Babylon Podcast #167: Day of the Dead (Season 5)

Welcome to Show #167!

If you had the means, would you pay $225,000 a bottle for tequila?

In July 2263, Garibaldi embarks on a secret project to reverse-engineer Minbari and Vorlon technology in order to speed up construction of Destroyer Class White Star ships. Did this lead to the construction of Excalibur, and the larger cruiser we saw in Lost Tales?

Adira, Dodger, Zoe and Morden: Ghosts or something more?

Deep Geeking: Tim and Summer disagree on “Day of the Dead”, and boy, do we chat about THAT difference of opinion! Written by Neil Gaiman, it’s the first produced episode not written by JMS since Season 2 (since “Knives”?).

Tim thinks it’s a weak effort, and Summer thinks it’s one of the better episodes of Season 5 (and everyone knows how Summer feels about most of Season 5). But Summer still calls shenanigans on Tim’s refusal to accept quantum physics as a way to explain how that section of B5 becomes linked to the Brakiri homeworld.

Would seeing Marcus have made more of an impact on Lennier than seeing Morden? Would that appearance have co-opted the hope that Marcus was not dead, but in suspended animation, awaiting a technological advance that could successfully revive him?

Feedback: Ask, and ye shall receive: Jarsto surfaces to lay the correction smackdown!

Lurker’s Guide 2.0: Summer is expanding the documentation to be covered at Lurker’s Guide 2.0, the major change being converting the episode guide into a full Wiki with cross-referenced topics, tidbits and everything you’d want in a Wiki. She’s also still searching for pictures of rare collectibles, photos of magazine covers and toys, and all sorts of other B5 goodies that didn’t get included in the original guide during the years after Crusade. Let her know if you want to lend a hand.

Babylon Podcast Social Communities:
Twitter: @babylonpodcast

Babylon 5 Information Gathering: If you know of a dead or abandoned B5 related website that may be in need of a new home, let Summer know! Maybe we can mirror it here or house it on a sister site.

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Promo: Carology!
Promo: Slice of SciFi


  1. Neil Ottenstein says

    From the opening comment by Summer, I guess the live feed was on Minbari Unification Day (the Minbari Civil War ended and the new Grey Council was formed July 29, 2261) and not on Kosh Assassination Day (August 5, 2260). I guess next week we’ll find out whether Jeffrey appeared then.

  2. Neil Ottenstein says

    Just started listening to the podcast, but can’t resist …
    I liked Day of the Dead when I saw it. A couple of notes from the Lurker’s Guide in answers from JMS:

    How much do you have to get involved in outside scripts?

    It varies, I get involved to different degrees with different writers; with Neil, it was more “What do you want to write?” He noodled around with some ideas, ran one past me that he liked, and I liked it…he asked for a truckload of scripts for reference, picked the characters he wanted to use, researched them, we talked on the phone and via email a number of times as he refined his ideas further, then wrote the script. I tucked and nipped a little here and there, but pretty much left it alone.

    How did Neil know what Kosh’s message should be?

    Actually, in that scene, Neil didn’t write Kosh’s message. He asked what it would be, and I gave him that, knowing that I’d been looking for a way to slip that in as early as season 4.

  3. Neil Ottenstein says

    About the section of B5 becomes linked to the Brakiri homeworld – a note of interest from

    Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman was inspired to write this story when he heard of the Jewish concept of an eruv, a shared physical domain that allows Jews to carry objects from one household to another on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. According to a literal reading of the Torah (the five books of Moses) it would seem that one may not leave one’s household on the Sabbath, which the rabbis found both impractical and not in the spirit of the holiday. Rabbinic literature records the development of the eruv as a legal device which allows Jews in a community to symbolically, or in many views literally, merge their separate domains into one shared domain, thus allowing carrying and travel on the Sabbath. The idea of sharing distinct domains for a religious purpose was taken by Gaiman and expanded upon: what if one legally borrowed a domain that is far from one’s home world? What if this merging of domains was made manifest in a literal and physical sense? The episode’s storyline develops from Gaiman’s extension of this idea.

  4. Neil Ottenstein says

    Regarding Morden and not Marcus coming to Lennier – again from JMS on the Lurker’s Guide:

    Why didn’t you have Marcus visit Lennier?

    I didn’t write it. It’s Neil’s script. The characters he chose are the ones he wanted to play with.


