- The first one-hour episode of the series, "Midnight on the Firing
Line," does a fair amount of re-introduction, for those who've seen
the pilot and need to be up to speed, and some introducing for those
who haven't. It is, however, largely an action-oriented story, into
which we weave the characterization. It manages to convey some of
the same info as the pilot, but in a *much* more dramatic fashion.
- No, the show isn't a year and a half late. As it is, it's less than
one year since the pilot aired. It was our initial hope, and my
initial belief, that we'd go straight into the series as soon as we
finished the pilot. But the studio, in its infinite wisdom, decided
that since they HAD a pilot, it kinda behooved them to air it and get
the ratings before committing to a series. So we then waited until
February for the airing, got the go-ahead to production around
April/May, began shooting in July, got a whole bunch of episodes in
the can, and now we're hitting the air. That is the sum and substance
- We'd always figured on going right to series, but once we had done
the pilot, the studio said, in essence, "Well, we've got a pilot,
we don't know if the market will sustain more than one space SF
series, no other SF series has done well lately...maybe we ought
to air the pilot first, and get the ratings, before committing to
a series." And that's what happened...much to our consternation at
first, but in the long run it was a blessing in disguise, because
that interim period allowed us to really do a lot to make the show
- Approximately nine months have passed since the time of the pilot and
the birth of the series.
- I *love*
I have virtually all of the WB cartoons on
tape or disk, and from where I sit, that's wonderful stuff that'll
be around for a long, long time. No omens, just something I
thought would be fun. (Again, connecting past/present/future, sort
of our B5 theme.)
- "Midnight on the Firing Line" as a title was more my feelings about
the episode and the series. I knew we'd come under considerable
fire, figured it was cool.
- "...and if our future lies on the firing line, are we brave enough
to see the signals and the signs...."
-- Harry Chapin
Just a thought.
- Ah, but you're assuming that the Londo-strangling-scene is as it
seems to be; maybe it is, but maybe it isn't. You don't know the
- Down the road, we will be seeing more of Londo, and his people, and realize
that they aren't as human looking as they first appear.
- The Raghesh 3 claim is only about 20 years old; the Centauri came to
Narn over a hundred years ago.
- You're correct in your appraisal of the "coincidences" in the first
episode. Upon finding that Londo's nephew was there, they would of
course trot him out to try and undermine Londo's credibiltiy (you'll
note that G'Kar made special mention of this, as if to say, "Is the
Centauri ambassador calling his own nephew a liar?"). It'd be the same
thing if the son of an American ambassador was on-hand when hostages
were taken. As for the choice of the attack's location...Londo wanted
his nephew "far away from all this." Someplace safe. A fairly safe,
mundane place is not going to have a major military presence...and
hence is a perfect target for attack.
- RE: the spotlights, we'd figured that since the transport had been freshly
attacked, there'd be debris all over the place, and lots of particulate
matter which would show up in the light.
- Quick replies to your questions: Spoo is. What else can one say
The Centauri station actually was rotating, as I recall, it's the
camera angle that I believe doesn't showcase it as well as it might.
The scanners on the Starfuries detected no movement, no atmosphere,
no signals, no warmth of bodies.
The lights on the fighters during the examination of the rubble were
visible due to particulate matter spewed out during and after the
- What is spoo? Spoo....is.
(Spoo is also Oops spelled backward.)
is/are (the plural of spoo is spoo) small, white, pasty,
mealy critters, rather worm-like, and generally regarded as the
ugliest animals in the known galaxy by just about every sentient
species capable of starflight, with the possible exception of the
pak'ma'ra, who would simply recommend a more rigorous program of
exercise. They are also generally considered the most delicious food
in all of known space, regardless of the individual's biology, almost
regardless of species, except for the pak'ma'ra, who like the flavor
but generally won't say so simply to be contrary.
Spoo are raised on ranches on worlds with a damp, moist, somewhat
chilly climate so that their skin can acquire just the right shade of
paleness. Spoo travel in herds, if moving a total of six inches in
any given direction in the course of a given year can actually be
considered moving. They stay in herds ostensibly for mutual
protection, but the reality is that if they weren't propped up against
one another, most of them would simply fall down. They do not howl,
bark, moo, purr, yap, squeak or speak. Mainly, they sigh. Herds of
sighing spoo can reportedly induce unparalleled bouts of depression,
which is why most spoo ranchers wear earmuffs even when it's only
mildly cold, damp, wet and dreary outside. If there is any
life-or-death struggle for dominance within the spoo herd, it has not
yet been detected by modern science.
