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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.

FlashForward FlashForward and V will return sooner than expected. Clips from old episodes of FlashForward will air March 16, with new episodes March 18 and 25. Clips from old episodes of V will air March 23, with a new episode March 30. ABC is heavily promoting both shows, and promising to reveal lots of secrets. Sorry. That worked for Lost, but I don't think it will work in this case.

Because the audiences for FlashForward and V started big and then went away, there are no new genre shows scheduled for next Fall. The suits say audiences don't like science fiction. Let's think about that for a minute. If there is no audience for science fiction, why did so many people tune in for the early episodes? The audience is there. To keep them, hire good writers and then promote the shows and stand by them until they have a chance to develop a following.

Lost Firefly and Defying Gravity were given almost no publicity, and then were cancelled when they were not an instant draw. Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles won a second season, but flew right over the heads of most viewers. Who thought an sf cathouse and a cute but emotionless robot would hold viewers? I enjoyed all four, but now they're gone.

Defying Gravity Lost is doing very well. But on a recent trip to Florida, I discovered something that bodes ill for all broadcast television. I thought that in-show pop-up ads were bad in Tennessee. In Boca Raton, I watched the rerun of last week's Lost. First, up pops an ad for the local 10 o'clock news. It fills about a third of the screen. Then, on top of that, an ad for ABC pops up. Now we can only see about half of the picture. And then, on top of that, up pops "Lost Commentary: Ben Linus first appeared in the Season Three episode 'Expose'." That's three pop-ups one on top of the other!

Still, I'm enjoying the final season of Lost so much that I may give J.J. Abrams other show, Fringe, a second try.

Copyright © 2010 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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