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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

Babylon 5, The Fall of Centauri Prime (****)
by J. Michael Straczynski
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For more information, you can try the following sites:
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The X-Files
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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.

Babylon 5 Well worth the wait. That sums up my reaction to the return, after a long hiatus, of the fifth and final season of Babylon 5.

High melodrama and remarkable acting, especially by Peter Jurasik, make the beginning of the end of the five year story arc a worthy entry in the only television program to rival (some would say supplant, not I) Star Trek. Since those of us who have seen all of the episodes knew, from Londo's visions and Sheridan's time travel, what was going to happen, it is remarkable that the story is gripping and suspenseful from beginning to end, and still has a few surprises of a personal nature, as Londo accepts a doom he knows is inevitable. What he can do, he does, but his choices narrow until, finally, he has no choices at all.

I don't want to say too much about this episode. See it before someone tells you all the good parts. The title tells you all a Bab Five fan needs to know about the plot, but there is a lot more here than just plot.

Only four more episodes, and Babylon 5 is history. Fortunately, there is a new series, Crusade, waiting in the wings.

But why did they have to schedule the next Babylon 5 movie opposite the season premiere of The X-Files?

Diagnosis Murder (*)

George Takei, Walter Koenig, Wil Wheaton, Bill Mumy, Majel Barrett, and Grace Lee Whitney all appear in the episode of Diagnosis Murder that aired after John Glenn's lift-off .

Every now and then, I watch one of these ordinary, run-of-the-mill television shows that air night after night, year after year. I am always newly amazed by how stupifyingly obvious the plot is, how relentlessly bland the characters are, how dull the dialogue is. I forget how little plot it takes to make one of these shows, how little sense that little plot makes, and how long it takes to establish the most obvious plot point. Timidly, the writers trot out one stale cliché after another.

spoiler warning

Not that anything could spoil such an obvious plot as this, but I am nothing if not scrupulous in my spoiler warnings. The whole thing is a hoax, not SF at all. You see, there is this wicked corporation and they want to... oh, never mind... you don't want to know.

end spoiler warning

It was kind of fun to see the Star Trek gang again, joined by Bill Mumy, who was doubtless hired because of his old Lost in Space gig, not because the producers of Diagnosis Murder know about Babylon 5. Somehow, these actors seem almost like old friends and they perform like the old troopers they are. Even Wil Wheaton is an old trooper, now. But the gimmick is largely wasted, because, except for Majel and Grace, the Star Trek actors are never given a chance to interact with one another. And what does it say about the publicist of Diagnosis Murder that in their press release to TV Guide they mention Wil Wheaton but not Majel Barrett?

I'll bet it never even entered their heads while they were out hiring every Star Trek actor they could get their hands on, to employ one of the old Star Trek writers to give them a decent script. Just imagine what David Gerrold could have done with this.

Copyright © 1998 by 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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