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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

Recommended Viewing for October 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.

October 3
Animal Farm (TNT)
There is a lot of good buzz about this latest version of the George Orwell classic. In tv-speak, "classic" usually means "in the public domain so we don't have to pay for it and can change it all around and take out everything that made it a classic in the first place". Every now and then there is an exception -- the most recent being Gulliver's Travels. Animal Farm just might be that good. At least it is worth a look.

October 6
Voyager, "Barge of the Dead" by Ronald D. Moore and Bryan Fuller
This is the only new episode of Voyager scheduled in October so far. It should be a good one, and maybe the last Voyager worth watching. I'll keep you posted.

October 9
Harsh Realm, "Pilot" by Chris Carter
Worth at least a look. There will be new episodes of this new SF series every Friday for the rest of the month.

And that's about it for October. Best alternative to watching television: read Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.

Star Trek Voyager, "Equinox" (parts one and two) (**)
written by Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, and Joe Menosky

Star Trek: Voyager Captain Ransom of the Starship Equinox was trapped in the Delta Quadrant at the same time as Voyager. Unlike Captain Janeway, he forgets the Prime Directive. This makes Captain Janeway very, very angry, to the point where she is willing to threaten one of Ransom's crew with death to make him talk.

This could have been a powerful show, and it has its moments. The big problem is the void at the center. We are supposed to believe that Captain Janeway is so angry that the dark side of her character surfaces. But Captain Janeway has no character. Her character is whatever this week's plot requires it to be: cold, warm, sympathetic, distant, stern, giving, robust, laid-back, skeptical, new-age, loyal, brave, thrifty, clean, and reverent.

When Captain Kirk blows up the Enterprise to keep it from falling into the hands of the Klingons, that has an impact, because you know who Kirk is and what the Enterprise means to him. But Janeway is a cipher, and so what could have been a dramatic episode falls flat.

Star Trek Voyager, "Survival Instinct" (***)
written by Ronald D. Moore

Star Trek: Voyager Seven of Nine meets Two, Three, and Four of Nine. The writing is smart and the special effects impressive. But it is all a little too easy. Someone once decided that the reason Star Trek was so successful was that it was a "family". And here I always thought it was because Star Trek was smart and well written -- at least at its best. Ronald D. Moore pushes the "family" button once or twice too often, in this show about the relationship between family and individuality. The result is enjoyable but not outstanding.

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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