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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.

SciFi Friday has a new line-up.

It begins with Heroes, the hit NBC series echoed on SciFi a few days after it airs the network. Then comes the new new Dr. Who. Then Battlestar Galactica, not the most watched but certainly the most critically acclaimed SciFi original series. And finally, reruns of the cancelled 2005 network series, Threshold.

I watched them all. You need something to do during the commercials. I washed the dishes and put some of my books in order (and decided not to collect Mary Gentle or John Tayne and put those books up on ebay), and did other odd Doctor Who 2006 tasks. You can get a lot done during more than an hour of commercials, but it makes for a rather disjointed viewing experience. I need to buy a Tivo, so I can jump forward.

The whole panorama tends to blur. Certainly, the high point of the evening was the expression on the Doctor's face on encountering Mary Jane Smith after all these years, and Anthony Steward Head makes an interesting villain. The resolution of the cliffhanger in Battlestar Galactica was way too contrived, but I am looking forward to the next episode. I'll be glad when the get back out in space, if they do.

Heroes Heroes has a few good ideas, but the people in charge are not paying close attention. The most appealing characters are the two from Japan, but everyone in Japan knows somebody who speaks English well enough to make a telephone call for them. How stupid is it to repeatedly make an urgent call to America when you only speak Japanese and know that the person on the other end of the line does not speak your language? Also, when you are pulled over on the highway, you pull off the road. You don't just stop in the lane of traffic. In other words, the people in charge are not paying close attention.

On the other hand, Heroes has a lot of interesting on-line extra content here:

Threshold If the Doctor's smile was the high point of SciFi Friday, Threshold is the low point, non-stop stupidity. Andre Bormanis, one of the very worst Star Trek writers, is on board, along with Brent Spiner, who I wish had a better vehicle.

I'll only mention a few idiocies from the first fifteen minutes.
1) If you work for the president of the United States, you don't describe anyone other than POTUS as "The most important person on the planet."
2) You don't bring your pet dog to a top level briefing.
3) You don't take someone whose brainpower and cooperation you need into a men's room and threaten him with life in prison if he doesn't help.
4) North Korea does not have the second best early warning system on the planet. And it goes downhill from there.

Copyright © 2006 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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