Babylon 5 – tape 2296

We’ve had a little bit of Babylon 5 previously, so here’s some more, but there’s a lovely surprise nestling within the space opera.

First on the tape is the episode Walkabout. We’re getting closer to the end of season 3, the best season of Babylon 5. Sheridan and his crew have broken away from the Earth Alliance, Doctor Franklin is trying to come to terms with his drug addiction, and the war with the Shadows is building.

There’s a bit of a glitch in the title sequence, where I’ve clearly accidentally started recording something, realized quickly and stopped the record, so there’s a couple of seconds from something random, followed by the glitching that’s typical from the linear erase head on the VCR.

I recognised Diane Keaton, vaguely recognised Bruce Dern, and they refer to two people called Manning and Noonan, so iMDb can tell me it must be Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight.

But enough about my stupid, clumsy fingers, back to Babylon 5. After an unfortunate event in an earlier episode, the Vorlons send a new ambassador to the station, who is also called Kosh. But his suit is purple and more angular than the old Kosh’s suit, so he’s clearly not to be trusted.

Bad Kosh

This episode guest-stars Erica Gimpel off of The Kids from Fame, cast massively against type as… a singer. Check out her futuristic space microphone.

Erica Gimpel

Doctor Franklin falls for her. It doesn’t end happily.

Plus, having discovered that the Shadows might be vulnerable to telepaths, Sheridan goes out to face a Shadow vessel to test the theory.

Next is Grey 17 is Missing in which Garibaldi discovers a hidden level on the station by going Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A.

Delenn is asked to take over from the departed Sinclair as Chief Scout Ranger One, but Neroon, from the warrior caste thinks it should be him.

In the hidden Grey 17, Robert Englund guest as Jeremiah, who clearly misses his Freddy Krueger glove.

Robert Englund

Jeremiah is a typical JMS character – wordy, pompous, cod philosphical.

Marcus faces off against Neroon on a set which borrowed the lighting design from an episode of Bugs.

Marcus vs Neroon


After this episode, recording continues, and we have an unexpected treat. It’s Break the Science Barrier with Richard Dawkins.

This is actually really good, as it’s early vintage Dawkins where he was more interested in communicating about science than making religious people angry (although there’s a it of that here).

What’s best is the people he interviews, as they are genuinely iconic scientists.

Here’s Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered pulsars, an entirely new type of star.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell


He also talks to Sir Alec Jeffreys, discoverer of DNA fingerprinting.

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys

DNA fingerprinting is now such a fundamental part of our world that it’s hard to believe it was only developed in the 1980s. And that it was discovered by accident. He was looking at ways of examining genomes to look for possible clues in the search for cancer treatments, when he realised that the DNA mapping he was doing could be used to accurately differentiate between two different DNA samples. So basically he invented CSI by accident.

As well as scientists, he talks to some noted skeptics, including Ian Rowland, master of cold reading, and Dr Richard Wiseman, back when he still had (some) hair.

Hirsute Richard Wiseman

The segment with Wiseman is quite upsetting, as it features psychic surgeons with some very poor hygiene habits.

And it wouldn’t be a Richard Dawkins programme without Douglas Adams. Here, he talks about how science writing has supplanted the novel as the best place to learn deep truths.

But what’s really interesting about this segment is that it shows Douglas at work in his office, at home in Islington. But it also shows a brief screenshot of what he was working on.

Ship Therapy Room

Given the time this was made, and knowing something about Douglas’ work, I suspect that he was working on early ideas for Starship Titanic

I visited Douglas in that office once, while I was working at his company, The Digital Village. I thought it was nice of him to invite me over, and then he asked if, while I was there, I could help him move a load of chairs for a party he was having later that day.

I didn’t get to stay for the party.

Here’s a lor-res version of the show, to save me uploading.

Richard Dawkins, as any fule kno, is married to Lalla Ward, who played Romana in Doctor Who opposite Tom Baker (to whom she was also, briefly, married). And at the end of this programme, Dawkins can’t help himself. He has to rub it into the face of every sad Who fan by recreating the famous punting scene from the great ‘lost’ Doctor Who story Shada (also written by Douglas Adams – everything is connected.)

Les Dawkins Punt

As if things weren’t connected enough, have a look at the books on Douglas’ bookshelf. The last one is The Quest For Gaia written by Kit Pedler. Who just happened to be a former Doctor Who writer, and co-creator of the Cybermen.

After this slight diversion into the world of real science, back to the world of Science Fiction for the last programme on the tape. We’re back on Babylon 5 for the episode And The Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place. J Michael Straczynski did like his pompous episode titles, didn’t he?

This episode concentrates on the political shenanigans of Londo, who plots to capture G’Kar on Narn, thus elevating himself in his court, and winning points over his rival, Lord Refa. Refa discovers the plan and decides to capture G’Kar himself. But Londo is two steps ahead, and by the end of the episode Lord Refa is out of the picture.

Oh, and there’s a song. Again.

After this episode, recording stops, and underneath is a short piece of a programme called Black Divas. The tape stops after about 6 minutes of this.


  • trail: Porkpie
  • trail: The Big Breakfast
  • Fruitopia
  • Chessington World of Adventures
  • Freepages
  • trail: Father Ted
  • trail: It Came from Beneath The Sea
  • Littlewoods
  • KFC
  • South Bank University
  • Boddington’s Gold
  • Lynx
  • Oasis
  • Renault Freeways
  • Bacardi
  • Pantene
  • McDonalds
  • Heineken Export
  • Sensodyne F
  • Renault Clio
  • trail: True Stories: Convoy
  • trail: Short Stories: Ghost Hunters
  • trail: Celluloid Icons: Jodie
  • Renault Clio
  • The Sun – Bruce Forsyth
  • Autoglass
  • Smint
  • trail: Big Breakfast
  • trail: American Football
  • Vauxhall Astra
  • Oil of Ulay
  • bacardi
  • The Sun
  • KFC
  • Superdrug
  • Renault Megane – Tony Gardner
  • Sega Saturn
  • American Express
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Wrigley’s Doublemint
  • Stealing Beauty
  • Lombard Direct
  • trail: TalentSpotting: Christmas
  • trail: Grandad is a Football Hooligan
  • trail: Soldier Soldier
  • Coca Cola
  • Hula Hoops with a twist
  • orbit
  • The Times
  • trail: True Stories: The Convoy
  • Rover
  • The Times
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Royal Mail
  • BT
  • Abbey National
  • Orange
  • Royal Mail
  • Heineken Export
  • Safeway
  • Autoglass
  • The Sun
  • Vauxhall Astra
  • trail: Blue Steel
  • The Times
  • Scotland

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