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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.

Andromeda If things seemed confused at the start of January, the confusion has only deepened. First, the networks started showing new episodes and I was caught flatfooted. My bad. Not only are there new episodes of Smallville, Angel, and Enterprise in January, but Andromeda episodes, only shown in Canada, are now coming to the US. Here's a guide, including for completeness, of episodes already shown:

Monday, January 12
Andromeda, "Machinery of the Mind"
Wednesday, January 14
Smallville, "Asylum" by Todd Slavkin and Daren Summer
Wednesday, January 14
Angel, "Harm's Way" by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft
Saturday, January 17
Star Trek: Enterprise, "Chosen Realm" by Manny Coto
Monday, January 19
Andromeda, "Exalted Reason, Resplendent Daughter"
Wednesday, January 21
Smallville, "Whisper" by Ken Horton
Wednesday, January 21
Angel, "Soul Purpose" by Brant Fletcher
Saturday, January 24
Star Trek: Enterprise, "Proving Ground" by Chris Black
Monday, January 26
Andromeda, "The Torment, the Release"
Wednesday, January 28
Smallville, "Delete" by Kelly Saunders and Brian Peterson
Wednesday, January 28
Angel, "Damage" by Steven S. Deknight and Drew Goddard

Battlestar Galactica Next, at the beginning of January, a new Battlestar Galactica series seemed like a sure thing. Now, not so sure. Battlestar Galactica was the third highest rated movie on the SciFi Channel ever, but it cost a lot of money, and the network may settle for something that is not so popular, but cheaper. Also, a fourth season for Star Trek: Enterprise seemed like a sure thing. Not so fast, Private Jones. Enterprise may also be too expensive for television, especially compared to "reality" shows, which cost very little to make and bring in the viewers. Well, not all the viewers. Males 18 to 25 are watching the Cartoon Network.

Cheap programs and more commercials mean fewer viewers. Fewer viewers means less revenue. Less revenue means cheaper programs and even more commercials. And so commercial TV, as we know it, spirals into non-existence.

Jeremiah Another force driving people away from TV is the rapid appearance of shows on DVD. Why tune in to a commercial filled program on their schedule when six months later you can buy the DVD and see it whenever you want, commercial free? Watch out, though. Without viewers, there won't be programs. Without programs, no DVDs. While it is almost certain that the first season of any show worth watching will come out on DVD, I predict that the last season of many shows will not. Jeremiah, season one, will be out on DVD this month, but still no news when viewers in the United States will get to see the rest of season two.

In the dying days of television there will be sparkles. Firefly proved that. Now, from Rene Echevarria and Ira Steven Behr, we have 4400 to look forward to. The premise -- the dead return, with mysterious powers -- does not sound promising, but in the hands of good writers, any idea can soar.

The next big thing will be movies made for DVD.

DVD is giving us a chance to see things we never thought we would see. Why, in a few years, I expect to have everything on my wish list -- except Two Noble Kinsmen, Utopia Limited, and The Grand Duke.

Copyright © 2004 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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