Allstream takes flight with WestJet contract renewal [Portfolio]

Though its name may have changed, Allstream is still the right fit for Canada’s fastest growing airline.

Calgary-based WestJet has renewed a relationship with the company formerly known as AT&T Canada with a two-year, $4-million contract for a range of telecommunications services. Allstream will continue to provide data, Internet and long distance voice services to the national airline.

While cost was a factor for WestJet, culture was too, says Rosanna Imbrogno, director of customer service.

“They fit WestJet very well,” she says. “We are a unique culture and we need someone who understands what our culture is and how we drive our business model.”

The company has already been with WestJet for four years, and while the airline felt it was time to take a quick look to see what other vendors could offer, it made sense for WestJet to stay with Allstream for another two years, says Imbrogno.

“We didn’t feel it necessary to move away from Allstream,” she says. “We partnered up with someone who understands us.”

Keeping costs low is what keeps WestJet competitive, says Imbrogno, “and we innovate like crazy. You have to have an entrepreneur in you to do that.” WestJet sees the same qualities in Allstream.

Among the services provided by Allstream is its high-speed network that connects between WestJet’s head office, data centres, hangars and call centre facilities. WestJet serves 26 cities across Canada, and employs 3,500 people, 2,000 of whom work in customer service, an area Imbrogno says sees a great deal of benefit from the Allstream relationship.

“We’re doing more and more sales on the Internet,” she says. Currently, 65 per cent of bookings are done online, and WestJet expects that to increase, which pushes the call centre to become a more rounded contact centre, says Imbrogno. “We’re going to have to use different technology. (Allstream) has people in their organization who understand call centres very well.”

Imbrogno says it made sense to only sign a two-year deal with Allstream since WestJet is rapidly changing. While WestJet is evolving, focused on innovation and cost-conscious, says Imbrogno, it’s not looking to lead the technology. Voice over IP, she says, is still not something WestJet is willing to embrace.

“No one’s really perfected it yet,” she says.

One leading edge technology that has aided WestJet, says Imbrogno, is ResponseTek, which enables the airline to gather feedback from its customers.

The deal with WestJet is Allstream’s first major customer win since its rebranding two months, says David Grixti, Allstream’s sales vice-president, Western Region, and in terms of size and scope is one of its top 100 customers.

WestJet’s potential to bring more revenue and business to Allstream is significant, he says. “It opens up opportunities to expand the network. WestJet is growing and expanding the cities they fly into and we are growing with them.”

AT&T Canada relaunched itself as Allstream in June to reposition itself as a national provider of connectivity, infrastructure management and IT services. The name change follows AT&T Canada’s successful debt restructuring plan last April.

Original printed in Computing Canada, August 8, 2003, Vol. 29 No. 15

Touchy remote software [Portfolio]

Having access to your personal files from anywhere in the world is promised by a number of technologies, usually with the help of wireless or broadband Internet.

Mississauga, Ont.-based 01Communique’s latest version of its I’m InTouch software makes use of the latter to let users access their Windows-based PC from anywhere, letting them access and edit files, read and edit contact and calendar entries and run any desktop application.

And while broadband access is a big part of making this possible, it’s also the software’s Achilles heel.

But let’s talk about trying to install the software first.

It took (count ’em) five attempts — both using the provided CD and a downloaded version — and we still couldn’t get the green light. Specifically, a little green satellite in the taskbar that says the machine is available for remote access.

To the company’s credit, tech support was quite responsive, but it was still very much a trial and error approach, with particular focus on the fact the Windows 2000 test machine was connected to a home office LAN with a Linksys router.

Ultimately, the solution was a minor setting change in Internet Explorer — unchecking “detect settings automatically” was all that was standing in our way.

Once it was running, we tried accessing the system from a Mac machine at CDN’s offices. While we had no trouble logging in to the computer remotely, once we tried to make use of any of the functions, the Mac froze up, whether we used Netscape Navigator 4.0 or Internet Explorer 5.0.

These problems would appear to be the fault of the Mac system, since the next step was to give it a whirl on a Windows 2000 machine here in the office. Success! This also meant that our failed attempts on the Mac did take the remote system down.

But the thrill of victory waned quickly once bandwidth limitations were realized. It’s painfully slow to do anything on the remote desktop, whether it’s manipulating files or checking e-mail via Outlook or Outlook Express. Memories of accessing the Web via dial-up came flooding back.

