ORBzine - UK TV Review: "Andromeda" April 2001

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Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 1] Under The Night
Shown 3rd March 2002 [Sunday]

This is promoted as being a series by Gene Roddenbury, but the real brains behind it is former Star Trek: DS9 producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe. He wanted to do a Star Trek series set 500 years in the future, after the Federation was destroyed. Paramount refused - after all, why kill the cash-cow? Hewitt Wolfe did the only thing he could: remove the Trek aspects, stitch on some other Roddenbury labels (including getting Majel Barrett-Roddenbury as an Exec Producer) instead. Of note, one of the senior writers is Ethlie Ann Varie (previously best-known for writing an unofficial biography of Harrison Ford). The only thing that really smacks of Roddenbury is the name of the hero, Dylan Kunt (maybe it's Hunt, with a H, but I prefer my spelling). This was the name of Alex Cord's character in Roddenbury's failed Pilot Genesis II , back in the early 1970s.

The hero is played by Kevin Sorbo, straight from his jaunt as the title character in the Rennaissance Pictures show, Hercules . of course, the comparisons are quite obvious. This is summed up when a supporting character describes him, in a neat little in-joke: He's massive, like some kind of Greek god! His main skill is making speaches about the same smug humanist crap that he spewed out in Hercules ! Yes, his anti-war attitude espouses peaceful co-existence with rabid dogs.

Hercules/Kunt is captain of the Andromeda, the most powerful warship - err, starship - in the Confederacy. The ship's computer is an AI played by Lexa Doig.

The villains are a genetically engineered race of superhumans who base their lives around the philosophy of Friederich Nietzsche.

The episode starts with a surprise attack straight out of Battlestar Galactica , and ends with the hero 300 years in the future a la Buck Rogers . His personal sidearm is apparently a minbari staff from Babylon 5 . These are the GOOD things about the episode. :(

Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 2] An Affirming Flame
Shown 10th March 2002 [Sunday]

This is the second part of the pilot episode. Andromeda is going to be sucked into the Black Hole, but Kunt pulls a gizmo out of his ass [metaphorically, thank god]. Yes, the Confederacy are pacifists with Nova Bombs, the ultimate weapon of destruction. Until this episode they had no possible peaceful use. Is this kind of hypocrisy scary or what?

The salvage crew who saved the Andromeda are:

  • Captain Rebecca Bekah Valentine ( ), a babelicious and muscular blonde
  • Seamus Harper ( - Bride of Chucky ), a stereotypical techie nerd who has a crush on Rommie. He is deeply hateful of the Magog race, which does not make sense when you consider his close friendship with Rev Bem.
  • Rev (Reverend) Bem, a Magog [alien] religious preacher of a philosophy called The Way. The makeup is far superior to the Star Trek putty-nose variety. The name Bem seems a pun on Bug-Eyed Monster.
  • Trance Gemini ( Laura Bertram ), a purple-skinned bimbo who seems to have unusual powers. And a prehensile tail.
  • Tir Anasazi, the token black man. He is a Nietzschein, genetically engineered to be perfect
  • Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 3] To Loose The Fateful Lightning
    Shown 17th March 2002 [Sunday]

    Kunt and his Krew travel to a Confederation space station, which they now find is now ruled by the kiddies from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Luckily Kunt's band have Main Character Shields(tm) - either that or the crack-shot shooters who ambush them (and have driven off countless alien invasions over the previous years) can't hit a goddamn thing.

    The station is flooded with a kind of radiation that means everyone there will get sick after about 15 years of no symptoms, and then die within a few months. The symptoms seem more like Influenza than Radiation Poisoning, but hey - it's only TV, right. Silly me for expecting it to be better than Trek. :-(

    As the story develops it totally rips off Star Wars: Jedi Academy Trilogy . Of all the things to steal ideas from, couldn't they have stolen from something good? Kunt moralises about what he allowed to happen, but doesn't realise a couple of things. Firstly, the children have spent their entire lives being attacked and victimised by the enemy. Thus, for them to kill an enemy in self defence is not a sin but a virtue. Secondly, the children each have a lifetime's experience of combat. This shows itself when they outwit Kunt at EVERY step. He's supposed to be a hero, but here he's just a moralistic moron.

