Jammer's Review

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"Second Season Recap"

For episodes airing from 10/1/2001 to 5/13/2002
Series created by Gene Roddenberry
Developed by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Executive producers: Majel Roddenberry, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Allan Eastman, Adam Haight, Jay Firestone, Kevin Sorbo

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

In brief: After the first half of the season, which was reasonably entertaining, the series descended rapidly into the gutter. In my book, it's nothing short of a disaster.

So here we are — another season, another recap article. Welcome to my all-around review of Andromeda's sophomore season. My recaps have previously been known by the self-appointed cliche, "the most comprehensive review I'll write this year," but this one might also be "the most negative review I'll write this year." If it comes across that way, then please interpret the sentiments of jest, of which there are plenty. Part one consists of the capsule reviews; part two is the commentary on the season as a whole. Feel free to agree, disagree, or punch your computer screen. Let's get on with it.

Part 1: Capsule Reviews

The Widening GyreAir date: 10/1/2001. Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Directed by Allan Eastman.

The entertaining if implausible follow-up to over-the-top "Its Hour Come 'Round At Last" features — gasp! — the crew not dying after all! They get better, thanks to the first 10 minutes, which work about the same way as the Undo feature in Photoshop. Tyr and Harper (a.k.a. "We've been slimed!") are trapped on a wall and are ultimately saved from slaughter by Rev "Remember Me?" Bem, who goes Hannibal Lecter on the evil teddy-bear army drones, who, by the way, have visible zippers on their backs. Spirit of the Abyss (a.k.a. Mr. Flaming Lava Lamp) looks on menacingly. It ends with a Real Big Explosion, which makes for a poetic season bookend, since by finale time we come full circle and end with ... another Real Big Explosion.

Rating: ***

Exit StrategiesAir date: 10/8/2001. Written by Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer. Directed by T.J. Scott.

The first episode featuring Action Hour in the snow (but not the first episode featuring Canadian forest locations), which makes for a visually refreshing change of pace. The episode proves that Tyr is the only Nietzschean who was DNA-enhanced with actual competence; the rest were enhanced with the much-coveted Disposable Evil Henchman and Can't Hit the Broad Side of a Barn genes. Meaty character moments center on the much-tortured Rev, perhaps being played method-acting style by the much-tortured Brent Stait. Fun, but don't look too closely or you're asking for trouble. Convincingly explain to me how a ship launched a few hundred miles an hour out of a magnetic accelerator can attain escape velocity and I'll send you an e-mail with absolutely no viruses in it.

Rating: ***

A Heart for Falsehood FramedAir date: 10/15/2001. Written by Ethlie Ann Vare. Directed by David Winning.

A derivative plot, with derivative themes, not nearly enough emotional relevance, and too many of those damned heart artifacts. There are two of them, I think, but the way the plot employs them in the caper is clumsily handled. More clumsily handled is the (non)emotional arc for Beka as she supposedly comes close to falling in love with cocky-but-bland Leydon. Leydon is double-crossing swine anyway; why didn't I see that coming? (Oh, wait; I did.) The heart artifact contains a map that was or perhaps was not used to find the Engine of Creation in "In Heaven Now Are Three," but I can't be sure. Tyr gets in a fight for no reason but to have some guys get beaten up and/or added to the Weekly Gratuitous Body Count. Beka gets laid; Harper does not.

Rating: **

Pitiless as the SunAir date: 10/22/2001. Written by Emily Skopov. Directed by Richard Flower.

Hit-and-miss drama sees Trance interrogated by the Cigarette-Smoking Man and, in an interesting irony, she turns the tables in scenes that show how she, not he, is the one in control of this interview. But even Trance can't get him to reveal those missing keys to the X-Files. Dang. Much of this plot's implications are rendered either obsolete or less urgent in light of other developments stemming from the infamous "Trance-formation" in "Ouroboros." Regardless, even in the pre-"Ouroboros" Andromeda this episode can't hold its own as drama, playing more like a series of teasing Trance-hints. The Pyrians (a.k.a. Squids in Space) show up and talk in Creepy Alien Monotone [TM], to little interest or avail.

Rating: **1/2

Last Call at the Broken HammerAir date: 10/29/2001. Teleplay by John Lloyd Parry. Story by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Directed by David Winning.

To my knowledge, it's the only episode of Andromeda thus far to employ a saloon with batwing doors. This is fitting, since this is a Western trapped in an Andromeda episode. Much mayhem ensues, all over some woman named Ortiz, whom Dylan believes could be converted to one of his faithful denizens. Much to my dismay, the supposedly important Ortiz becomes utterly irrelevant after this episode, despite the fact she's supposed to be a major asset. Where did she go? Never mind, because we've got ACTION! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Kalderans (a.k.a. this week's fish in a barrel) prove to be the most incompetent assault force since the Magog. In a scene that is all too prevalent on the New Andromeda, the body count outpaces common sense 10 to one.

Rating: **

All Too Human Air date: 11/5/2001. Written by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz. Directed by T.J. Scott.

Rommie goes into kick-ass mode and shows who's boss. Inspired by the anime genre and the John Woo school of cinema, this is an episode that gets major points for its coolness factor. The plot involving AIs is reasonably intelligent. Rommie's adversary is interesting, if underutilized. The comic-book action is some of the more entertaining Andromeda action on record. For once, the obligatory ass-kicking actually kicks some ass. It could've been more substantive, but what this show does it does well.

Rating: ***

Una Salus VictusAir date: 11/12/2001. Written by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

Two words: Allan Kroeker. Like "All Too Human," this is an example of how to make an action episode move along swiftly. Deft handling of the A/B/C-plot structure is surprisingly effective. Tyr and Dylan get some excellent interaction and prove consistently watchable, even in the most hopelessly implausible of action sequences. Dylan pulls out Crazy Mofo Dylan and it works. Beka and Harper get appropriate subplots. All of it is assembled with great skill. If Action Hour Andromeda could always be this much fun there wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, reality is a different beast...

Rating: ***1/2

Home FiresAir date: 11/19/2001. Written by Ethlie Ann Vare. Directed by Michael Robison.

Rhade Redux — but a different Rhade who is an exact genetic duplicate of Gaheris. Plausible? No. Decent drama? Yes. I enjoyed the parallelism involving Rhade and how this figures into Dylan's past even if the odds of how it all plays out are probably googolplex to one. The frame-up plot is entertaining, although it has its share of holes. Lt. Brown should've had DEAD MEAT tattooed on his forehead (he apparently wrote one too many negative reviews). Favorite line: "Jamahl! Pull up!" Second favorite line: "AAAARRRGH!" [KABOOM] (Thanks, Ethlie.)

Rating: ***

Into the LabyrinthAir date: 11/26/2001. Written by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz. Directed by Brad Turner.

Long-term plotting and good continuity show signs of making Andromeda more interesting as Harper's ongoing struggle with the Magog larvae figures significantly into a story that follows up "Harper 2.0" and "The Honey Offering." The dialog between Tyr and Charlemagne Bolivar is truly inspired; we need more characters written with this kind of wit and performed up to this level. Alas, the assassins (a.k.a. dumb, bright-colored action figures in the flesh) are laughable. This series needs far LESS of this sort of mindless cartoon violence, which detracts even from good episodes like this one. Harper comes slightly closer to getting laid here (he's straddled), but doesn't.

Rating: ***

The Prince Air date: 1/14/2002. Written by Erik Oleson. Directed by Allan Eastman.

The Machiavellian plotting quietly carried out by Dylan and Tyr makes this episode somewhat interesting and proves that a measure of thought was going on below the episode's surface. Unfortunately, the production and acting aren't as convincing and the storyline is derivative. The Bad Guys are arbitrarily pre-assigned and painted with Anti-Subtlety, which undermines any possible gray areas. Andromeda's Super Battle Bots supply the routine, goofy, bloodless violence in a sequence that seems inspired by the ending of RoboCop 2 (minus the bloodshed, natch). That Dylan can get away with such a blunt show of force during the crowning of the prince he's backing is amazing.

Rating: **1/2

Bunker HillAir date: 1/21/2002. Written by Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer. Directed by Richard Flower.

