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The Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight (***)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Principal Cast
David Martel -- Dylan Neal
Citizen G'Kar -- Andreas Katsulas
Dulann -- Alex Zahara
Sarah Cantrell -- Myriam Sirois
Malcolm Bridges -- Dean Marshall
Kitaro Sasaki -- Warren T. Takeuchi
Na'Feel -- Jennie Rebecca Hogan
Minister Kafta -- Mackenzie Gray
Tafeek -- David Storch
Firell -- Enid-raye Adams
Tirk -- Gus Lynch
Tannier -- Todd Sandomirsky
Captain Bart Gregg -- Andrew A. Kavadas
Minbari Crewman -- Simon Egan
Sindell -- Bernard Cuffling
Ranger -- Chris Robson
Drazi Diplomat -- Rob Morton
Cloaked Figure -- Eric Schneider
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers Say it ain't so, Joe.

I remember reading an interview somewhere in which Joe Straczynski talks about calling up Harlan Ellison (before they had met) and saying, "Nobody will buy my stuff." And Harlan, ever the straight shooter, said, "That's because your stuff is shit."

And the story goes that J. Michael Straczynski then redoubled his efforts to not only write, but write stuff that was really good, and that's when he broke into television.

I wish he had remembered that lesson when he wrote "To Live and Die in Starlight", because it is not very good.

It is, for example, unacceptable to say, "Our new menace is just like the Shadows, but so much bigger and badder and older than the Shadows as to make the Shadows look small." That's not storytelling, that's writing on autopilot.

The whitebread hero has about as much personality as a vending machine, and the same goes for the obligatory one-of-each-suit crew. The new villains are uninteresting. The plot is an extended space battle. The subplot involves ghosts who cannot rest until their deaths are avenged. Really.

But the show is not a total loss, because it has G'Kar in it. All of the best parts of the script involve Narn or Drazi. G'Kar has more personality than all the other characters combined and the Drazi are always good for a laugh.

Also laughable, though unintentionally so, are the kung-fu space battles. I'm one of the few people I know who actually liked it when Riker broke out the Enterprise joy-stick, but chop socky space battles are too much even for me.

The big question is why? We know Straczynski can still write, because his comic book work is excellent. Was he too busy with other projects to give this one his full attention? That doesn't seem likely. This is his last best hope to get back into television. I do understand he has another pilot in the works, involving a plague that wipes out all the adults, leaving young people to try to rebuild civilization. Is he more interested in that than in Babylon 5? Or has he sold out? Did he look at the stellar ratings Enterprise is pulling down, and decide that fist fights and space battles is all the average viewer can handle? I hope not.

Quixotically, I hope enough people watched for the Sci-Fi Channel to turn Legend of the Rangers into a series. I'm assuming Straczynski's writing will improve if he can give the series his full attention. Meanwhile, we still have his Spiderman to look forward to.

Copyright © 2002 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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