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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.

When Star Trek was on the air, an hour long program had 8 minutes of commercials and 52 minutes of entertainment. When Star Trek the Next Generation was on the air, there were 15 minutes of commercials and 45 minutes of entertainment. In the new Fall season, we get about 20 minutes of commercials, and 40 minutes of entertainment -- not counting the ever more frequent commercials on the screen during the program. One consequence of this has been that each episode advances the plot less and less. On Next Gen, there was an A story and a B story in most episodes. Now we only get an A story, often spread out over an entire season.

So, what is the obvious next step? Shorter seasons, of course. Since more viewers watch the season premiere and season finale, why have only one season a year? Why not two seasons a year? Why not three?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Sci-Fi Channel now has two seasons, a Summer season and a Winter season, each with season premieres and finales.

I enjoyed the Summer 2005 season of Battlestar Galactica, but it was essentially one long story, without enough difference from one episode to the next to be worth giving individual ratings.

Episode Guide to the Summer 2005 season of Battlestar Galactica (***)

Battlestar Galactica Scattered (I) by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle

Valley of Darkness (II) by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle

Fragged by Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin

Resistance by Toni Graphia

The Farm by Carla Robinson

Home (I) by David Eick

Home (II) by David Eick and Ronald D. Moore

Final Cut by Mark Verheiden

Flight of the Phoenix by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle

Pegasus by Anne Cofell Saunders

These ten episodes will be out on DVD before Christmas and Battlestar Galactica will return with new episodes in January.

The premiere of Smallville was very good, though when you tape a show and fast forward through the commercials it seems awfully short.

By the way, in case any of you doubted it, I loved Serenity, and am looking forward to the next two films written and directed by Joss Whedon, Wonder Woman and Goner.

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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