Archive for the ‘Babylon 5-Crusade’ Category

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 18: The Stepford Cheerleaders (2001)   2 comments


All images in this post are screen captures.


The Stepford Cheerleaders

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired February 22, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-104


Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Main Guest Cast

Christopher Glenn as Sperry

Nicholas Gomez as Lyle

Bryan Greenberg as Damon Furberg

David Purdham as Lionel Carson

Alicia Leigh Willis as Alexis Carson

Kathy Wagner as Jennifer

Behind the Camera

Writer = Henry A. Myers

Director = Perry Lang

Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Above: Too Old to Pass for Teenagers

Brief Summary

Something is odd at Robertstowne High School, Robertstowne, New York.  Recently, someone has bent parking meters, ripped off locker doors, and torn a metal bleacher in two.  Last week, in August 2000, someone also beat up a drunken, randy quarterback (Lyle) who was assaulting a cheerleader (Jennifer) and hung him by his shirt from the top of a football goal post.

Donald Stern sends Tucker Burns, Wes Freewald, and Grace Hall undercover as high school students for a few days.  Tucker is concerned that they are too old to pass for adolescents.  Grace, however, cites the example of the high school students in Beverly Hills 90210.  How old were they?  The publisher has two theories of the cause of the recent, unusual events in Robertstowne.  The culprit may be either a mutant swamp monster from New Jersey or an extraterrestrial acting out adolescent aggression.  The culprit, Stern insists, cannot be a pixie, for pixies have not been in the United States since 1982.

The undercover reporters split up and pursue leads.  Tucker makes contact with Damon Furberg, the editor of the campus newspaper.  Damon cares nothing about journalistic integrity; he wants to get the story, win awards, and get ahead.  Tucker offers Damon a joint credit on a story in the World Chronicle.  The high school newspaper editor agrees.  Wes Freewald meets a bullied geek, Sperry, and follows a chemistry teacher, Lionel Carson.  Grace Hall meets the injured Kyle, cheerleader Jennifer (who takes the same hormone supplement Mark McGuire did) and her best friend, head cheerleader Alexis Carson.

Something is suspicious about Mr. Carson; acid does not burn his hand.  He has a bionic limb.  He has had that limb for a year and a half, since an automotive accident.

Grace tries out for the cheerleader squad, but Alexis declares her moves too “Paula Abdul.”  The current moves are “Britney Spears.”  However, Grace does notice that Jennifer exhibits physical weakness.

One night, after Damon and Tucker break into an office and read personnel records pertaining to Lionel Carson, someone attacks Damon’s vehicle, rips the roof open, and attacks him.  The next day, Wes discovers evidence that the attacker had a prosthetic arm.  Our heroes immediately suspect Lionel Carson, formerly the Head Designer for Experimental Bionics at Dynomec.  They read that he resigned after his wife died of cancer.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace drive to the Carson residence.  They peak through a window and observe Lionel Carson remove one of his daughter’s artificial arms, to repair a damaged hand.  He also tells her she should control her temper and stop attacking people.  Alexis attacked Kyle and Damon.  Damon is still unconscious in the hospital.  Alexis lost both her arms in the automotive accident a year and a half prior; Lionel fitted her with artificial limbs.  Now she feels like a freak.  She would feel less like a freak if someone else (other than her father) were like her.  Wes’s cellular phone gives our heroes’ location away.  They escape, with some difficulty; Alexis briefly prevents Wes’s car from leaving by holding the front bumper.

Jennifer, the only other person who understands Alexis, wants to become a cyborg.  Jennifer despises her weak body.  That night, our heroes return to the Carson residence.  In the laboratory in the basement, Mr. Carson is preparing to transform Jennifer into a cyborg.  Alexis lifts Wes and Tucker with one arm each.  She finally releases them before they choke.  Then Alexis attacks Grace.  Lionel prevents Alexis from harming anyone else by using a remote device to disable her bionic arms.  Jennifer does not become a cyborg.

