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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.

Supernatural I've been watching a lot of television this month, as I've done every Fall since I was a child. I always hope that the new Fall tv season will produce new delights, and usually it does. But not this October.

The shows I loved as a child: Perry Mason, Have Gun Will Travel, Star Trek, are still enjoyable today on DVD. A good television show is one with original ideas, compelling stories, and -- most of all -- likable characters. The characters may not be heroes. They may be black-hearted villains like Long John Silver or Darth Vader. But you remember them and, in a way, you love them. This year it seems the lovable characters are lacking.

I will always remember Data. And Quark. And Willow, Spike, Mulder, Skinner, Lex Luthor, Londo, G'Kar, Jayne, Kaylee, Starbuck, Hiro, Sarah Connor, Toffer, Locke, and Hurley. As best I can tell, there is nobody like that out there this season in science fiction, either on the returning shows or the new shows.

Caprica To start at the bottom, I tried to watch Supernatural but failed. An extended sequence of a serial killer stalking a mother and a baby is not my kind of television. I watched all of one episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars, but only because it was a half hour. The plot was a cliché fifty years ago on Tom Corbett Space Cadet. I was able to sit through Fringe but I was glad when it was over. The Event was a little more entertaining, but the plot is preposterous. To mention just one absurdity, a story turns on a kidnapper being able to predict within seconds when her victim will succeed in cutting through her bonds with a shard of broken Fringe glass. Smallville, as I mentioned last issue, has a few good moments, but I can't say I look forward to watching. Like The X-Files, it has gone on two seasons too long.

Probably the best of the Fall shows is Caprica, which has drama aplenty. But none of the characters is even remotely likable -- ruthless businessmen, ruthless gangsters, and ruthless terrorists. Of the three, the terrorists are the most sympathetic.

What I'm enjoying most this Fall season are old shows that I either buy on or get in the mail from Netflix: The Wire and Fraggle Rock. If you've seen anything really good this Fall, please let me know.

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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