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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.

Enterprise Some mid-season observations about Enterprise, but first, this.

The episode previously scheduled for February 20 has been moved to February 27. On February 20, two reruns, back to back.

The song, which almost nobody liked at first, has quite grown on me. In fact, the title film is a very nice little one-minute short on the subject of exploration.

The stories have still been well below the level set by the best of Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. On the other hand, none of them has been as bad as the worst of the original Trek, as bad as, say, "The Alternative Factor", by Don Ingalls or "The Paradise Syndrome" by Margaret Armen. The worst episode so far has been "Silent Enemy" by Andre Bormanis, in which Captain Archer spends a great deal of time planning a surprise birthday party for one of his crew. Transplant that story to an aircraft carrier to see just how ridiculous it is. Bormanis has also written bad scripts for Voyager and is a science advisor for Star Trek who, to judge by his scripts, knows no science. Don Ingalls was able to sell a bad script because he was Gene Roddenberry"s story editor on Have Gun Will Travel. Margaret Armen was able to sell several bad scripts because she was a feminist friend of D.C. Fontana. I have no inside information, but I assume Bormanis has some similar "in" with the current Star Trek gods.

The best two episodes of Enterprise so far have been by two writers new to Star Trek, Maria and Andre Jacquemetton, formerly of Baywatch and Highlander, who wrote "Breaking the Ice" and "Dear Doctor." "Dear Doctor", in particular, was in the classic trek mode: an unsolvable problem requires a moral choice. I'm so glad to see serious issues addressed that the fact that the solution they propose seems totally immoral to me is a minor point. At least somebody is thinking!

Also good was the mythos episode "Cold Front" by Steve Beck and Tim Finch.

I expect Enterprise to improve as the backstory grows more complex and thus more interesting. Also, several recent episodes have highlighted individual characters, a good move, since I was having trouble telling the humans apart. My favorite character is still Dr. Phlox, as it has been since the first episode.

They still need better writers. If only they had not lost Ronald D. Moore to, of all things, Roswell.

If it doesn't make you laugh out loud, if it doesn't make you cry, if it doesn't make you bounce up and down with excitement, if it doesn't teach you something you didn't know, then it just brings you that much closer to death.

Two comic books:
I laughed out loud when I read Cerebus 274 by Dave Sim.
When I read Spiderman 38 by J. Michael Straczynski, I cried.

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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