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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.

From time to time, a science fiction classic is given the direct to video treatment. The results are usually pitiful. As an example, the video version of Poul Anderson's The High Crusade was so bad as to be unwatchable.

Grand Tour: Disaster in Time In fact, the only good direct to video adaptation of a SF classic that I know of is the 1992 movie Grand Tour: Disaster in Time (***), written by David Twohy, based on the story "Vintage Season," by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. Kuttner and Moore also wrote the story "Mimsy were the Borogoves," upon which the film The Last Mimzy was based.

A generation of great science fiction authors is being forgotten -- the authors discovered by editors John W. Campbell and H.L. Gold. In addition to Kuttner and Moore, other authors unknown to most young readers are Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, and Edgar Pangborn. I could name half a dozen other writers, award winners in their day, whose work warrants more fame than they ever found. After the holy trinity of Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, only Philip K. Dick and Frank Herbert seem to have broken out of the SF ghetto, and their memory has been greatly aided by films made from their work. If Grand Tour and Mimzy help keep the memory of Kuttner and Moore alive, more power to them.

The story "Vintage Season" establishes a mood and a setting that are unforgettable, a sense of pastoral beauty, a sense of loss. A movie needs more than that, so Twohy has added some heroics to the mix, but he has done it well, with respect for the original, and an intelligent integration of the new plot with the old. I did not expect much when I sat down to watch the movie on DVD. I was pleasantly surprised.

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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