Oblique relations.... Wheelies and B5.

That's right, there *is* a connection between these two fine shows, and the connection is in the form of two men: J. Michael Straczynski ("jms"--the executive producer of B5) and Larry DiTillio (story editor and writer for B5 during its first season).

It was back in 1993 when the pilot for B5, "The Gathering" first aired. I saw it on KCOP, channel 13 in the Los Angeles area. I liked B5 immediately... and when the pilot was re-broadcast, I managed to tape it. I also found the alt.tv.sf.babylon-5 newsgroup, to which many neat quotes and messages from JMS were posted regularly by a nice person named Jonathan Roy.

At one point, I watched the tape... and the name J. Michael Straczynski jumped out at me. It seemed familiar. Almost too familiar. I *knew* I had seen it somewhere before, and that wherever I had seen it, I had seen it often. What followed was a couple of days of crazy wondering... where had I seen this name?

When, eventually, it came to me... it seemed too weird to be true. I thought I'd seen it in the credits of *Wheelies* for goodness sakes. *Wheelies*! It took me until that night to get to a TV and VCR I could use to check my hypothesis (I was an undergrad at the time... I had no TV/VCR of my own). And there, on the screen, on the credits of an episode of Wheelies was the name that had been plaguing me: J. Michael Straczynski.

The next question that popped to mind was, in retrospect, perhaps a silly one. I wondered... were these two JMS's the *same* JMS? Was a major author of my beloved Wheelies in fact the man behind this exciting new show, "Babylon 5"? I *had* to know. So I gathered my courage and sent an email to Jonathan Roy asking if he would forward my question to the JMS of B5.

The fun began the next morning. What follows are the emails that were exchanged on the subject.

Here's what I found on my computer, at 8am, when I checked my mail:

Date: 17 Jun 93 03:14:24 EDT
From: "J. Michael Straczynski"
To: cindy@ugcs.caltech.edu
Subject: Jayce/Babylon
Message-Id: 930617071423_71016.1644_CHL56-1@CompuServe.COM
Status: RO

Yes, this is the same J. Michael Straczynski that did "Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors" and "Twilight Zone" and now "Babylon 5." I'm pleased to hear that someone remembers "Jayce." What brought that to mind? Did you watch the show much?


Needless to say, I was excited to get a reply from the *executive producer* of a tv show. Since he ended his message with a question, I wrote back (after I calmed down enough to be able to type)...

From cindy Fri Jun 18 21:02:46 1993
From: cindy (Cynthia Marie Machacek)
Message-Id: (9306190402.AA18228@grate.ugcs.caltech.edu)
Subject: Re: Jayce/Babylon
To: J. Michael Straczynski
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1993 21:02:40 -0800 (PDT)
Status: RO

Thank you for the reply!

As for your question, to say that I watched "Jayce" _much_ would, at best, be a colossal understatement. At one point, I could have recited most of the episodes back to you from memory. I really enjoyed the show because it actually had interesting characters in it, something you don't usually find in cartoons. I've carried it a bit further, in that I've imagined a lot of the background that the show only hints at. I've even had the characters endure a few adventures of my own.

As to what brought all this to mind... I saw your name in the credits for Babylon-5 and the name seemed awfully familiar. I then spent the next few days going crazy trying to figure out where I'd seen it before. Once I figured it out, I just wasn't sure if the two names went with the same person. I had seen the stuff of yours that J. Roy posts to the Babylon newsgroup, and so finally I asked him.

I've often wondered if anyone ever had an ending planned for "Jayce." Since the show never offered one, I came up with one of my own. Thank you for many great episodes of "Jayce" and best of luck with Babylon-5.

Cindy Machacek

...and jms replied!

Date: 19 Jun 93 04:07:52 EDT
From: "J. Michael Straczynski"
To: cindy@ugcs.caltech.edu
Subject: Re: Jayce/Babylon
Message-Id: (930619080751_71016.1644_CHL22-1@CompuServe.COM
Status: RO

I'm glad you enjoyed the show. I sometimes wonder if the animated work gets noticed anywhere. I know that "The Real Ghostbusters" series that I did has earned a lot of attention and a pretty large following, but this is the first time that I've heard of anyone having noticed "Jayce." (The other that surprises me from time to time is the occasional person who noticed "Captain Power," but that's even rarer, even for a live-action series.)

We tried to do a good show, in and around the constant battles, and the other major writer (Larry DiTillio) and I always tried to play to the characters.

As to an end to the story...yes, there was one. After the series was over, the head of the studio tried to sell the sponsor on the idea of an animated "Jayce" feature. I was commissioned to write it, and I think it actually came out very well...and very, very intense. Saw Boss was finally destroyed in hand-to-hand combat, Jayce comes through some truly life-changing events, we go back to the world that spawned Oon and Gillian for Jayce's training, he falls in love, someone dies...it was a heck of a story. They couldn't get it made, though, so that was the end of it, though somewhere or other I still have the script.