Accessing files remotely, in theory, should be a productivity gain, but waiting several minutes just to load the remote desktop was enough to realize that remote access software is only really effective in ideal conditions.

I’m InTouch obviously loses points for installation headaches, but it does have all the right elements remote access software should have.

Unfortunately, bandwidth limitations simply kill its usefulness, which is an issue that in all likelihood is not unique to 01Communique’s efforts.

It’s important to note that having the remote system on a LAN was one reason for slower access, and that the company is addressing bandwidth issues in the next release.

Originally published in Computer Dealer News, June 13, 2003, Vol. 19 No. 9

McAfee VirusScan Professional 7.0 [Portfolio]

Despite one or two niggling annoyances, McAfee’s VirusScan Professional looks as though it’s the comprehensive tool for keeping your PC secure.

Installation initially appeared to be quick and smooth, until discovering it needed to download 20 minutes worth of upgrade patches (this is a typical installation using a broadband connection).

Designed to work on Windows 98 and up with 32 MB of RAM on a 100 MHz processor, I tested VirusScan Professional on Windows 2000 with more than twice the minimum horsepower. While running in the background there was no visible slowing of system performance; however, opening the software’s control panel was slow.

File scanning is quick, though, thanks in part to a feature called File Scan Caching: the software makes sure processing power is not wasted looking at previously scanned and unchanged files.

VirusScan Professional 7.0 has a browser-like interface, with back, forward, and home buttons — pretty much unchanged from version 6.0.

A notable change from its predecessor is a tool allowing you to schedule scans of individual folders, particularly ones that change frequently, such as My Documents.

But VirusScan Professional 7.0 is much more than just an anti-virus tool. It also includes a personal firewall — essential for those users with an always-on Internet connection, as well the ability to protect a PC during PDA synchronization and to permanently remove private files.

It also boasts instant updating of virus definitions — which most users have probably come to expect from any anti-virus software — but has the annoying habit of issuing a daily alert that an update is available and sending you to a Web page with no instructions on what to do next, despite that fact that the automatic update feature was enabled.

Aside from minor quibbles, McAfee VirusScan Professional 7.0 is a very complete solution for protecting PCs against viruses and other nasty bugs — the only drawback might be that it’s too much for the average user; power users will have no problem.

Estimated street price is $72.

Originally published in Computer Dealer News, March 21, 2003, Vol. 19 No. 4

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One [DVD Review]

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One
DVD / Paramount / March 2002

Regardless of what you thought of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s rookie season, it can’t be denied that it had a lasting influence on the genre television for years to come. One could even say it revived science fiction on television, paving the way not only for its spinoffs, but for ground breaking series such as Babylon 5 and Farscape, and forgettable flotsum such as Lexx and Starhunter.

Yes, season one of TNG, now available on DVD as a box set, was pretty uneven, but there are a few gems among what is clearly the series’ weakest season.

Encounter At Farpoint: The two-hour premiere hammers us over the head with the message that humans are still savages – a typical Roddenberry story – but it capably introduces the new cast and crew. And, while “humanity on trial” plotline is derivative of the original Star Trek, John de Lance as Q is will prove to be entertaining throughout the show’s even-year run.

The Naked Now: An obvious original Trek ripoff, (The Naked Now), the crew’s enounter with a virus that acts on the brain like alcohol does lead to some character revelations and some funny moments, but it’s an ultimately forgettable episode.

Code of Honor: Probably the first hint of TNG’s true potential as Natasha Yar because the unwitting participant in a fight to the death.

Haven: It was just a matter of time before Majel Barrett-Roddenberry showed up in what would be a recurring role as Counselor Troi’s mother. This episode is a weak attempt at developing the past between Deanna and Will Riker. A few funny moments, but overall forgettable.

Where No One Has Gone Before: High marks for this one; great story and character development, and one of the rare episodes that treats Wesley’s precosiousness properly. An early highlight of the season.

The Last Outpost: We finally get to see the Ferengi, and while the makeup work is outstanding, they’re neither frightening nor foretell the potential of the race as finally shown in Deep Space Nine as great sources of comedy. And there’s that whole “humanity on trial” theme raising its pesky head again.

Lonely Among Us: Farfetched but fun. Data plays Sherlock Holmes for the first time, there’s a mystery to be solved and some cool aliens. Oh yeah, Deanna Troi’s cleavage is particularly cleavy.

