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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.

The Dresden Files Jericho has won a reprieve. Still no news on The Dresden Files.

All those peanuts that Jericho fans sent to CBS generated enough news stories for the network to bring back the series for seven more episodes, to air early in 2008. If, however, those seven episodes do not attract substantially more viewers than the first season, all the peanuts in the world won't save the series. The first season will be out on DVD in September.

Smallville will be back for a seventh season, with the addition of Supergirl to the cast. As in the comic book, Supergirl will be Clark Kent's teenage cousin Kara, from Krypton. In the comic book, for several years after the Supergirl character was introduced, Kara kept her existence secret from the people of Earth. Presumably, that will be the case here, as well, since Clark himself tries to keep his powers secret -- something he has been spectacularly unsuccessful at doing in the season just past.

Smallville Flash Gordon will be returning to television on August 10 on SciFi. The press release about the show seems to indicate that the producers think the strongest selling point for the series is that, unlike Battlestar Galactica, it won't make you think. Sigh.

Flash Gordon began as a full page newspaper comic strip in 1930, drawn by Alex Raymond. It was silly but fun, with beautiful artwork. The comic strips was adapted for the big screen in the 1930s in three movie serials, silly but fun, with beautiful Buster Crabbe. These were followed by a truly awful TV series, starring Steve Holland. The comic strip, meanwhile, got really good, with art by Dan Barry, Mac Raboy, Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, Carmine Infantino, and others, and writers including Harvey Kurtzman and Harry Harrison. Then came the high camp feature film, most famous for the soundtrack by Queen, "Frash Wah Wah, he saved every one of us." There was an excellent made-for-tv movie Flash Gordon, The Greatest Adventure of them All, with a script by Star Trek writer Sam Peeples. That was chopped up into a Saturday morning TV cartoon. The Saturday morning version but, sadly, not the feature version, is out on DVD, with commentary by a certain TV reviewer for SF Site.

And now Flash is back, in a TV series guaranteed not to make you think. I can hardly wait.

Copyright © 2007 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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