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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.

Last issue I gave you a guide for what to watch this month, so this issue I'll just remind you of the season premieres coming up:
Wednesday, Sept. 18
Enterprise, "Shockwave II", followed by the series premiere of a new Twilight Zone.
Friday, Sep. 20
Firefly, "The Train Job" by Joss Whedon and Tim Minear, series premiere.
Tuesday, Sept. 24
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Lessons", seventh season premiere, followed by the second season premiere of Smallville.

The new Twilight Zone might actually be good. Ira Stephen Behr is head writer. If he can get together some of his old DS9 colleagues such as Rene Echevarria, Hans Beimier, and Ronald D. Moore, this Twilight Zone could be the best of them all. I can easily think of classic SF short stories I would love to see adapted for television: Isaac Asimov's "The Dead Past", Robert A. Heinlein's ""Our Fair City", James Tiptree Jr's "Houston, Houston Do you Read", Gene Wolfe's "The War Under the Tree"...

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (****) by Steve Kloves, from the book by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone I was afraid. At least, that is how I understand why I put off watching this DVD for more than a month. I was afraid the other reviewers were right, and the film was not as good as two theatrical viewings led me to believe.

I need not have worried. It is as beautiful and magical as I remembered, with a dream cast, especially the child actors, all of whom really act. Director Chris Columbus knows how to bring out the best in child actors. It is a shame that he had to put up with so much sass from reviewers jealous of his success.

The transfer to DVD is impeccable. I usually don't have time for extras, but I was looking forward to the deleted scenes, and disappointed when I couldn't find them. But they are there. You just have to solve a few easy puzzles on Disk 2, and then go to the forbidden third floor corridor. The deleted scenes are not as extensive as I had heard. There are six brief scenes not in the film, plus a seventh scene with Professor Snapes that is longer than the film version. The first two scenes, involving the Dursleys, deserved to be cut. But I love the scene with Harry and Hagrid on the London underground. I would really like to see it restored to the film. The two scenes with Hermione merely make explicit what was already implicit, that Harry and Ron accept Hermione as one of the gang. The long scene with Neville doesn't really add anything to his already established character. Finally, the scene showing Harry's reaction to the Mirror of Erised, while touching, needed to be either much longer or cut. So, except for the scene in the underground, the deleted scenes do not diminish my opinion that this is one of the most brilliantly edited films of all time.

Copyright © 2002 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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