Justice: Ouch. A misguided attempt to illustrate how Picard would handle the prime directive. Lots of pretty barely dressed humanoids, but a rather juvenile approach to sex. Palease!

The Battle: The Ferengi are a little more cunning this around, and we get a peak into Picard’s pass. An above average episode and holds up rather well.

Hide and Q: A fun, fast paced episode. John de Lance shines as Q, but it’s painfully clear that Denise Crosby needs acting lessons. And where’s Deanna Troi?

Too Short A Season: A great dramatic episode with action to boot, but an early sign that Yar’s days were numbered. She’s the security officer but doesn’t get any lines in an episode about terrorists taking hostages until almost the final act. Hellooooo?

The Big Goodbye: The first major holodeck story and deserved of its Peabody award, but the whole Wesley saves ship schtick is getting obvious.

Datalore: Proof that Brent Spiner is da man and that Data is more than a Spock clone. A few plot holes don’t overshadow the overall enjoyment of this episode, which begs for a sequel and does eventually get one.

Angel One: The only thing that kept me watching this one was the hope the Romulans would reappear and they don’t. Big blandfest this one.

11001001: Possibly the best ep of the season, and smart use of the holodeck. The beginning of a solid run of episodes.

When The Bough Breaks: A good commentary on how we’re screwing up our environment back on Earth.

Home Soil: Neat story idea, a few thrills, but once again we’re told humans are savages and the guest cast barely phone in their performances.

Coming of Age: Two parallel storylines do a nice job of teaching some life lessons that aren’t unique to Star Trek.

Heart of Glory: We all knew Worf kicks ass and he finally gets to show it. A first step in developing Klingon culture, this episode raises the bar.

Arsenal of Freedom: Yet another example of how Star Trek can entertain and inform at the same time, this time making a solid comment on the arms race.

Symbiosis: This time the commentary’s on drug addiction, and it’s done dramatically and cleverly, except for Yar’s just say no to drugs speech to Wesley. Die already!

Skin of Evil: And so she does. Killing off a regular character always makes for good entertainment, and overall this episode works quite well.

We’ll Always Have Paris: Cool time-travel idea gets muddled by melodrama.

Conspiracy: If humans had been at the heart of the conspiracy, it would have been the best episode of the season. Unfortunately the great setup is ruined by the introduction of aliens and gory ending bordering on hokey.

The Neutral Zone: A lot going on here, but it never really gels. The Romulans come back, and the hint of a bigger threat remains to the end. A shaky end to the season.

You see, there were some gems to be found here and there. As for the extras, they’re almost non-existent. Most of it comprises of recompiled footage from previously-aired specials, and there’s no real insight offered into any aspect of the series.

Episodes: 6/10
Extras: 3/10

Normal Again [TV Review]

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a lot more complex than the title of the show suggests, and after six years, the heroine of this series has collected a lot of baggage, emotional and otherwise.

No wonder she’s hallucinating.

But while many of us create fantasies to deal with stress in our day to day lives, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has been living in a fantasy world with some harsh realities – a soul mate who can’t be with her for fear of losing his soul and becoming an evil demon; the death of her mother at the hands of an aneurism, not monsters she can fight; and a destiny that will see her never have a normal life because she’s The Chosen One and lives on a hellmouth.

Or could she have a normal life? And what is normal?

In “Normal Again,” a run-in with a demon has Buffy jumping from two frames of mind thanks to the creature’s nasty venom. In her hallucination, she’s in a mental institution, and she’s been there for six years. Her parents are still together, and Buffy’s having a moment of lucidity, according to the Doctor. There is a chance, he says, that she could make a full recovery from her multi-layered schizophrenia.

Meanwhile, back in Sunnydale, Buffy’s in and out and her friends take it upon themselves to capture the demon in question and harness the antidote. All in all, it turns out to be a simple task, even if Willow can’t make use of magic do cook up the cure.

The question is, does Buffy really want to get well?

Her moments of lucidity at the institution are becoming more prolonged, and in Sunnydale, Buffy dumps the antidote in the garbage, and no one’s the wiser.

The Doctor tells Buffy that she must take apart the traps that keep her in imaginary world. Those traps are her friends, which she thinks are sacred, says the Doctor, but she must give them up.