In which we see Earth's landscape as a single (bad) CG shot followed by lots of dim, dank tunnels — appropriate for an underground mission, but dissatisfying nonetheless. Harper is well employed as a would-be freedom fighter (even though he doesn't get laid) and the story's intentions are admirable. Execution, however, is too bland, right down to the stock, half-hearted chants of "Freedom!" and the overly confined perceived scope of the uprising. In subplotting news, Elsbett returns so she can strut around and be annoyingly haughty, even having the nerve this time not to sleep with Dylan. Then there's the on-again, off-again "war" (a.k.a. conveniently stoke-able subplot) between the Sabra-Jaguar and the Drago-Kazov, which is used as a plot point here but impossible to make sense of in the larger scheme of things, if one exists.

Rating: **1/2

OuroborosAir date: 1/28/2002. Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Directed by Jorge Montesi.

A messy, senseless time-travel outing with no emotional or logical arc, even for a time-travel show. Disjoined, chaotic, and largely meaningless, a rip in space-time here becomes story justification to pointlessly rehash every Action-Hour concept in the Andromeda bag-o-tricks. Magog. Kalderans. Shootouts. Explosions. The past, present, future, etc. — it's all here. I find, however, that I personally would rather be elsewhere. Rommie gets blue hair and Trance turns gold and can do karate and back-flips. Transition complete. (Oh yeah; Rev Bem is vaguely and unceremoniously written out of the show. Almost forgot about him.)

Rating: *1/2

Lava and RocketsAir date: 2/4/2002. Written by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz. Directed by Michael Rohl.

Hunt the Hero and Molly the Blonde engage in much low-rent repartee that seems to think these two are Han Solo and Princess Leia. Watchable enough to chew through an hour, but move along, nothing to see here. The Action-Hour action is played out in the usually glib, predictable fashion, where characters are thrust into situations of contrived violence that emerge practically from nowhere and follow a logic only of their own (and not the story's). The Ogami — "fearsome mercenaries" — resemble yet another failed Halloween-mask concept who are about as scary and easily dispatched as an imp on Level 1 of Doom II (except they don't breathe fireballs). Dylan gets laid; Harper doesn't.

Rating: **

Be All My Sins RememberedAir date: 2/11/2002. Teleplay by Ethlie Ann Vare. Story by Jill Sherwin. Directed by Allan Eastman.

Another stage of Andromeda's continued campaign in the War Against Subtlety, in which Bobby, Beka's ex-lover, appears as a half-man, half-RoboCop villain whose story could've been told any number of ways that might've made him a character worthy of development instead of a boring and shallow megalomaniac. His garter-strapped girlfriend is one of the worst-conceived characters in the history of television (that I've seen), while alien-guy Lem carries a BFG that is unintentionally hilarious. Some of Beka's backstory is interesting (minus Bobby's ludicrous Rambo number), but her statement that this guy was "the love of her life" is utter nonsense based on what we see on the screen. Beka gets laid (via flashback); Harper doesn't (not even via flashback). And it ends with more lame kung-fu.

Rating: *1/2

Dance of the MayfliesAir date: 2/18/2002. Teleplay by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Story by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz. Directed by J. Miles Dale.

I could rehash the reasons why I think this laughable hour of camp-laden tripe is cinematic detritus and a general insult to the human intellect, but what would be the point? The good news: It made me laugh. The bad news: In all the wrong places.

Rating: 1/2

In Heaven Now Are ThreeAir date: 2/25/2002. Teleplay by Emily Skopov. Story by Celeste Chan Wolfe. Directed by David Warry-Smith.

A vapid and cliche-ridden Indiana Jones rip-off using the budget and visual design of an Andromeda episode. You do the math.

Rating: *1/2

The Things We Cannot ChangeAir date: 4/8/2002. Written by Ethlie Ann Vare. Directed by Jorge Montesi.

A clip show whose clips often seem like they were picked with the help of a random-number generator. The framing device, meanwhile, lacks genuine interest. The actor playing Dylan's wife is bad, and the son is even worse. Simpleminded Hero Dylan's closing statements of What This All Means reveal him to have the emotional and psychological depth of your average Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger. Dylan gets laid (in a dream); Harper doesn't (except maybe in an off-screen dream).

Rating: *1/2

The Fair UnknownAir date: 4/15/2002. Written by John Lloyd Parry. Directed by Michael Rohl.

A reasonable step back toward something relevant, but the show supplies more questions than answers, and the plot is saddled with boring action scenes (including a second act whose action is both boring and interminable), and a Vedran guest character who falls into conflict with Dylan for no real good reason. The implication that the Vedrans (a.k.a. Blue Man Group) cut themselves off from slipstream raises a host of issues that will require eventual follow-up. Will we get it? Don't know, but until then, I'm less than thrilled with this episode, which is too mediocre as entertainment.

Rating: **

Belly of the BeastAir date: 4/22/2002. Written by Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer. Directed by Allan Harmon.

A prolonged lack of impetus to give Andromeda a positive review prompted me to give this episode a thumbs-up on my initial encounter. While not bad, I don't think this hour of unabashed cheese and reckless goofiness is quite enough to transcend "average." The plot ("planet-eating monster!") is the thinnest of thin and inconsequence, but the characterization is fairly effective in the way it shows Beka and Dylan (et al) trying to anticipate what the other will do. The happy ending walks a fine line between lightweight amusement and all-out embarrassment.

Rating: **1/2

The Knight, Death, and the DevilAir date: 4/29/2002. Written by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz. Directed by Richard Flower.

A genuinely good episode after nearly a half-season of dreck, in which High Guard starships are seen by Dylan as prisoners of war because of their AI cores — an intriguing concept. Michael Hurst goes down as one of this series' best guest stars to date, as an AI who turns out to be a rather complex character. Good storytelling, some nice arguments, and action that makes sense within the confines of the plot. A throwback of sorts to the Andromeda that used to be worth watching.

Rating: ***

Immaculate PerceptionAir date: 5/6/2002. Written by Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer. Directed by J. Miles Dale.

The second of back-to-back winners, in which Tyr is studied as a character in a storyline that plays as grand melodrama. His son is the Nietzschean messiah? Whoa. Self-serving to the end, but not in a simpleminded way, Tyr's ruthlessness allows an entire colony to be slaughtered in order to save himself and his son. Freya's death, on the other hand, is relentlessly by-the-numbers. Tyr's speech to Dylan at the end is so passionate that it takes on a sort of epic, cosmic-comedy quality when we realize that it's all a super-calculated lie, performed to Nietzschean perfection. Also, Tyr gets laid; Harper doesn't.

Rating: ***

Tunnel at the End of the LightAir date: 5/13/2002. Written by Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer. Directed by Allan Eastman.

The Commonwealth charter is to be signed (where did all these new members come from, and when, and how, and why, and...?) when the Andromeda is attacked by Phase-Shifting Invisible Bad Guys From Another Universe. Yes. It's further proof that the higher-ups at Andromeda mistake quantity for quality, and think what we want to see is LOTS AND LOTS of ships streaming out of a spatial rift and attacking Our Heroes. Guess what: It's NOT what I want to see. The solution to this week's problem (a variation on perhaps most weeks' problems) is to blow 'em all to hell with the largest imaginable explosion. And — YEAH! — we do. If incoherent space battles and an ending with Stuff Getting Blowed Up Real Good is what you want to see, then this is the Andromeda for you. I personally like a trace of wit/drama/imagination in my entertainment, not simply the notion — without context — that Something Big Is Happening on a ridiculously large scale.

Rating: *1/2

Part 2: Season Analysis

As noted at the outset, 2002 charted this series' rapid descent into nothing that interests me. It had its isolated moments of inspiration and respectable efforts, but in terms of the big picture and lasting impressions, my feelings reside somewhere between bitter cynicism and total apathy. Near the season's end, week after week I was trying to feel some sort of enthusiasm, but every week I found myself more disenchanted.