Hope you enjoy Babylon 5; we're trying to continue the idea of doing character-based SF. Thanks for your interest.


Boy, what I wouldn't give to see that script someday. I didn't write back to him again, because I knew he was busy and didn't want to bother him. But I still think he must be one heck of a nice guy to take the time to answer questions like mine!

The last email I have here is the reply to my question (are you the *same* jms?) that jms sent to Jonathan Roy. (J. Roy was nice enough to forward it to me).

Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1993 18:38:39 -0700
From: Jonathan Roy
Message-Id: (199306200138.AA25917@halcyon.com)
To: cindy@ugcs.caltech.edu
Status: RO

Re: JMS note

GE Mail
Item 7499470 93/06/17 00:05

From: STRACZYNSKI J. Michael Straczynski

To: J.ROY18 Jonathan E. Roy


Reply: Item #0486744 from J.ROY18 on 93/06/16 at 20:00

Yes. Same JMS. If there's another J. Michael Straczynski, I'd be very much surprised. Just as surprised as I am to discover there's someone out there who actually remembers "Jayce."


But wait... the saga continues!

After reading this page in its original form, Jayce of "The Root" (see below) wrote to jms. Here's their exchange:

From: Jayce
To: straczynski
Subject: Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
Date: Saturday, September 06, 1997 2:04 PM


I just read the information and e-mails on Cindy Machacek Noble's Wheeled Warriors page (http://cindy.cs.ou.edu/ww-b5-jms.html).

I REALLY enjoyed the stories you wrote for the animated series _Jayce_ and_the_Wheeled_Warriors._ From day one, I had always wanted to see more character development and find out more about the history behind the Wheeled Warriors universe. When I first saw the story about the descendants of the original Lightning League, I knew that my prayers had been answered! :) There was also Herc quitting the League and apologizing to Flora, Oon proving himself to Squiresmith Wixland and confronting the Nightwalker, Jayce struggling to resist the Helmet of Valroth, Flora pulling the lever on a machine that destroyed plants to save the League from the Monster Minds, Gash fighting a war with his conscience, and Aragon doing things _his_ way, no matter what. The humor always shone through as well. I saw the characters grow and the past having a direct effect on the present.

_Thank_you!!!!!_ Thank you for writing such WONDERFUL stories for Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, The Real Ghostbusters, Babylon 5, and all the others. Stories like yours are worth solid gold, and I'm glad that they were seen on both animated and live-action series. I know that you're MAJORLY busy with the new season, but I'm curious about the script you wrote for the planned animated feature. Did Jayce train on Forgeworld? Was there a hand-to-hand fight between Saw Boss and Jayce? Who died (Audric, Flora, Herc)? Were the Roots ever joined, or were the Monster Minds defeated another way? I would LOVE to see the script one day!

Best of luck with Babylon 5 and all your future endeavors.

Gigi Riggio

From: straczynski
To: jayce6
Subject: Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors
Date: Saturday, September 06, 1997 8:26 PM

Thanks, it was a great show to work for. Got to tell some nifty little stories.

The screenplay would have led to the final confrontation between SawBoss and Jayce, the extended history of, and training by, the Lightning League, the death of Audric, and a whole lot of stuff blowing up once and for all. It would've been terrific....


So, there you have it. Now you know about the connection of "Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors" to "Babylon 5", and are probably just as curious about jms's unproduced wheelies script as I am. As Flora said, in one epsidode-- "The swamp's alive with mysteries..."

In the Wheelies episode where our heroes meet the descendants of the original Lightning League, I noticed the "Great Maker's" hand at work. Gillian reads the marker the old League left behind by chanting an ancient verse:

"Between the candle and the stars
Between the storm cloud and the sun
We ride the thunder
Light against night
From now until forever, we are the Lightning League!"

Gillian's incantation echoes the words of Satai Delenn as she takes her place among the Grey Council:

"Summoned, I come. In Valen's name, I take the place that has been
prepared for me. I am Grey. I stand between the candle and the star.
We are Grey. We stand between the darkness and the light."
-- Satai Delenn, B5: "Babylon Squared"

One can almost imagine that the adventures of Jayce and his friends take place in some far future of B5, and that the original Lightning League, in some way, descended from the Rangers, and Captain John Sheridan's Army of Light. Almost. It's fun to pretend anyway.

(And the descendants of the original Lightning League *do* live on Epsilon 9. I wonder if it's located deep in a neutral sector of space... :-)

For more info on B5, check out The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5 .

For other interesting Wheelies sites, take a look at:

The Root -- "Jayce" and "Flora's" WW archive.
The Pride-- "Erana's" WW fan page.

Lightning Strikes!

Back to Main Wheelies Page | Back to Cindy's Main Index.

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