The Best and Worst of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda: Season 5

For previous installments:

 

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I never intended to actually to do this season, but decided to do it anyways. In some ways, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda was a guilty pleasure. in many other ways, the show was just god damn awful, as according to Brain Assassin‘s article, “Why Andromeda Never Was Successfull“:

There are inconsistencies in scale especially concerning the Andromeda Ascendant, the Eureka Maru, and a Slipfighter. It is also not conceivable how an Android like Rommie with it’s enhanced abilities isn’t able keep up a certain level of awesomeness. Sometimes Rommie completely obliterates hordes of enemies and sometimes she struggles to subdue mere humans. And don’t get me started on how many times Rommie missed with a Force Lance. What the fuck? Captain Hunt is also prone to miss like crazy while at other times it’s no problem to disarm enemy combatants with a single shot – no targeting required.

Don’t forget the cheap props on the set either, they really break immersion. Seemingly heavy boulders are revealed as movie props light as a feather by swaying in an actor’s wake. That happened quite a few times. You can also see the ridiculous bone blades bending back when some Nitzschean is moving a bit faster – hey rubber prosthetic, long time no see! The same goes for a Magog’s claws. And don’t get me started on the horrible screen that passed as a radar of sorts. Fuck me sideways! Some 3000 years in the future and object detection systems actually became worse than they’re now!

On a side note, having Tyr read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead in ordinary book form on board of the Andromeda Ascendant that far in the future just doesn’t seem right. Yes, there are books on some of the backwater planets the crew visited but shit no! On board of one of the most powerful spaceships ever built there shouldn’t be a character casually reading a paperback while being on duty on the bridge of said warship. I know what you’re thinking: There are so many things conceptually wrong with Andromeda’s technological level that a mere paperback shouldn’t be mentioned at all. You’re probably right.

Don’t get me wrong, you get this kinda thing in every show and ordinarily I wouldn’t remark on it but in this show these things stand out so visibly it’s hard not to notice. You can’t blend them out and they’re in every damn episode! I could go on like that forever but it serves no point. Better to just move on.

The script writing wasn’t that bad in the first season. The first half of the second season it was OK but it took a sharp turn for the worse after that. In order to understand the sudden and dramatic shift we have to look at the simple business model: Making the most money. Serialization and internationalization isn’t what your after in the syndication business. Nuances of speech get lost in translation anyway so let’s cut science talk down to a mere minimum, show more action sequences and, most important of all, a pair of nice boobs – preferably new ones in every episode – and you have a winner. That’s exactly what happened with Andromeda.

During the first season there seemed to be a bigger design lurking in the background and by the end of season one the overarching story arc seemed clear: stop the Magog worldship – read: the Abyss – at every cost. We were in for a different ride though. Apart from lame takes on character development by pairing different characters every episode and make the odd episode character-concentric there were a lot of bad things to be seen. Awful conversational lines, sometimes even mind-bogglingly stupid. The mighty Andromeda suffering damage of sorts in almost every episode taking her out of the equation for a limited time.

Let’s not forget all the plot threads that were picked up and vanished into thin air … never to be seen again. What’s with that bell we saw in one episode? What’s with the geniuses brains being stolen and the connection to the Engine of Creation? Indeed, what’s with the Engine of Creation itself, discovered by our heroes two seasons earlier? What’s with the phrase “From the beginning, what are the ten radical isotopes?” that will reveal agents of the Abyss? And so on and so forth. Gone the instant they weren’t needed anymore.

Of course, there’s also Captain Hero (this pun is intentional!). Insufferably smug, sanctimonious, and always right Captain Dylan Hunt. Getting more screen time and doing more incredible stuff every episode, becoming more invulnerable every season, even turning into Paradine in the end. Naturally he was a chicks magnet as well. I couldn’t possibly count the dozens of pants Captain Hunt got into. The good Captain also got more screen time the further the show progressed while other characters were reduced to bystanders spouting the occasional line of meaningless dialog. That must’ve worked wonders for immersion!

The Costumes were probably the only thing that got better the longer show ran. Some of them were so bad initially that immersion was utterly obliterated the moment you laid your eyes on one of the supposedly alien creatures. Farscape did a wonderful job there and serves as a prime example of how to properly write a script and create wonderful costumes and puppets. Yeah, it probably cost a lot more to produce. Anyways, the Than-Thre-Kull, the Vedran, and the Magog features costumes that were so incredibly bad, it was impossible to think of the actors portraying them as anything else than people in bad costumes.

Let’s get on to the genetically engineered humanoids called Nietzscheans that are supposed to be superior. First off, bone blades? What the fuck? Not only did they look fake in almost every camera angle – yeah, wrote about that earlier – but they’re not even used all that often. Probably only devised to quickly tell humans apart from Nietzscheans but still a really terrible idea. Anyways, with all the technological advancements the genetically superior Nitzscheans still only live for a meager 150 years? Even if we conveniently forget about the fact that they’re supposed to be five times stronger than your average human there were a bunch of Übers that had the living shit beaten out of them by ordinary kluges.