The season started out well enough. Despite some missteps and mediocre early outings like "Last Call at the Broken Hammer" and "A Heart for Falsehood Framed," the run beginning with season premiere "The Widening Gyre" through to December was admirable, featuring a number of entertaining shows like "Una Salus Victus," "All Too Human," and "Into the Labyrinth." Indeed, by winter hiatus after "Labyrinth" aired, I wrote: "Andromeda is really shaping up, and has had a respectable second season so far. The overall gain in momentum and narrative clarity ... is apparent." But then, beginning in January, came a near-total collapse. What went wrong?

The easiest answer would be to attribute Andromeda's mid- and late-season woes to the staff turmoil and the eventual departure of head writer/developer Robert Hewitt Wolfe. That would be the simplest thing — to point and say, "That's why this season was a failure." Does that represent reality? I'm not sure. Television is a strange beast where cause and effect can be very difficult to accurately line up together. What's covered in the press and what's said online by the writers is undoubtedly only part of the story; we will never know the rest. For that matter, we will never know how much of the writers' original vision for the show was allowed to make it to the screen, or how much was changed by the Tribune Powers That Be. (It's remarkable to think that Deep Space Nine, in its day, had the freedom from Paramount to mostly do what it wanted on its own terms; it seems that's a rarity anymore.) But really, that's all irrelevant when it comes down to it. What's relevant is what we have in front of us on our TV screens. So, back in December when the news of Wolfe's firing broke, I was perfectly fine to watch the show and not speculate on what the future of Andromeda would be like without him.

But then we got the middle and end stages of the season, reportedly the post-Wolfe Andromeda.

Coincidence or not, attributable to Wolfe's departure or not, the episodes after "Into the Labyrinth" represented a free-fall to the bottom of the barrel, with only the occasional reprieve into reasonable storytelling via episodes like "The Knight, Death, and the Devil" and "Immaculate Perception." How the series went wrong is not at all difficult to examine, seeing as when it comes to broad strokes of anything, including its own trends, Andromeda isn't exactly subtle. Its faults are completely apparent, front-and-center. Let's take a look at them.

Fundamental Problem #1: Action-Hour mentality

It very well may be that by definition this series is not something that agrees with me, because I simply don't subscribe to the TV "Action Hour" mentality. I want to be totally clear on this: When done well, I like action. I enjoy action movies on a regular basis, and I'm probably even more likely to spend money on a summer action blockbuster than on many, if not most, other genres. (My favorite action movies include Die Hard, The Matrix, Terminator 2, the Lethal Weapon series, and many others.) So I don't want to hear that I'm against action.

What I'm against is LAME mind-numbing action that exists without context or aesthetic value. Unfortunately, that's what nearly all of Andromeda's "action" is. So much of Andromeda's ridiculous action this season has been the kind that I honestly believe can't be enjoyed by anyone but the least discriminating. Interminable shootouts where the good guys always hit their targets and the bad guys are always stupid and/or faceless and/or can't hit the broad side of a barn. Prolonged kung-fu scenes that are so poorly staged/choreographed as to be laughable. Body counts that are absurdly high (yet bloodless, unnecessary, and with no dramatic impact), making episodes look exactly like cartoons or video games.

I've seen the press quotes that go on about how Andromeda is a low-budget series where every penny is milked for as much as humanly possible, and that the pyrotechnic people go the extra mile to make the show look great. While they may deserve the kudos for their hard work and effort, I've got news for you: The action doesn't usually look great; it looks cheap. I don't like the style. That in itself would be okay if it weren't for the fact that far, far, FAR too often the show puts its cheap-looking action sequences ahead of the storyline. If you can't do action right, then for crying out loud, don't do it at all. But don't give us a cheesy, endless firefight and think it's entertaining just because there are a lot of spark-squibs captured on film.

That brings up another thing — quantity over quality, which has always been a problem in the way this series employs action. Rather than giving us one image that looks good, the creators would rather inundate us with an interminable sequence of contrived action that stretches out to unwatchable length and does little for the story but stop it dead in its tracks. Enough with the action. I don't give a damn about it, and it's not doing its job of keeping me entertained on even a superficial level. Give me some actual drama instead.

I feel like I've beaten this argument like a dead horse. Unfortunately, that's only because Andromeda has beaten the Action Hour horse with equal relentlessness.

Fundamental Problem #2: The camp factor

The marketing bills Andromeda as the "#1 Action Hour." They also might want to start calling it the "#1 Camp Hour." Alas, I did not come to Andromeda because I wanted to watch camp. But this season the show has gone from what was a lighter-played space opera with dark undertones to a virtual week-in, week-out hour of camp. Even the best of the hours like "Una Salus Victus" suffer from bouts of silliness. The worst end up like "Dance of the Mayflies," "Be All My Sins Remembered," "In Heaven Now Are Three," or "Ouroboros," where bad-movie cliches lurk in every corner and make you wonder if you're laughing because you don't want to admit that you're watching wretched television.

Camp is hard to attribute to any one thing, but it's a combination of over-stylized production values mixed with a general attitude of melodramatic flair and storyline goofiness. There's a lot more of that these days than there was last season. Just look at the season finale, about an alien invasion of 10,000 ships (or "Mayflies," where zombies are zapped with 10,000 volts); there's no attempt for the least bit of restraint. Whenever the creators can go over the top with unapologetic zaniness, they do.

The camp factor of course goes hand-in-hand with the Action Hour issue, in which violence is cartoonish and therefore impossible to take even the slightest bit seriously. Personally, I like my violence to pack some punch, not provide a circus sideshow.

Fundamental Problem #3: The War Against Subtlety

Whenever I read a Kevin Sorbo interview, I just want to cringe. Particularly lately, when Sorbo goes on at length about how the series needs to be "more fun" and how people want to see "the good guy winning over the bad guy." And the next time I hear "what viewers want" in any way tied back to the tragedy of Sept. 11, asses will be kicked.

Anyway. One could argue that this show was never really Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. It was probably more Robert Hewitt Wolfe's Andromeda than anything else. Unfortunately, these days it looks more and more like it's becoming Kevin Sorbo's Andromeda. Yes, I know he's the star, etc., etc., but if the press is any indication, Sorbo is a big reason why the show has changed so much, just as Patrick Stewart reportedly changed the tone of Star Trek: Insurrection a few years ago. I don't doubt that Sorbo thinks he's doing the right thing, but I certainly don't agree with his quotes in the press and what has been manifesting itself on the screen since Wolfe's departure.

We have Trance and Rommie, both visually redesigned in a cartoon-like manner. Rommie's blue hair is awful; Trance's gold makeup is just as bad (not that I was ever a huge fan of the purple, but never mind). Costuming in general (particularly for the women) has gone garishly over the top. But those are superficial changes. More disturbing are the trends I've seen in some of the dialog, characters, and plots. They have a tendency to hit us with a sledgehammer instead of taking more subtle approaches. Much of the humor has also degenerated into the annoyingly obvious, like with Dylan's excessive Action Hero One-Liners. This was a problem last year, but it's become an even bigger problem this year.

Characterization

This season was not a particularly good one for developing our main characters. Indeed, some of the characters have regressed. The most depressing trend is the anchor, Captain Dylan Hunt, who has gone from a somewhat multifaceted character to a bland Action Hero who gets to bag the chicks and beat the bad guys. He's a nice guy with a crew he likes, but as a character he's become a bastion of the simpleminded, which is downright infuriating. His big moment at the end of "The Things We Cannot Change," for example, is to recite a stock-issue mantra about being a starship captain when he should be pondering a troubling and emotional revelation. I'm also increasingly unimpressed with Sorbo's lackluster performances.

Meanwhile, the most flat-out annoying character these days is Beka Valentine, who very often has the thankless role of providing Smart-Alecky Exposition. It seems like Beka is always the one who gets the dialog that is too-obviously solely for the audience's benefit, like in "The Fair Unknown" when she explains the history of Tarn-Vedra in a scene that plays like a viewer refresher course. I'm not a fan of the way Lisa Ryder delivers these lines, in that chipper, rapid-fire, smart-ass tone, as if to say she's aware that the expositional dialog is ridiculous and that it must therefore be delivered as a flippant joke. (At least when Harper is annoying, it's funny. With Beka, it's not.) While some stories attempted to give Beka some depth, both her headliners ("A Heart for Falsehood Framed" and "Be All My Sins Remembered") were dismal failures.

