as then he could have been moonlighting on Moonlighting.

Narn
One of the major races on B5. Not to be confused with a variety of Indian bread although pronounced exactly the same. Things not to say to the Narn Ambassador: Number One "Ah, I see the chicken pox has spread." See also: Apostrophe Syndrome.

Narnia
Sadly not the name of the home planet of the Narn race, which is a pity as I sense a bizarre cross-over story looming. How about "The Lion, the Witch and the Alien."

Parliament of Dreams, The (105)
One of those episodes that shows up the short-comings of much television SF - all alien societies are shown to have one culture/religion/government etc. I can just imagine the libertarian Minbari Militia at the time of Valen hiding out on some mountain, deeply suspicious of this new "Grey Council" who obviously flew Grey Helicopters to round up subversives.
Also the name of an academic conference held at the University College of Ripon and York in 1997, covering topics such as "Reconsidering Gender & Heroism", "The Psychological Significance of Straczinski's Universe", "Psychopathology and Alien Ethics" and "Reconfiguring the Alien-Human Intimate Interface: Sex in Space" (OK, so I made that one up, sorry.) Handy insomnia hint: just read the paper on "Space and Time Out of Balance". You'll be out in five minutes (unless you're a theoretical physicist.)

Plagiarism
(v.) Take and use (the thoughts, writings, inventions, etc. of another person) as one's own. "If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism; if you steal from many, it's research." (Wilson Mizner)

Psi-Corps
Sinister organisation founded in the year 2161 and staffed by men in black uniforms. By a curious coincidence, this was exactly the same year that the United Federation of Planets was founded too. How obscure can these ST references get?

Prisoner, The
Respected seventies telefantasy series created by and starring Patrick MacGoohan. Explored themes of individuality versus the state. A well-known catch-phrase from the series was "Be Seeing You", a line later adopted by Bester, the Psi-Cop. There is also a really obscure reference to The Prisoner in A Voice In The Wilderness (118/119), but only really sad people would ever find it. (If you really want to know, see page 156 of Andy Lane's "The Babylon File".) See also: Plagiarism.

Rangers
Not a career choice for the romantically inclined. (See: Sex) The Ranger motto is "We live for the One. We die for the One." Curiously the second half of the motto ("Because we are a bunch of complete idiots who will do whatever the One tells us to") is frequently omitted at official ceremonies. Although the existence of this codicil is denied, the evidence is far too strong (see: Cole, Marcus and Lennier.)

Season Five
Generally regarded by fans as "a bit of a disappointment" (although what can you expect given that one episode was written in twenty minutes on the back of an envelope, and most of the story-lines for the first part of the season were allegedly thrown away by a cleaner at a certain Blackpool hotel.) Mind you, it's still a hell of a lot better than most of Star Trek: Voyager, so we should be grateful for small mercies.

Sex
On the whole it appears to be a good idea to get some. Notable casualties of lack of sex include: Lennier (who goes completely loopy), Marcus Cole (who kills himself) and Catherine Sakai (who disappears mysteriously.) Incidentally, these three characters have something else in common too. Coincidence? I think not. See also: Rangers

SFX
Popular UK SF magazine which has held a less-than-reverential attitude towards B5. jms is known to have written "…since SFX is a fairly useless publication on just about every imaginable front. Never have so many jumped-up fanboys done so little, with so much, for so long." And who am I to argue with the Great Maker? [note: these words have been reproduced without permission. Sorry.]

Shadows, the
Popular Beat Combo from the Sixties led by Hank Marvin. Made their name by performing with Cliff Richard, although by the year 2259, he still had a successful solo recording career and in retaliation the Shadows decided to attempt to destroy the galaxy. See also: Z'ha'dum.

Sinclair, Jeffrey
Last Commander of Babylon 5. Well, apart from Sheridan. And Lochley. And whoever was in charge after that until it was finally decommissioned. (see: Careers).

Sleeping in Light (522)
What the hell does this mean, exactly? Come to think of it, "Deconstruction of Falling Stars" is pretty meaningless too. I mean, "Comes the Inquisitor" makes the subject fairly obvious, and "Z'ha'dum" is hardly cryptic. So why suddenly come over all pretentious?

TEN EPISODES OF B5 THAT ARE OBVIOUSLY ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE
1. Meditations on the Abyss (514). A metaphysical discussion of James Cameron's seminal 1985 submarine movie.
2. The Face of the Enemy (417). Actually an old Next Generation episode.
3. Walkabout (318). Film featuring a teenage Jenny Agutter in the nude. Don't say you've never watched it. We all have. (Well, all the men, anyway.) Is The Railway Children the only film she doesn't get her kit off in?
4. Revelations (202). Amazingly bad (and therefore unexpectedly short-lived) ITV soap opera.
5. Survivors (111). Rather good Terry Nation show from the mid-70s.
6. Endgame (420). Fairly good, if rather bizarre, play by Samuel Beckett. Mind you, that describes almost all of them.
7. Objects In Motion (520)/Objects At Rest (521). Two programmes from an Open University course about Newtonian Physics; other editions included "Objects Affected By Gravity" and "Objects Subject To Friction".
8. Knives (217). Programme about different types of cutlery. Obviously.
9. Dust to Dust (306). Evidently a discussion of the Church of England Funeral Liturgy.
10. Whatever Happened to Mister Garibaldi? (402). He stood for the US Congress but lost.

