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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

Star Trek Voyager, "Tsunkatsa" (**)
written by Kenneth Biller, Robert J. Doherty, and Gannon Kenny
Other Babylon 5.1 Columns
For more information, you can try the following sites:
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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 So. This was the infamous Star Trek meets the World Wrestling Federation, which was supposed to be as bad for Voyager as "Spock's Brain" was for the original Trek. Sorry. I kind of enjoyed it, even the fighting. Full disclosure: I didn't mind "Spock's Brain" all that much -- I liked, for example, the fact that the Planet of Buxom Stewardesses was part of solar system.

Which naturally leads into a lengthy soul searching analysis. Why do I have contempt for Professional Wrestling but enjoy the equally fake fights in James Bond films? Why do I think Jessie Ventura is a kook but am secretly delighted that he is governor of Minnesota?

What I tell myself about Professional Wrestling from a lofty position of almost total ignorance is that it pretends to be a "sport" while the James Bond films are openly fiction.

Granted, the characterization in the two genres is roughly equal, it is the pretense that offends me. That is, come to think of it, a mighty thin rationalization on my part. Tell you what, if Professional Wrestling ever introduces speedboats, railway trains, and helicopters, I'll give it a try.

As for Jessie Ventura, he is democracy in action. Think about it. The Power That Be could have said, "This is ridiculous. A Professional Wrestler can't be governor. We'll just set aside his election and give the office to the runner up." They could have done that. They are, after all, Powers. But they didn't. Which proves that we really do live in a democracy. If I were George W. Bush or Al Gore, I'd be shaking in my boots.

As for the Voyager, while I was really hoping to see Capt. Janeway mud wrestle Hulk Hogan, I have to admit that the script was tight, the fight sequences exciting, and the special effects better than those in most low-budget theatrical films. A Professional effort all the way.

The X-Files, "Sein und Zeit" and "Closure" (***)
written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz

X-Files We really do find out what happened to Samantha Mulder.

No, I'm not going to tell you. Watch the episode.

Chris Carter decided to go sentimental rather than conspiratorial with this episode, and so emotion takes precedence over revelation. I would have liked to see more of the Cigarette Smoking Man. He has a very brief appearance in Part Two and Scully remarks that he does not look well. I assume that William B. Davis is not in good health. Macabre thought though it is, I hope Chris Carter has the good sense to film him on a lot of different sets saying various cryptic things so that his character can continue to appear for years after the actor has received "the gift of Iluvatar". One of the best things about Dark Shadows was that when a character was killed, it meant that their role became even more important in the series. The X-Files has many of the virtues of Dark Shadows, without the schlock production values.

Given its basically sentimental tone, this two part episode does not, as the first part might have you believe, out-and-out contradict what has gone before. It just forces you to deduce for yourself that Cigarette Smoking Man took cells from Samantha and turned them over to the aliens, who made the clones who keep bees and provided one clone for Cigarette Smoking Man, who wanted her for reasons best known to himself.

What I most admire here is that this episode does not try to gloss over the fact that the innocent suffer needlessly, including the children and the mother falsely jailed. As in life, there is no reason to their suffering and no end. And the question, why some suffer and others are spared, is not answered. But it is at least explicitly asked.

Copyright © 2000 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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