A few days later, Tucker mails the newest issue of the World Chronicle to Damon Furberg, wearing a neck brace.  Damon sees the joint byline.  Lyle, reading the story in another copy, turns to Lionel Carson and makes a request.  Lyle’s injury sidelined his plans for a football scholarship.  Would Mr. Carson give him two bionic arms?

Above:  Lyle, Hanging from the Goal Post

Character Beats

Tucker Burns was the editor of his high school newspaper.

Wes Freewald was overweight in high school.

Grace Hall was a cheerleader in high school ten years prior, before her first alien abduction.

Above:  Lionel and Alicia Carson

Great Lines

Wes Freewald, on Damon Furberg’s vehicle:  “Man!  It looks like the canned ham minus the ham.”

Tucker Burns:  “Great!  We have a six million dollar science teacher here.”

Grace Hall:  “It’s always been my experience that the deepest, darkest secrets come packaged like Mayberry.”


Above:  Wes, Tucker, and Damon’s Damaged Vehicle


Tucker Burns and Wes Freewald are roommates at 7657 Main Street, New York, New York.  (In real life, this is commercial property.)

Donald Stern and Vera are hilarious on the telephone as they pretend to be Tucker’s parents.

The registration of Damon Furberg’s vehicle expires in May 2001.

Above:  Jennifer


The Stepford Cheerleaders is the fifth episode produced and the eighteenth one broadcast.  The temporal setting is late August-early September 2000.  I recommend watching The Stepford Cheerleaders immediately after Baby Got Back, for reasons of internal chronology.  Baby Got Back is the third episode produced and the fourth one broadcast.

In I See Dead Fat People (the fourth episode produced and the fifteenth episode aired), Tucker learned that Wes Freewald had been an overweight teenager.  The temporal setting for I See Dead Fat People is July 2001, however.  Now the internal chronology does not work on this point.

For more commentary on screwy internal chronology and production order versus broadcast order or episodes, see Hot from the Oven.

Watching guest actors who were 23 or 24 years old at the time of episode filming play high school students is not a new experience.

At the time of filming, Chad Willett was 29, Reno Wilson was 32, and Rena Sofer was 33 years old.

David Purdham played the noble and patriotic Captain James at the tail end of the fourth season of Babylon 5.  Captain James was captain of the E.A.S. Agamemnon, succeeding John Sheridan in that post.  Captain James and the crew signed on with Sheridan’s rebellion against the evil Earth Alliance President William Morgan Clark, who had his predecessor assassinated then transformed the Earth Alliance from a republic into a xenophobic, totalitarian state modeled on 1984.  After President Clark committed suicide rather than accept arrest and trial, James helped Sheridan save the Eastern Seaboard of North America from destruction by the planetary defense system, which Clark had turned against the Earth.

The Stepford Cheerleaders is odd to watch in broadcast order.  It feels like an early episode because it is one.  The balance of the serious and the whimsical holds up well, though.




Feast of Blessed Maurice Tornay (August 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Maurice Tornay

Image in the Public Domain



Swiss Roman Catholic Missionary to Tibet, and Martyr, 1949


To fulfill my vocation to leave the world and devote myself entirely to the service of souls to lead them to God, and save myself.

–Blessed Maurice Tornay, 1932


One of the recurring problems in Christian history has been that imperial incursions have led to hostility to foreigners, thereby making life and work more perilous for missionaries.  Another reason for this has been that many missionaries have, unfortunately, been more agents of their empire than of Christ.  That reality has made matters worse for the missionaries who have not been imperial agents.  The British invasion of Lhasa, Tibet, in 1904 led to anti-Christian sentiment and violence in Tibet.  Buddhist monks attacked missionaries.  Blessed Maurice Tornay had to contend with such hostility.

Tornay, born in Rosière, Valais, Switzerland, on August 31, 1910, was devout from an early age.  The seventh child (of eight) of Jean-Joseph Tornay and Faustina Dossier grew up in a pious family.  He was also a fine student, especially of French literature, as well as the writings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Therésè of Lisieux.

