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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.

Battlestar Galactica, "The Hand of God" (***) by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, loosely based on the original series episode of the same title by Donald P. Bellisario
Battlestar Galactica Good space battles. I'm still bothered by the lack of SF -- this civilization is identical to present day USA in its cigars, wine bottles, stables, slang, and military jargon. They even call the Vipers "planes" and the place where they land the "hanger deck."

As the title of this episode suggests, the religious themes that have run through most, if not all, of Ronald D. Moore's recent work are to be found here. In his last Star Trek story, "Voyage of the Dead", Ron Moore assumed that the Klingon belief in Stoblecor is true. His method seems to be to take the religious beliefs of his characters at face value.

There are two major religions in Battlestar Galactica. The humans are polytheists who worship the "Lords of Kobol," who roughly correspond to Greek or Roman gods. The Cylons are, or pretend to be, monotheists, and claim that the human polytheism is wrong. But in "The Hand of God", we are given proof that both religions are true, at least to the extent of making accurate prophesies. This assumption, that all beliefs are equally true, is common in mass entertainment media. It ignores the plain fact that beliefs contradict one another. Monotheism and polytheism, science and superstition, Christianity and Hinduism, can't all be true.

Is Ron Moore going anywhere with this? I hope he is -- since up to now I've admired and enjoyed his work. I haven't seen the highly acclaimed season finale of Battlestar Galactica, but my hope is that there is going to be a logical explanation for all this. If you don't want to read my guesses, stop here. First guess: the Lords of Kobol are scientifically advanced, but not gods. Second guess: we never will get an explanation of their accurate prophesy. Third guess: the Cylons are feeding Baltar information in the guise of religious revelation to convert him to their cause. We shall see. Smallville

Smallville, "Lucy" (***) by Neil Sadhu and Daniel Sulzberg
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar are too busy working on Herbie and Iron Man to spend much time overseeing Smallville, and so season four has been disappointing.

In the previous episode, we got a pastiche of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In "Lucy" we get a pastiche of a James Bond ski slope action sequence. In both cases, the pastiches are well done. But what is the point of a TV series reproducing something that we've seen before?

The story, about Lois Lane's sister Lucy, is not bad. This Lucy is very different from the insipid comic book Lucy, and there are several nice plot twists. Maybe there's some life in the old girl yet.

Copyright © 2005 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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