Harper, by contrast, has become less annoying as sort of an acquired taste. He still hasn't gotten laid, but he's a character who usually invites a smile with his quick-witted asides. And every once in a while he gets a chance to chew on a meaty storyline (e.g. "Bunker Hill"). He had the whole Magog-larvae story arc in the early part of the season, which mostly worked.

Trance and Rommie I'm mostly neutral on. Trance is, thankfully, far less of a winking magic wand than in season one (though it's still an occasional annoyance), and her swap in "Ouroboros" at least has the possibility of giving glimpses into the future. Rommie is the cool-headed but occasionally ruthless AI who is convincing as a warship/warrior. I'm more uncertain about her whole "human question" bit, a been-there-done-that with virtually all sci-fi involving AI.

Tyr went through some weird stages this season that seemed to be toning the character down (probably not a good thing, in my view), but "Immaculate Perception" threw him (and us) a curveball that revealed him to be as true to Tyr as ever.

Then there's Rev Bem, whose absence leaves a true and difficult void. Rev was this series' moral compass and the best avenue for philosophizing. He was perhaps prone to dramatic overstatement from time to time, but at least he represented some higher thought and insight. With Rev gone, also gone is much of the series' depth. Dylan no longer has a spiritual/emotional confidant, which only further permits the Simple Hero Dylan to assert itself. Rev was an important piece to this series, and I think his absence has revealed that. The way he left the show was horribly dissatisfying. I understand it was a tough call for the writers — not knowing whether Brent Stait would be able to return — but the manner of Rev's exit is about as close to a worst-case scenario as you can get.

The Commonwealth

When it comes to the Commonwealth, I want to scratch my head in confusion. The Commonwealth storyline is something with inherent depth — the original mission of the series — but it was shuttled through this season off-screen and on autopilot. "The Widening Gyre" suggested that the Commonwealth was imperative purely on the basis of defense, but this season took the Commonwealth absolutely no further in terms of actual analysis. Who would want to join it and why? What kind of political issues would present themselves? What kind of values would member worlds need to adopt in order to join? And, for that matter, why would a world want to join in the first place, especially if it's going to put them on the front line of intergalactic war?

Intriguing questions, all of which went virtually unanswered and unasked. Suddenly, come end of the season, we've got the new charter about to be signed. We're supplied no sense for how we got from A to B; we're just informed that we've got our 50 worlds and that today is the New Commonwealth's day. Remember Ortiz from "Last Call at the Broken Hammer"? We never heard from her again, and apparently, in a mere six months, the universe (or 50 worlds anyway — what about the rest of the universe?) pulled a 180 from its stance of being invested in a status quo that wanted nothing to do with a new Commonwealth.

I have absolutely no problem with wrapping up the Commonwealth storyline and moving on to new things. In fact, two seasons is an adequate amount of television time to devote to a major background story arc — more than enough time, in fact. Unfortunately, so little of this time was actually spent on establishing the Commonwealth beyond the most superficial of meetings and negotiations. We have a Commonwealth, but I don't know what it, or any of its members, stands for or why. And we're supposed to believe that based on such a flimsy alliance, the new "Commonwealth fleet" is ready to engage the Evil Threat From Another Universe ("Tunnel at the End of the Light"). I'm sorry, but I don't buy it.

Dylan's Commonwealth — as it stands right now — is a sham and a dramatic cop-out.

Conclusion

Last season my biggest complaint was with execution. The show had a good underlying philosophy, which was one based on continuity, a goal-oriented premise, and the building of characters and societal relationships. It wasn't successful, but the problems were more with acting, production, and story flow. This season, by contrast, has done more to destroy what the show once stood for in favor of a general dumbing-down of the series. While the use of episode-to-episode continuity hasn't been abandoned, little of it makes sense under scrutiny or has any persuasive direction. Meanwhile, the overall storytelling technique makes Voyager look subtle and sophisticated. While I'm mildly curious to know what new head writer Robert Engels can bring to the table, I can't honestly say that I care to watch the show to find out.

So it's at this juncture where I say that I'm finished reviewing Andromeda. There's simply no reason for me to continue, because I don't enjoy it anymore and I feel like I'm just bitching in a vacuum. Besides, the amount of e-mail I receive in regard to my Andromeda reviews has significantly dropped off this season. Every once in a while I'll get a stray e-mail, but it's rarely to debate the shows any further but instead to tell me how the viewer had given up watching the show months ago. The message this sends me is that (A) interest in my reviews has diminished, (B) interest in the show has diminished among my readers, (C) both, or (D) the people who still like the show don't want to read unrelenting negative reviews about it, for which I can hardly blame them. So it serves no one any purpose for me to continue — particularly myself, since it's an ongoing and increasingly unrewarding drain on my time, which would be better spent on other ventures. (I'm looking forward to reviewing just Enterprise next fall, and not being behind on reviews all the time. If you're wondering if I'll be reviewing Farscape or Stargate SG1 or another show in Andromeda's stead, the answer is no.)

Back when Andromeda first started, Ashley Miller told me the writers actually read my reviews and considered what I had to say. That was nice to know. I have no idea if that's still the case, but it really doesn't matter, because TV writers are not able to make changes to a show based on a few vocal critical opinions; it's just not practical. And it's become increasingly clear to me that what I'd like to see in Andromeda is a very different thing than what Tribune wants to produce. Such is life. I think it's admirable that the writing staff still listens to its online fans; I just don't believe that it actually matters in a real-world entertainment-industry environment that believes the lowest common denominator is the target audience.

Best of luck to Ash & Zack (hopefully you know I'm still rooting for you guys) and the rest of the Andromeda staff in improving the show into something more frequently watchable, even to those of us who aren't interested merely in seeing an action hour where the good guys win.

Previous: Season 1

Season Index

22 comments on this review

Chris J. - Sun, Jan 6, 2008 - 11:05pm (USA Central)
I have to say, there was a certain charm to this show. Sadly, I think most of that charm flowed from the premise that the show was riding on – ultimately a premise that was never to be paid off or developed very effectively.

Really, the show has a fantastic premise when you look at it.

A single warship of the Commonwealth – the most cultured and powerful civilization ever to colonize the stars, a real stand-in for the Federation – is frozen in time on the brink of a war. Not just a war, but a holocaust. Three centuries pass. The ship awakens to find out that much of civilization has collapsed or regressed. The Commonwealth as an institution is dead as a doornail. Principles have changed, and the galaxy is no longer a safe place. Populations are hammered by foreign invasions, piracy, and whatever other horrible threats.

Its equal to being alive at the height of the classical period of the Roman Empire, and being frozen in time to be reanimated in the middle of the 700s. By then, Europe has completely changed – in many ways for the worse. Great centers of populations have dwindled, governments have come and gone, science and technology have lapsed in many areas (although pressed ahead in some),foreign invasions and feudal politics have decimated trade, parochialism has lurched into many regions, reading and writing no longer have any high importance, and so on. My point is made.

That’s one hell of a premise. It implies a great question. Can egalitarian principles survive, and find fertile soil to grow in the midst of a Dark Age?

Its a darn shame that the show never pursues its premise in any serious and consistent way. It floats around aimlessly, focusing on mindless adventure, explosions, badly choreographed fights, and metaphysical babble – which is just as bad as Star Trek’s use of technobabble. Instead of being focused on realism, and asking questions, the show just likes to romp around the stars.

The show has its moments. But they are brief, and seem like islands in a sea of clumsy execution. I don’t mean to be cruel to the show, and I think it has some standout moments, but it has serious faults that I think need to be addressed. Ultimately, it never tries to be different from typical sci-fi that has been seen and done, and never goes for an angle of realism.

In its worst moments, it truly does descend into Hercules in Space. Goofiness is just too much at odds with the premise. I’m not sure if this show could ever have reached the potential that it has in my mind (and I think the premise rivals Battlestar Galactica’s, but is light-years behind in execution) given that the hands that controlled it obviously had no interest in taking it to the places it should have gone.
Leah - Sat, Jan 12, 2008 - 10:43pm (USA Central)
Ok bad costumes, bad makeup, bad hair, season 1 was fun, I loved the cute trance. Tyr

was HOT. Dylan was not objectionable and was ok.
Season 2. Makeup better, Trance more interesting, Harper whiny, Tyr HOT.
Season 3 Makeup better, not sure what happened with Bem. Would have liked to have

seen more done with Trance, she became a Warrior woman and kinda stopped saying

lines, I think she couldn't move underneath her hair, possibly her neck could have snapped.