    I haven’t found any comment by Neil Gaiman about this or any other by JMS. From the JMSNews site this answer is in response to the questions (on 3/13/1998):
    >Why didn’t JMS bring Ivanova back to B5 to be visited by >Marcus Cole, her brother, or her father?

    >Why didn’t JMS put Sheridan in the zone to be visited by
    > Kosh or Anne Sheridan?


    About Rebo & Zooty – JMS wrote: “Neil wrote for R&Z, and we looked around for casting…it occurred to someone — may have been me, maybe casting, I don’t remember — that it might be better to use a real comedy team than create one. B5 called P&T, and they said yes.”

    • Oh my… Neil is to comments what Gary is to voicemails!

      So the question to put to Neil Gaiman would be “What about Mr Morden intrigued you so that you needed to have him as one of those returned from the dead?”

  5. I can’t listen to this episode until I get home later tonight, but I wanna go ahead and say now that I really really liked this episode. I think it’s my favorite of Season 5 (if you count SIL as season 4 as per it’s production number).

    Of course I just like Neil Gaiman anyway so that probably had something to do with it.

  6. Gary The Great says

    Wow. Way to go Neil. I’ll try to sneak in.

    The whole date issue gets complicated because I think they are still two weeks ahead in recording (Yea!). As a result instead of staggering one week, they need to stagger two. I guess time travel is confusing for all parties.

    Thanks for more background on the story. As nice as it would have been to see Marcus visit Lennier, death issues aside, It would have pulled Lennier from his ultimate fate. Marcus would have certainly had a thing or two to say about unrequited love. It might have changed Lennier’s entire point of view.

    As nice as it was to see a big name comedy team in the roles, I think it could have been pulled off by regular actors without much of difference from the finished product.

    Given that this is one of the few stories not written by JMS, I’m willing to overlook and even like that it’s not so tightly knotted into the rest of the B5 story. I’m reminded of what JMS says about Sheridan coming in as Sinclair leaves. It’s unbelievable to have one person do everything. Not everything in the universe is about Babylon 5, it’s nice to bring off station characters into the mix.

  7. Neil Ottenstein says

    Yesterday I tried to call in with a thought was appears to have been pretty much what Gary says right here – if it was Marcus there, Lennier might have listened to him and his fate would have been different.

    On June 30, 1997 JMS said, “No, I have no intention of writing all of S5…I’ll probably do
    about what I did in S1-2, writing 11-15, with the rest being assigned
    out of the arc. And Neil Gaiman has said he’s now in a place where he
    can tackle one, so I hope to work out something with him, a story worth
    his doing, to make that happen at last.”

    On June 15, 1994, JMS said “And yes, there will be some new writers freelancing for us this
    season; I’m talking to writers like Peter David, and Scott Frost (from
    Twin Peaks and X-Files), a few others…and I’m going to keep hammering
    at Neil Gaiman to do us a script until he finally does one just to make
    me go away.”

    I wonder if any Neil Gaiman fans tried out B5 just to see his episode. I think they would not have been disappointed. I like most of his work that I have read.

  8. Neil Ottenstein says

    The Day of the Dead script is very nice. It was originally available as a benefit premium for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

    I got my copy signed by Neil Gaiman at the CBLDF booth at the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda one year. At some signings, he made additional changes to the script books, correcting some typos, etc. (Not at the one where I was, though.)

    I also remember Jerry Doyle mentioning at a local convention appearance something about Marie Marshall. If by some chance I can find my writeup I’ll add another comment or call in.

  9. My plan is still to head up to Las Vegas someday and see if I can get Penn and Teller to sign my two copies of the Day of the Dead script.

    Been wanting to do that ever since I bought the first copy, and REALLY wanting to do that ever since I moved within driving distance!

    As for Marie Marshall and Jerry Doyle’s previous history, that sure makes her comments to and about him in GROPOS just that much funnier!

  10. Neil Ottenstein says

    I couldn’t quickly find my convention notes, but looking on the internet in the B5 Other Voices scripts thread I see that I didn’t remember him talking about Marie Marshall, but Jan did.
    Gary has the final words in the thread – “I asked Mr. Doyle about it at DragonCon this year. It went something like, yea we dated for a while, never worked out, then she was on the show. I didn’t sense he was uncomfortable talking about it or her, but it has been 15+ years.”

