One of the hardest questions for any writer to answer is where did the
story come from. It's often a synthesis of lots of elements that sometimes
bursts through all at one shot, other times trickles out a bit here and
With B5, I started from wanting to do a saga, wanting to produce an SF
show in a fiscally responsible manner (thus encouraging more of it), and to
do real SF. The usual strategy used by other shows is the man or show on the
run...going in search of new worlds, or escaping from something, or trying to
get somewhere. The Immortal, Battlestar Galactica, the various Treks, The
Hulk...all these and others used that approach, 'cause it's the easiest kind
of story to construct, and needs the least amount of work. The downside,
though, is that you end up creating a venue in which you are constantly
distracting your story from your main characters by having to introduce the
Alien Of The Week, or the Planet Of The Week, establish them, their culture,
the problem they bring in...which leaves you very little room for real
character development. And I wanted also to get into some of what's
happening on Earth, do a little extrapolative writing in politics, law,
criminal justice, sociology, religion, and other areas.
This led me to the notion -- used in shows like LA Law or St. Elsewhere
-- of creating a place where the stories came to you, rather than vice versa.
This led me to the notion of a space station, a freeport in space. Onto
this, I began to stitch the notion of a saga, a war, certain mythic and
archetypal constructs...anyway I was playing with all this, when one day the
whole story just sorta exploded in my head. I saw the whole B5 sage, start
to finish, in one big flash. I then spent the next year, as I gathered my
notes, and wrote the pilot screenplay, trying to write down and clarify what
I saw in that one moment of absolute clarity.
It's those notes, written in 1986/87, which formed the basis for the
arc, and which I'm still using with some modifications today.