Spoo ranching is one of the least regarded professions known.
Little or no skill is required, once you've got a planet with the
right climate. You bring in two hundred spoo, plop them down in the
middle of your ranch, and go back to the nearby house. Soon you've
got more. When it comes time to cull out the ones ready for market
(the softest, mealiest, palest, most forlorn-looking spoo of the
pack), little physical effort is required since they're incapable of
rapid movement without falling over (see above). They do not resist,
fight, or whine; they only sigh more loudly. When spoo harvest time
comes, the air is full of the sound of whacking and sighing, whacking
and sighing. Even an experienced spoo rancher can only harvest for
brief periods of a time, due to the increased volume of sighing, which
even the sound of whacking cannot altogether erase. (also see above)
Some have simply gone mad.
Spoo are the only creatures of which the Interstellar Animal
Rights Protection League says, simply, "Kill 'em."
Fresh spoo (served at an optimum temperature of 62-degrees) is
served in cubed sections, so that they bear as little resemblence as
possible to the animal from which they have just been sliced. Spoo is
usually served alongside a chablis, or a white zinfandel.
Further information on the care, feeding, eating and whacking of
spoo can be found in the second edition of the Interstellar Guide to
- Re: your desire to make and eat spoo at home...depends on whether or
not you ever want to have children later....
- What does spoo taste like?
- At the point in which we join the tale of the last of the Babylon
stations, *everything* is in a state of flux...one government is on
the rise, another is declining, Earth is taking some new and disturbing
directions...so yes, they all feel there is a change coming. It's a
little thing, but we keep it alive to keep a sense of something moving
on a web, and each movement makes the whole thing shake just a little.
- Re: the "last" of the Babylon Stations...y'all might want to bear
in mind the syntax of the narration. It speaks of B5 in the *past
tense*. "Bablyon 5 WAS the last of the Babylon stations...it WAS
the dawn of the third age of mankind." The narration is the voice
of future history, the storyteller, long after the fact, spinning
for us the tale of the last of the Babylon stations.
- I never said it was an isolationist president. The reporter doing
the commentary at the election talked about preserving earth culture
in the face of growing alien influences, which isn't quite the same
thing as cutting off trade agreements.
- You'll get a pretty good glimpse into why Sinclair jumps into a
fighter any chance he can get in "Infection." Part of it is to
escape from stuff...the other goes much deeper, and much darker....
- Here's what I find curious (not necessarily in direct response to
anything you said, but in general on this topic)...is that when
Ivanova makes her remark to Garibaldi about snapping his hands off at
the wrists, many people have assumed that she was insulting him,
berating him, being bitchy, truly disliking and threatening him.
But the same words, put in the mouth of another male, wouldn't have
drawn that reaction, and would've been classified under, "kidding
around" or affable sarcasm.
Which is exactly what it is in this case. In this place and this
time, they're comfortable enough to mess with each other without it
being taken seriously (among these characters, that is). There are
times they kinda like to phuque with each other a bit, justfor the
hell of it, as comrades will sometimes do. ("Babylon Squared" has a
great example of Sinclair and Garibaldi messing with Ivanova.)
- Sinclair's line, "Cut acceleration," was in regards to forward
momentum, so he could more easily spin the fighter around.
- RE: the Raider ships...they turned by a less effective system of
thrusters put in here and there, not nearly as powerful as the
systems used by the Starfuries. The reason -- verifiable by the
shape of the Raider ships -- is that Raider ships are handicapped by
the fact that they're made to function both in space *and* within an
atmosphere (hence the aerodynamic wing shapes), which gives it
something of a problem when dealing with the Starfuries, which are
made ONLY for fighting in space, and are most ideally suited to it.
The Raider ships make compromises for greater utility, which is
generally okay unless they run into superior forces of ships designed
for spaceborne combat.
- The symbol Talia wears isn't a Link or any other kind of
communications system; it is *strictly* a form of identification,
tagging her as a telepath and a member of the Psi Corps. It serves
no other function.
- Correct, Christopher Franke designed Kosh's voice.
- That the Centauri *claimed* that we were a lost colony is not the
same as indicating that we *believed* them.
- I like it when people lie in television, and we find out about it
over time. The "lost colony" routine was one such. At one point,
Garibaldi confronts Londo with this as reason for why he doesn't
trust the Centauri. Londo shrugs it off as a "clerical error."
