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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.

Battlestar Galactica, "Kobol's Last Gleaming" (2 parts) (***) by Ronald D. Moore
Battlestar Galactica The conclusion of Battlestar Galactica's first season was a critical and ratings success. But I think it important to crunch some numbers. BSG is a cable TV ratings hit, with about 2 million viewers, while Star Trek Enterprise is a network TV ratings flop with about 4 million viewers.

So, the good ratings news is at best mixed. I have similar mixed feelings about the series as a whole, though I certainly got a kick out of "Kobol's Last Gleaming."

There is a movie cliché that I think of as a James Bond cliché, though I cannot cite chapter and verse. What happens is that the villain, in an attempt to kill Bond, blows up millions of dollars worth of his own property. There is a scene in "Kobol's Last Gleaming" that is a lot like that. Maybe Ronald D. Moore knows what he's doing, but he's got a lot of 'splaining to do.

On the other hand, if you just relax and enjoy the ride, there is a lot to enjoy here. The special effects are excellent, as is the acting.

Battlestar Galactica returns in July.

Smallville Smallville, "Onyx" (***) by Steven S. Deknight
In this episode, Lex Luthor is caught in a transporter malfunction and split into Good Lex and Bad Lex. I was all set to hate this episode, since the idea has, to put it mildly, been done before, and with more subtlety. It turns out that a really evil Lex Luthor is just what Smallville needed to jazz up a weak fourth season. My only objection is the contrived ending.

Star Trek Enterprise Star Trek Enterprise, "Bound" (***)
by Manny Coto

Green Orion slave girls.

One of the reasons that former trekies are not watching Enterprise is that they want to shed the fanboy image, the idea that Star Trek is watched by young men who can't get a date on Friday night. The attempt by the UPN advertisers to make Star Trek "sexy" has backfired.

In the 60s, when television was squeaky clean, Star Trek was in the foreplay, sorry, I mean forefront of sex on TV. It was a sexist, college locker room kind of sex, with William Shatner bedding females of every race and species, but at least it was sex, in an era where even husbands and wives on television slept in twin beds.

We've come a long way, baby. While the actual treatment of sex in the episodes has been reasonably mature, the message that the ads tried to send was, "Hey, fanboy, not getting any on Friday nights? Then watch Star Trek for a turn on." It was a message for losers. Hence, no more Star Trek after May 2005.

So, how well does Manny Coto handle green Orion slave girls? Better than you might expect. He plays up the relationship between sex and aggression. Want some slave girl, Archer boy? Gotta blow up some spaceships.

Still, it wasn't until the last two minutes that I realized Manny Coto knows what he is doing.

Don't miss the origin of the Mirror Universe, a two-part Star Trek Enterprise starting April 22.

Copyright © 2005 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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