The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"All Too Human"

by David E. Sluss

13 November 2001

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: It has some entertainment value, features good characterization, and is seemingly important to the Grand Scheme of Things, but some of the Action Hour Action is silly and occasionally outrageous, and the implications for the Magog story are somewhat disturbing.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.75 (C+)

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK: Wow, the entire cast showed up for a shoot! But now Isabella Ortiz has mysteriously disappeared...

QUESTIONABLE COSTUMING OF THE WEEK: Any reason (other than TV programming motives) that the Andromeda android would go on an undercover assignment unzipped down to there? Any reason (other than TV programming motives) that Trance would wear a corset, strung up that tight under her clothes?

QUESTIONABLE SET DESIGN OF THE WEEK: We got a better look at the new command center in this episode than we did in "Pitiless as the Sun," enough to see that, for some bizarre reason, they didn't think to add chairs. Instead the entire command staff is still expected to hang on to a console whenever Andromeda goes to slipstream.

ANDROMEDA CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Sigh... Super-Slo-Mo. Look at the feathers, drifting, drifting in the air...

ANDROMEDA CLICHE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: I felt that Carter's android nature was telegraphed early on, and it was equally easy to predict that his android parts would be perfectly quiet right up until the point where he was revealed.

SCI-FI CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Of course, Rommie's * innards would have to consist of Blinky Lights, still the essence of technology 10,000 years from now.

UNCENSORED LANGUAGE OF THE WEEK: Given the heavy-handedness that production houses and networks have shown recently in excising anything even remotely reminiscent of the attacks on New York City, I was surprised to hear Andromeda say that she would turn the area around the XTC lab into "ground zero," which of course is what the World Trade Center is now called. Not a criticism, just an observation.

CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: I was so amused by the One Spacesuit meta-contrivance, scripted as if the writers were saying, "You know it's a contrivance, and we know that you know it's a contrivance," that I'll give it a pass. I don't know about the ultimate defeat of the Basilisk though; is there a reason the Machen Alphans could take out Andromeda's drones but didn't even try to shoot their PSP at the incoming missiles?

ACTION ASSESSMENT OF THE WEEK: If there was any doubt that this series has truly become an Action Hour this season, this episode should dispel it. But how did the Action play out? I'd have to say it's a mixed bag. The ubiquitous Super-Slo-Mo irritated me to no end; it's almost as if it was being used as a substitute for good choreography and direction, as if the fight scenes would have been incomprehensible at full speed. Additionally, some of that Kung Foo Shit doesn't really make much logical or tactical sense. Let's take a specific look at the scene in which Rommie does backflips down a narrow corridor while security goons continue to fire at her (sort of like the Cyborg Mercenary Chick in "An Affirming Flame"). Security misses her, of course, but it doesn't really make sense. I think that stunt would work about as well as when Daryl Hannah's character tried it in Blade Runner. Finally, some of the wire-and-pulley Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stuff didn't come out very well in the technical sense. I wouldn't quite say that you could see the wires, but in most of the stunts, it was pretty clear that the actors were "wire-guided."

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: I can't shake the feeling that certain aspects of the Magog Threat are being retconned into Andromeda's backstory. This episode raises at least one issue in this regard: What did the Machen Alphans know and when did they know it? The way the Magog threat has played until this episode was that, prior to Andromeda's discovery of the Magog worldship, everyone in the Known Worlds thought that the Magog were basically primitive savages, with great numbers but not advanced technology. This episode makes it seem as if some people, the Machen Alphans at least, have long known about the true nature of the Magog threat and their level of technical sophistication. For one thing, the script implies that PSPs are standard issue on Magog swarm ships, something never even hinted at before, and which seems somewhat unlikely given the vessels' small size. Second, while it's unclear how much real time has elapsed this season so far, it doesn't seem possible that the Machen Alphans could have built the Basilisk and wiped out the AIs in the time elapsed since "The Widening Gyre." If they didn't, then the Machen Alphans knew the real scoop on the Magog and felt the need to ally with them well before the exact nature of the Magog threat became known.

And while I'm on the subject, the way this episode suggests that the Magog are master manipulators setting up a "Let's you and him fight" scenario in the Known Worlds is a bit disappointing. I hope that's not the way this storyline is really going to play out, because -- let's face it -- it's been done, and probably better, by Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine.

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Where do little black holes go when they're sucked into a slipstream portal? Right smack into some unfortunate freighter somewhere in slipstream?

* OK, I give up. I said over a year ago (in the review of "D Minus Zero") that I wouldn't use the name Rommie, but it's damn near impossible not to. I still don't like it...
  

Previous: "Last Call at
the Broken Hammer
"
Next: "Una Salus Victus"
NEXT WEEK: After almost slipping into Alan Alda-hood this week, it looks like Tyr's back.

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This review is copyright 2001 David E. Sluss
Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda is a trademark of Tribune Entertainment