The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"Under the Night"

by David E. Sluss

10 October 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Disappointing, with a lot of clumsy execution and far too many Trekkian cliches. Let's hope this series gets better in a hurry.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.0 (D-)

GOOD THINGS OF THE WEEK: A new feature at The Cynics Corner, this Weekly will be used to highlight some positive things about each week's episode in order to balance, at least minimally, the dozen or so pins I'll routinely stick in. The set design is generally very good, though certain elements of the Andromeda Ascendant seem designed more for aesthetics than for functionality. The salvage vessel looked particularly "good," that is to say it looked suitably rough around the edges, befitting a vessel built after the collapse of civilization; it's too bad this ship is likely to be lost next week, when its crew joins Hunt's crusade (or is that Crusade?). The acting seems largely competent, with some exceptions and with the expected level of "getting used to the part" common to first season series. The baby steps towards semi-legitimate science, such as distances measured in light seconds, instantaneous communication only possible at short range, etc. were appreciated, though unfortunately outnumbered by instances of almost Voyagerish technobabble and scientific hoohah. See, that was pretty positive, wasn't it? But enough of that...

POOR COSTUMING OF THE WEEK: The "bug" costume worn by Andromeda's pilot was, let's face it, bad even by original Star Trek standards. Just as well she got zipped.

SMALL COSTUMING OF THE WEEK: Andromeda's costume is certainly easy on the eyes, though why the ship's AI would "wear" such a thing is a mystery. But, then, we're talking about a ship where even the 'Droids have tits. You know, I think this show really was a Roddenberry concept...

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: Does Trance Gemini serve any legitimate purpose? Can anyone give me a reason why this apparent ditz would be of any value on a salvage mission? Her function on Valentine's ship seemed to be running the environmental systems, ironic considering she couldn't even remember to put on a helmet before entering a possible vacuum. Granted, this episode is part one of two, and there may be more to this character than there appears to be, but on the record so far, I smell Male Demo Ploy.

BAD DIALOG OF THE WEEK: This seemed to me to be this episode's biggest weakness, and it often jarred me out of whatever suspension of disbelief I might have been able to maintain. For one thing, Harper's "slacker" dialog is just annoying and, well, anachronistic. But worse was some of the excruciating exposition, the worst examples of which are Rhade giving Hunt the Reader's Digest condensed version of the Magog's predilections and Hunt telling Andromeda just how vast the Commonwealth is. Perhaps this will be Trance's role on the ship: Receiver of Exposition; she doesn't know anything, so explaining everything to her won't seem so unreasonable.

TREKKIAN CLICHES OF THE WEEK: I had hoped that these would be few and far between, but unfortunately we already have the Exploding Console and the Techobabble Solution, namely Harper dumping particles in the Whachamacallit in order to get more power. If I wanted to watch more Voyager, I'd watch more Voyager -- or commit ritual suicide.

HEAVY LIFTING OF THE WEEK: How many of Hunt's collapsible fighting sticks will it take to fight off Babylon 5's lawyers?

NEW TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: I don't care what those harpoon cables are made of; using them to pull a ship away from the gravity well of a black hole is pushing it, not pulling it. And the F/X work on that looked silly, like a couple of Batarangs ("To the engine room, Boy Wonder!").

FINICKY TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: After emerging from the black hole, Andromeda's sensors are able to detect that the escape pods and the enemy fleet are gone, but not the presence of the salvage vessel just off the bow or the Batarangs attached to the vessel itself. Like Trek's sensors, they apparently only work when the plot dictates it.

NEW BIOLOGY OF THE WEEK: The Andromeda depressurizes, and Rhade casually pops an oxygen-producing harmonica into his mouth. Even a paragon of genetic engineering should be going "pop" in a vacuum, despite the gizmo.

VIDEO GAMING OF THE WEEK: I'm still trying to decide what's more video-gamish, the slipstream F/X and the associated gyrating pilot's chair and joystick, or the characters' names, which for the most part sound like they belong in Quake or something...

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: The black hole that lured the Andromeda into the Nietzscheans' trap was supposedly "rogue," and yet the Nietzscheans had been planning their attack for years. The black hole conveniently appeared near one of their systems just in time, unless they created the black hole themselves, which isn't suggested anywhere in the script.

CONTINUITY GLITCH OF THE WEEK: No, not that kind of continuity; one episode in is a bit too soon for that. No, this is a continuity error in filming. It is made painfully obvious by the Super-Slo-Mo that the traitorous Rhade is shot in the stomach, and yet when Hunt rolls the body, Rhade appears to have been shot in the chest. Fairly trivial, but what the heck...
  

Next: "An Affirming Flame" NEXT WEEK: Hunt, Andromeda, and their uninvited guests decide to be friends and work together for piece in their time. Bring plenty of insulin.

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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