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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

The X-Files, "Fight Club" (****)
written by Chris Carter
Other Babylon 5.1 Columns
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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.

X-Files There is only one standard by which you judge comedy. If it makes you laugh out loud, it's funny. If it doesn't, it isn't. It has been a long time since I've laughed as hard as I did while watching "Fight Club".

This is not the mythos episode we've been waiting for. For that, we must wait until the cliffhanger and/or concluding episode. Off screen, the cliffhanger of whether David Duchovny will or will not get his million bucks an episode to make Season Eight is, at this writing, still hanging fire. My bet is he'll do it. "We've already settled the question of what you are. Now we're just haggling over the price."

"Fight Club" is about twin sisters (with different mothers, but you're laughing so hard you forget about the details) who generate disaster whenever they come together, and who are drawn together inexorably. The story really doesn't go anywhere, but it was fun while it lasted.

Star Trek: Voyager, "Fury" (***)
written by Brian Fuller, Michael Taylor, Rick Berman, and Brannon Braga

Star Trek: Voyager The word is out that there will be a fifth Star Trek series, probably starting September 2001. I suspect that one of the deal makers shows up in the current Voyager episodes. Every Trek episode since The Next Generation has been 45 minutes long. The last few Sixth Season Voyagers are a minute or so shorter than that. Look for the new Star Trek to be shorter still.

Whoever decided to make the return of Kes a time travel episode should have taken a good look at Jennifer Lien. She is a wonderful actress, but there is no way she can look the way she looked six years ago, and that is a constant distraction as she "successfully" impersonates her younger self.

The other problem with this episode, which has an excellent opening and which could have been one of the best, is that we are never given sufficient understanding of the changes in Kes's personality. Given another minute of air time, could the writers have made the changes believable? Does that minute exist on film, cut to make way for four or five extra commercials?

Still, I was glad to see the Kes story brought to a conclusion. Introducing a character with a seven year life span into a seven year series was a brave move, and I'm glad we haven't been left hanging by the actress's decision to leave the series two years ago.

Star Trek: Voyager, "Life Line" (***)
written by Robert Doherty, Raf Green, Brannon Braga, John Bruno, and Robert Picardo

Star Trek: Voyager This is another episode featuring Reg Barclay and Deanna Troi, but the real star is Robert Picardo, who plays a dual role. We are used to the special effects wizardry that allows the same actor to play two parts on screen at the same time. That has been around since Haley Mills played twin sisters, probably longer. It was carried to its greatest extreme in Back to the Future II, when Michael Fox's characters all take slices of pizza from the same pie at the same time. Trickier, much trickier, is for the actor to get the timing of the repartee between himself and his other self down pat. Picardo, playing both The Doctor, and the scientist who created Emergency Medical Hologram, Mark I, does this to perfection, reacting physically to a presence who isn't really there.

Lots of little details make this a very enjoyable episode.

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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