The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"D Minus Zero"

by David E. Sluss

30 October 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: A standard-fare, "getting to know you" outing; nothing ground-breaking, but nothing outrageous either.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.5 (C)

GOOD THINGS OF THE WEEK: Addressing the re-supply issue is definitely a Good Thing. The Andromeda is in roughly the same situation as Voyager is, and locating resources should be a high priority, even if Andromeda's manufacturing capabilities seem pretty magical; here we see Harper whip up contraptions rather easily as well as a swarm of sensor-bots flying around Andromeda in the last "beauty pass" after all of them had supposedly been destroyed in the battle. Still, we never did find out whether Andromeda actually did find anything useful on the High Guard wreck or not. This episode also accomplishes some necessary character work in an acceptable, if unexceptional, fashion.

ANDROMEDA CLICHE OF THE WEEK: I know it seems a little early for this series to have developed its own cliches, but nevertheless, I think that the use of Super-Slo-Mo for the third time in four episodes qualifies. I just don't see that this technique lends any additional weight to the proceedings.

STAR TREK CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Knowing exactly how long someone has before they've been fatally exposed to radiation is a Star Trek staple, of course, and we had more or less the same thing turn up here in Harper's radiation sickness. Trance -- who doesn't know what a pancreas is but offers her diagnosis anyway -- didn't pin it down quite as exactly as Trek's doctors usually do, but this notion has always seemed pretty ridiculous to me. And it implies that Andromeda's medical nano-bot technology is every bit as magical as Trek's, not good for a series that seems to be making a legitimate effort not to abuse science too horribly.

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Trance: "Maybe it's a baby space alien that thinks we're its mother!" Loving tribute or nose-thumbing -- you decide.

COMMONWEALTH UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: This episode showed some progress on the "Is Hunt an idiot?" subplot, in the sense that this week the script actually acknowledged that he is; he admits it and his crew confronts him with it. Hunt having to adapt to his new circumstances is worthwhile material, but his track record to date is abysmal, and not entirely attributable to his being out of the loop for 300 years. Despite his smug "Who's your daddy?" expression after the solar flare maneuver, he needs to be portrayed as a lot more capable if we are to buy this character as the Commonwealth's best and brightest.

POOR F/X OF THE WEEK: Let's be fair and acknowledge that this was the first episode produced, that this series doesn't have a gigantic budget, and so forth, but still, some of this stuff was embarrassing. Much of the actual combat, when shown, was a hopelessly muddled mess, and some things, like Andromeda's "Norelco Floating Head" missile batteries were simply comical. I criticized an excessive use of "tactical screens" rather than actual F/X in last week's "To Loose the Fateful Lightning," but upon further review, perhaps it's for the best. I have no doubt that the F/X will get a lot better, but until that happens, the tactical screens may be the best approach. And on the bright side, as others have noted, it does provide a different perspective of "space warfare" than Star Trek, Babylon 5, etc. have given us.

DEJA VU OF THE WEEK: I think that Keith Hamilton Cobb is at times channeling Avery Brooks! Watch the scene in which Hunt bitches out Tyr for leaving his zone, and listen to Tyr's responses ("I will not let you forget it at my expense!"). Tell me that isn't Captain Sisko in his "medium-psychotic" mode.

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: This episode was apparently meant to air before "To Loose the Fateful Lightning," and it shows in some places, notably Andromeda lusting after Sorbo's freshly showered body, something noted with some awkwardness when Andromeda's avatar debuted last week.

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: It would have been nice to find out who the attackers were and what their motivations were. Since this isn't Voyager, I'll give the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is going to be followed up at some point. Still, at the very least, it would be nice to know if the Andromeda had been specifically targeted or not. Or even if the High Guard wreck was genuine; depending on how you interpret the findings early on, the vessel was either a real High Guard ship that was booby-trapped, or a fake that was cleverly disguised as one. Given Andromeda's ID of the vessel, it would seem to be the former, but if the FMS can fool the attackers' sensors, who's to say they don't have a similar capability. Since even after the battle ends no one seems to be interested in checking it out, we can't be entirely certain.

ANNOYANCE OF THE WEEK: Or of the series probably, at least for me. I really hate that nickname "Rommie." And I will never type it again.
 

Previous: "To Loose the Fateful Lightning"
Next: "Double Helix"
NEXT WEEK: Another mutiny, and yet another boarding of Dylan "Call me Kathryn" Hunt's vessel.

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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