Babylon Podcast #218: The Well of Voicemail

Welcome to Show #218!

The first minor quakes have begun: Warner Bros has called JMS regarding preliminary inquiries on another Babylon 5 project. We eagerly await more news!

Lensman Spotting: The over/under on Tim’s first Lensman comment was 4 minutes. See your boohkie, or drink 4 shots

Voicemail: Neil from Bowie weighs in on the evolution of the original B5 story line; Joe from Anaheim recalls an example of Minbari rifles and Narn handguns; Colin from San Marcos wonders why the Vorlons decided they needed Sheridan to lead the fight against the Shadows; Gary wants to hear Tim’s theories on alternate B5 stories and timelines; Gary wants to know if we’re going to ever discuss fanfic here on the podcast; Gary comments on the Psi Corps telepath “weapon” levels; Gary has another theory about why the Grey Council needed the triluminary to interrogate Sinclair

VerseAndy posits that confusion about the triluminary is all Sinclair’s fault; Gary weighs in on the laundry conundrum Summer once brought up; Hated Bunny also throws out some theories on what the triluminary’s real function might have been; John from Jersey weighs in on Bret’s question on how many folks watched both B5 and DS9; will Tim take over the puns now that Jeffrey’s off working around the country; Neil, still driving, also enjoyed “A Call to Arms”, and all of the anticipation that came with it; Neil, still driving, states that the scene in “The Gathering” with the dust smuggler at the entry gate wasn’t in the initial airing, but was edited in after the fact;

Neil, still driving, thinks that JMS did want to reshoot the scenes in “Revelations” using Melissa Gilbert for the DVD release; Neil, still driving, responds to his own voicemail about what they were using the triluminary for; Neil, still driving, on the opening credits of the S2 DVD shows the transformed Delenn prior to actually seeing her completed transformation in the show

Emails: Jason comments on the mythological status of B5’s profitability for Warners, and wonders how religion works in Minbari culture; VerseAndy appreciates the Parsec Award that The Signal has won, because he credits Babylon Podcast for getting him involved in podcasting (we really are the Susan Lucci of podcasting, aren’t we?); Mark writes about Penn Jillette not liking scifi and their Twitter conversation about how he got onto B5;

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 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.

More Parody/Filk Songs Wanted: If you know of any more B5-related fan songs out there, definitely let us know, so we can let other B5 fans know where to buy them! And if those CDs are out of print, let’s brainstorm on ways to get those songs back out there for fans!

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: Slice of SciFi: For All Your SciFi Entertainment News!
Promo: Irish and Celtic Music Podcast


  1. Kudos to Neil — he was right about the scene in the opening sequence with the Dust smuggler. That part of the opening is not on the laserdisc, the original Japanse laserdisc that came out in either late 1993 or early 1994, definitely before Season 1 began airing (Japanese subtitles and all).

    It is on the US laserdisc that first came out in 1998, with the TNT opening, remastered credits graphics, and it also includes the slightly different conversation that Takashima has with Garibaldi, when he calls C&C looking for Sinclair (and the added scene with the “tourist problem”).

  2. Right away, I’d like to admit ignorance of fan fiction for B5. Before the mention of it here, I had never heard of it in the B5 universe. Love stories? Really? While I can understand Summer’s reluctance to devote much if any time to this, I would like an explanation of what it is, who is doing it, and perhaps some reviews of the best of it. Fan fiction in Star Trek can be disgusting or admirable; in Harry Potter, it’s usually bad. I have only heard of the authorized novels that y’all have mentioned before like the Technomage Trilogy, which have received strong positive reviews.

    And if you feel that even this approach would inexorably tumble into the abyss of strident argument and unpleasantness, it’s OK if you want to avoid it altogether.

    And I sold all of my B5 laserdiscs a couple of years ago. When Ken Crane announced no letterbox and then ceased issuing after releasing the discs in a stupid, obvious sales market-driven order, I mostly gave up on LD and put everything I could on S-VHS. Crusade still lives there, but that may change after hearing your coming discussion which I hope will include the DVD details.


    • My trepidation is solely confined to the John & Delenn never-ending love stories that were out there. There seemed to be a baffling disparity in how many websites you could find devoted to fans of that relationship compared to fans just running off on their own episodic B5 adventure stories (at the time, around Season 3 especially, the ratio seemed to be 25:1). I never really got into the B5 fanfic, but I admit to being delving into reading Miami Vice fanfic in the pre-WWW days.

      Laserdisc officially died as a home video medium in 1999-2000, right? I know for a fact that the last consumer players were discontinued on Dec 31, 1999 (I know, because I bought my spare player that day, and the retailer said it was the last one he had and that he couldn’t get anymore from anyone, Sony and Panasonic Pioneer having announced the discontinuation in September). I know I haven’t bought any new discs since 1998 (been DVD only since then), and I thought they stopped making movies on laserdisc in 2000 or 2001?

      To my knowledge, there are only a handful of rare items, plus the Criterion Collection titles, that are still worth anything. Or is there still a thriving laserdisc market out there?

  3. I have the Pioneer CLD-95 without the mod for surround decoding. It’s huge and still a champ. I kept all of my discs other than B5 or anything that comes out on DVD that’s a worthwhile upgrade. If the CLD-95, I’m sunk! 800 discs that won’t play on anything else! And the industry is so surprised that millions of us are not spending $$$ by jumping headfirst into their current pet, Blu-ray. Burn us once, shame on you, burn us twice, uh, ask the President and I don’t mean Sheridan.

