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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

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Ratings
Ratings are based on a four star system.
One star means that the commercials are more entertaining than the program.
Two stars watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars is good solid entertainment.
Four stars means you never dreamed television could be this good.

Well, I just watched the first Farscape on DVD, as I promised I would last issue.

Farscape

Have you ever been in an all-night D&D game where all the players have high IQs but low social skills, and every time they open their mouths they are trying to be clever?

That's what Farscape felt like to me. In fact, it was worse, because in those all-night D&D games of long ago, I at least got my turn to make my own high-IQ, low social skills wisecracks.

So, if you like Farscape, that's a good thing, because it is always good to find something you really like. But I cannot recommend it. It wasn't just that the people talked as if they were pleased to come up with the proper cliché. It wasn't just that the science was nonsensical. (The space shuttles have been obsolete for ten years already. Do you really think we'll still be using them after we've been back to the moon?)

The real problem is that I was bored.

So, this DVD isn't a keeper. The first person to e-mail their mailing address to f.norwood@worldnet.att.net is welcome to it, free.

One technical note on the DVD. Why aren't both episodes accessible from the main menu?

The Pluto Gambit

Much more fun is the DVD of Roughnecks, Starship Trooper Chronicles, "The Pluto Gambit." I mentioned in a previous column watching this on the air, and finding it mildly interesting but not worth the time. Entertainment Weekly gave the DVD a grade of A, so I thought I would give the series a second chance. Entertainment Weekly was using hyperbole. It isn't an A. But it is a good B. The commercials on the air kept the action from building any momentum. Without commercials, it is enjoyable action CGI, almost entirely free from the bane of the "Saturday morning cartoon" genre: reused footage. I did catch a couple of self-swipes in episode five, but that was all.

Dune The SciFi Channel's version of Dune is out on both VHS and DVD, letterboxed in both formats. I ran both versions at the same time, and the only difference I saw was the extra crispness in the DVD. Plus the fact that the VHS version has an ad for the DVD version!

I finished watching the entire first season of The X-Files on DVD, and was pleased at how well even the lesser episodes held up. The sound on the DVD is excellent, and can be particularly spooky when sound effects come from behind your chair!

The seventh season Voyager continues to be much better than any previous season.

Here is what I recommend in May:
Wednesday, May 2
Star Trek: Voyager, "Natural Law" by Kenneth Biller and James Kahn

Sunday, May 5
The X-Files, "Vienen" by Steve Maeda

Wednesday, May 9
Star Trek: Voyager, "Destiny"

Sunday, May 12
The X-Files, "Essence"

Wednesday, May 16
Star Trek: Voyager, "Renaissance Man"

Sunday, May 19
The X-Files, "Existance" (season finale)

Wednesday, May 23
Star Trek: Voyager, "Endgame" (season and series finale -- two hours)

And after that, you can safely turn your tv off for the next three months.

Copyright © 2001 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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