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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.

In the next two weeks, most of the new Fall season debuts. For the first time in... in... well, actually for the first time ever -- all of the new network shows are about young contemporary Americans. No Gunsmoke, no Golden Girls, no Star Trek. It is as if our entire society was closing in on itself, focused obsessively on the young, the here, and the now. I think this may be because pundits of every stripe are telling us that there is no tomorrow. Take my word for it, they only do that because the only way to get attention these days is to scream. The world is better than it has ever been before, and the future will be better than the past.

Supernatural Threshold
Threshold Ghost Whisperer
Ghost Whisperer Night Stalker
Night Slaker
This does not, however, mean that there is no SF or fantasy on network TV. There's lots and lots -- just not much that you or I would be interested in. Returning are Lost -- when writers think a good McGuffin is to have Lotto numbers turn up on a map, deal me out -- and Smallville, which I like, though Season Four was the weakest, and I am waiting to see if we wouldn't all have been better off if it had ended with Clark's graduation. Aquaman??? Can Lori Lemuris be far behind?

Of the 31 new programs, three are SF, three are fantasy, all set on Earth in the present day. Here is when they premiere:

Tuesday, September 13

Friday, September 16

Monday, September 19

Wednesday, September 21

Friday, September 23
"Ghost Whisperer"

Thursday, September 29
"Night Stalker"

Also on September 29, just before Night Stalker, the fifth season of Smallville begins.

I've enjoyed Frank Spotnitz's work, so my pick is Night Stalker, but the mainstream critics like Invasion.

And then there is Commander in Chief, debuting Tuesday, Sept 27, about the first woman President of the United States. Does that make it science fiction? Only if you think The West Wing was science fiction.

Reviews next issue.

If you buy the Battlestar Galactica Season One DVD, be sure to buy the five disk set rather than the four disk set. Thanks to Cinefantastique for the heads up.

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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