Tornay joined the Canons Regular of Saint Augustine, Hospitallers of Saint Nicholas and Grand-St-Bernard of Mont Joux.  He, a novice from August 25, 1931, made his first vows on September 8, 1932, and his final vows in 1935.  Surgery for a stomach ulcer, followed by recuperation, interrupted preparation for missionary work in 1934, but he, healed, headed for the borderlands of Tibet and China in 1936.

At Weixi, Yunnan, China, Tornay continued preparation.  He learned the local language, studied dentistry, medicine, and theology, and prepared for the priesthood.  Our saint, ordained in Hanoi on April 24, 1938, founded and led the Houa-Lo-Pa seminary.  The Japanese invasion of 1939 forced him to resort to begging to acquire food for his students.

In 1945 Tornay became the pastor of the Yerkalo mission in Tibet.  The Thirteenth Dalai Lama had died in 1933.  The Fourteenth Dalai Lama, born in 1935, although enthroned in 1940, did not begin to rule until 1950.  Anti-Christian persecution forced Tornay to leave Tibet and seek diplomatic pressure to intervene with the Tibetan government.  All diplomatic intervention failed.  On August 11, 1949, our saint was en route to Lhasa, to seek a meeting with the Tibetan government, when guards ambushed and shot him at To-Thong, Tibet.  He was 37 years old.

Pope John Paul II declared Tornay a Venerable in 1992 then a Blessed the following year.

I recall a scene from The Needs of Earth, an episode of Crusade (1999), a series the TNT channel never gave a chance.  In the scene Captain Matthew Gideon of the Starship Excalibur tells an alien,

When Mozart was my age, he was dead.

When Blessed Maurice Tornay was my age, he was dead.  And what he had done for the glory of God puts me to shame.








Almighty and everlasting God we thank you for your servant Blessed Maurice Tornay,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of China and Tibet.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716


Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2263 and Later)   Leave a comment


Above:  The Destruction of Babylon 5


River of Souls:

The Legend of the Rangers:  To Live and Die in Starlight:


A Call to Arms:


The Lost Tales:  Voices in the Dark:

In the Beginning:

War Without End, Parts I and II:

Sleeping in Light:

The Deconstruction of Falling Stars:


Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2262)   Leave a comment


Above:  Title Card for the Fifth Season of Babylon 5


The Deconstruction of Falling Stars:

No Compromises:

The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari:

The Paragon of Animals:

A View from the Gallery:

Learning Curve:

Day of the Dead:


Strange Relations:

Secrets of the Soul:

In the Kingdom of the Blind:

A Tragedy of Telepaths:

Phoenix Rising:

The Ragged Edge:

The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father:

Meditations on the Abyss:

Darkness Ascending:

All My Dreams, Torn Asunder:

Movements of Fire and Shadow:

The Fall of Centauri Prime:

The Wheel of Fire:

Objects in Motion:

Objects at Rest:


Posted August 22, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 5

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Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2261)   Leave a comment


Above:  A Scene from the Battle of Coriana VI, the Final Battle of the Shadow War


The Hour of the Wolf:

Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?

The Summoning:

Falling Toward Apotheosis:

The Long Night:

Into the Fire:


The Illusion of Truth:




Racing Mars:

Lines of Communication:

Conflicts of Interest:

Rumors, Bargains and Lies:

Moments of Transition:

No Surrender, No Retreat:

The Exercise of Vital Powers:

The Face of the Enemy:

Intersections in Real Time:

Between the Darkness and the Light:


Rising Star:


Posted August 22, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Movies, Babylon 5 Season 4

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Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2260)   Leave a comment


Above:  The White Star


Matters of Honor:


A Day in the Strife:

Passing Through Gethsemane:

Voices of Authority:

Dust to Dust:



Messages from Earth:

Point of No Return:

Severed Dreams:

Ceremonies of Light and Dark:

Sic Transit Vir:


