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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.

What's on TV in October? Smallville is the only thing worth watching. Sci-Fi Friday will be back with new shows in January.

I wrote individual reviews for each of the six new genre shows of the Fall season, three SF, three fantasy. But they really aren't worth that much of your time and attention. All six have young, whitebread stars with zero personality -- no virtues, no faults, no sense of humor. They all seem molded from play-doh. Everything is a cliché, nothing makes sense. Characters act in ways no human being has ever acted. They tell each other things they already know.

Of the three supernatural shows, Ghost Whisperer is a chick flick, and I couldn't force myself to watch it all. I hope someone of the female persuasion will write a review in the SF Site Forum.

Supernatural Supernatural is just as boring, but I was able to force myself to sit through it. Who loves you, baby?

The one show I had hopes for was Night Stalker. At least Frank Spotniz knows how to write. But someone at the studio decided that the all important youth audience would not want to see some old fart play the lead, and so Darren McGavin Night Stalker is relegated to a micro-second walk-on while a boring young actor without a fraction of his personality stars.

Of the three SF shows, all are set on earth in the present day and all stretch five minutes of plot over thirty-five minutes of film, plus an additional twenty-five minutes of commercials. Particularly embarrassing, in Surface, is dialogue that puts into the mouths of teens dialogue so stupid that you would get beaten up behind the gym if you uttered it in a real high school. Absolutely nothing makes sense. A submarine teleports thousands of miles and a "scientist" says, "obviously a case of biological evolution."

Ghost Whisperer Invasion is a retelling of the old fifties movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But the story that the film told in a crisp 80 minutes is now to be spread out over one or more seasons. Small hint for the producers -- when characters ignore the fact that a little girl is lost in a hurricane, and when the one character who does go look for her drives a truck, nobody is going to care about your aliens, except maybe to root for them to eat all the stupid humans for breakfast.

Threshold Threshold brings together a lot of Star Trek people. Brannon Braga is one of the main writers and Mike Sussman is on board. Andre Bormanis brings to the job of science consultant the same ignorance of high school science that brought us some of Star Trek's stupidest episodes. Brent Spiner has a supporting role.

Four of the six shows are written by the producer or the director, people who have never tried to sell a script to anybody but themselves. Hay, why bother to hire a writer? How hard can it be?

Depends on whether or not you want anybody to watch.

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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