Season 2: The Coming of Shadows
“The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. A self-contained world five miles long, located in neutral territory. A place of commerce and diplomacy for a quarter of a million humans and aliens. A shining beacon in space, all alone in night.
“It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind, the year the Great War came upon us all.
“This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2259. The name of the place is Babylon 5.”
- Earthforce Captain John Sheridan
Captain John Sheridan Bruce Boxleitner
Commander Susan Ivanova Claudia Christian
Security Chief Michael Garibaldi Jerry Doyle
Ambassador Delenn Mira Furlan
Dr. Stephen Franklin Richard Biggs
Lt. Warren Keffer Robert Rusler
Talia Winters Andrea Thompson
Vir Cotto Stephen Furst
Lennier Bill Mumy
Na’Toth Mary Kay Adams
Ambassador G’Kar Andreas Katsulas
Ambassador Londo Mollari Peter Jurasik
Creator J. Michael Straczynski
Producer John Copeland
Executive Producers J. Michael Straczynski & Douglas Netter
Script Editor Lawrence G. DiTillio
Conceptual Consultant Harlan Ellison
Production Designer John Iacovelli
Constume Designer Anne Bruice-Aling
Visual Effects Designer Ron Thornton
Visual Effects Producers Foundation Imaging
Makeup Supervisor John Vulich
Makeup Producers Optic Nerve Studios
Music Composer Christopher Franke
Music Performers Christopher Franke & the Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra
A number of significant changes took place on Babylon 5 between the production of Season 1 and Season 2. The most notable was the change in lead actor: Michael O’Hare departed the show and was replaced by Bruce Boxleitner playing new character Captain John Sheridan. The change happened in such a way that O’Hare was unable to film a farewell scene, and J. Michael Straczynski had to explain the departure in the first issue of the Babylon 5 comic book instead
At the time, Straczynski said that Sinclair’s departure was a creative choice: with the mystery of the Battle of the Line to be resolved early in Season 2, Sinclair suddenly became a character to bounce exposition off and he had no actual stake in the new storylines that were becoming more important. Straczynski also indicated that O’Hare had the option to return to acting on stage in New York, which he missed. Straczynski claimed that he and O’Hare discussed the situation and, using a Lord of the Rings analogy, decided that Sinclair would leave the show like the Fellowship of the Ring splitting and then return later on to round off his storyline.
Some fans were sceptical of this choice, some believing that Warner Brothers wanted a better-known actor in the lead role and others claiming that the studio wanted O’Hare gone as they were unhappy with his performance. However, given that the first season had been a moderate success with O’Hare in the role, this seemed unlikely.
Many years later, after Michael O’Hare’s premature death from a heart attack in 2012, Straczynski agreed to reveal the truth. O’Hare had been suffering from mental health issues which gradually worsened over the course of the gruelling filming schedule for the first season. This manifested as paranoid delusions, with O’Hare convinced that people were out to get him or control him. Jerry Doyle, who played Garibaldi, confirmed this on his radio talk show and by the end of the season had effectively decided he couldn’t work with him anymore. Before that point, O’Hare confessed the severity of his condition to Straczynski and they agreed that O’Hare should leave the show for his own good. Straczynski did offer to delay production by a few months so O’Hare could seek treatment, but O’Hare did not want to endanger production or other people’s jobs. After leaving the show, O’Hare did manage to get the worst excesses of his condition under control and he returned for episodes B9 and C16-C17. Straczynski offered to keep the secret until his death but O’Hare suggested he keep it only until his death, as he felt that fans deserved to (eventually) know the truth and it might help people facing the same problem. Straczynski eventually revealed the truth at the Phoenix Comic-Con in 2013.
The change in actor resulted in some shuffling of the planned storylines for the opening episodes. Straczynski worked on creating a new lead character, someone who could have a direct tie to the unfolding storyline. This also involved shuffling events around in the opening few episodes. The planned opener, Chrysalis, Part 2 (although this was only ever a working title), was dropped back to second place and a new introductory episode was penned for the new character. This also allowed JMS to have a pause between two very intense, complex episodes (A22 and B2) to allow the viewers to catch their breath (especially since in the US the show moved straight into Season 2 after Chrysalis was aired for the first time). A number of actors were considered for the role of Captain John Sheridan, including relatively big names like James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, a bomber crewman in Dr. Strangelove and Jack Ryan’s boss in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games) and John Rhys-Davies (Professor Arturo in Sliders, Salla in the first three Indiana Jones films and Gimli in the Lord of the Rings films), but it ultimately went to Bruce Boxleitner, best known for his leading role in Scarecrow & Mrs. King and the title role in the film Tron.
The other major cast change was that, between seasons, Julie Caitlin Brown (who played Na’Toth) decided to leave to pursue the chance to appear in films and also because she was developing severe allergies to the make-up used. Straczynski elected to recast Na’Toth and Mary Kay Adams (best known for playing the Klingon Grilka in two episodes of Deep Space Nine) was introduced to take over the role. Adams and Straczynski clashed over her “soft” interpretation of Na’Toth and she left the series after just two episodes. Straczynski later managed to convince Julie Catilin Brown to reprise the role for a single episode in Season 5.
A new regular cast member was also introduced, Robert Rusler as Lt. Warren Keffer. JMS needed someone to tie into the ongoing storyline in Season 2 as well as satisfy Warner Brothers’ complaints about the station commander always leading fighter missions in Season 1 when that just wouldn’t happen in real life. Straczynski resented this note and always planned to kill Keffer off as soon as possible.
Ex-Taxi and Grease star Jeff Conaway (Kenickie!) had become a major fan of the series during Season 1 and instructed his agent to get him onto the show by any means necessary. He landed the role of recurring security officer Zack Allan in episode B6 and remained with the series until the end.
JMS originally planned to have Ivanova narrate the Season 2 opening titles. The change in lead actor necessitated having Sheridan do it instead. Bruce Boxleitner re-recorded the narration from episode B4 onwards to make it stronger (and also because the title sequence was complete by that point, making the synchronisation of narration and visuals easier). A new version of the theme tune was also arranged by Christopher Franke. He ‘tweaked’ the music slightly from episode B4 onwards. The Season 2 opening credits were also altered from episode B3 onwards to show the new-look Delenn.
The Season 2 title sequence features a “5” logo appearing behind each character before warping the next character over the top. This was a very complicated effect to pull off in 1994 and was extremely time-consuming for the editors and the effects team, so Seasons 3-5 feature somewhat more straightforward title cards.
Episodes planned but not made for this season included The Customer is Always Right and Unnatural Selection (aka All Our Songs Forgotten) by D.C. Fontana, Expectations by David Gerrold and The Very Long Night of Susan Ivanova by Straczynski (he later repurposed the plot – but not the storyline – for Londo in Season 5). Additional attempts to bring Harlan Ellison’s Demon on the Run to the screen also failed.
Between seasons Foundation Imaging upgraded their computers again, resulting in more and more ambitious CGI. During Season 1 they were using a mixture of Commodore Amigas equipped with Video Toaster cards and PCs, but during Season 2 switched over to high-end PCs running early-generation graphic cards. This resulted in improved visual quality and somewhat faster turn-around times for shots.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP