Babylon 5 and Space Cases


Babylon 5 (1993-1998)
Space Cases (1996)
Type: Crossover

   Okay, this as much an in joke as it is a crossover but I just can't resist including it.

   Babylon 5 was a five year epic science fiction novel for television. If you think that's a mouthful you should check out the show's plot. No way I can even attempt to fit it all into a paragraph or two. What is important for our purpose here is that the show centered on a space station named Babylon 5 that acted as a sort of intergalactic United Nations. Created by Joe Straczynski, the show presented elaborate plots on a shoestring budget.

   Even though many races occupied Babylon 5 and helped pay for its construction, it was run by the Earth's military. One episode featured a plot where Earth tried to defray the costs of running the station by selling merchandise based on it. They started with a test store on the station itself. The episode parodied the merchandise madness that surrounds so many science fiction shows. Babylon 5's creator Joe Michael Straczynski had a pet peeve about this topic having worked on shows where merchandising often determined the plot of a show. "We want to sell this new fighter space ship toy we've just designed so be sure to feature it in the new plots!" Because of this very thing, J.M.S. held off a long time on any Babylon 5 merchandising.

   Joe Straczynski has another pet peeve though: he doesn't care for cutsey stuff like teddy bears. At the time this episode was being made, show writer Peter David's wife sent Joe Straczynski a teddy bear as a gift. The bear was wear a t-shirt reading Babearlon 5 and with Joe Straczynski's initials written on it. Given the plot of the show, Joe Straczynski worked the bear in to get revenge on Peter David. This particular episode was written by Peter David. JMS removed David's original end to the merchandising story and inserted his own. Babylon 5's commander Captain John Sheridan has had no problem with the merchandising until he is presented with THE BEAR! Given that Joe Straczynski and John Sheridan share the same initials it was a perfect fit. With J.S. on its shirt, the bear was clearly a teddy bear version of John Sheridan and was for sale at the shop. Sheridan instantly ordered the store removed from the station and took the bear to... dispose of it. How? He threw it out an airlock and into space. The last time we see the bear it is bouncing off the windshield of one of Babylon 5's starfury space fighters and floating into deep space.

   Needless to say this didn't go over well at the David house. Your wife gives the boss a teddy bear and the boss throws it into deep space on a show written by you... I'm sure Joe Straczynski's revenge ended up harsher then he might have realized. In Peter David's own words, "Retaliation was in order."

   Peter David and Babylon 5 actor Bill Mumy were also producing a science fiction series for kids for the Nickelodeon cable network. It was called Space Cases and was about a group of young kids, Starcademy Cadets, lost in deep space. In one episode, they found the bear.

   In the story, the kids can't figure out what sort of sick monster would throw a teddy bear into space? The answer? An evil alien race called the Straczyn. The Straczyn wanted to conquer space but they were on a very limited budget (heh heh heh) and so resorted to using a poor teddy bear. See the bear was a booby trap. Ship sees innocent bear floating in space, picks it up and BAM! They're screwed. As now was JMS. The feud continued off screen at sci-fi conventions but to me that's just icing on the cake.

   For my way of thinking, after the bear floated away from Babylon 5, it was picked up and booby trapped by the Straczyn. I mean its just so much more fun with the bear not just being a reused prop but with it actually being a link between the shows. Don't agree? Can I show you this lovely airlock?

Other Babylon 5 Crossover Links
Babylon 5 and Crusade

Links To Babylon 5 Related Web Sites
Cynics Corner (Babylon 5 Episode Reviews)
The Lurker's Guide To Babylon 5

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