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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

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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.

The premieres of both Star Trek: Enterprise and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer got good ratings -- good for UPN, that is -- far fewer number than the major networks. This makes me happy, for reasons I am somewhat at a loss to explain, because I've never liked Buffy all that much, and Enterprise is at best Star Trek Lite, at worst Star Trek for Dummies. In interviews, Rick Berman says he wanted to create a Star Trek that is not just for geeks any more, which seems to be code for less thinking and more sex.

Enterprise, "Fight or Flight" (**) by Rick Berman and Brannon Bragga

Enterprise The Enterprise encounters Space Pirates who are stronger than they are, and have to decide whether to fight or run away. First they run away. Then they turn around and go back, which we are supposed to cheer. Then they are blown to smithereens. No, not really, but that would be the logical outcome of their choice.

Enterprise, "Strange New World" (**) by Rick Berman and Brannon Bragga, teleplay by Phyllis Strong and Mike Sussman

Enterprise Human beings are not wimps, who actually check a planet out before exploring it in their shirt sleeves. As a result, everybody almost dies, but better a dead human than a wimpy Vulcan, eh?

Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, ""Bargaining II" (**) by David Fury

Buffy  the Vampire Slayer Buffy is dead and Hellspawn are unleashed on Sunnydale. So, do the Hellspawn rape and kill? Do they tear off people's arms and heads and play baseball with them? Not on prime time television they don't. You have to read comic books for that kind of action. On tv, the worst Hellspawn can do is to smash cars. "Smashing cars, smashing cars, how I love to smash small cars." The tameness of the Hellspawn is part of the problem with Buffy. The other part is that Willow is so much more interesting than Buffy that it unbalances the show. Not to be too negative, I give credit to the actress who plays Buffy for making the Buffybot so appealing. I was appalled by the lack of caring on the part of the characters when Buffybot was killed. She was at least as sentient as Data.

Watch Smallville on Tuesday, October 16.

Copyright © 2001 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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