There will be a few points in the series when we'll get information,
and we'll buy into it...and discover after a while that that
character bald-facedly lied to the other character (and, by proxy,
to us). And naturally there will be consequences to this....
- In "Midnight," Sinclair is really not given a chance to show his
character, since it's basically a reintroduction to the series, and
there is a lot to cover. He functions throughout the episode only in
his official capacity. In other episodes, you'll get to see some very
different sides to his character, particular in "Parliament of
- Re: Sinclair getting into a fighter...there were a number of reasons
for this, one of which being he wanted a good reason to avoid being in
on the counsel vote, given his marching orders. But more than that
...I would point out that this isn't Star Trek, and Sinclair isn't
Picard; he is first and foremost a pilot. He loves to get into a
fighter and take it out He's a fighter. That's when he is most at
ease. That's what his character *is*.
At the same time, however, there are consequences for that kind of
behavior, as you point out. And there are deeper reasons for what he
is doing than even he want to admit. Tell you what...table that
aspect until after you've seen the last part of "Infection," which
deals *with this exact issue*.
- My thought, at the time, was that if we play the reality of this for
a moment, probably *all* of the ambassadors have some kind of weapon,
smuggled in via diplomatic pouches. Garibaldi and Sinclair know
they're there...question is, is it worth starting a diplomatic incident
over, as long as they're not being used? Garibaldi is saying, in
essence, "Okay, you know it's there, and I know it's there, but now
you've made a point about it. Lose it or hide it, or I'm going to
have to charge you, and we're BOTH going to be up to our ears in it."
If Garibaldi confiscated it, there'd be a whole diplomatic hassle...
and Londo would just have another one sent to him via diplomatic
- It's interesting what we can read into faces...in Delenn's reaction,
I saw concern, angst, but not that she believed the story. That
certainly wasn't the intent of the scene, or the script...faces are
interesting things. As for the rest, you're right; not everyone wants
to do the Right Thing For The Right Reasons. Some would prefer not to
get involved. So some might want deniability, want a reason not to go
up against the Narns, or have sold out their votes. A human looking
at that screen could tell that the person was being coerced...but what
about the other alien races, to whom a downcast face could be a sign
of joy? In any event, suspicion is one thing, but *proof* is another,
and the legal system works on *proof*. Nothing could be done until
they had the proof that Sinclair got at the end, and chose to use
behind closed doors to the same effect.
- You may think it was obvious that the nephew was reading at gunpoint,
and in fact, he was...but thinking something or suspecting something
isn't the same as proving it. Londo could say, "He was reading at
gunpoint!" And G'Kar could say, "No, he wasn't." Where do you go
from there? (And, in fact, that's *exactly* what Londo said...only
to have G'Kar deflect it.)
Re: why Londo didn't show the clips...at this point, there's not any
quesion in anyone's mind about the attack taking place. The Narns
say they were invited in to help quell internal strife. That the
events took place isn't at issue; it's *why* and whether or not they
were invited in. (As with Germany in WWII indicating that some
places "invited" them in.)
Had Sinclair shown the evidence, it probably would've just hardened
G'Kar. Also, most politics is back-room dealing. You do this in
public, and you make a terrible enemy who'll strike back as soon as he
has a chance. Let him have his dignity, save face, BUT get what you
want, and there's room to maneuver in future. It's the difference
between being a punch'em-out hero, and someone who has to be
diplomatic, within limits.
- Sinclair did not -- repeat, did NOT -- "tell Ivanova to defy Earth's
orders and deceive the council." He set up a situation in which he
would say that he was unable to catch up with her and pass along the
Senator's instructions before he had to leave. Her line would be
that "The Commander never told me," and he would back this up. (And
that he would hedge the truth this way is hardly "perfect.")
Defying the Senator's orders would be telling them that the vote will
NOT be made as ordered. That never happened.
- In "Midnight," Sinclair had to be pretty much in command mode all
during the episode as a character, so that influences the result. But
in later episodes, we get him out of those situations, out of uniform,
and into other settings where he can be more relaxed. So that's
coming, and you'll see it *very* early on in the first season.
- Yeah, the Sea Witch is the one that rotates and fires at one of the
Raiders. It's a woman's face in a green and blue background.
- As a matter of fact, in a couple of episodes you'll see a photo of
the Earth Alliance president. The photo itself is of Doug Netter, my
associate on the show and fellow executive producer. (The woman
running against the incumbent president in the election featured on
"Midnight" is played, in photo, by our wardrobe designer, Ann Bruice.)
