Cult Times Logo
Ragged Edges

Jerry Doyle as GaribaldiWHATEVER happened to Mr Garibaldi? Well, in a nutshell, he worked on Europa, witnessed the death of his close friend, and turned alcoholic. He recovered, met Lise Hampton (Denise Gentile), got offered the job of security chief on Babylon 5, and lost her to two men in succession. On B5 he set about bringing some order amid the chaos, got shot in the back by his right hand man, was brought back to life with an alien healing machine and joined Captain Sheridan's campaign against Earth's President Clark and the Shadows. Then he got abducted by a Shadow vessel, brainwashed by the Psi-Corps, resigned his post on the station and betrayed Sheridan.
A lost cause? Not at all; Garibaldi then led the team to rescue the Captain, who was then made president of the Alliance of alien worlds, while Garibaldi became his Head of Covert Intelligence. He even managed a romantic reunion with Lise. Life, it seems, is perfect... until The Ragged Edge.
"The character starts drinking again and really falls off the wagon in a bad way," explains actor Jerry Doyle, "and the consequences of that are..."
He stops suddenly, obviously concerned that he's about to reveal one of those dreaded fifth season spoilers. "He'd got things together, but there are still certain little tweaks that he hasn't taken care of. But it's a combination: things are still bad, but things are also good, and he's got to fix one and test the other. It causes the character to say, 'Life's going great, so I can start drinking again - I can handle it'.
"It was a very interesting place to be, because the consequences of him being an alcoholic earlier on in the series were not as great as they are now. Back then he was really just hurting himself, and fortunately he had people who helped him along the way. Now he's hurting not only himself but also a lot more people. He has less people to help him. So it's been a really interesting arc to play, and the resolution of it is pretty good."
Garibaldi is Babylon 5's Everyman. We can all relate to him, because - despite being a total professional and well-intentioned individual - he's riddled with weaknesses and frailties. "I love the character," enthuses Doyle. "If you take a look at the complexity of the character - he's cynical, he's jaded, he's not politic, he's not subtle, he's a pain in the ass, he's been fired from a lot of jobs. He's a recovering alcoholic, he's got relationship problems, he doesn't trust authority, he can be your best friend and your worst enemy.
"Put that character into any situation that takes place on the station and there are limitless ways to go. For me it's been trying to find the new notes, so you don't just play the same, 'Cynical, jaded, irreverent, non-political, pain in the ass kind of a guy'. You're trying to throw some new layers into it, and what's been nice is the progression of the relationship with [Lise]. So it's been really fun to play."
Essentially, the role is timeless - take Garibaldi out of Babylon 5 and put him in any number of other TV shows, and he would still be credible.
"Yeah, he could be in Hill Street Blues, he could be in Casablanca, he could be in Barney Miller," Doyle concurs. "He tries to help himself, he tries to get it right, he makes these stabs at relationships, he gets afraid so he retreats, and he uses humour as a barrier to stop people getting too close.
"He gets to do things in life that we would like to get to do, like just punch somebody out without the real consequences that go along with it. He just says things that you think, 'Yeah I'd like to tell my boss that!' I try and make the character all those things but not make him an asshole, just a likeable guy having a bad day - because people don't like assholes. This is a guy who recognizes his own problems and tries to work on them. He won't back down, he's his own worst enemy and hardest critic."
David Richardson

Jerry Doyle spills the beans on Garibaldi's latest antics, and reveals just what he'd do for $40 million in the new issue of Cult Times (July 1998, #34).
The Best Guide to This Month's Cult Television
£2.75 ($4.99)
Image © TNT
Cult Times footer