    I don’t think even Japan is producing the discs anymore, but I think there are still a few high end players. I stopped looking, taking extra good care of my current player.


    • I know what you mean. I still have my first workhorse, the Sony MDP-605 (bought in 1992!), but Mike Mennenga had to repair the laser alignment on it for me a couple years ago. While he was fixing it, I finally broke out the Pioneer CLD-D406. It had never been out of the original packaging until then! But they both work.

      Outside of a handful of Japanese imports and stuff that STILL isn’t available on DVD, most of the stuff I own on laserdisc that I would get on DVD has already been “upgraded”. The rest of them, I likely won’t bother replacing, unless they become an impulse buy from the $7.99 sale bin.

      I’m told that nowadays, a working player is still worth a pretty penny. I’m at the point now where selling one of them is likely the smart thing to so, but I’m not so worried about selling… it’s the shipping that gives me pause πŸ™‚

  4. Ugh. Laserdisc slash fic. Get a room, you guys! XD

    As for “The Gathering”, JMS has stated in many venues that a number of character moments that didn’t make the aired director’s cut were restored in the TNT producers’ cut. But I seem to recall reading that Kosh’s “Entil-Z’ha” greeting – and the glowing hand – were added to the DVD release and not seen in any airing.

    …or, am I getting bleed-through from the Mirror Universe again?…

  5. tony miller says

    Where exactly is there info on the Warner Brothers story? I have searched for a while today and am NOT seeing it on any of the usual B5 sites??

    Love the show!!

    Deep in the Heart of Texas!!


    Tony Miller
    Webster, TX

    • I believe it was in a message that Tim read from (he lives for those updates).

      JMS didn’t elaborate, nor would he until some official announcement from Warners, but the fact that they even called him to ask is major news in itself.

  6. The Warner Bros. thing is something that JMS said in New York at his spotlight but it was supposed to be “off the record”. Not much to it other than the fact that WB called JMS (after he’d made it clear that he wouldn’t do anything less than a big-budget film or a series where he had total control). He couldn’t give any details but “There’s movement in the tall grass.” It’s a pretty big deal when they call you.

  7. Tony Davies says

    Fantastic podcast all!!!

    Great to re-experience the B5 ‘moments’ through the discussions and letters on the Podcast.

    I have all the DVDs but have so much more to catch up on (books etc.) – if only I can find the time!

    Keep up the amazing work… and I’ll just keep on listening!

    Greetings from Across the pond….

    Stevenage, UK

  8. Off the record – HAH! This is B5 fandom we’re dealing with here. If you don’t want it on the record, don’t mention it in public. Or private, for that matter – that Mr. Morden never travels alone…

  9. Yeah, good call not doing a Slash Fic episode. There’s not enough brain bleach in the world to rid the mind of some of the pairings callers (or heck, even the hosts) could come up with.

  10. Gary The Great says

    If you check You Tube there were a few videos of jms and his talk at the 2010 New York Comic-Con. He is such a fun guy to listen to. I couldn’t see Jan anywhere though πŸ˜‰

  11. Gary The Great says

    Arkle is right though, some of the combinations are crazy.

  12. On the question of why the Vorlons worked through Sheridan instead of just outright announcing to the younger races that it was time to pull together and fight the Shadows:

    You are all forgetting that the Vorlon / Shadow conflict was analogous (occasionally mentioned by JMS in his DVD commentaries) to the “cold” war, which we and the Soviets fought through proxies. Neither of the super powers actually engaged in open combat against each other–the closest we came was the secret involvement of Soviet pilots flying in disguise as part of the Chinese air force in Korea. Much like we set up a puppet government in South Vietnam, the Vorlons set Sheridan up as a puppet on B5. The Soviets worked through the duly elected legitimate government (something like four UN sponsored elections in ‘nam went to Ho in landslides before we got tired of telling them they had voted wrong **again** and outright invaded) in the north, as the Shadows did with Earth, albeit in this case with the duly elected *successor* of the leader whose assassination they had helped engineer.

    As for the season 2 opening credits of the first couple eps, I have been reading the Lurkers guide episode discussions, and in the comments collected for one of the later S2 eps. JMS mentioned that the use of the old Delynn shots was deliberate, so as not to spoil the unveiling.

  13. I was in the front row, Gary. To the right of JMS as you (or the camera) faced him. If you want to see me (lord knows why) at a JMS appearance, check out the MIT appearance last year. It’s a really good talk, too.

  14. Neil Ottenstein says

    Thanks for the kudos, Summer. I remember JMS discussing those opening S2 credits and how there were several different versions in the first few episodes due to the various changes – Ivanova’s rank change, Delenn’s appearance, and maybe something else. Unfortunately, I believe the DVDs just used one version for the season.

    • somebody-else says

      I *know* I’m still 2 years behind here (but I’m catching up fast) but want to point out that the region 2 DVDs for season 2 use the ‘old’ Delenne for the opening credits on the first 2 or 3 episodes then change over to the ‘new’ Delenne after the big reveal.

  15. Gary The Great says

    Great point Neil, also the actual opening narration by Bruce changed as well at least for the first 2-3 episodes of season 2. Someone unnamed wasn’t happy with the delivery of it, and it had to be done over.

  16. Paul from California says

    The reason it was done over was because the first time, Bruce didn’t have the visuals to draw from.

    The second time, he did, hence the much more forceful and confident nature of the definitive narration. πŸ™‚

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