Buffy wants to be healthy, she tells her parents. What does she have to do?

Back in Sunnydale, Buffy is systematically dealing with Willow, Xander and her sister Dawn. She captures and assembles them in the basement with the nasty monster that started this mental roller coaster in the first place.

At this point, all bets are off – Buffy’s parents are encouraging her to shut down her imaginary world, and that means setting the demon loose on her friends, who are still tied up. Buffy’s almost catatonic as the monster pummels them.

In the institution, it’s clear Buffy’s struggling to destroy her life in Sunnydale, despite the desperate pleas of her friends, and by now, it starts to become conceivable that Buffy’s life for the past six years could very well be a sham, but as the episode counts down to its closing moments, Tara rushes in and turns the tide in favour of the Sunnydale Scooby gang.

It’s also enough to snap Buffy back to reality and kick some demon ass, albeit after a tearful goodbye to her parents at the institution. All’s well that ends well, right?


As much as Buffy has chosen to stay in Sunnydale and admitted to her friends that she did not take the antidote, it’s unclear why she made the choice she did.

Did Buffy choose Sunnydale because she knew it was reality? Or is she giving into the fantasy? Was she willing to believe that the institution would better than her life as the Slayer?

The final scene of the episode does nothing to clarify this, and one could dismiss it as being hoaky, or take it for a telling sign of things to come. Utlimately, Buffy’s life is one big irony: While many of us yearn to live in a world of black and white where heroes triumph over villains, there’s part of her that would rather deal with the cold hard reality of medicinal drugs and rubber walls at the institution, even if it means giving up the wonderful things in her dangerous world, including her friends.

Given the ambiguity of the ending of “Normal Again,” one could wonder if anyone really has a solid grip on reality, or just thinks they do.

Gary Hilson is a writer, editor and digital media specialist for hire. He lives in Toronto.

Doctor Who: The Robots of Death [DVD Review]

DVD / BBC Video / November 2000

“The Robots of Death” is a perfect example of how ageless Doctor Who is when it’s done well.

Originally aired in the late 70s, this four-part story featuring Tom Baker as the Doctor and Louise Jameson as his traveling companion Leela still holds up well when you take a hard look at the story, even if the sets and costumes look rather dated.

The Doctor and Leela arrive on Storm Mine 4, a “sandminer” trawling a desert planet for rare and value minerals. The miner is staffed by a skeleton crew of humans and a complement of robots that handle the mundane day-to-day chores.

When a member of the crew is murdered, no one believes it possible that a robot could have committed the crime – they have numerous fail-safes to prevent it – but of course the Doctor and his companion are immediately suspected of the crime.

What follows is a murder mystery as more crewmembers turn up dead, but also a complex tale that intelligently wonders how people will truly deal with artificial beings, especially when it’s impossible to judge what a robot might be thinking without the benefit of facial expressions and body language.

The supporting cast gives able performances, and the characters are reasonably well-developed. In fact, some are not what they originally appear to be, which adds to the who-dunnit story.

Tom Baker is really on his game as the Doctor, and Louise Jameson as Leela comes across as both simple as her savage upbringing dictates but intelligent at the same time – often plot points are explained through her questions to the Doctor about what’s going on.

As for the DVD extras, they’re average at best. The commentary by writer Chris Boucher and producer Philip Hinchcliffe provides an occasional interesting tidbit, but most of it doesn’t directly relate to the action on the screen and the mind quickly wanders.

Some of the features, such as the alternate beginning of episode one, studio plans and even photo galleries would be much more interesting with some description or commentary.

Overall, as Doctor Who stories go, Robots of Death is one of the best examples of how the series is still relevant in large part due to great storytelling.

Originally published on Outpost Gallifrey

Farscape: Durka Returns / A Human Reaction [DVD Review]

Farscape: Durka Returns / A Human Reaction
DVD / ADV Films / November 2001

With Space: The Imagination Station and other Canadian stations taking their merry old time rolling out new episodes of Farscape (the third season has aired in the UK, while Canada has only seen the first half of season one in most markets), it makes more sense to shell out the money for the DVDs from ADV Films.

Farscape really gets its groove on with the eighth DVD in the series featuring the episodes “Durka Returns” and “A Human Reaction.”

