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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.

    "He's everywhere! He's everywhere!"

No, not Chicken Man. Dr. Who, and the Dr. Who spinoffs. The new season of Dr. Who starts Friday, April 18. I blinked and failed to list it last issue in "SF on TV in April". I did list Torchwood, a Dr. Who spinoff. And now the SciFi Channel has picked up a half hour Dr. Who spinoff for children, The Sarah Jane Adventures. Sarah Jane was one of the Doctor's companions, who made a touching reappearance in the new Dr. Who Season Two, (which sounds like the title of a book by Dr. Seuss).

The Dr. Who universe has a lot in common with one of my favorite fantasy universes, Dark Shadows. Both have more than a thousand episodes -- that's almost twice as many as the Star Trek universe. Both have a complex internal chronology, recomplicated by time travel and parallel universes, and both have some episodes so bad that they are a hurtle that most newcomers shy away from, along with some episodes so good that old fans stay fans for life.

The difference in my case is that I watched Dark Shadows in my misspent youth, and have now watched every single episode at least once, most more than once. On the other hand, I came to Dr. Who too late, and will never watch every episode. But every now and then, I'm tempted.

So, here are the Dr. Who related shows in April.

Torchwood Saturday, April 5
Torchwood "Adrift", by Chris Chibnall

Friday, April 11
The Sarah Jane Adventures "Invasion of the Bane", by Russell T. Davies and Gareth Roberts, Season One premiere.

Saturday, April 12
Torchwood "Fragments", by Chris Chibnall

Friday, April 18
The Sarah Jane Adventures "Revenge of the Slitheen I", by Gareth Roberts.

Friday, April 18
Dr. Who "Voyage of the Damned". It's Tardis and Titanic time. I wonder if they'll meet the guys from The Time Tunnel.

Doctor Who Saturday, April 19
Torchwood "Exit Wounds", by Chris Chibnall (Season Two Finale)

Friday, April 25
The Sarah Jane Adventures "Revenge of the Slitheen II", by Gareth Roberts.

Friday, April 25
The Sarah Jane Adventures "Eye of the Gorgon I", Phil Ford.

Friday, April 25
Dr. Who "Partners in Crime", by Russell T. Davies, Season Four Premiere

The Sarah Jane Adventures There haven't been that many new shows set in a single fantasy universe on American television in one month since Dark Shadows went off the air.

Coming this Fall, new shows by Ronald D. Moore and by Joss Whedon on Fox.

Moore has Virtuality, about characters on a starship who start to have trouble telling the holodeck from reality. Didn't Star Trek already do that? Not to mention Chris Carter's Harsh Realm? Shows with this premise always run up against a problem that none of them has successfully solved. Either the hologram characters are just images, in which case who cares, or they have feelings, in which case it would be immoral to turn them off. Of all the programs that have tackled this problem, Star Trek Voyager took it most seriously.

Whedon has Dollhouse, about secret agents who can be imprinted with special personalities and abilities particular to each mission. That idea sounds a lot more interesting than Virtuality.

Smallville for Thursday, April 27 has major mythos events. Don't miss it.

Copyright © 2008 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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