  11. Okay, I finally listened. A small note, first. If you, guys, remember “A Call To Arms”–there were two ships there, one of which indeed ended up being Excalibur /and/ an only vessel of its type in existence (since the second one was blown up while ramming the leftover Shadow construction used by the Drakh in Earth’s surrounding space). Just thought I’ll remind this little titbit to anyone who forgot.

    About part of the chalk line on the floor. Tim, Tim, Tim, Tim, Tim… *head-shake* I’m kind of surprised you’d nitpick on that and forget that there was also a ritual taking place at a very specific time /before/ that pink “wall” appears. However. I really think it’s not /supposed/ to be anything other than metaphysical and it is, indeed, rooted in religion and beliefs from various cultures rather than anything scientific. I mean, you don’t expect for Londo’s obsessive dreaming about the exact details of his death to be scientifically explained, do you? “Centauri can do that” is all the explanation that we have and it’s fine, yes?

    Now about Morden and all that. Mm. This might take me a bit to explain–why /this/ makes more sense than Marcus–so bear with me, please. See, to me, those visitations were never about the closure for me–they were always about fear, pain and regret in some way. It just so happens that, say, captain’s biggest internal struggle was Zoe. It just so happens that Londo’s biggest pain (at the time) was Adira. It just so happens that, perhaps, Michael really regrets he didn’t have the chance to have something with Dodger that he might’ve wanted (and it was on the forefront of his thoughts). The fact that they all had managed to have closure is, for me, is a side-bonus rather than the purpose of these visits. The only two visits that had actual purpose, for me, was Zoe and Morden, as a matter of fact, and I sort of processed it as one having a message from the Vorlons while the other from the Shadows (yes, specifically these two).

    Now, having said all this, I’ll try to explain why Morden was the only real option that would work and why Marcus, specifically, wouldn’t work. Yes, he’s probably the only genuine friend of this sort that Lenir had. Yes, he’s a Ranger. Yes, he most certainly knows of unrequited love more than anyone else in Lenir’s circle. But. Non of the visitors had “a great knowledge of the universe” or any insight that they /didn’t/ have in life. (Zoe’s message from Kosh was just as spontaneous and out of blue as Morden’s to Lenir, was it not?) How could Marcus tell Lenir to get a grip on himself when /he/ (Marcus) himself could not and did something just as “stupid and senseless” in the name of love? And Marcus himself /also/ joined the Rangers for all the wrong reasons, which he was pointed out to on several occasions by Lenir, all of which he disregarded. And /now/ he’d be the one lecturing about the same thing? To me, that would’ve been really awkward and, ultimately, redundant and completely against the previous arcs of the story-line. I think that the point with Lenir was to be faced with his fear and denial and since it appears that he had to /remain/ in that state–no one would’ve served that warning up better than Morden, specifically /because/ he is part of that fear (in a way) /and/ is “easily” disregarded by Lenir as some sort of silly anomaly that he “just dreamed up while being not in the best of states of mind” (stress of training, internal struggles and so forth).
    One last note. I completely agree with you, Tim–bringing in “popular comedians” was completely useless gesture for me as well. I don’t think their appearance contributed anything of interest and significance and, frankly, was an annoying filler that I wish wasn’t there at all.

  12. Tim, I hear ya! This wasn’t an A+ episode. But you know what, it was a fun episode!!! It reminded me of “Inner Light (125)” in TNG (ok – not in an exact sense, but in how well it conveyed fantasy). It’s nice to break away into some light-hearted episodes every now and then. Perhaps your opinion would be different if we didn’t have to suffer through “A View from the Gallery” earlier in the season?

  13. I have to agree with Tim here. The whole thing with Morden and Lennier did not work for me, for exactly the reasons he stated: everyone else had a relationship with the dead person they were encountering, but those two did not. The, “You’re going to betray the Rangers” seems to come out of nowhere. Like Summer mentioned, it should’ve been Marcus! So yeah, none of that worked for me either.

  14. And now that I’ve come to the end of the podcast, it was nice to hear from Jarsto once again. Yay!

  15. Interesting episode as until Tim got going, I thought it was almost flawless! I agree that the Rebo & Zooty scene about them going into politics seemed stilted and that Marcus and Lennier was the odd one out in the people who cam back from the dead. Yes, Marcus and Lennier would have been better but as I shouted at my ipod, Marcus isn’t dead.

    At least that’s not how I saw him when he went into the freezer….

  16. To add the info about the Excalibur – it was a Victory class destroyer, it’s only sister ship being the Victory herself which was destroyed ramming the Planet Killer in A Call to Arms

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