    The ending introduces a new character [sort of], and sets a poor precedent. So far the day has always been saved by a Deus Ex Machina, not by Kunt! I mean, this episode gives the audience some foreshadowing of the ending, but Kunt is outwitted and totally defeated.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 4] D Minus Zero
    Shown 24th March 2002 [Sunday]

    The title, as Kunt tells us, denotes the first day of hostilities. Here the Andromeda is attacked by a mysterious starship, and both Kunt's ability as a Captain and the ship's supposed technological superiority both go out the window. The approach to space combat bears more resemblance to a Star Trek: TOS episode than to anything more recent. The nearest RL comparison would be submarine warfare as opposed to WW2 dogfights. This is certainly a refreshing break!

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 5] Double Helix
    Shown 31st March 2002 [Sunday]

    The Andromeda discovers a colony of Nietzschein pirates. Kunt's semi-tame Nietzschien, Tyr Anasazi, is sent down to negotiate. However, once among his own kind he starts to have doubts. This is a wonderful episode that allows the actor to show his strengths, and the character to play both ends against the middle. Also, there's a sex scene which Trek wouldn't have allowed!

    Of note, the Nietzschein males all have the names of famous Earth generals. Anasazi is the exception ...

    When dealng with the Nietzschiens, Kunt has to rely on his previous experience with his 2iC. There is a flashback with the actor in the pilot, and in yet another Trek reference they are playing 3-D checkers (Draughts, to us Brits).

    This episode seems to highlight a certain double standard about the show. It is supposed to be wrong and selfish for Anasazi to be a superman in order to get laid. However, when Rommie wants sex she would give herself to Greek God Kunt but not nice guy Harper. Where is the fairness in that?

    Another point: every time the ship gets boarded, Kunt engages the enemy in hand-to-hand combat rather than using his blaster. In Hercules this made sense, but here it is nonsensical. Hell, we know the ship has countermeasures to prevent hostile boarding, but nobody thinks of engaging them. And this applies to other episodes as well.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 6] Angel Dark, Demon Bright
    Shown 7th April 2002 [Sunday]

    Trance gets a lesson in how to fly the ship in Slipstream. Somehow she manages to land them 300 years in the past. It is 13 months after the Andromeda was lost in the black hole, and the war is almost over. It is the eve of a historic battle that will destroy the Commonwealth and result in the collapse of the Nietzchein Empire. Will Kunt try to change the past?

    Harper secretly plans to destroy the entire Nietzchein fleet. Tyr wants to help the Nietzcheins conquer the galaxy. Somehow Trance knows what they are planning, and influences them ...

    In the end, Kunt has to do something that a Trek Federation Captain would never do ...

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 7] The Ties That Blind
    Shown 14th April 2002 [Sunday]

    The Andromeda discovers a crippled ship, and takes aboard its 2 passengers. They are religious men, followers of The Way. One is an important guru, while the other is a novice monk - and Bekah Valentine's brother! Is he still a con-man, or has he seen the error of his ways.

    We get to learn more about the mysterious villains of a previous episode.

    Character-wise, we learn that Harper is a surfer. This is the explanation for his absense from the episode. Also, we get to see Tyr teach Trance the basics of unarmed combat. He-haw!

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 8] Banks of the Lethe
    Shown 21st April 2002 [Sunday]

    Kunt takes the Andromeda back to the black hole where he was trapped for 300 years. Meanwhile, we get flashbacks to his wife 300 years previously. She has returned to the black hole in order to tractor the Andromeda out. As a nice in-joke, the actress is Kevin Sorbo's real-life wife! She is accompanied by Kunt's best friend, a Nietzschein officer who wears a goatee beard to differentiate him from the other Nietzschein officer and friend Kunt had ...

