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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

SF on TV
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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.

Primeval Last month I said there was no sf on tv this summer. I lied, of course. There's always some sf, if you look hard enough.

Probably the best thing on television this summer was the Doctor Who episode "The Next Doctor". It isn't really new, since it aired in Great Britain in 2008. It was fun. The next episode, "Planet of the Dead" has already aired on the other side of the pond.

Being a glutton for punishment, I've been watching old Doctor Whos on DVD. More about that another day.

Another old new show is Primeval, a cancelled 2007 BBC series now appearing on the SciFi channel. It is every bit as bad as you might expect. A woman wandering around the desert with her breasts half hanging out has more to fear from blistering than from pterodactyls. I managed to watch about half of an episode about killer worms in a mysterious fog on the top floor of a skyscraper. A great deal of screaming ensues.

Primeval If you still haven't given up on the SciFi channel, you can watch their original series Warehouse 13 on July 7.

Meanwhile, over at NBC, they're showing the 2008 BBC series Merlin, which has this brilliant idea: why not retell the Arthurian legends, only make Merlin and Arthur teenagers? Smashing! I'm probably being picky when I point out that they shouldn't have medieval people eating sandwiches, which weren't invented until the 18th Century. In Arthur's day, they would have eaten food off a piece of stale bread, called a trencher, and then fed the trencher to the dogs, which were sure to be hanging around under the table. Also, since the printing press hadn't been invented yet, books were rare and expensive, not the kind of thing you toss around or leave on the floor. Sorry. I forget that in the television universe, all times and places are exactly like our own.

Virtuality by Ronald D. Moore tiptoed in as a "movie of the week" in June. Slaven41 reviews it in the TV thread of the SF Site forum. I missed it entirely -- had no idea it was going to be on before I read his review. It sounds like a great idea for a series, but with zero publicity it is unlikely to be picked up by any networks.

The official rankings of the 2008-2009 network TV season are out. The highest ranked genre show at #27 is Lost, followed by the other J.J. Abrams series Fringe at #41. Heroes is #49, Medium #61. Terminator was cancelled at #113, Dollhouse renewed at #136. And on the CW network, Smallville at #160 and Supernatural at #189. Bad news for Jericho fans. It came in third to last, at #199.

Copyright © 2009 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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