The first episode is notable for introducing the character of Chiana, played by Gigi Edgley, as well as delving into Rygel’s past. Moya’s pregnancy is having an adverse effect on her systems, and she comes out of starburst just time to collide with an unidentified vessel. Moya is unharmed, but Pilot insists on bringing the damaged vessel aboard.

The first passenger to emerge from the craft is immediately recognized by Rygel as Durka, once captain of the Peacekeeper command carrier Zelbinion, and the administrator of his torture and suffering cycles ago. The man confirms that he is Durka, and it’s John that must hold the enraged Hynerian at bay. However, Durka is not the man he used to be, according to Salis, a Nebari. His brain has been altered over the years – about 100 cycles. For all intents in purposes, Durka has been neutered, but Rygel is not convinced.

There’s a third passenger about the Nebari vessel – another gray-skinned Nebari named Chiana. She’s actually a prisoner, and Durka requests a cell to place her until another Nebari ship meets them. But is Chiana really a hardened criminal or just a mischief-maker? By the end of the episode, it’s still unclear, but she doesn’t stay a prisoner very long. Between her instinct for self-preservation and Rygel’s thirst for revenge, things get out of control very quickly and it’s just a matter of time before Durka shows his true colours.,br>

“Durka Returns” is a fairly strong episode, giving most of the characters some screen time and doing a fine job of introducing a recurring character. “A Human Reaction” is also very entertaining, but one could argue that it’s doomed to be disappointing because of the basic story premise. John, obviously getting rather restless aboard Moya, is recording another message to his father when he’s alerted by Pilot of a phenomenon the Leviathan hasn’t seen since John’s arrival ­ a wormhole! A wormhole that leads to a planet that is without a doubt Earth.

After a few strained and tearful good-byes, John sets out in his module and manages to crash land in Australia. However, he’s not given a warm welcome home ­ commandos quickly arrive and imprison him. The military is suspicious of John and his motives. The presence of the nano-translators in his body doesn’t help his case. But John wants answers too, and he’s not cooperating. He finally gets an ally when his father Jack (played Kent McCord, last seen in the pilot) turns up and uses his own test to verify that John is his son. John gets to stretch his legs out, but even then, Jack assures him, he’s being watched.

Turns out the wormhole the swept John to his life aboard Moya never disappeared ­ at least not at Earth’s end, putting the planet on high alert. John promises he’ll tell all about his adventures, but the base is put on higher alert by the arrival of Moya’s transport pod, carrying Rygel, Aeryn and D’Argo. They claim they were just checking out the edge of the wormhole, not intending to follow John.

Regardless, the military won’t take John’s word for that the aliens pose no harm, and soon one is dead and another taken away to another military installation. At this point, it’s pretty clear that John isn’t really home. The fun lies in how John figures out the puzzle before him.

However, this is the kind of the story that can’t really deliver the satisfying ending the beginning demands, but its still reasonably good. If anything, the major disappointment has more to do with the production values of the closing scene.

“A Human Reaction” is an emotionally packed, entertaining episode of Farscape, and does a deft job of demonstrating what the show’s mandate is all about: John Crichton’s quest to get home. It also illustrates how John has changed – he has new loyalties and friendships.

Overall, these two episodes are the beginnings of Farscape’s direction in later episodes, both in terms of story and quality.

As for the DVD extras, there isn’t a whole lot: the previews are for non-Farscape products from ADV. The only real highlight would be the interview with Gigi Edgley out of makeup, but even then there’s no behind the scenes footage of her interacting with co-stars and crew. It is important to note that these episodes are longer than the ones broadcast in North America by about five minutes.

“Durka Returns” – 7/10
“A Human Reaction” – 7/10
DVD Extras – 5/10

Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday [VHS Review]

Doctor Who: Four to Doomsday
BBC Video / VHS / September 2001

High concept science fiction stories were a hallmark of the Peter Davison-era Doctor Who.

“Four To Doomsday,” an early fifth Doctor adventure now available on VHS in North America is no exception, but unfortunately it lacks the thrills and “edge” the SF series is renowned for throughout most of its run.

In this four-part story, the TARDIS materializes inside a vast starship with a multiracial crew from Earth’s distant past. Downloaded into computer chips are the memories of the three billion survivors of the Urbankan race, and the Earth is to be their new home. The Urbankans are led by Monarch, a giant green frog-thing, who wants to travel back to the Big Bang to meet God, who he is convinced is himself.