    It turns out there is a temporal conjunction. Yes, the exact moment that Kunt is in position is in conjunction with the exact moment the wife is in position. Also, in an incredible co-incidence, there are some hi-tech aliens aboard who give Harper the basics of Trek-like transporter technology!

    In a reference to Star Trek , Kunt says this is not one of those silly holodramas where timelines can be altered at will and bad things never happen to good people! :)

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 9] A Rose In The Ashes
    Shown 28th April 2002 [Sunday]

    Kunt and Rommie are on a diplomatic mission to a planet. They are imprisoned for treason and shipped to a prison world. The prison looks like a village filled with extras from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome , guarded by computer-guided twin gattling guns. As we discover later the computer can't shoot worth a damn. The bitch in charge, dressed like a shorter version of Xena , refers to Kunt as a Newbie. No doubt this is a reference to the writer's time on-line. Kunt's only ally here is a stereotypical teenage nerd-girl who somehow built a home-made CCTV system and remote-control model helicopters.

    It is made clear that only Rommie's skin is organic - she is a robotic drone. Because she cannot recharge, the body will die ...

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 10] All Great Neptune's Ocean
    Shown 5th May 2002 [Sunday]

    Kunt has convinced a new world to join the Confederacy. Its rulers, water-breathing gill-men, board the Andromeda to sign the treaty. Unlike Drek, at least here the writers have the decency to tell us that they are genetically engineered humans.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 11] The Pearls That Were His Eyes
    Shown 12th May 2002 [Sunday]

    The crew get a mail-drop. It's three years late, but who cares? Bekka gets a message from her Uncle Sid (John DeLancie - Star Trek: TNG ). She and Trance go to visit him, and find themselves in more trouble than they could have expected.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 12] The Mathematics Of Tears
    Shown 26th May 2002 [Sunday]

    . Trance is on holidays, Dylan finds Rommie's sister-ship. Douglas O'Keefe ( Mutant X ) was Captain (in the flashbacks). Monika Schnarre leads the High Guard crew.

    A take on the Flying Dutchman legend, this was directed by TJ Scott.

    It turns out that Rommie has functioning tear ducts!

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 13] Music of a Distant Drum
    Shown 2nd June 2002 [Sunday]

    Tyr crash-lands on a planet named Midden. He is nursed back to health by a local peasant woman.

    Other nietzschiens are after him. Apparently he stole something very valuable from them ...

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 14] Harper 2.0
    Shown 9th June 2002 [Sunday]

    The crew take on an alien, who dies. A bounty hunter (Ralf Moeller - Gladiator ) and claims the body. The alien was a librarian, and before he died he inserted a massive database into Harper's neural link. Harper's IQ is boosted massively, but the database is slowly overloading his brain and will eventually kill him.

    This episode gives us some background on the Magog creatures, which is important in future episodes.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 15] Forced Perspective
    Shown 23rd June 2002 [Sunday]

    Kunt is brought to book for his crimes committed while in Starfleet - err, High Guard. He is kept imprisoned and interrogated about the mission, which gives good reason for extended flashbacks where he meets and works with his Nietzschein second-in-command. Yes, the mission which won Kunt the command of the Andromeda also led to three centuries of misery for his victims' descendants!

    Trance tries to track Kunt down and rescue him, and manages to be incredibly cute and watchable while doing so. Meanwhile, Rev and Harper are away on a mission to get spare parts for the ship. This leaves Anasazi and Valentine alone together on Andromeda, where the sexual tension is so thick that you can cut it with a knife.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 16] The Sum Of Its Parts
    Shown 23rd June 2002 [Sunday]

    The episode starts with some gal-chat between Rommie, Bekka and Trance. Rommie explains that as an AI everything she does is for the benefit of the crew. We get to learn something about how she thinks ...