- Yes, Vir is very obsequious in "Midnight." That's done in order to
give his character somewhere to go, as gradually he begins to stand
up to Londo and talk back.
- Re: Vir...that was the first episode filmed with his character, and
he wasn't directed as well as he might have been. We pulled him back
a lot in later episodes.
- Vir calms down. Trust me.
He even manages to nail Londo from time to time...as he does when
Londo suffers a rather nasty hangover in "Born to the Purple."
- If there's anything about "Midnight" that I would change...ehh...
that's a tough question to ask any producer or writer. I can't think
of anything I've done that I wouldn't want to go back and tweak. The
only real drawback we had was that we were still building sets as we
filmed our first few episodes, so we didn't have access to all of the
full range of sets. Not that we really needed them, the story works
fine in the sets we had, but we could've moved one or two shots around
into different sets just for variety.
But aside from general tweaking, I don't think there's really
anything I'd change in it. My problem is that I'm too close to it,
and there are a number of episodes we shot afterward that blow it
right out of the water in terms of quality, production values and the
rest; I'd have to say that my favorite shows to date, in order, would
be The Parliament of Dreams, Mind War, And the Sky Full of Stars, Soul
Hunter, Born to the Purple, Midnight, Believers, Infection, The War
Prayer, Survivors and Grail. Chrysalis, which we're shooting now, will
probably take over the Favorite #2 spot from Mind War. We're fighting
to make every episode better than the one before it.
We're going to have a brass plaque put up here in the offices one of
these days, before we finish, saying, "If you're not here to kick ass,
- What you and the others seem to be pointing out is what I've been
trying -- imperfectly, as best I can -- to communicate for some time.
In the case of "Midnight," can you follow that show and enjoy it
absolutely on its own terms? I believe that is the case. There's
another level there, the "little clues and hints" you mention, which
will just skate past most casual viewers and not in any way interfere
with their viewing of the episode...but if you're paying attention,
and you catch them, it adds a new level. The more you see, the more
you begin to perceive that second level. It's a cumulative effect
that doesn't diminish the single episodes as stand-alones.
- (Lost the last paragraph of my message.) In any event, what I'm
striving for is the idea that you can watch the episodes for the
character stories, OR the story arc, OR the individual stories, OR
all three at the same time, all in the same exact episodes. You can
get out as much as you're willing to find.
It's a very weird kind of writing...but at least on this end, it's
kinda fun, actually.
- I agree, most of the plot lines are tied up pretty well (except for
the telepath issue introduced at the end, which comes back at us
again...as does, incidentally, the Raghesh 3 incident and other
stuff). In responding to some of the criticism of the pilot, I tried
to make this one far more self-contained. Which is why I much prefer
"Parliament," "Mind War" and "Soul Hunter" over "Midnight."
- Did we save anything for the rest of the season? Lemme put it to you
this way...you ain't seen *nothin* yet. "Midnight" makes just about
everything done before for TV look lame...but there's stuff coming
down the pike that'll make "Midnight" look pale by comparison. With
each show we get better, we learn more, and we can *do* more.
- In the teaser scene you refer to in "Midnight," you've got a couple
dozen fighters coming in alongside about 3-4 motherships (or capital
ships, either term will suffice). We've always said that big ships
can punch through and form their own jump points. That's how the
jump gates get there in the first place: a big ship comes through, on
its own, and leaves behind a jump gate. There's no contradiction.
One (or more) of the big ships was creating the point of entry as it
- During the con appearance, Jerry told a story that *I* hadn't heard
before. There's a scene in the script "Midnight on the Firing Line"
in which Talia (Andrea) goes into a transport tube, finds Garibaldi,
and asks some questions about Ivanova. They rehearsed it several
times, this being Andrea's first time on the set, and filmed one
take. She comes down the hall, comes to the pen...and Garibaldi's
pants are down around his ankles. Needless to say, that shot did
NOT end up in dailies....
There are days I think -- between Jerry, Harlan, me and some others
involved on the show -- we ought to name this Loose Cannon
- Behind-the-scenes humor: because it had been so long since the pilot,
it took a few of our actors a bit of time to get back into their
characters, to find the characters' "fingerprints" for lack of a
better term. This is quite understandable given the long waiting
period. When he needed to find his character for a scene, Peter
Jurasik mentioned that he would just stand up straight and yell,
"MISter GariBALdi!" and he'd be right back in character. Sort of
the B5 version of "Shazam!"
Minus the lightning bolt, of course.