Radio Free Skaro‘s Steven Schapansky joins Shannon, Chip and Erika as we explore what someone new to Babylon 5 makes of “And the Sky Full of Stars,” probably the first “WHAM!” episode of the series. Sinclair’s character arc kicks into high gear as the mystery of the Battle of the Line is foregrounded, and your hosts and guest talk about the surrealism, The Prisoner, director Janet Greek and of course our regular Sinclair Check. Then we “space” Steven, leap into spoiler space and read Universe Today.
Like the Mark Twain short story itself (included as bonus audio at the end of the podcast), its namesake B5 episode “The War Prayer” is in no way, shape or form subtle. Find out what Erika, Shannon and Chip thought of this first foray into the B5 universe for legendary Star Trek writer D.C. Fontana.
We’ve got our first guest co-host, and he’s a doozy: please welcome Chicago Sun-Times columnist and podcaster Andy Ihnatko to the B5AG Advisory Council, as we tackle “Mind War.” The telepath storyline expands significantly with the introduction of the PsiCops and Bester, and for a second straight episode G’Kar and the Narns shed their Klingonish cloak as Catherine Sakai drives into a rough part of town. Come for the peek into a possible future for humanity; stay for the Jerry Lewis impression.
So many fishies, gods by the bushel, curiously attached spectacles and little red fruit: it’s an episode that Shannon and Chip thought would be a perfect jumping-on point and Erika kinda dreaded. Welcome to “The Parliament of Dreams”!
We’ll come right out and say it: “Infection” ain’t exactly high art. There’s some stuff that works, some stuff that REALLY doesn’t, and more than a few allusions to the future of the series. That makes it worth watching, considering and enjoying (in places) with your co-hosts, who debate organic technology and soliloquies. And one of them keeps wailing “IKARRRAAAA!” to the heavens.
Babylon 5‘s first proper love story revolves around the most unlikely subject, Londo Mollari, while security chief Garibaldi tracks down someone who’s making clandestine phone calls over the super-secure line. Will it lead to sabotage? Point to conspiracy? Or provide a weepy character moment?
Meanwhile, on 2014 Earth, Chip repeatedly gets himself into trouble for making unfavorable analogies to movies and television shows that Erika and Shannon like and Erika unforgivably steals Chip’s thing.
Babylon 5 takes a dip into the metaphysical as a stealer/liberator/preserver/destroyer of souls causes havoc on the station, threatens an ambassador, reveals secrets and chants annoyingly. We’ll talk about regular physics as well as the meta kind, compare the new doctor to the old one (as Doctor Who podcasters tend to do anyway) and argue whether this story concept should have been explored in the first place no matter how well executed.
“Soul Monkey (A Babylon 5 Parody in the Style of JoCo)” is based on Jonathan Coulton‘s song “Code Monkey,” which was released under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC 3.0), with new lyrics and vocals (and we use the terms loosely) by Chip Sudderth. You can buy Coulton’s music at his web store.
Now we’re cookin’ with phased plasma! The first season of B5 opens with “Midnight on the Firing Line,” which moves like a Ferrari compared to “The Gathering.” (Totally a Volvo: dependable and robust, yet slightly lacking in the zero-to-60s.) What do we think of the new faces? Are Ivanova and Winters a step forward or backward? Meanwhile, in spoiler territory, someone puts on his grumpy face over his co-hosts’ assessment of Commander Sinclair.
And so it REALLY begins! Erika watched BOTH the original edit and the TNT-funded producer’s cut! Shannon mourned the Gravity Rings! (She wasn’t alone.) That’s right, we’re officially starting the Audio Guide to Babylon 5 with the pilot movie, “The Gathering.”
“Holla at MURDER, SHE WROTE. Woo!”
Welcome to The Audio Guide to Babylon 5! Herewith our manifesto: this is a book club without books, an episode-by-episode walkthrough of one of the most influential and important modern SF series. Each podcast begins with a spoiler-free discussion of the episode for new viewers, then we give listeners a jumping-off point and switch to a discussion of how the episode fits into the five-year history of the show. Here’s our 000th episode, “And So It Begins,” where we tell new viewers why you should watch Babylon 5 and help you prepare for your journey.