There are a lot of ideas floating around in Four to Doomsday, but none of them are really addressed in any sufficient depth. Neither are the Doctor’s companions for that matter – three companions in the TARDIS is just too many.

Adric is more annoying than Wesley Crusher, Tegan spends most of the time whining or hysterical, and Nyssa, the most levelheaded of the bunch, doesn’t really get much to do at all.

It’s also clear Davison is just getting the hang of his persona as the Doctor, as are the writers. Throughout the story, he comes off as sarcastic, rather than the compassionate, thoughtful Doctor in later stories.

The Urbankans are kind of neat to look at, but Monarch doesn’t seem to be that much of a threat, and while most Who episodes end with a cliffhanger, Four to Doomsday falls short on even those standard thrills. That BBC Video is scratching at the bottom of the barrel would be an exaggeration; however, Four to Doomsday is not best of the Davison era, nor the series as a whole.

TV Review: Tracker (Series Premiere)

T is for Tracker. T is also for tedious.

And unfortunately, that’s the verdict on the syndicated series starring Adrian Paul in the title role.

After Highlander, I was expecting a lot more from Mr. Paul, especially since he was also filling the role of executive producer, but Tracker comes off as more as grade B fare in the vein of Highlander ripoff The Immortal than anything else.

Paul plays an alien who arrives on Earth to track down some bad guy, but is a mumbling idiot throughout the whole episode because unlike his enemy (played by wrestler chick Chyna), he didn’t co-opt an existing human body. He’s aided in his transition by woman who’s recently inherited a bar where she’s employed her cousin, which isn’t really relevant to the story.

Eventually Paul’s character and Chyna come to blows, but the fight sequences are horrible. Again, it’s impossible not to compare this series to Highlander, and the intended dramatic ending is somewhat eclipsed by the indelible impression of Chyna’s humongous jiggling breasts.

Even though the series has an interesting premise and a more than capable lead actor, Tracker was so annoying the first time around I probably won’t give it another chance.

Originally published in the online magazine The Leisure Hive as part of its fall 2001 science fiction television preview.

The Emmy’s definitely due [TV Review]

It’s been several weeks since “The Body” aired, and I’m still trying to digest the viewing experience. Suffice it to say, if this brilliant hour of television doesn’t earn Buffy The Vampire Slayer an Emmy nod, I don’t know what will.

I was prepared to get weepy a week before “The Body” actually aired, since Joss Whedon and company have this habit of pulling out the rug in the last five minutes of an episode just to keep you thinking about the series for the coming week, but I wasn’t prepared for how poignant the episode would be on so many fronts. First off, there’s Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance. While she’s had plenty of opportunities before to show her acting chops and act grief stricken, the situation Buffy faces in this episode leaves her particularly vulnerable and powerless to act. It’s something new for the character and is the foundation of “The Body.” For the first time, Buffy doesn’t have a demon or monster she can fight. The enemy here is much more mundane.

The supporting cast does just as much to make this episode emotionally powerful. The tears were welling up quite a bit as Willow (Alyson Hannigan) frets over what wear to the hospital. There’s a very touching moment as Tara (Amber Benson) comforts Willow with a long tender kiss. Kudos to Whedon and co. for writing that scene into an episode that was about something much bigger and more important, rather than making a big deal about with an an episode specifically based on the couple’s first on-screen kiss.

But the real scene stealer came from an unexpected source: Anya (Emma Caulfield). A character that normally has grated on me for the last year or so managed to basically deliver the most heart wrenching lines in the entire episode.

“The Body” deals with death in a very raw, realistic manner, capturing the awkwardness people feel as they try to figure out what they should do or say when faced with the loss of a loved one. Whedon’s direction deserves much of the credit for the episode’s realism and the decision to forgo a musical score was definitely the right one.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer has been skirted the edges of conventional critical acclaim for a while now. “The Body” is absolute proof that a television show doesn’t have to be about cops or doctors to be a legitimate drama. When watching it for the second and even the third time, it still reaches right into my soul, which is something I don’t say lightly. The third season episode “Amends” is right up there, but I’m inclined to go further back to Homicide: Life on the Street’s “Crosetti” for comparison, and that’s high praise.

Unfortunately, I’m far too jaded to believe that the Emmys would ever recognize a genre show such as Buffy, even if it is long overdue.

Gary Hilson is a writer, editor and digital media specialist for hire. He lives in Toronto.