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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

Star Trek Voyager, "Think Tank" (***)
by Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and Michael Taylor
Other Babylon 5.1 Columns
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The X-Files
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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.

Star Trek: Voyager It is a great pleasure to be able to give a good review of a Voyager episode. With Deep Space Nine ending, its best writers are moving over to Voyager. "Think Tank" (***) is by Star Trek heavyweights. Berman and Braga both worked on the Next Generation movie First Contact (****), while Michael Taylor wrote "In the Pale Moonlight" (****) for DS9. All three have written many episodes, and are major creators of the Star Trek universe.

The special effects look like Star Wars, especially the "jellyfish" alien and the little robot. What a relief from "aliens" with elaborate face makeup and no other alien characteristics. The plot involves a small group of highly intelligent aliens who offer to help Voyager out of a jam. The only problem is their price. They want Seven of Nine. Want her bad.

I can picture a lot of highly intelligent male Star Trek fans loving the idea of demanding Seven of Nine as the price for their services, but Captain Janeway does not make bargains like that, and is left with an apparently unresolvable dilemma.

The writing is crisp, with fast jumps into the middle of the next action, a technique that keeps the viewer alert and excited. Nothing puts a viewer to sleep like picking up after the commercial with characters talking about what happened before the break. Kurros, the spokesbeing for the Think Tank, is likable, though you would never trust him with your coin purse.

All in all, this is the most enjoyable episode of Voyager in quite a while.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine, "Penumbra" (****)
written by Rene Eschevarria

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine The beginning of the nine-part conclusion to DS9 introduces major changes in the lives of Sisko, Worf, Gul Dukat, and several other characters. I don't want to give away too much -- there are already spoilers all over the web -- but the end of the series gives writers an unprecedented opportunity to make dramatic changes in the lives of the people we have gotten to know so well over the past six and a half years.

There will actually be only eight "parts" to this longest of all Star Trek stories, but the eighth part is the two hour series finale, and so counts twice. Every week for the next two months things will be building to a climax.

In "Penumbra", many subplots are just starting. Acting and script are both excellent, and it is like watching a really excellent juggler juggle an apple, a chain saw, and a silk scarf all at the same time.

The X-Files, "Trevor" (***)
written by Jim Guttridge and Ken Hawrliw

X-Files A gritty, dramatic episode features a convict who gains the power to walk through walls. This basic plot goes back at least to the Robert Lansing movie The 4-D Man (**), but the X-Files version has a nice explanation for why a person who can move through matter doesn't just sink into the earth and disappear.

The main difference between good X-Files and bad is how well the writers handle the interplay between Mulder and Scully. Some recent writers have made the two sound like bratty four-year-olds. In "Trevor", new writers Guttridge and Hawrliw strike exactly the right note in all of their characterizations. That plus excellent special effects make this one of the better non-mythos episodes.

For more information than you want to know about the conclusion to Deep Space Nine, read what Ronald D. Moore has written at

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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