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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you about Boondock Saints, written and directed by Troy Duffy. Since it isn't SF, I'll limit myself to three comments. 1) It goes without saying that all films made especially for Blockbuster bite, big time. 2) I would not be mentioning such an obvious fact if Boondock Saints were not an exception to this rule. 3) If you know who Kevin Smith is, you will want to know who Troy Duffy is. Otherwise, never mind.

Star Trek Voyager, "Child's Play" (***)
written by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky
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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.

Star Trek: Voyager I missed the first five minutes of this episode because I was listening to Don McLean sing "American Pie" on PBS. Highly illogical. After all, I could always listen to "American Pie" on CD some other time. And my mind wandered while I was listening. Still, it was the right choice, even though I enjoyed this Voyager quite a lot. Nothing has value or importance apart from the emotion it invokes.

In "Child's Play," one of the Borg children is returned to his father in Cuba. Well, actually, his father is on a planet in the Delta Quadrant, but the parallels with current events are obvious. This is a story about what happens to children when they are used as pawns in a conflict they can't understand and know nothing about.

It looks as if at least some of the Borg children will be semi-regulars on Voyager. That seems to me a move in the right direction. A lot of the appeal of Deep Space Nine was due to the excellent supporting cast. If the rumours are correct, and Voyager will segue into the new Star Trek series at the end of next season, it would be nice to have a mix of old and new faces as the regulars on that program.

I could see a series with Sulu as captain, Miles O'Brian as Chief Engineer, Dr. Bashir as Chief Medical Officer, Tuvok as Science Officer, and Seven of Nine in the crew. Who would you pick?

The X-Files, "First Person Shooter" (**)
written by William Gibson and Tom Maddox

X-Files This is the second X-File by Gibson. The first was the fifth season episode "Kill Switch" (**).

There are a number of cool things in this episode, which features The Lone Gunmen. Just the sight of Mulder dressed up to play a "live" computer game is worth seeing. The costume of the computer-generated killer resembles the most outlandish female super hero costumes, and she does some nice tricks with that sword.

The problem with the episode is the same as the problem with "Kill Switch" -- it doesn't go anywhere. Scully and Mulder investigate, placing themselves deeper and deeper in peril, and then they get away, but nothing is accomplished. The killer, a machine intelligence in "Kill Switch" and a computer construct with a mind of its own in "First Person Shooter," is not stopped, and will presumably go on to kill again.

I assume that the stupidity and lack of originality on the second level of the computer game was an intentionally ironic comment on games like these, which tend to lack originality. But there should have been some sort of resolution to the story. Instead, it just ends. Thud. Mulder and Scully are alive, but they could have stayed alive by staying home in bed. None of their questions are really answered, and they have no reason to think that the killer won't be back.

Copyright © 2000 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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