- What's great is that this [the second] season, we haven't had one
single episode on
the level of War Prayer or Infection or Grail, some of our weaker first
season eps. The worst we've done is pretty darned good. What we're now
working for in year three is that they're all better than that at their
baseline rating. And so far, they're killer...our second episode for
year three, "Convictions," has a very different feel from anything
we've done on the show to date, a very dark, scary and gritty feel, and
probably one of the best character sequences in the series to date.
We're also doing some major EFX blow-outs of a type other than "they go
into space and shoot stuff." Very interesting, creative, offbeat stuff.
- September 7, 1995:
I am thus far *very* happy with season three; we've got three shows
in the can (edited, not yet scored or mixed), and shooting number four
as I type this. I think we're already a notch above our general
from year two, and "Convictions" is extremely intense, with a very
different look and feel from anything we've done before. Has kind of an
NYPD Blue feel to it.
- BTW, on the question of effects...here's one that's kinda
interesting, in that I've seen a few comments here and there about
how we must've mapped the CGI fireball into the hallway in
"Convictions" where Londo jumps into the transport tube. Some even
offered you could tell the fire was CGI.
Here's how that shot was done: we built a miniature hallway
(actually, "miniature" ain't the right word; it was something like 30
feet long or more). Painted it so that it looked exactly like the
regular B5 hallways. On film you absolutely can't tell the
difference. Then we mounted the hallway *vertically* alongside the
outside of the main building here. Set the camer at the top,
pointing down into the hall. We built a firebomb and set it at the
far end of the hall (on the bottom, in other words). We then set off
the firebomb (with all the proper authorities present), so that it
shot up the length of the vertical hall. We overcranked the camera
so it'd start in slow- motion, then pulled the plug so that the
camera slowed down to normal speed...giving the sense of the fire
swelling, then suddenly rushing forward with a huge fireball. So
when it looks like the "hallway" is on fire...it is. Real fire.
Next we shot Londo (Peter) against a bluescreen, reacting to this,
then diving to his left. We then comp'd the bluescreen into the
hallway, and used CGI to build a transport tube door to Londo's left,
which then closed just as the fire reached it.
It was an utterly immense amount of work for, basically, a five
second shot...but it looks 'way cool.
- Effects shots like this one were/are supervised via our EFX supervisor,
Ted Rae, working closely with the director and folks from Foundation.
- Sue: as you're looking at the fireball approaching toward camera, he
jumps to our left. Trust me on this.
- Another scene with Londo and Lennier,
btw, contains a small nod to the online fans of the show; we can't and
won't use story ideas, but there's been so much humor, reams and reams
of it, every imaginable kind of joke, that I dropped one of these jokes
into an episode...one that's come up at a lot of conventions and on the
nets endlessly. Just to acknowledge the fans in the only way I can.
- I don't actually know for certain the origin of the joke; it was all
over the nets, and the BBSs, uploaded places with several gazillion other
lightbulb jokes (after I'd made the original version of this in the show),
which is why I figured I'd drop it into the episode, since it was so common
and associated with the nets. While in the UK, I met a young man who said
that he had been the first with that variation, and I have no reason not
to believe him. (A couple other people sent me email saying that they
had also come up with that one; it's kind of obvious I guess, but again,
I have no way of knowing what's true because it was just all over the
place, never with attribution.)
- Actually, variations on that joke were told at a number of
conventions; it's the obvious one to go for, given that for a while the
"how many X does it take to change a lightbulb?" question was racing
all around the nets. There were literally hundreds of them; of which,
this or a variation on it was the most common one floating around...so
I let it go in as a nod to the nets.
- Londo and G'Kar no longer really have much to discuss; they're past that
point, I figure. They hate each other.
Londo wasn't on Minbar; he was seeing someone off on a ship going to
- Londo *does* have his moments when one almost likes him in
spite of oneself; the second episode of year three has scenes in which
you don't like him, and then you *do* like him enormously...then you
don't again. He's caught in the scissors...and trying madly to find
some way out of the situation he's in.
- Correct. Louis was not available to use for "Twilight" for health
reasons, but we like Louis a lot, and vowed to use him in another, even
better role, at the first opportunity. We seized it.
- Finding character names is sometimes easy, sometimes hard; it really
And Theo was named for Vincent's brother.