    The ship is boarded by a robot that asks them to meet The Consensus, a community of interstellar AIs. In some ways this is similar to the Borg in Star Trek.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 17] The Devil Take The Hindmost
    Shown 18th April 2005 [Tuesday]

    Rev gets a message from his mentor. He and Dylan take the Maru to a stone-age village of pacifists. The mentor wanted Rommie to destroy a ship-load of slavers, but objected to having the work-shy preasants defend themselves.

    The barbarians have genetic memories, and a shocking lust for violence and bloodshed. The slavers work for a uranium mine, and are obviously part of a great civilisation. Obviously, Kunt would enslave BOTH groups to make them pay the taxes that fund his extravagant warship!

    Tyr and Bekka, people of the capitalist reality, transport mercenaries aboard Andromeda. They argue over how to divide the spoils ...

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 18] Star-Crossed
    Shown th May 2002 [Sunday]

    Rommie meets, and falls in lurve with, an android who looks like Michael Shanks ( Stargate: SG-1 ).

    The crew hunt down a renegade High Guard ship, The Balance of Judgement. This ship is leader of the Restors, a group who want to prevent interstellar travel. This is the first of FOUR villainous groups that were founded by Confederacy units!

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 19] Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way
    Shown April 2002 [Tuesday]

    Trance and Harper are on a supply run in the Maru. They get hijacked and taken for a ride by their old boss, Genotrex.

    Genotrex claims to know where a slipstream map is. Unfortunately he's being chased by a deady bounty-hunter, Reaper.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 20] The Honey Offering
    Shown

    Tyr has discovered that two Nietzschein prides, the Sabra and the Jaguar, are planning a wedding to signify their alliance. They need a neutral party with a powerful starship to transport the bride to the groomís homeworld. Naturally, Tyr volunteers the Andromeda ...

    The bride is an arrogant bitch, although in all fairness the crew are exactly what she sees them as. Kunt is a relic of a long-forgotten past, Tyrís pride was wiped out (a sign of weakness), the humans are kludges (with extensive criminal records), Trance is annoyingly happy (thus appearing to have the brains and tail of a monkey) and Rev Bem is a Magog (basically a species of intergalactic vermin). We have been with the crew so long that we have forgotten that the ship is basically a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Kuntís crew is the dregs of humanity (and worse), something that Farscape never let us forget.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 21] It Makes A Lovely Light
    Shown th May 2002 [Sunday]

    The team decide to use the star chart from Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 19] Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way , to find Tarn Vedra.

    Bekka goes back on the stims. Unfortunately her former addiction is re-awoken. Her eyes go pale, and she re-routes helm contol via Harper's backdoor protocol.

    Andromeda Andromeda [Season 1, Episode 22] ...Its Hour Come Round At Last
    Shown th May 2002 [Sunday]

    While running routine repairs, Harper accidentally activates an earlier version of Rommie's AI. Rommie's AI and hologram are overridden, but not her android body. However, this AI version is a pre-combat backup and it thinks that it is still on its original mission. She doesn't remember the new crew (even Kunt), and gives them a choice - Surrender or Die! The crew are too stupid to surrender and talk things over, so Rommie-2 uses boarding countermeasures - humanoid robot drones, wall-mounted autoguns and even decompression. Strange these haven't been used in most previous instances of hostiles boarding the ship, but that's irrelevant here because Harper takes them off-line for the next three hours.

    Rommie's AI and hologram are overridden, but not her android body. The AI's secret mission is deep inside Magog space. The Magog board in force - remember, Harper took the countermeasures out! The crew try to repell boarders and re-boot Rommie ...

    We get to learn a lot about the Magog. They may look and act like beasts, but their General has a nice English voice and a pretty high IQ. He tempts Rev Bem, who might falter ... Also, we see the Magog homeworld [!?] and their God, as seen in a previous episode.

    How will the crew get out of it? Tune in next Season! Yes, this is the last show of the Season, a typical cliff-hanger. But remember - all Harper's problems were temporary, and Kunt still has a Nova bomb!

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