One of the most infuriating revelations are the Celestial Avatars – artificial constructs built by stellar bodies to influence important events in history. While I would’ve bought that without questioning, I really didn’t like the way the writers used these constructs in the show. If every celestial body has an Avatar, where are they? We only get to see eight Celestial Avatars in the show. It’s such a significantly low number that one has to wonder where the other Avatars are. On vacation? Especially if we take into consideration that they’re drawn to important events, eight is simply not credible.

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Additionally, whatever happened to Tamerlane Anasazi, Tyr’s son, being the genetic reincarnation of Drago Museveni, to unite all the Nietzschean Prides? That went nowhere. By Season 5, we discover that Beka is the Mother of all Nietzscheans, who could also unite the Prides (or at least in a paternalistic manner get them to listen, because she says so)? Say what now?

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Certainly with the absence of Lexa Doig as Rommie meant that a new person was cast as a replacement, mainly Brandy Ledford as Doyle. I suppose this would keep the male audience occupied.

Meanwhile, Steve Bacic as Telemachus Rhade slightly got my attention, for the most superficial of reasons, but it’s not like Andromeda was a sophisticated type of show.

 

The Best:

The Eschatology of Our Present, Attempting Screed, The Test, Through a Glass Darkly, Past is Prolix, Saving Light from a Black Sun, Quantum Tractate Delirium, One More Day’s Light, and Chaos and the Stillness of It

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  • The Eschatology of Our Present is the first episode to feature Virgil Vox;

  • Attempting Screed features the return of Flavin;
  • The Test ends the conflict that began in The Weight and Phear Phactor Phenom between Captain Dylan Hunt and the crew;
  • Through a Glass Darkly features the return of Hohne since Ouroboros;
  • Past is Prolix features the return of Virgil Vox, as Trance tries to save Seefra from her sun;
  • Saving Light from a Black Sun sees the crew journeys inside the artificial Methus-2 sun to repair it and fix the braking system that is supposed to guide Trance’s sun into position, and sees Virgil Vox secretly replace her;
  • Quantum Tractate Delirium sees the return of Rommie following Lexa Doig’s pregnancy as stated in this SciFi Blast From The Past interview:

“I’m pregnant [she and husband Michael Shanks are expecting their first child together],” enthuses Doig. “I haven’t spoke yet with Bob Engels [executive producer] but I’m guessing he and the writers would probably see a pregnant android as being problematic,” she jokes. “So I have a sneaking suspicion that Rommie might not be back, but the A.I. will be.

And,

  • One More Day’s Light and Choas and the Stillness of It sees a foe with Unabomber-like philosphical views, General Burma, attempt to stymie the crew’s efforts to save people of Seefra-5, and board the ship after joining the Spirit of the Abyss. Meanwhile, Dylan and Rhade succeed in rescusing Trance from Methus-2, and Dylan and Beka manage to kill Burma.

[Note: No episode reviews are available for Seasons 5]

 

The Worst:

Phear Phactor Phenom, When Goes Around…, Moonlight Becomes You, The Opposites of Attraction, Totaled Recall, and The Heart of the Journey

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  • Phear Phactor Phenom sees the return of Seamus Harper, the introduction of Doyle, and a foe bent on using eugenics;
  • When Goes Around… sees Dylan Hunt Captain Kirk’ing again *Yawns*;
  • Moonlight Becomes You sees Trance meet Ione, the Avatar of Tarn-Vedra’s moon, on Seefra-2, but the worst is Doyle’s “Qua, qua, qua” and “Paka, paka, paka”;
  • The Opposites of Attraction sees Marida, the Avatar of the Hephaistos Black Hole Dylan and Andromeda had been stuck orbiting for three hundred years, board the ship, and attempt to reclaim Dyaln for herself, like an Evil Demon Seductress (see Feminist Frequency‘s #4). Monika Schnarre, previously played Lieutenant Jill Pearce and the Pax Magellanic AI in The Mathematic of Tears, as well as The Sorceress on BeastMaster;
  • Totaled Recall (partially named after Total Recall) features Dylan traveling through a series of alternate realities à la Sliders; and,
  • The Heart of the Journey is a very convenient, though uninspiring, ending of a series that didn’t seem to care about it’s numerous and plentiful plotholes. So, in a lot of ways, ending the show was certainly a great act of mercy.

[Note: No episode reviews are available for Seasons 5]

 

These days, actor Kevin Sorbo is busy targeting Atheists, and much like the anti-gay individuals who claim to have “many gay friends.” Sorbo is, unsurprisingly, promoting this conservative rhetoric which you will find me yawning at. Seriously, these people!

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5 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda: Season 5

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