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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.

Who would have thought that Star Trek, which has been around for almost forty years, and Star Wars, which started less than thirty years ago, would end just one week apart. I haven't seen Star Wars III yet, but will be reviewing it next issue. Star Trek actually had two endings. I liked the first better than the second. I also watched the end of Andromeda, but I don't have anything to say about it, since I am not a fan of that series. Sorry, Andys.

Star Trek Enterprise Star Trek Enterprise, "Terra Prime" (****)
by Judith Reeves-Stevens, Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Manny Coto, from a story by Judith Reeves-Stevens, Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Andre Bormanis

In the previous episode, the Republicans captured a base on Mars and used it to threaten the Earth if all the aliens didn't get the hell out of our solar system. Well, all right, it was really Terra Prime, but the rhetoric certainly had a quaint, early 21st Century ring to it.

There is a lot going on in this episode, including a Human/Vulcan hybrid who to us looks like a cute baby girl with pointy ears, but to Terra Prime is a hideous dilution of the precious human genome. I find I'm not being fair to Terra Prime, just as I am often unfair to Republicans. The villains in this episode are not monsters any more than the people in the Red states are monsters. They just have a different world view, and a different vision of the future. Some people crave uniformity. Others value infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

Now the Star Trek vision of the future is dead. We went into space, and all we brought back were some dumb rocks. Geologists are rightly very interested in rocks, but most people are only really interested in life. We have not found any slightest evidence that there is life anywhere but on Earth, which means that the dream of space exploration which Star Trek helped to create in the general population is now gone. Solve all the problems here on Earth first. Then maybe we will want to go to the stars. Or not. Maybe we would rather play glorious video games, in which the stars are full of delightful alien creatures. Some of them may be Andorran, Vulcan, and Romulan.

The penultimate episode of Star Trek is gripping drama primarily because the script and pacing are excellent. There is a lot going on here, a lot of different emotions are evoked, all with consummate skill. The episode ends with a speech by Captain Archer that is a fitting climax to the Enterprise series.

Star Trek Enterprise Star Trek Enterprise, "These Are the Voyages..." (***)
by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga

The final episode of Star Trek is set six years later, and it is more of an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation than it is of Star Trek Enterprise. You can understand why the cast of Enterprise are upset. They were not allowed to be the stars of their own finale. Still, it is an above average episode of ST TNG. The setting, like so much of that classic show, is mostly on the holodeck.

It is too bad that B&B, after turning the series over to Manny Coto and watching him produce most of its best episodes ever, took back the writing chores for the last episode.

Things have not changed as much as you would expect in six years. In fact, the six years seems rather arbitrary, to give them some wiggle room if the end of Star Trek produces a large enough audience to win the series a new lease on life. They shouldn't have bothered. No matter how big an audience the finale has, and it deserves a bigger audience than it will get, Star Trek is over.

This episode also ends with a big speech by Captain Archer, but this time we do not get to hear his speech. Instead, we cut away to a Next Gen conclusion. It's done well -- but it's not quite right.

My most fondly remembered Star Trek episodes are:
"The City on the Edge of Forever" by Harlan Ellison
"Amok Time" by Theodore Sturgeon
"Journey to Babel" by D. C. Fontana
"Mirror, Mirror" by Jerome Bixby
"Encounter at Farpoint" by D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry
"Yesterday's Enterprise" by Ira Stephen Behr, Richard Manning, Hans Beimler, Ronald D. Moore & Michael Piller, from a story by Trent Christopher Ganino & Eric A. Stillwell
"The Best of Both Worlds" by Michael Piller
"Relics" by Ronald D. Moore
"Trials and Tribble-ations" by Ronald D. Moore & Rene Echevarria from a story by Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
"In a Mirror, Darkly" by Mike Sussman and Manny Coto.

The next real SF we have to look forward to on TV is the second season of Battlestar Galactica, which starts in July.

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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