Question: In terms of interest, action and characters, I rate Threshold first, Invasion second and Surface dead last. Yet Threshold has been canceled while the other two have been renewed. What is your opinion of the three shows, ratings aside?
Answer: I flip-flopped continually between Threshold and Invasion as to which I preferred. It usually depended on which I'd seen most recently. Threshold seemed to me more fun, but Invasion is more emotionally involving and intriguing, and lately has made its way back to the top (although none of the network sci-fi/fantasy shows comes close in appeal or distinction to Battlestar Galactica; I'm anxiously awaiting tapes of its first new episodes, scheduled for January). On Invasion, the relationship of Mariel and Sheriff Tom is so deeply interesting and disturbing to me, I watch the show in fascination even when the narrative seems to meander. As I've said before, considering how subtly creepy Invasion is, I'm amazed it's doing even as well as it is. I'd address Surface, but I need to stay awake to finish the rest of this column.

And finally, this word on Threshold from (inevitably) a nonfan, Vance: "I love your column and rely on your critical judgment before I invest too much time in a new series. Nonetheless, I have to disagree with your assessment of Threshold. As someone who appreciates the likes of Battlestar Galactica and Farscape, I don't see how you can enjoy the hokey dialogue, cartoon characters and snail's-pace plotting of this very mediocre show. I admit that the first two or three episodes had promise, but Threshold has degenerated into a 2005 version of the old Galactica — pure pabulum. Can you see any of these criticisms as valid?"

I tend to think that all, or most, criticisms are valid — even ones, like this, that I don't particularly agree with, especially those about the show's pace. I thought most episodes covered lots of ground, and I enjoyed seeing how the aliens kept trying each week to get their infectious signal out in new and ingenious ways. But clearly, more people felt your way than mine. It happens. (And I prefer Battlestar and Farscape as well.)

The final, final word goes to Valerie, who jokes (I think), "Do you think this show would have stayed on CBS if the words 'Jerry Bruckheimer' appeared in the credits?"