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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.

I wake up in the morning and face the fact that I've probably wasted half my life watching bad television. I'm fairly happy with what I've done with the other half, but I sure wish I could have back all those wasted hours.

I have watched at least some of every US science fiction TV series that ever was, and every episode of a lot of them. I've gone back and watched some fan favorites recently, and without the glow of nostalgia, most of them stink. In hopes of sparing you all that bad TV, last column I offered a list of what I considered good television. I missed a few, notably Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. But there are even more I wished I had left off the list. One reader chided me for mentioning Stargate SG-1 and not Farscape, which is a better program. I agree, Farscape is better. I should have left them both off. So, here is the short list:
Star Trek
Star Trek: DS9
Star Trek: Voyager
The X-Files
Babylon 5
Battlestar Galactica (2004-05)

Star Trek (seasons 1 and 2 only)
Star Trek the Animated Series (season 1 only)
Star Trek the Next Generation
Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Star Trek Voyager
Star Trek Enterprise
Babylon 5
Battlestar Galactica (2004-05)
The X-Files (seasons 1 7 only)
Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Lois and Clark (season 1 only)
Cowboy Bebop

And maybe -- maybe! -- Dark Shadows and the Tom Baker episodes of Dr. Who.

Made for TV movies:
The Questor Tapes
Genesis II
Flash Gordon, the Greatest Hero of Them All
The Mahabharata
Gulliver's Travels
The Lathe of Heaven
Children of Dune
Battlestar Galactica (2003)

And that it! Really. Trust me on this. You'll thank me some day.

While I'm on the subject, I may as well list the non-SF/fantasy TV that I still find worth watching. Have Gun Will Travel, Perry Mason (first three seasons only), Lou Grant, Hill Street Blues, The Paper Chase, L.A. Law (first two seasons only), Sports Night (first season only), Horatio Hornblower, Sherlock Holmes (the one with Jeremy Brett), and The West Wing (first four seasons only). Short list! But, then, I am a science fiction fan.

How about radio? Remember radio? Of course not. Try X Minus One, Gunsmoke, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Lord of the Rings, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and Gormenghast. And maybe -- maybe! -- Superchicken ("He's everywhere! He's everywhere!")

If you disagree, please sound off in the SF Site Forum.

Copyright © 2005 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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