Babylon Podcast #2: Interview with Stephen Furst

Welcome to Show #2!

Stephen Furst

Interview: Stephen Furst (“Vir Cotto”)

Stephen talks to us about his days acting on and directing for Babylon 5, and discusses some of his other projects for television, and about his Kidney Talk show for the Renal Support Network.

Tim, Summer and Jeffrey talk about their favorite B5 seasons, and touch on the themes and how they impacted the way we viewed them.

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  1. I absolutely cant wait to listen to this episode. Stephen/Vir was one of my favorite characters on B5. His ability to make Vir into such a likable and warm character made him a joy to watch.

    There were many great moments with Vir, but my favorite would have to be his totally satisfying little wave to the decapitated head of Mr Morden. It made me cry out in childish glee when I saw that!

  2. Ben Hall (UK) says

    Well i just finished listening to episode 2.

    It was really good to hear an interview with Stephen Furst. Some really interesting bits of info from a very nice sounding guy (especially the part about his cating). Oh and is there anyone who isn’t getting in on the digital revolution? Cant wait for future interviews.

    Makes me think about the much-maligned season 1 though. When I was a youngster and the seasons were being released over here in the UK on video in there complete form I was told I could have any one season for xmas (too much TV rots the brain don’t you know). I chose season 1. Simply because it starts everything off and as mentioned from ‘Eyes’ onwards and not forgetting the very important ‘Babylon Squared’ really does have important ramifications throughout the four seasons. To me perhaps the weakest season was 5, for the reasons as pointed out in the show, namely that JMS rapped up so much in season 4. Though who can forget the tear jerking conclusion that was ‘Sleeping in Light’ an absolute masterpiece. For me the best season was 3, with its powerful one two punch of ‘Point of No Return’ and ‘Severed Dreams’ truly amazing TV.

    I could and will go on as we get more episode specific discussion. All I can say is, that like fans of the show, the fans of this podcast I predict will stay strong and loyal. At last a free voice to air our thoughts over. Keep up the great work (if you can all it that, with something this fun, cant it ever be work?).

  3. Loved the interview, especially the casting story. I love the first time Vir gives that wave. I seem to remember that when he’s told Morden about the “head on a pike” thing he actually turns around as he walks away and gives that little wave. I also agree 100% with Stephen about the “dead… dead… dead” scene with G’kar. Just hearing it in the podcast, without even seeing it, sent shivers up my spine again.

    If I had to summarise all of B5 I would probably go with (most of) Ivanova’s speech from the end of Sleeping in Light:
    “Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations; there would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us. It taught us that we have to create the future, or others will do it for us. It showed us that we have to care for each other, because if we don’t who will. And that true strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely places. Mostly though I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us.”
    (I’m leaving out the part about Delenn, because it isn’t about the whole of the show as much as the rest).

    I have to agree with Summer that season one really gets going for the last six or seven episodes, but there are some good stand-alones early on as well. Infection is indeed terrible, but it’s bracketed by Born To The Purple and The Parliament Of Dreams, which are both terrific. By Any Means Necessary, halfway through the season, is also great.

    Finally I just remembered another Vir moment. In season 5 when there’s an eavesdropping device on some bags of shopping Vir got from a Drazi merchant for Londo. Vir goes back to confront him and seems to be intimidated. But he returns to Londo’s quarters, gets a sword that’s hanging on the wall there, and proceeds to chop of the Drazi’s stall of fruits. After which Londo comments “Now he is ready to be the ambassador for the great Centauri republic.”

  4. I just recently rewatched that episode. It is indeed a classic scene, with Vir brandishing the sword and towering over the cowering Drazi. And after Stephen’s comment that he wished he had more screen time with the Centauri women, I recalled the little bit in “Sleeping In Light”, shown during Ivanova’s soliloquy- there’s Zack in a Ranger’s outfit, obviously trying to impart important info to Emperor Vir – and Vir is constantly trying to get back in the sack with all the ladies. Funny stuff.

  5. Great episode guys. I loved the interview.

    I so need to watch the series again. It has been years since I watched the show and I never was able to see all the episodes because of my work schedule (but I loved the ones I did see). Perhaps the DVD sets are the way to go. 🙂

    I look forward to the next mystery guest ;).

  6. Great job! I look forward to the next Mystery Guest, too. Stephen is one of the few people to really pull off later success after B5, mainly due to his directing. One of my favorites is his – The Deconstruction of Falling Stars. Garibaldi is Garibaldi, regardless of whether he’s flesh or a computer program… That part still gives me the shivers when I watch it.

  7. Great Show Guys!!!!

    Stephen Furst was probaby the best of the actors I enjoyed from the series. His take on the character of Vir Cotto was one only Stephen himself could have pulled off, and no one else would have fit any better!

    I’m really looking forward to the next show…And the promo is totally Airwolf! (LOL!)