- It was a mild Spring day, warm, clear, sunny, when Vincent Van
Gogh picked up his easel, and some paints, and walked a mile and a half
to an open field where he often painted landscapes. He set up his
easel, sat under a tree for a while, ate part of an apple, composed a
brief note to his brother Theo. Then he pulled out a derringer and
shot himself in the chest.
After an hour, realizing that he was not going to die for a
while yet, he picked himself up and staggered the mile and half back to
Theo's house, where a few hours later that evening he passed away in
Some say his sad ending came about because he felt he was a
burden to his brother Theo, and the guilt did him in; others because he
sold only one painting during his life, for 48 francs, and he felt he
would never become a painter of any worth.
On reflection, perhaps it was the thought of people bidding for
his ear that did it.
- I've always liked the name Theo, from Vincent's brother, so there
was the sound of it; also the sense of it, in that Theo was a guide, a
counselor, a confidante, which Theo might come to be in this; and,
finally, Theodore means (I just lapsed on the actual definition) but
either chosen (favored) of god or messenger of god (have to check my
dictionary of names again), which is appropos.
- We'll see Theo here and there as we go along this season.
- Any relation to the technomages?
No, I wouldn't think of them in technomage terms; if you look at the
history of many of these orders, they've generally pulled together
people of varying skills. Ain't really that new an idea....
- Any connection between Theo's mission and the short story "The
Nine Billion Names of God?"
No, there's no connection whatsoever. The Tibetan monks in the
story were specifically coming up with all the names of god in order to
bring about the end of the world; Theo et al have come as an exercise in
comparative religion, to learn what the other races call god, and how it
compares. As others have done before, right here on good old earth.
- Re: "The Nine Billion Names of God," the
whole purpose of that story had nothing to do with alien contact; it had
to do with gettting all the earthbound names of God into a computer, so
they could create the end of the world. The monks are on B5 in an
attempt at studying the different religions out there for the purpose of
better understanding...or more succinctly, comparative religious
studies, which long predate Clarke by, oh, about 500 years.
- Are these the monks from
"There All the Honor Lies?"
No, these are not the monks Sheridan met earlier.
- What were the floating discs at the crime scene?
It's a floating (air-compression) vidrecorder.
- "B5 has gravity defying video cameras"
Only if you consider a plane or any other reasonable technology
of flight to be gravity defying.
The video recorders are made of an extremely ultralight
material, new alloys that in total weighs less than an ounce; it has a
visible (and audible) air propulsion system, a high speed fan with a
stabalizer/gyroscope that keeps it steady, and move it forward.
- If you didn't notice the effect, that's good; you
shouldn't in many cases. (How many folks noticed that the two-story
shot of the blown sector of Convictions after the elevator boom is a
digitally composited set, using two different sets?)
- Why did the "bomb squad" have to go out into
space in order to gain access to the fusion reactor?
Going in the vacuum door was the fastest way to get a bunch of people in
there, and presumably get a big object out again. Instead of riding
transport tubes to the core shuttle, then the core shuttle to the far
end, then tubes to the bottom...you jump out, get picked up and dumped
at the far end. Takes 2 minutes rather than 10 or 15. Remember, this
place is five miles long.
- "We have a wonderful security system on B-5. Our monitors
will show you everything, except a twenty foot long fusion reactor
trigger that was put in the most sensitive part of the station by a
certified nut case."
Show me where we ever said our monitors "will show you everything."
They don't, they can't, and never have. This is a city, and a
quarter million people live here. It would be impossible to monitor
it all. As for the fusion reactor...that was a ten foot object
attached to a place where only station maintenance people went,
which was his job. He was cleared for that kind of access, and
until/unless the device was activated, it was electronically
dormant, you wouldn't notice anything. Nor did it attract much
attention. Even though they *knew* something was there, they STILL
had to look long and hard to find it, because it had been made to
look just like everything else in the area.
And it's not like everybody *knew* he was a "certified nutcase" at
the time. He didn't have an identicard that said CERTIFIED NUTCASE
on it. He worked in station maintenance. Nobody knew Tim McVeigh
was a nut until he blew up a building. Nobody knew that quiet
little man in Boston was out strangling women in his spare time.
- Doug's reaction to Netter's Syndrome was...amused, chagrined,
and the promise of swift and terrible revenge.