A Late Delivery from Avalon:


Ship of Tears:

Interludes and Examinations:

War Without End, Parts I and II:


Grey 17 is Missing:


And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place:

Shadow Dancing:



Posted August 22, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 3

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Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2259)   Leave a comment


Above:  Captain John Sheridan


Points of Departure:


The Geometry of Shadows:


A Distant Star:

The Long Dark:

Spider in the Web:

Soul Mates:

A Race Through Dark Places:

The Coming of Shadows:



All Alone in the Night:

Acts of Sacrifice:


Hunter, Prey:

There All the Honor Lies:

And Now for a Word:

In the Shadow of Z’ha’dum:


Confessions and Lamentations:

Divided Loyalties:

The Long, Twilight Struggle:

Comes the Inquisitor:

The Fall of Night:



Posted August 22, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 2

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Guide Post: Babylon 5 (2258)   Leave a comment


Above:  The First Season Babylon 5 Title Card


Midnight on the Firing Line:

Soul Hunter:

Born to the Purple:



The Parliament of Dreams:


Mind War:

The War Prayer:


And the Sky Full of Stars:




By Any Means Necessary:

Signs and Portents:








A Voice in the Wilderness, Parts I and II:

Babylon Squared:

War Without End, Parts I and II:

The Quality of Mercy:




Posted August 22, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 1

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Guide Post: Babylon 5 (Through 2257)   Leave a comment


Above:  Lt. Commander Laurel Takashima in 2257


War Without End, Parts I and II:

In the Beginning:

The Gathering:

Referenced Here:


Posted August 22, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Movies, Babylon 5 Season 3

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Babylon 5–Sleeping in Light (1998)   1 comment

Space Station Babylon 5 Shortly Before Its Destruction


A series finale can be a tricky thing.  Was the entire series a figment of a child’s imagination, as in the case of St. Elsewhere?  Or was it a dream, as Newhart was?  Perhaps everything happened, Sam and Diane do not get back together, and the bar closes for the night, only to open the next day.  That was the scenario of One for the Road, the last episode of Cheers.  The ending of Star Trek:  Voyager was disappointing, with the ship getting home in the final moments.  Now what?

The best final episodes focus on characters.  I think of What You Leave Behind, with which Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine came to an end.  Jake was left without his father, who had joined the Bajoran Prophets in the wormhole.  And the memory of watching Admiral Adama grasp the hand of the dead Laura Roslin at the end of Battlestar Galactica still moves me.

I file Sleeping in Light among the best final episodes.  In fact, I consider it the best series finale.  This one is pure emotion.  The cast and crew were emotional wrecks during its filming.  J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) turned into an emotional wreck while recording the DVD commentary track for it.  And I have wept during it.

So let us begin.

Sheridan and Delenn Watch the Minbari Sunrise

It is the Earth year 2281, two decades since Captain John Sheridan died at Z’ha’dum.  Delenn is now the President of the Interstellar Alliance, and Sheridan has taken his wife’s old job, Ranger One.  He knows that he will die soon, for the twenty years Lorien granted him have almost expired.  And Sheridan has had the same foreboding dream for three consecutive nights.  He gets up early one morning to watch the sunrise, something he has never done on Minbar.  Delenn joins him.  Afterward, she sends out the invitations to Sheridan’s farewell gathering.

Rangers deliver invitations to Emperor Vir Cotto on Centauri Prime, Michael Garibaldi on Mars, and General Susan Ivanova on Earth.  Garibaldi is married happily to Lise, has a teenage daughter, and is still running Edgars Industries.  He is in the company of Dr. Stephen Franklin, still head of Xenobiological Research on Earth, when the Ranger arrives; the two travel to Minbar together.  The invitation intended for Zack Allan comes back; Sheridan and Delenn do not yet know that Zack is back in the military and on Babylon 5.

