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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

Recommended Viewing for April 1999
Other Babylon 5.1 Columns
For more information, you can try the following sites:
Rick Norwood's Website
Worldwide TV Schedule
The Official Babylon 5 Website
The X-Files
Pocket Books: Star Trek
Paramount Star Trek

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.

Saturday, April 3
Saturday, April 3 is the first episode of a nine part(!) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine adventure, as the series draws to a close. The first three chapters are titled "Penumbra", "Umbra", and "Eclipse". "Penumbra" is by Rene Echevarria, one of the best of the Trek writers, author of many Treks including the memorable Next Generation episode "I, Borg" (***).

Sunday, April 4
Sunday, April 4 is the second episode of the new Fox SF cartoon series Futurama, from the creators of The Simpsons. After this, the series moves to Tuesday night, at a date to be announced. Why did they move it? My hunch is that they realized that after watching Futurama, nobody would be able to take The X-Files seriously.

Sunday, April 4
Sunday, April 4 is a rerun of the X-Files episode "Drive" (***) by Vince Gilligan. The X-Files has been all over the map this season, excellent conspiracy episodes alternating with awful monster-of-the-week drek. This is one of the good ones. Gilligan wrote the origin of the Lone Gunman, "Unusual Suspects" (****), as well as many other contributions to the X-Files mythos. Don't be fooled by the first few seconds, which are designed to make you think that you are not watching the X-Files.

Saturday, April 10
Saturday, April 10 is the Deep Space Nine episode "Umbra", by David Waddle and Bradley Thompson, who wrote the outstanding "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" (****) earlier this season.

Sunday, April 11
Sunday, April 11 is a new X-Files written by Vince Gilligan, titled "Trevor".

Friday, April 16
Friday, April 16 on TNT is a rerun of the episode that convinced me that Babylon 5 was television sf worthy of serious consideration. If you have been avoiding Babylon 5, or if you watched a few of the weaker or more convoluted shows and gave up, try "The Geometry of Shadows" (****) by J. Michael Straczynski. If this show doesn't hook you, then it is safe to conclude that Babylon 5 is not your cup of tea.

Saturday, April 17
Saturday, April 17 is the Deep Space Nine episode "Eclipse", written by Ronald D. Moore, probably the best current Star Trek writer. With Brannon Braga he wrote the Trek movie First Contact (****), and he was co-author of the classic Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" (****). Currently, Moore is only writing for Deep Space Nine, while his frequent collaborator Braga is only writing for Voyager. (On that basis I conclude that Moore is the better writer of the two.)

Sunday, April 25
Sunday, April 25 is an X-Files episode written and directed by actor David Duchovny, who plays Fox Mulder on the series. He has suggested story lines before, but this is his first script and his first time directing. Could be great, could be awful, but I certainly want to see which. The story is reported to be about Negro League baseball.

Monday, April 26 and Wednesday, April 28
And what about Star Trek Voyager? I can't actually recommend it. Voyager is better that most sf on television, but that is damning it with faint praise. The next new episode is on a new night, Monday, April 26, followed by another new episode on Wednesday, April 28. You pays your money, or, in this case, you pays your valuable time, and you takes your chances.

Copyright © 1999 by 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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