Battlestar Galactica
You know, if you have any friends who still write off sci-fi as gimmicky crap (and it too often is), just have them watch the first segment of this episode. Hill Street Blues never did an intro better, and Hill Street Blues did 'em great. Not a laser gun fired — just cool, alt-blues mood music and a solid human interchange as Roslin and Adama exchange ideas on how to defeat a case of nerves, then a devastating ending as the chief freaks and beats poor Callie. Here we go.

I have to say that while the casting of so many sci-fi/fantasy alums (the original Galactica's Richard Hatch as Zarek, Xena's Lucy Lawless as D'Anna) could come off as gimmicky, it doesn't matter when they're as great as Dean Stockwell. I'll say, too, that I know I've got a lot of faith in the writers' abilities when the chief talks to him about his fear of being a Cylon, and I can't figure out if he can't be because that'd be too simple, or if maybe he is because we figure he must not be. Yeesh. Luckily, there's the debate and all the action planet-side — once Starbuck and crew get down onto Caprica — to distract us. Not that that's a relief, of course, since as soon as they find Anders and what's left of his guys, they start taking heavy fire from the Cylons, leading us right into the cliff-hanger we all knew was coming. But don't worry: We'll find out what happens next week, at the end of the hour, when I'm sure they'll end the season with an even bigger cliff-hanger and we all get to twist until the beginning of the next season. Yet I'll admit it if you will: love it. — Michael Peck