Missed old trance. Perseids became interesting, decided I liked Romy. Tyr HOT. Dylan

begins to take over more of the show (considering I tend to zone out when he is on the air, this is not a good thing) his acting range? bored to condescending.
Season 4. What happened with Tyr's hair! Rhade makes sense as a replacement to Tyr since the death scene between himself and Dylan takes up approximately 30% of screen time from season 1-5, so feel as if he is already a regular crew member. He gets the "kick me" sign from Harper and is emasculated immediately (Sorbo's fears of female fans thinking someone else is HOT? Dylan begins his descent into skulking shadowy figure, by season five he transforms fully into skulking dirty old man, what he does with Doyle after knowing he was screwing a black hole avatar for 300 years was ....well a Red Sonya moment.) I like Beka by now, and Trance lost some of the weight in her hair so is beginning to run around....too bad her costume weighs as much as she does, maybe it helps keep her feet on the ship.
I really liked the Cliffhanger from this season A LOT.
Season 5 mmms....where to begin...mmmms
Somehow in the route of ages, all abilities of everyone in the universe is grafted onto

Dylan, whenever a character displays an interesting characteristic unique to them, Dylan

assumes it and has the power of the star Avatar, has robots following him at will, has

unique genetic markers, etc. Kevin Sorbo should never be allowed to influence writers in

an ensemble cast, unless it is an ensemble cast of one. Doyle was awful, I call her

FastForward. As soon as I saw her I fastforwarded. I missed Romy, I began to theorize

that she must have anchored Dylan/Sorbo's multiple personality disorder. Rhade is HOT. I

miss Harper whining. Beka as mother of all Nietschiens is a good way to try and

emasculate Nietschiens that competes with Sorbo. Rhade is still hotter than the one-dimensional skulking, kinda by now creepy Dylan.

Doyle taking so much control over getting Romy back online really was annoying. Where

was Harper? I suppose following Dylan around Doyle took on his multiple (I have the

powerofeveryoneelse or is that Greystroke? but heck even He-Man let the other characters go to the bathroom by themselves.) By the end Doyle is also psychic, still part of the ship, and shadowing Romy which made me scream everytime I would see her iin a shot with Romy. She also went from being Harper to Dylan to independent after Romy to Dylan's slave again. It was pretty hard to observe, and extremely annoying. I think they wanted to rip off other Sci Fi series but without the writing staff on this last season. The end is the worst of any series I have ever seen, Sci Fi or otherwise.
In conclusion: Kevin Sorbo should never be allowed to be in an ensemble cast unless it is one, the writer's strike should have a clause in it that would forbid actors from any clout with the writing (UNLESS requested by the writers). Kevin Sorbo should be given definition of what a porn video is and if he wants to make one there are better places and if he wants to have a porn feel that works in sci fi go rent Lexx, Stanley has more sensuality than Dylan and would have pulled off the sex scenes much better. Or perhaps take Brooke Shields advice when she did Blue Lagoon, when she had an orgasm someone pinched her toe....yeah that's it have a toe pincher handy for Sorbo's sex scenes to get more range.

My point is this.

I wish that Dylan had disappeared in Season II, the money they saved in his salary applied towards better writers, and that Season Three DVDS all be sold with a sticker that says "this begins 'from bad' and season five 'to worse' on it.

If Sheena the movie actress (aka: the worst charlie's angel)/ Doyle/ Kevin Sorbo/ and Brighitte Nielson (sp) ever got together to make a movie, it would be enough anti-matter to create a black hole.

Otherwise, reading Robert Wolfe's Coda, and the screenplay of how he envisioned the final show made me understand how much more important good writers are than beefed up dumbed down actors.

I miss Trance/Harper/Tyr/Rev/Romy ... they could have carried the show much better by themselves and with a lot less sexual repression.

This is why sci fi fans prefer no names to do these shows, if the show works, no ego to muck it up.
Beta - Mon, Jan 31, 2011 - 7:19pm (USA Central)
Recently I had the chance to watch a few Andromeda episodes for free (a pal of mine had purchased a collection of DVDs). It was the first time I chose which episodes to watch _after_ peeking at your ratings.

I'm afraid you were right to stop reviewing the show at this point since the first couple of episodes of season 3 were even worse than most of what came before. If anyone is interested: the only episodes worth watching in season 3 are The Dark Backward (starring Trance, concentrating her time manipulation capabilities - decent, not that great), The Unconquerable Man (a game of "what if Dylan had lost against Rhade" - surprisingly clever) and maybe Shadows Cast by a Final Salute and What Happens to a Rev Deferred, if you are interested in the characters' further ways.

It's sad to see a show with all these intriguing elements go down like this. On the other hand, a failed original can still inspire excellent remakes (see Battlestar Galactica, for example).
Beta - Mon, May 23, 2011 - 6:18pm (USA Central)
Just one more thing: After watching BSG, I was surprised how many familiar faces I saw in later Andromeda episodes (like Aaron Douglas, Paul Campbell and Michael Hogan). Eventually, your complaints about abysmal guest acting in Andromeda have provoked the right reactions, it seems.
karatasiospa - Thu, Feb 9, 2012 - 6:13am (USA Central)
I just watched season 3 (yes i'm a masochist!!). The story arc of the series was totally abandoned and the series became "the adventures of captain Hunt" something like a bad star trek (a really bad one). From the 22 episodes only 3 (four at the most) deserve more than 2 stars.
karatasiospa - Mon, Feb 13, 2012 - 2:52pm (USA Central)
Is there anything worst from Andromeda season 3? Yes Andromeda season 4!
Is there anything worst than Amdromeda season 4? Yes Andromeda season 5!
Can anyone explain to me how this series managed to survive for 5 seasons?
SarcasticDots - Fri, Mar 2, 2012 - 12:11am (USA Central)
This show was uploaded to Netflix UK last night and given the sparse amount of science-fiction programs on the service, I thought I'd give it a try.

Honestly, I struggled to get through the pilot, so I came here to check out some reviews. I'm so glad I did- you've saved me some time.
Q - Fri, Dec 28, 2012 - 8:40pm (USA Central)
Jammer... In season three is one (yes, only one) good episode - "The Lone and Level Sands" with Star Trek fan seervice (gold-red-blue uniform code) and typically Trek themes: exploration, captain Ahab allusions, moral conflicts. It is be nice to see your review of this one (and only this one) from ANDR too.
Q - Fri, Dec 28, 2012 - 9:14pm (USA Central)
ps. IMHO this episode fixing up first half of Second Season quality with First Season's intellectual ambitions and idea driven plot. Maybe it is haven't best episodes of Big Three (TOS/TNG/DS9) quality, but is at last that good, as VGR's less forgottable ones. Only bad thing in "The Lone and Level Sands" is really wooden (and non Kirk-ish anymore, without Wolfe over his head), anti-charismatic Sorbo.
Sugar Cougar - Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - 6:05am (USA Central)
@Q

"The Lone and Level Sands" final scene is excellent Star Trek commentary too, confronting Dylan's (Sisko's, Babylon 5 commanders') military (and political) work with classic Kirk&Picard exploration (boldly going) style.

But... There is one more big minus - Tyr's moustache. That hurts.
Q - Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - 6:51am (USA Central)
Ah, Sugar, the final dialogue (or rather Dylan's monologue)... I call it Majel's Revenge or The Wrath of Barrett ;)
Sugar Cougar - Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - 10:25am (USA Central)
Roddenberrys' Revange sounds better ;)
John Bryan - Tue, Jan 15, 2013 - 2:41pm (USA Central)
Ok this is a review of Andromeda I wrote sometime ago so ignore the references to Stargate and BSG still being on air.

Also its not as in-depth as Jammers but it was basically just me venting my rage at this show. Be aware it is quite long winded I may have to cut it down to size someday.


