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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

SF on TV
Other Babylon 5.1 Columns
For more information, you can try the following sites:
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The X-Files
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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.

FIREFLY Firefly, by Buffy creator Joss Whedon, is the best new SF show since Babylon 5. It is in grave danger of being cancelled. Watch it now, while you have the chance. According to the current schedule, there is no new Firefly the last Friday in November, but new episodes are scheduled for December and January. After that -- the network has made no commitment. No new Farscape until 2003, and then just the last few. New Jeremiah are even further in the future.

Season One of Babylon 5 is finally available on DVD, in wide-screen and stereo sound. If you haven't already seen B5, this is the place to start. Great SF, and seasons 2, 3, and 4 are even better.

The boxed season format on DVD, which sell in the $60 to $100 range (in other words, about $5 per episode) seems to be a popular new format for TV for home viewing. Already available in this format are Babylon 5 Season One, Star Trek TNG Seasons One through Five, X-Files Seasons One through Six, Dark Shadows Collections One through Three, The Simpsons Seasons One and Two, and the Complete Sports Night by Aaron Sorkin, writer of The West Wing. Sports Night is not SF, but it is one of the great TV series of all time. You don't have to be a sports fan to love Sports Night, just as you don't have to love cars to be a fan of NPR's Car Talk.

In the older format, with one boxed DVD or VHS tape containing two one-hour shows or 4 half-hour shows (about $15 per episode) are Star Trek TOS, Twilight Zone, The Prisoner, The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes, plus the Have Gun Will Travel (with many scripts by Gene Roddenberry, Sam Peeples, and Harry Julian Fink (creator of Dirty Harry) and Perry Mason. The new complete season in a box format is infinitely preferable to the format in which these shows are sold.

Of the dozen or so best TV series of all time, not yet on DVD are Hill Street Blues, Paper Chase, L.A. Law, and The West Wing -- none of them SF.

TV Reviews

Enterprise Enterprise, "A Night in Sickbay (****) by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga
This was the best Enterprise to date. As the title suggests, it is a low-key episode, dealing frankly with the sexual tension between Captain Archer and his Vulcan science officer. I find Dr. Phlox delightful.

Firefly Firefly, "Out of Gas" (****) by Tim Minear
As a seriously wounded Mal Reynolds staggers through his deserted spaceship, he remembers how he first met several members of his crew. The origin story of Jayne is particularly memorable. What are the odds that the crew of a spaceship are all going to be good guys?

Enterprise Enterprise, "Marauders (**) by Michael Vegar
It's nice to see T'Pol kick Klingon butt. On the other hand, Star Trek too often solves a violent situation without killing anybody. Unrealistic. In a situation like this, you would either have a lot of dead good guys or seven dead Klingons. They should shoot when they have them in their sights. This episode is based on Kurasawa's The Seven Samurai -- and how many of the seven lived to tell the tale? Three? Or was it two?

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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