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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

SF on TV
Other Babylon 5.1 Columns
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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.

Smallville continues to be the best show on television. A few observations. Very often, instead of resolving a scene with dialogue, the writers allow the actors to supply the resolution with the expressions on their faces. There is a lot going on in every episode, always at least three intertwining plots, sometimes as many as five. The characters are not static; there is great deal of difference between the way they were in their Freshman year and the way they are now in their Senior year. This is especially apparent when you watch the old episodes on DVD. Major events occur, people die, revelations and discoveries abound. The special effects look like a million dollars. Smallville has moved a long way beyond the first season Kryptonite Monster of the Week.

New SF on TV in November:

Wednesday, November 3
Smallville, "Jinx"

Friday, November 5
Star Trek Enterprise, "Cold Station 12" (Brent Spiner II)

Wednesday, November 10
Smallville, "Spell"

Friday, November 12
Star Trek Enterprise, "The Augments" by Mike Sussman (Brent Spiner III)

Wednesday, November 17
Smallville, "Bound"

Friday, November 19
Star Trek Enterprise, "The Forge" (Vulcan I)

Wednesday, November 24
Smallville, "Scare"

Friday, November 26
Star Trek Enterprise, "Awakening" by Andre Bormanis (Vulcan II)

All the other "real" SF on TV is in reruns.


Farscape Farscape, "Peacekeeper Wars" (***) by Rockne S. O'Bannon
Bright and colorful, good special effects and costumes, acceptable plot. Well, the plot essentially involves going from here to there and back again, with a lot of people shooting at you. All of the shooters must take lessons from Storm Troopers (or, as my three year old daughter called them when Star Wars first came out, Rain Troopers). In any case, many shots are fired, but nobody is ever hit unless the plot requires it. A guilty pleasure? Not really. There's nothing wrong with space opera.

Star Trek Enterprise Star Trek: Enterprise, "Home" (**) by Mike Sussman
This post-traumatic-interstellar-war syndrome episode attempts to emulate the glorious Next Gen episode "Family". Sadly, Mike Sussman, a good writer of space adventure, is not up to the job of writing a low-key character-driven episode. He tries his best, especially in the ending. But sex does not cure guilt. And Vulcans are not that illogical.

Smallville Smallville, "Run" (****) by Steven S. DeKnight
Buffy and Angel writer Steven S. DeKnight does an excellent job of bringing The Flash to Smallville.

spoiler warning

In a few lines, I'm going to tell you the end of the episode, so if you haven't seen it yet, stop reading. There is a nice tidbit for comics fans early in the episode, as The Flash has credit cards in the names Jay Garrick (the Golden Age Flash), Barry Allen (the Silver Age Flash), and Wally West (the Bronze Age Flash). In the comic book, DC has always tiptoed around the question of who is faster, Superman or The Flash. Usually, their races end in a tie. (The first was in Superman #199.) But in the comic books, Superman is able to travel at the speed of light. 299,782,458 meters per second -- it's not just a good idea, it's the law. So the best The Flash can hope for is a tie -- in the comic books. But in Smallville, Clark and The Flash race. Then The Flash starts running backwards! And then he zooms away, like the roadrunner leaving the coyote in a trail of dust. I like that. Superman has so many powers -- The Flash only has super-speed. He ought to be numero uno in the power he has. In Smallville, The Flash is a sneak thief with a heart of gold and a lot of joie de vivre, which works because he is a few years younger than Clark, and they may each have something to teach the other. As The Flash says, "Maybe someday we'll form a club or a league or something."

Spaxter (***) radio drama by Jeff Green
The private eye with a tough exterior and a heart of gold makes a great character for a radio drama, as we've seen with Nick Danger, Third Eye and Guy Nior. Spaxter is a science fiction version, and the familiarity of the noir genre helps hold together this story of time travel, space travel, parallel worlds, esp, aliens, spies, and, of course, dames. It is a little too over the top, but professionally done and entertaining. Copies are available from

We can still look forward to The Wizard of Earthsea in December, but Battlestar Galactica has been pushed back to January.

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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