I really wanted to like this show but just a few things stopped me, the need for decent acting three dimensional characters, coherent plots and in Sci-Fi decent effects as well.


I’m a big science fiction fan and will give every new show that comes along a try sometimes in the cases of Farscape and Battlestar Galactica, to name just two you discover that they’re just so good that you are immediately gripped and that you’ll buy the DVD's so you can watch every episode again and again even the episodes that aren’t that good. On the other hand, as in my case with Firefly I missed it on TV I saw it on DVD and it was worth taking the chance on a show I'd never seen before.


However back to the subject of Andromeda the opposite end from the shows I just mentioned, this show is a nothing more than a complete joke and gives television science fiction and indeed science fiction in general a bad name it has been poorly written and acted since the first episode and should never have lasted five episodes let alone five seasons.

I started watching and I wanted to like it I really did it should have been easy coming from the mind of Gene Roddenberry brought to life by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and starring Kevin Sorbo who may not be the greatest actor in the world but he was very good in Hercules, so I tried to like it, I honestly did I watched every episode of the first season then about half the episodes of season 2 which is where everything began to go seriously wrong.

Season one to me was pointless and not particularly great in the way it was written but it was at the least watchable in a sort of lazy time passing substandard way.

But Season 2 undermined what little effort had gone into it so I sat continually hoping that it would improve and show the full potential it had hinted at but it never did and I just decided it wasn’t worth my time or effort.

In my opinion it suffered from a case of too many cooks so it has had no sense of direction and any arcs it tried to create were immediately junked when someone new came in and they tried to imprint their own ideas. When Robert Hewitt Wolfe was at the helm it was poor but there were glimpses, small ones only but glimpses anyhow that it could improve but then he was fired for seemingly trying to make even a half decent Sci-Fi show.

From then on it was downhill becoming a messy flashy thing where effects were the best thing about it and most of them were rough and looked to computer animated giving an already unrealistic and stupid show one more reason for people to hate it while story and acting took a back seat with Kevin Sorbo basically rehashing Hercules and the rest of the cast standing in the background getting to spout the occasional line of meaningless dialogue, it’s no wonder Keith Hamilton Cobb left as soon as his contract expired he’d spent his last two years on the show reduced to standing in the background looking mean and having about two episodes showcasing his character now I’m not saying he’s a brilliant actor but he was good enough to bring Tyr Anazazi the Nieztechien warrior to life and make him an interesting character even if only he’d been allowed.


The characterisations were paper-thin and with the exception of Dylan Hunt and Harper badly acted not that I think Gordon Michael Woolvet is exactly a great actor either but he could do the comedy stuff he was given and deliver it well even if it was hardly ever as funny as the writers wanted it to be, but now I see him as a poor imitation of Firefly’s Wash even though Harper came first a statement that on the face of it makes as much sense as the average episode.

Lisa Ryder as Beka on the other hand was especially bad wearing the same expressionless face for whatever her character was meant to be feeling, she is a bad actress and here’s hoping she never darkens the door of either Stargate show and especially not Battlestar Galactica. But the worst acted and most annoyingly pointless character was Laura Bertram as Trance Gemini from the start she was annoying where she was meant to be cute and friendly irritating where she was supposed to be mysterious and the viewers were supposed to care what her secrets were, a lethal combination of a bad actress and dozens of mediocre to just down right bad writers meant she just made the character come across as smug making you want to throw something at the screen when she was on and yell at Dylan to toss her out of an airlock. I really hope never to see her ruining anything on tv ever again.


As for Dylan Hunt he was the ultimate moronic cardboard hero never wrong always did the right thing and was sanctimonious from the outset. I’d tuned in every now and then during seasons 3, 4 and 5 to see if things had gotten better to discover they hadn’t they’d gotten worse and now Dylan had become even more indestructible and annoyingly smug and superior and now didn’t let any other character get even the most simple thing to do he just hogged the screen time solving every tedious problem that faced him by beating up the bad guys or shooting them with that stupid laser stick of his no doubt as a result of Sorbo becoming an executive producer.

As for Bacic and the other blonde who cares what her name is not as bad as bottle blonde No.1 Ryder but not hard to tell she’s ex Baywatch they came in and were just as average as I’d come to expect from this show. As for the final episodes The Heart of the Journey Part’s 1 & 2 the first part seemed like it might at least take the series out with some kind of a bang with Harper and Rhade looking like they’d left the crew for good then a tense and even unexpected ending to part 1 with the destruction of Earth but it was ruined in part 2 yes Earth was destroyed but it had never seemed like it mattered to much during the run so blowing it up had little impact and the ending was lame and not even a good ending if it had just been a season finale but this was the last ever episode and what do we get everyone looking like they’re about to die the Andromeda against over two thousand ships and it survives then they fly into the square thing and everything is all right and everyone survives what a complete cop out, I mean it’s the final episode what would have been wrong with killing off at least one of the crew I mean if I had have had the bad luck to have had anything to do with this shambles I would have at least taken the opportunity to knock off the supremely annoying Trance but no she gets to live. At the top I called this Dylan Hunt the Legendary Journey’s in reference obviously to Hercules Sorbo’s last show, but that is insulting at least Hercules was entertaining even when the acting did sometimes leave a lot to be desired and the stories were just silly this show was just a complete waste of time and how on earth this lasted longer than Farscape or Firefly I will never understand and think about it this pile of garbage lasted as long as and for as many episodes as Angel and Babylon 5 for crying out loud it just makes no sense to me.

As for the quotes that appeared at the start of each episode and the episode titles what were they all about, I assume they were supposed to bring some deep meaningful insight to the story but they never did they were just more meaningless words. Then there’s they opening credit speech voiced with the exception of season 2 by Sorbo as Capt. Hunt as each season passed they became ever more ridiculous, they had neither the meaning nor the simplicity of the Space the final frontier speeches of the original Star Trek or the ST: TNG.


I can’t ever imagine this is the show Gene Roddenberry wanted made from his original ideas but it was and will forever be linked with his name and that is a shame. Finally I read a reviewer, who said in their piece that this show was from the start darker than Farscape that person is seriously, seriously wrong and makes me wonder if they'd ever actually seen it. From where I sat the two are not even in the same league, when Farscape was dark characters were tortured or killed or sacrificed themselves like Zhaan or Crais, on Andromeda bad guys said horrible things and laughed before getting soundly thrashed by Captain Indestructible.

I hate this show I hate the design of the ship it’s big and ugly I hated the shallow one dimensional characters it is in my opinion a show that wouldn't even hold the attention of a 5 year old that anyone could enjoy it mystifies me that anyone could regard it as good well written well acted or in anyway anything other than worthless trash is astounding. As a fan of Sci-Fi I hate this show so much.
Exverlobter - Sat, Feb 9, 2013 - 2:23am (USA Central)
The rant of John Bryan is spot-on.
And he makes a very good point. Why did this last for 5 seasons?
It should have been cancelled after Season 2, that would have been dignifying. The show had at least some sort of solid quality until this point. It was not great, but it was something you could still watch when there were no other more important Sci-Fi shows around.

The very seasons 3-4 were already unimaginably bad, something that should have never been put on TV, and it continued to become shittier and shittier. Season 5 was THE final insult, an emissary from hell if you wish. It had probably the worst episodes in it, i've ever seen in my life. There wasn't anything worthy for Sci-FI Fans left. I'd rather watch Reality-TV like Big Brother than Season 5 of Andromeda again.

And if you think about it that this show was allowed to last for 5 years, you have to become angry. Star Trek Enterprise, Firefly, Farscape, Stargate Atlantis, all shows that would have deserved to last longer, but did not get the chance because of..... reasons, while this show kept going on and on. Andromeda reminds me of Uwe Boll. A phenomenon that should have been stopped long before, but defiantly continued to produce shit for years.
Jo Jo Meastro - Thu, May 16, 2013 - 6:52am (USA Central)
Hmmmm....I had at one point considered giving Andromeda a go when I ran out of sci-fi shows to watch, but since its universally panned to the point of it sounding like the worst episodes of The A Team moved into space and given a severe dosage of brain damage...I might not bother even if I could somehow watch it for free! I liked Lexx which proves I'm all for fun camp space opera and groan-inducing silliness, but Andromeda sounds as though its not even remotely skillfully done and fails no matter which way you looked at it. It is a shame, it sounded like it could have had the workings of a good show had it been in less incompetent hands.
leah - Tue, May 21, 2013 - 9:46am (USA Central)
I think that the show is worth watching, up til the point where Sorbo thinks he should have creative control of the show. At that point the show would have been better served without him and probably would have made more sense and had better continuity.
RogSkjoldson - Wed, Aug 28, 2013 - 8:43pm (USA Central)
Shame you never reviewed the rest of the series. I wonder exactly how apoplectic season 5 would have made you ... if you thought season 2 was bad, you might have contemplated suicide by then.

