By Jason Davis
Senior Editor, Babylon 5 Books
Viewers of the 19 June 2016 episode of HBO's Silicon Valley--titled "Daily Active Users"--might have noted the unusual coat worn by Bernard White as Denpok, the spiritual advisor to series antagonist Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), during a scene set atop the roof of Hooli, the latter's software company.
The multi-colored thigh-length coat with eastern-influenced lines, designed by Ann Bruice, was created as the costume for Stephen Furst, who played Vir Cotto in the 1993-98 Warner Brothers syndicated series Babylon 5. It made its on-screen debut the week of 16 November 1994 in the second-season episode "The Geometry of Shadows," and remained part of Furst's wardrobe throughout the second and third seasons of the series, alternating with a new costume in the latter year. (The coat would have made its debut a week earlier, but Furst's scenes in "Revelations"--the preceding episode--were cut for timing.)
The coat--which made an earlier but fleeting appearance on Silicon Valley--must scream "counselor" to wardrobe departments, given that Vir Cotto constantly offered wise-but-ignored advice to his superior, Ambassador Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik), on Babylon 5 just as Denpok directs the whims of his Silicon Valley employer, Belson.
Silicon Valley Is Not the Only HBO Show To Borrow From Babylon 5's Wardrobe
This is not the first time an HBO series has raided the Babylon 5 universe for unique garments. The 8 March 2009 episode of Flight of the Conchords--titled "New Zealand Town"--made use of Babylon 5's Earthforce military uniform and an improperly worn version of the uniform worn by crew members of the starship Excalibur in Babylon 5's short-lived spin-off Crusade (1999) in a musical number titled "Fashion Is Danger."
Both Warner Brothers Domestic Television Distribution--which produced Babylon 5--and HBO--producer of both Silicon Valley and Flight of the Conchords--are subsidiaries of Time-Warner.
Jason Davis is an award-winning writer whose newest book is Writing The X-Files, available now from Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/1TYY5UT). He's written extensively about television for the last dozen years, edited twenty-eight books on Babylon 5, and has edited seventeen books by the legendary Harlan Ellison® (available now at HarlanEllisonBooks.com).