Star Trek
Short-lived, mildly popular sixties television series that nobody remembers any more. Remarkably there were actually more episodes of Lost In Space (83 to 79). And they made a big budget movie out of that one too.

Straczynski, J. Michael
Hack writer for television. His credits include "Murder She Wrote", "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future" and "The Real Ghostbusters". I rest my case. (Although "The Collect Call of Cthulhu" [from TRG] is quite a good gag actually,) See also: Great Maker, The.

Technomages
Q. What do the Technomages have in common with a bottle of Domestos?
A. They have both gone beyond the Rim.

Thirdspace
The second TV movie. So it should have been called Secondspace surely? Actually quite good, unlike the third movie which should have been called River of Snores.

Time Travel
Now, bear with me on this one, because it gets a bit complicated. Babylon 4, which everyone thought had gone back in time, had in fact gone forward in time to just before it did, in fact, go back in time, although to a period long before it had been built. Meanwhile, Marty McFly drives a DeLorean down a street at 88mph so that a bolt of lightning that would strike the clock tower could power the flux capacitor to take him home. During their flight to the Babylon 4 station, Sinclair and Garibaldi intercept a transmission from the future which implies that the station (Babylon 5, not Babylon 4) was under attack, but in fact, this did not happen. Meanwhile, Charlton Heston discovers the Statue of Liberty buried on a beach and realises that he is in the future. On the station (that's B4 this time, not B5), Sinclair and Garibaldi both have visions of the future which do not come to pass. As they leave, an aged Sinclair is seen on the arm of a red-clad female (or was that a blue-clad female?) Meanwhile, Bill and Ted pick-up a number of well-known historical personages using a time-machine disguised as a red telephone booth. Got all that? Good, because I haven't got a clue. See also: Plagiarism

Valen
Name adopted by Sinclair after he went back in time (in "War Without End" 316/7) and became a half-Minbari. Presumably because calling them "Sinclair's Prophecies" would have been a bit of a give-away otherwise. The name may be a subtle allusion to the chemical term "valency" which refers to the way an atom combines with or displaces hydrogen, but probably isn't.

Vorlons, the
Mysterious alien race. Anyone who visited their home planet was never seen again, unless they were needed for plot purposes (see: Alexander, Lyta). When the Vorlon ambassador to B5 was killed, its successor appeared to have the same name. When asked about this, it replied "We are all Kosh." Although this may have been a mishearing of the word "Tosh". Things not to say to the Vorlon Ambassador: Number One "Do you fancy a job writing crossword clues?"

White Star
Minbari ship designed using Vorlon technology, which shows how much Delenn knew about Earth history. The White Star line was responsible for launching the Titanic.

Winters, Talia
Resident telepath on B5 until she was revealed as a secret Psi-Corps spy (in Divided Loyalties, 219) at which point she left the station and was hired by the New York Police Department. See also: Women

Women
Now, is it my imagination or does jms have something against women? I can't think of a single major female character who gets a good exit (apart, possibly, from Delenn, and I'm not convinced by that hair.)

TEN WOMEN WHO GET A REALLY RAW DEAL IN B5
1. Lyta Alexander. Not only reprogrammed by the Vorlons and turned into a walking time-bomb, she also fell for an obviously dodgy rebel telepath.
2. Talia Winters. Now believed to be a "brain in a jar" at Psi-Corp headquarters.
3. Na'Toth. Narn diplomatic aide, vanished without trace or even comment for three years until mysteriously discovered in a Centauri prison cell.
4. Anna Sheridan. Brain-washed by the Shadows solely to serve as bait for her husband and eventually nuked by him.
5. Susan Ivanova. Second in command on B5 and yet when her boss was mysteriously posted to Minbar as Ambassador, she didn't even get an interview for the vacancy. Then she got written out with a vague passing mention.
6. Julie Masante - Nightwatch agent who tries to vamp Sheridan in Voices of Authority (305). She fails to tempt him to go where everyone had gone before, and just leaves.
7. Catherine Sakai. Whatever happened to her?
8. Number One - leader of the Mars Resistance movement. For what that's worth…
9. Lise Hampton. Has a happy marriage to the richest man in the Solar System cut short by Bester. Ends up married to the baldest man in the Solar System.
10. Delenn. Tortured by Vorlon inquisitor. Marries bloke with messiah complex. Is dumb enough not to spot her aide going loopy. Oh, and she started the Earth-Minbari War. As you do.

Zathras
One of a family of decatuplets. Obviously went to English lessons with Yoda.

Z'ha'dum
Home of Lorien, the First One. Guarded by the Shadows (although Cliff Richard was mysteriously absent - oh, I've done this one before.) Nuked by Sheridan using the original White Star which seems like a bit of an over-reaction to some dull architecture and a couple of blokes with a dodgy political philosophy. Has nothing whatsoever to do with "Khazadum", the legendary Dwarven mines of Moria where Gandalf apparently died battling the personification of evil, only to be reborn, more powerful than before. By a strange coincidence, the Elven stronghold of Lothlorien was located only just outside. See also: Lord of the Rings but not Plagiarism, dearie me, no, it's just a coincidence, honest.


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