Actually, I found the series quite enjoyable up until somewhere in season 3, when it started to get a little too ridiculous. That tone carried on through season 4, and season 5 was honestly .... I can't even describe it. Not only was the premise incredibly bad and basically threw out all character and plot development that ever happened, but it didn't make a lick of sense and was just hugely confusing in a very, very, VERY misguided attempt to appear mysterious and brainy.
Baron Samedi - Thu, Sep 4, 2014 - 10:29pm (USA Central)
Classic Episodes:


Excellent Episodes:
1. The Knight, Death, and the Devil – A substantive sci-fi ethical issue with good guest actors and welcome long-term plot developments. An episode this good after so much dreck was a real shock.
2. Una Salus Victus – Deftly balances A/B/C plots and makes great use of Tyr.
3. Immaculate Perception – The only time Tyr was put to good use in the second half of the season, showcasing him at his most scheming and Machiavellian. A great follow-up to “Double Helix”, one of the strongest episodes from the first season. Lays the foundation for what I hope will be another interesting follow-up. I also enjoyed seeing the crew’s hostile treatment of the despicable racial purists.
4. The Widening Gyre – As visually spectacular as the cliffhanger. Very fun if also completely preposterous.
5. Home Fires – The decision by Dylan to accept the democratic results of the election that found the planet rejecting the Commonwealth was a powerful one, even if the parallelism with the new Rhade felt contrived and overblown.

Good Episodes:
6. Into the Labyrinth – Harper’s best episode with effective long-term plotting, brought down by ludicrous (though somewhat fun) cartoonish action in the final act.
7. All Too Human – Fun action episode, if a bit thin.

Mediocre Episodes:
8. Belly of the Beast – I laughed, hard, at the song-and-dance at the end. Otherwise a decently competent if unremarkable space adventure.
9. Exit Strategies – Fairly entertaining action episode with good character moments (including Rev’s only significant and interesting role in the season), but nothing special.
10. Bunker Hill – Over-plotted, but some of it works. I feel like this would have been a good two-parter.
11. A Heart for Falsehood Framed – I found it more clever than Jamahl did. I neat story that uses the whole cast effectively despite plenty of flaws.
12. The Prince – A good premise (Dylan and Tyr offering contrasting advice to a young prince) brought down by over-the-top violence and lackluster execution.
13. Pitiless as the Sun – The interrogation was frustrating, but the Andromeda story was good.

Poor Episodes:
14. The Fair Unknown – I liked the alien design, but action was poorly-choreographed and endless, and the story provided too few answers dramatically.
15. Last Call at the Broken Hammer – The script needed some serious re-writes, with a ludicrously dumb action climax. Ortiz was somewhat interesting as a character, but what actually happened to her after this episode?

Awful Episodes (all after Wolfe’s departure):
16. Tunnel at the End of the Light – After two surprisingly excellent episodes, I began to wonder if the previous string of awfulness (see: 14 and the six episodes below) was just a blip – a momentary drop in quality as the show sought to find a new approach following Wolfe’s departure. Not so. This episode quickly eroded all remaining good faith. It’s mildly entertaining from an action perspective, but almost completely hollow. Jamahl’s trashing of it in his review was absolutely priceless. Big, dumb, poorly executed action against faceless villains that conveyed none of the drama the new Commonwealth required.
17. Ouroboros – An awful, incomprehensible mess, although at least it tried to have ideas.
18. Lave and Rockets – Completely forgettable. A love fest for Sorbo put on-screen full of bad ideas and bad action scenes.
19. In Heaven Now Are Three – Terrible action, low budget sets, dumb script.
20. The Things We Cannot Change – Lame excuse for a clip show, punctuated by egregious Sorbo self-worship.
21. Dance of the Mayflies – An unintentional comedic masterpiece. Goofy enough to be slightly entertaining. Really makes a spectacle of its own awfulness.
22. Be All My Sins Remembered – The worst hour of Andromeda yet. Ed Wood-style filmmaking here, with laughable costumes, acting, and action filling up the screen while a potentially interesting story remains in the backdrop.

I was optimistic about Andromeda after I finished the first season. It had a lot of promise, and the second season started fairly well. But wow, what a disaster it disintegrated into after “Home Fires”. Jamahl’s reviews and season recap are pretty much spot-on. After hearing ridiculously stupid/offensive statements made recently by Sorbo, I can’t help but feel more comfortable attributing his own influence to a lot of the show’s degradation in quality. I also got the impression that the budget dropped immensely in the second half of the season, as the show looked a lot cheaper from that point forward. Oddly, the Andromeda crew responded by making each episode more over-the-top (and thus, tacky looking) than the last. Sigh…I imagine the season’s body count to be well over a hundred, although I doubt anybody kept track.

Although the episodes 19-21 showed some promise, the characters all regressed significantly in the second half of the season. Tyr, once the strongest character, became a wimp, Rommie got an awful hair cut, Rev literally disappeared, Beka became a bland cipher, etc. Dylan worked in Season 1 as a contrast to sharp characters, where his naive idealism clashed with their perspectives. Here, he was a Dudley Do-Right who was always an invincible hero.

The main thing for me is that I was really impressed with two of the three final episodes: “The Knight, Death, and the Devil” and “Immaculate Perception”. The awful season finale blew the momentum these episodes had built up, but I do now feel like the show is at least capable of putting out a quality hour of television (whereas I’d pretty much given up hope of this earlier). I think I’m going to skip around the remaining three seasons, rather than watch them in their entirety. If what I have to look forward to consists only of more lame adventure episodes like “In Heaven There Are Now Three”, then maybe I’ll stop right away. But I am mildly curious as to where the show is going, to I’ll probably watch enough to at least figure that out. The universe Wolfe created is still fairly interesting to me, even if I don’t get the impression the “New Andromeda” will explore it very thoroughly. Thanks for the great reviews, Jamahl.
Baron Samedi - Sat, Oct 25, 2014 - 11:54pm (USA Central)
I doubt that anyone still cares, but I did go through Season 3 and figure I'll post another comment here about it. It was awful.

From what I’ve read, the show was made on-the-cheap by a cast and crew who really believed in what they were creating: a sci-fi action show with hardly any long-term story. And that’s fine. I certainly have nothing against the people who worked hard on this show (except for Kevin Sorbo, for reasons that will be obvious if you Google him). The main cast really seems to be trying their best with weak material (there’s hardly any character development outside of the final episode). The main actors certainly aren’t the problem, and I don’t think that the production crew is either.

But Season 3 was unfathomably terrible. It was a train wreck from the first episode (which was, incidentally, the worst). It was exactly what the second half of Season 2 promised. I new what I was getting myself into, but I kept going because I couldn’t stop myself from being a completest. It’s such a pity, because the first half of Season 2 showed how Andromeda could work as an action show. But making the season consist only of standalone Dylan-centric action episodes took away any potential momentum. And why constantly do action if you don’t have the budget to do it well? Is there really an audience for constant cheap-looking action? I spent the whole season wondering this. Only the surprisingly good finale even had decent CGI. Otherwise the “action” consisted of fake-looking footage that was often reused from earlier in the show interspersed with cheap-looking spark-filled battles between our heroes and this week’s incompetent army of faceless Bad Aliens.

Anyway, I might, just maybe, check out Season 4. The events set into motion by the Season 3 finale (its only great episode) have a great deal of potential. But given the consistently low quality, it’s sadly easy to see why this show was forgotten. There’s hardly any character or story development, just routine standalone adventures that are dull, boring, and cheaply made. It just doesn’t reach the level of quality necessary to merit serious criticism, although I’ve put together another list with a bit of commentary on each episode below.