  8. Love the banner/icon in iTunes!

  9. At last a podcast about my favourite TV show ever! Can’t wait for more!!!!! Summer has a great radio voice, very warm sounding.. and the two guys sound like they would strangle each other if in the same studio. Makes for very entertaining listening. Keep up the disagreements 😀

  10. Todd Haney says

    Great podcast, folks! I enjoyed the chat with Stephen Furst–the casting story was hilarious (it pays to go along with the crowd, sometimes!).
    Nice conversation regarding the individual seasons. The first season had those kind of “Oh, God, the overacting!” kind of moments that all of the STAR TREK (it’s not blasphemy to mention it here is it?) series had in their first seasons, but only B5 had the set-up for the series ahead.
    I really got on board at the end of Season One, when the President got aced, Delenn wrapped herself up and Garibaldi got shot–THAT was a cliff-hanger! And the syndication set-up (at least where I was) allowed us to get right into Season Two without the wait–that would come mid-way thru each season (ARG!).
    I can’t wait to hear what comes next. JMS is coming to the HeroesCon in Charlotte this summer–hope I get the chance to meet him.
    Faith manages…

  11. Thanks for all the positive comments, everyone! It’s great to know we’re reaching so many B5 fans.

    Tony – Jeffrey and I wouldn’t strangle each other if we were in the studio. There’d be no contest – did you notice how easily they took out the Vorlon? Basically stood him in a puddle of water and dropped a toaster into it. And now, Jeffrey doesn’t have an encounter suit to hide behind…

    Todd- it’s not blasphemy to mention Trek at all. I grew up a Trek fan. I think no matter how hard we try not to say the ST word, it’s going to come up. In fact, I think it’s going to be harder to keep it from coming up too much: Trek casts such a long shadow across the SF tv landscape, and comparisons are inevitable. We have an upcoming interview that proves the point…

    Bleyddyn – thanks for the thumbs up on the art. Summer has the voice that brings ’em in, Jeffrey’s the man with the connections, but I make us look good 🙂

    Will – I’ve got an idea for another promo, that if it could be pulled off would be snakes on a plane, man!!!

  12. Great very enjoyable.

    I was thinking if I was to try and some up what made me more than just a fan of the show. I would say depth. Depth of storytelling, depth of characters etc etc. Indeed one of my favorate moments is when the reporter comes on board and interviews Ivonova saying her name as I-Van-Nova.

  13. Really really great, especially now, as I’m just re-watching all my B5 dvd boxes 🙂 The interview was interesting, would be cool if you’d became Jerry Doyle for your show.

    I like season 5. It’s very emotional, concerns a lot about personal problems of the characters. For me, it’s some kind of parting/farewell-season. In nearly every episode you can feel the forthcoming end of B5. Bittersweet, and although I’m a guy, I have to cry EVERY time when watching the last 2, 3 episodes.

    Keep up your good work!

    Greetings from Germany (and excuses for bad english),

  14. “Babylon 5 remains.”

    Isn’t that what Deleen said in “Sleeping in Light?” I believe so.

    This podcast proves that point. I could go on about why B5 was so important to me, but I think think that qoute says it all. The great works of art always remain in our hearts and B5 was, no is, one of the greats.


  15. I thought of each season as one of the five “acts” of a drama.

    I agree that season 1 was yet to reach full flight. I watched a couple of episodes in isolation, and did not tune back. It was only with “And Now A Word” that I realized this was not just another Hollywood-SF show.

  16. Why were most of the B5 movies so poor? “In the Beginning” was wonderful but the rest were average to disappointing (I’m still trying to forget that virtual fighter sequence from “Legend of the Rangers”).

    Has JMS ever addressed this point?

  17. I think “In The Beginning” wasn’t so great, either. My thought is this – a big part of what makes B5 what it is, is the epic sweep of the story. Elements alluded to in first season episodes come to full flower two, three years later – and are all the more potent for it.

    The movies, on the other hand, are standalone stories. And generally speaking, such tales don’t carry as much weight in the B5 universe, mostly because they seem to resemble other stories from other universes. Think about the artifact in “Thirdspace” – how quickly did YOU figure out it was the source of all problems?

  18. I liked “Call to Arms” the best out of all the movies, because I think it served a better purpose as a pilot than even “The Gathering” did.

    “River of Souls” could have been an episode, and I think “Thirdspace” broke the rule of the B5 movies by including a vital series plot point that affects Season 5… one that doesn’t make sense without knowing about that scene.

    Yes, I’m talking about the scene where Zack professes his love to Lyta while she’s oblivious to everything on the current plane of reality. Without that scene, his overreaction to her attraction to Byron plays out as being conveniently contrived.

    We’ll talk more about the movies when they come up.

  19. One of my favorite television shows of all time. Not just sci-fi, all genres. Just found this. I hope it’s good.

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