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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 episode of Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital that was scheduled to air on May 13 has been pushed back to May 20, and of course that pushes each of the last three episodes back one week.


A Wrinkle in Time A Wrinkle in Time (**) by Susan Shilliday, from the novel by Madeleine L'Engle
This two hour plus Walt Disney Presents adaptation of the beloved children's book is strictly color by numbers. The child actors who play Meg and Charles Wallace are fine, and the beginning of the story is so good that even the most pedestrian teleplay brings tears to your eyes. After that you would be much better off spending your time reading. The twins, Sandy and Dennys, are particularly badly treated, reduced to the cliché of boys who tease their older sister. Calvin loves his mother, but you would never guess that here, where he seems to feel only embarrassed by her. In fact most of the love, which is central to the book, is missing from the television version. All mention of Jesus is gone. As is all of the mathematics -- if there is anything more apt to offend modern TV viewers than Jesus, it is mathematics, at least in the opinion of Disney suits. The Happy Medium is probably the most embarrassing change, being transformed into Mary Poppins' Uncle Albert ("I Love To Laugh, Ha Ha, Ho Ho, Hee Hee"). Nothing is quite so squirm-inducing as characters laughing hilariously at things that are painfully unfunny. But why go on. People who haven't read the book seem to have enjoyed it. And if it leads even one child to read the book, it has served its purpose.

Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital, "Butterfingers" (**) by Stephen King, based on a Danish miniseries by Thomas Gislason, Niels Vorsel, and Lars von Trier
I have to admit that I have a blind spot when it comes to professional sports, and so this baseball-themed show left me cold. I know that almost everybody, in every culture, in every historical era, has a passion for sports. I know that this passion for sports is often greater than their passion for sex, or for their family, or for their job, or for their religion. Just locally, I know of a case where a deep-south law-and-order bible-thumping Baptist judge was able to swing it so a black football player who raped a thirteen-year-old white girl never had to miss practice. Talk about sports trumping all other passions and prejudices. But, sorry, I just don't get it. No doubt a flaw in my character. On another topic entirely, don't miss the dead serious And don't be too quick to delete the pop-up ads when you close the window.

Enterprise Star Trek Enterprise, "The Council" (****) by Manny Coto
As it moves rapidly toward its conclusion, Star Trek continues to provide both action and surprises. Sadly, using the threat of non-renewal, UPN has gotten Rick Berman to agree to yet another commercial break, cutting another minute from every episode. I hope the missing minutes will be restored when Enterprise comes to DVD. Meanwhile, in this heavy special effects episode, there are battles and betrayals, death and destruction, with the fate of the planet Earth and the future Federation at stake.

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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