Classic episodes:



Great episodes:

1. Shadows Cast by a Final Salute – Pretty much the only episode of the season with a lot of new FX shots and where Important Things happen in regards to the big picture. Tyr fulfills his character’s potential for once this season and has some strong scenes with pretty much the whole main cast. It’s basically a better version of Season 2’s finale, with large-scale battle resulting from actions of the characters that looks relatively impressive on a visual level. Moreover, the cliffhanger places the fate of the new Commonwealth is put on an even playing field with the fate of the regular characters. (9/10)

Good episodes:

2. The Unconquerable Man – The best clip-show episode I’ve seen of any series, although that’s not saying much. Rhade defeats Dylan in the pilot and sets out to change the galaxy. Some of the clips were unnecessary, but many functioned very effectively. Jamahl had mentioned the writers having read this website in the past, and I wonder if that influenced this episode as it draws clips from most of the episodes Jamahl rated highly. The central point to the episode is poignant: Rhade could never get over the disaster and disappointment that the Nietzschean’s became despite being one of them, whereas Dylan was able to forgive them despite being a victim of their deceit. The way that the episode intersects with “Ouroboros” is clever as well. (8/10)
3 .The Lone and Level Sands – A pretty good story all-around about a ship traveling in such a way that it still moves impossibly fast, but time passes by realistically around it. There’s a lot of distracting arcade game violence, but the episode ends with a poignant Trek-like conversation about exploring the unknown. (7/10)

Mediocre Episodes:

4. Day of Judgment, Day of Wrath – A sequel to Season 2’s best episode “The Knight, Death, and the Devil”, with a nifty continuation of Tyr’s subplot. The episode feels stronger than most because of excellent guest actors and a sense of urgency to the story, but the script is pedestrian and the visuals as cheap-looking as ever. (6/10)
5. The Dark Backward – Presenting an episode from Trance’s perspective was a great idea, as she constantly re-lives a series of events to try to prevent an intruder (who himself lives while going backwards through time, allowing him to see everyone’s actions in advance) from taking out the ship. The trial-and-error nature of the story is fun to watch, but it suffers from the same problems that derailed post-Wolfe Andromeda: the villain is stripped of any motivation whatsoever (he was originally supposed to be sent by the Abyss) and the solution is for Trance to just trust Dylan to figure it all out. Give me a break. (6/10)

Bad Episodes:

6. Cui Bono – John de Lancie returns, so that’s nice at least. Otherwise it’s a stock plot with stock characters. (5/10)
7. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Insects attack the ship, and there’s a ghost of a former crewmember. A not-terrible bottle episode (5/10)
8. The Right Horse – Dylan hardly appears in this episode, allowing Beka and Harper to play the main roles, and the New Commonwealth is incorporated decently. Completely run-of-the-mill otherwise. (5/10)
9. Twilight of the Idols – Another “genetic purists” episode, which for some reason the writers thought deserved about as much attention as the new Commonwealth. At least Michael Ironside shows up to deliver a typically great performance. (5/10)

Terrible Episodes:

10. Delenda Est – Oh my, how is this as high as number 10? Man, this series fell apart. The aliens from the Season 2 finale return midway through Season 3, and we get just as many answers as you’d except: none whatsoever. Who are they? What do they want? The show’s response: Why would you ever want to know these things when you could be watching our heroes blowing them all up? This episode only seems motivated by the desire to save money by re-using costumes and FX shots. All that said, it’s probably the most entertaining action episode of the season, if you’re into, like, Walker, Texas Ranger style violence where the Good Guys Win and the Bad Guys Lose. DS9 alluded to The Third Man; the final scene here is ripped straight from Predator 2. (4/10)
11. The Leper’s Kiss – Dylan hunts a mysterious assassin while falling for a seductress, and what-do-you know, they turn out to be the same person. (4/10)
12. Point of the Spear– An episode about a battle far greater in scale than the show’s budget can come close to capturing. Basically an hour of cheap-looking (often re-used) special effects shots. It is nice to see the Commonwealth Fleet competently in action. Billy from Battlestar Galactica makes an appearance, too, essentially playing the same character (though drafted into the military). He appears briefly in the finale as well. (4/10)
13. Deep Midnight’s Voice – Reminded me of Galactica 1980, which is not a good thing. There is an interesting subplot about Tyr’s scheming that sets in motion the Season’s only worthwhile story arc. (3/10)
14. And Your Heart Will Fly Away – Of all the stories to bring back from earlier seasons, why the genetic purists? (3/10)
15. What Happens to A Rev Deferred? – It was kind of nice to see Rev again, but the story was slow and muddled. (3/10)
16. The Illusion of Majesty – Dylan rescues a young attractive princess, you can see where this is going… (3/10)
17. The Risk-All Point – As if it wasn’t enough to sideline the new Commonwealth plot, this is where Andromeda starts to piss all over it too, as an incompetent new flagship is easily destroyed. Featuring a ludicrously dumb ending and a Dylan screwing around with a woman during the middle of an urgent rescue mission. (3/10)
18. The Shards of Rimni – Last season’s “In Heaven Now Are Three”, except cheaper and cheesier. (2/10)
19. Mad to Be Saved – Andromeda rescues bunch of mentally-challenged people, who may as well have written this mess of an episode. Another cheap-looking bottle show on top of that, although at least there’s no re-use of the recurring cave set. (2/10)
20. Slipfighter the Dogs of War – Let’s invade Iraq! Featuring newly-neutered Tyr at his wimpiest. Neo-cons wrote this fantasy, and they didn’t even write it well. (2/10)
21. Vault of the Heavens – Gordon Michael Woolvett’s acting provides one of Season 3’s only consistently entertaining elements, though his character has little to do. Woolvett penned this episode, and sadly it’s one of the worst, featuring cheap sets and a lame-ass love-fest for Sorbo as an alien seductress tries to mate with him (because he’s just so strong and attractive…). (2/10)
22. If The Wheel is Fixed – The opening episode is the season low-point. It's even worse than “Tunnel At the End of the Light” and a nail in coffin of what was once a show with promise. We learn nothing about the aliens who attacked the new Commonwealth, nor get any mention of the consequences of the Commonwealth charter ceremony being interrupted. Instead, the incredibly un-compelling “Did Beka or Tyr die?” question is the only one addressed. Goofy, stupid, terrible, without even any decent special effects (it looks cheaply made, setting the stage for what follows…). Andromeda’s pilot and “The Widening Gyre” are masterpieces compared to this premiere, and the season it begins is only slightly less terrible overall. (1/10)

Tl;dr Season 3 of Andromeda was exactly the disaster post-Wolfe Season 2 promised. But three episodes were genuinely good, so yay.
Yanks - Sun, Oct 26, 2014 - 3:34pm (USA Central)
Baron Samedi,

I agree. This show lost it's way after season 2. It was so good, the just took a nose dive. Check out the change in writers, which obviously resulted in a change of direction as well.
SlackerInc - Tue, Nov 4, 2014 - 1:17am (USA Central)
Baron,

I still care! Or that is, I read it with interest. What actually happened is that I have been reading this site for BSG and ST reviews, and happened to notice the Andromeda section. I had forgotten the show even existed, but this triggered a memory of it having seemed really cool at the beginning and then really jumping the shark badly (worse than most). So I went down memory lane here and saw that my memory was confirmed.

I don't remember how long I stuck with it, but I don't think it was as long as you did. I didn't even know it lasted five seasons.
Baron Samedi - Sat, Nov 8, 2014 - 2:03pm (USA Central)
Thanks for sharing your perspective, SlackerInc. A handful of websites (this being one of them) reviewed Andromeda for the first two seasons, but for for obvious reasons (mostly the quality dropping so low after Wolfe's departure that the series stopped meriting serious criticism) they pretty much all gave up before or during Season 3. There's literally nothing out there discussing Andromeda's later seasons in any detail. As other commentators have mentioned, it's such a pity that Andromeda kept going for so long while better shows were cancelled much earlier.

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