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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.

I've been watching The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, now out on DVD. The quality of this series is uneven, depending largely on how much involvement George Lucas has with a particular episode. Since the shows are presented in chronological order, instead of in the order they were filmed, there are some jarring changes in tone, often between one episode and the next, now grouped back-to-back as two-hour "movies."

Here is an episode guide and star ranking (but really, subtract half a star from all rankings in honor of the Hebrew God). These are ratings as television shows. None of the TV shows come close to any of the movies.
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume One
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume Two
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume Three

Chapter 1: 1908, My First Adventure, Egypt (***), Tangiers (***)

Chapter 2: 1908, Passion for Life, British East Africa (***), Paris (***)

Chapter 3: 1908, The Perils of Cupid, Vienna (***), Florence (***)

Chapter 4: 1910, Travels with Father, Russia (***), Greece (****)

Chapter 5: 1910, Journey of Radiance, Benares (****), Beijing (****)

Chapter 6: 1016, Spring Break Adventure, Princeton (****), Mexico (****)

Chapter 7: 1916, Love's Sweet Song, Ireland (***), London (***)

Chapter 8: 1916, Trenches of Hell, Somme (***), Germany (***)

Chapter 9: 1916, Demons of Deception, Verdun (***), Paris (***)

Chapter 10: 1916, Phantom Train of Doom, German East Africa (*)

Chapter 11: 1916, Oganga, the Giver and Taker of Life, German East Africa (***), Congo (***)

Chapter 12: 1917, Attack of the Hawkmen, France (***), Germany (***)

Chapter 13: 1917. Adventures in the Secret Service, Austria (**), Petrograd (**)

Chapter 14: 1917, Espionage Escapades, Barcelona (*), Prague (*)

Chapter 15: 1917, Daredevils of the Desert, Palestine (**)

Chapter 16: 1917, Tales of Innocence, Italy (*), Morocco (*)

Chapter 17: 1918, Masks of Evil, Istanbul (*), Transylvania (*)

Chapter 18: 1919, Treasure of the Peacock's Eye, Egypt (*), South Pacific (***)

Chapter 19: 1919, Winds of Change, Paris (****), Princeton (****)

Chapter 20: 1920, The Mystery of the Blues, Chicago (****)

Chapter 21: 1920, The Scandal of 1920, New York (***)

Chapter 22: 1920, The Hollywood Follies, Hollywood (****)

The episode in Greece has a neat puzzle and solution. The Benares episode has a good discussion of religion, along with an example of the imperviousness of religious belief to hard facts. The first Princeton episode is loosely based on the Nancy Drew books. The story set in Prague is a misguided attempt at screwball comedy. The only fantasy episode is the one set in Transylvania. Harrison Ford appears briefly at the beginning and end of the Chicago story. The New York episode is really pretty stupid, but redeemed by the intelligent use of George Gershwin music throughout.

The prologue of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade occurs in 1912, between Journey of Radiance and Spring Break Adventure. Raiders of the Lost Ark picks up the story in 1936. The framing story with Harrison Ford in The Mystery of the Blues is set at an unspecified date in the 50s. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull takes place in 1957. And the "Old Indy" scenes, none of which are included in any of the home video versions, are set in the "present day," that is, in the 90s. I was hoping that the DVD would include the "Old Indy" bits, but they don't. Afraid of unfavorable comparisons to Harrison Ford?

The bonus features are generally excellent, especially the ones about the Treaty of Versailles after the end of The Great War.

Speaking of George Lucas, I saw the preview of the animated feature Clone Wars last night, and it looks god awful.

SF on TV in July

Friday, July 11
Doctor Who "Midnight", by Russell T. Davies
Stargate Atlantis "Search and Rescue" II, by Martin Gero, Season Five premiere.

Friday, July 18
Doctor Who "Turn Left", by Russell T. Davies
Stargate Atlantis "The Seed", by Paul Mullie

Friday, July 25
Doctor Who "The Stolen Earth" I, by Russell T. Davies
Stargate Atlantis "Broken Ties", by Joseph Mallozzi

Coming in August, more Stargate Atlantis and the Season Four finale of Doctor Who. The Doctor returns in 2009.

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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