General Susan Ivanova

Susan Ivanova’s career path has been upward, rising from Captain in 2262 to General in 2281.  Yet she finds her work boring, and she has closed her heart since the death of Marcus Cole.  This is Ivanova’s situation when a Ranger arrives with an invitation from Minbar.

Old Friends Together for the Last Time

The final gathering is an occasion of laughter and stories.  It is, in simple terms, a time in which Sheridan does not speak of the obvious fact:  he has only a few days to live.  His son, David, is not present; David is in Ranger training.  Delenn is barely holding on emotionally, as is Ivanova.

The friends toast those who are deceased:  G’Kar, Londo, Lennier, Marcus.

The Final Embrace

The next morning, before the others awake, Sheridan and Delenn rise.  He puts on the black uniform for the first time in years.  It is tight in places; it must have shrunk while in storage, he says.   Sheridan is leaving Delenn for the last time, to take a ship to the Corianna system, where the Shadow War ended.  There he will die.  He embraces his wife, “the brightest star in my sky,” and leaves silently.

John Sheridan on Babylon 5 for the Last Time

Sheridan visits Babylon 5 first, however.  The space station is nearly deserted.  Commander Nils, the commanding officer, says that the station has become redundant; almost nobody comes there anymore.  The Earth Alliance government, again in possession of the space station, has to make budget cuts, so Babylon 5 is slated for destruction soon.  Sheridan sticks around long enough to speak to Zack Allan, who is back on board, but must leave, for his time grows short.

Lorien and Sheridan

Sheridan takes his ship to the Corianna system, where Lorien meets him.  The two will travel beyond the Rim, and Sheridan can never come back.  So Lorien assumes Sheridan bodily, leaving the vessel empty, with all the airlocks sealed.

A few days later, Zack, Ivanova, Vir, Garibaldi, and Delenn attend the decommissioning ceremony aboard Babylon 5.  Garibaldi takes a souvenir, a shot glass.  He is still sober after all these years.

The Destruction of Babylon 5

A maintenance worker played by JMS turns out the lights.  As the last ship leaves Babylon 5, the controlled destruction of the space station begins.  An interspecies delegation is on hand to witness the event.

Garibaldi returns to Mars, Franklin to Earth, and Vir to Centauri Prime.  Zack goes to Centauri Prime, to work for Vir.

Ivanova becomes Ranger One.

Ivanova’s voiceover summarizes the philosophy of the series:

Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. There would never be another. It changed the future, and it changed us. It taught us that we had to create the future, or others will do it for us.  It showed us that we have to care for each other, because if we don’t, who will?  And that strength sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places.  Mostly, though, I think it gave us hope that there can always be new beginnings, even for people like us.

And, Ivanova finishes, “As for Delenn, every morning for as long as she lived, Delenn got up before dawn and watched the sun come up…”

Aside:  JMS filmed Sleeping in Light at the end of the fourth season, so the credits reflect that season’s cast.  It is an interesting exercise to watch this episode after Rising Star, which is how the series might have ended, if not for Turner Network Television (TNT).  I do know, however, that JMS did not complete the final edit of Sleeping in Light until 1998; he said so in the commentary track for the episode.  So, with an eye toward continuity, one might speculate that Elizabeth Lochley was dead in 2281.  Her character did not exist until the fifth season, hence her absence here, but I think of series continuity.

Back to the episode:

A voiceover explains that this series has been an ISN documentary.  A series of photographs follows quickly.  Pausing the disc reveals images of all the behind-the-scenes people responsible for the Babylon 5 series.

The credits, located at the end of the episode, show our main characters as he saw them first (chronologically) and last (chronologically).

People change.  We all know this, do we not?  Yet much television programming presents static characters.  This approach makes casual viewing easy.  Babylon 5, however, requires one to watch carefully and to pay close attention to details.  And the series rewards all those who do this.  One can see the characters change greatly over a few years, as in real life.  The final closing credits present these transformations dramatically.

This journey has ended.  Thank you for taking it with me.



All images are property of Warner Brothers, and I do not profit from said images.

Posted October 21, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 5