Retrospeculative TV

RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “And the Sky Full of Stars” (Season 1, Episode 8)

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The first year of B5 is pretty inconsistent and dull, and never so much as in the first third of the season, but for those who’ve soldiered on thus far, they get some payoff: The mystery of Sinclair’s disappearance at the Battle of the Line is revealed, and a larger mystery emerges from that one.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Max Headroom: "Security Systems" (Episode 4)

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Max Headroom cognoscenti will remember "Security Systems" as The Filthy Episode. Even though it's not the show's best entry, everybody who ever saw it still remembers it. This is mainly because "Security Systems" features a mind-boggingly bizarre sequence where Max seduces a female computer program. It must have been quite a coup to get this early Cybersex scene past ABC's Standards and Practices department in 1987.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5:: “The War Prayer” (Season 1, Episode 6)

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Grrr. The average is ebbing down again. Not terrible, and there’s some more world building here that is worth watching, but that doesn’t disguise the overwhelming feeling of “Meh” that pervades this episode.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: “Battlestar Galactica” : What have we learned?

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And now we come to the time when we wave farewell to the original Galactica, and ponder what we’ve seen. What have we learned?

Well, we’ve learned that the critics were not wrong: It was a goofy, wildly uneven, frequently poorly-written show, particularly in the first third of its run, when the critics were paying attention.

At the same time, we’ve learned that the critics were wrong: Despite all the above, it was interesting and entertaining, and quite a bit more ambitious than any other SF series before it, including, yes, Star Trek.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Mind War” (Season 1, Episode 6)

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After last week’s high water mark for the series thus far, we once again find the tide is going out. But it doesn’t go out all the way, and it’s not so low that we can see the mud. Between the coda of this episode, and the coda of the previous one, the show is showing a sudden and impressive penchant for the whole “sense of wonder and awe” thing that Star Trek had lost all interest in by this point.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Battlestar Galactica: “The Hand of God” (Story 17, Series Finale)

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I’m tired. I’m a worn out kind of tired. I’m not sure why. The rest of these Galactica reviews were done months ago, but the wind went out of my sails after “Experiment in Terra.” That was a good enough episode, so we can’t blame it on that. “Take the Celestra” should have been a good episode, but coming on the big conclusion to the ’Terra’ arc, it felt like the train had lost an axle, you know? And here we are with the surprisingly glum, slow, and lifeless season/series finale.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Babylon 5: “Parliament of Dreams” (Season 1, Episode 5)

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And just like that - bang - Babylon 5 is firing on all cylinders! After a mediocre start and two significant fumbles, suddenly we get a strong sense of what the show wants to be and what it’s capable of.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Battlestar Galactica (1978): “Take the Celestra” (Story 16)

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Much as I’m enjoying reconnecting with the original Galactica (And I am, brother, believe you me, I am), it’s hard to work up any enthusiasm for these last two episodes. The show has passed its creative peak (As of last week, actually), and this episode seems oddly out of place. There’s nothing you can point to as specifically *wrong* about it, in fact there’s a lot of good stuff in here, and it’s not like I’m not used to digging through crap to get to the diamonds in this series - I actually kind of enjoy it, truth be told - but this time out, somehow, it just doesn’t work.

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RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Max Headroom: "Body Banks" (Episode 3)

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"Body Banks" is what Max Headroom's second episode should have been: a gripping science fiction yarn with a cautionary twist, unexpected surprises and convincing supporting actors. It's easy to forgive that the episode actually recycles an idea from the pilot in order to introduce an element missing from the US show so far: Big Time Television and its owner, Blank Reg – played by TV's jack of all trades, William Morgan Sheppard.

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