The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

Andromeda Eats Itself: The Cynic on "Ouroboros"

by David E. Sluss

8 February 2002

 
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You've come a long way, baby.

Kent Borseaux was thinking about himself -- his favorite subject -- as he was waiting to be asked into the office. Thinking about how quickly he'd gone from hawking toilet paper to being the star of a syndicated sci-fi TV series. And now, if this meeting with the big shots at the production company went well, he'd be rid of the show's geek producer and have more creative input into the series.

The secretary announced, "He's ready to see you now." She escorted Kent to the office, and introduced to the three men inside. The man at the desk was yelling into a telephone; he was one of the Really Big Shots, Kent thought. He recognized one of the other men as being from Standards and Practices. The third guy Kent didn't know; maybe a lawyer?

The Really Big Shot was still yelling: "Up yours! You think we can't replace you? I'm gonna do it today!" He then slammed the phone. "Kent, how's it going." It clearly wasn't a question. "You'll be happy to know I just fired that geek. We'll have no more of that continuity shit he's always whining about."

Kent replied, "Well, that's good news. I could never understand what that guy was writing."

"No one can. That's why we showed him the door. That and the fact that he refused to go all the way with the kinds of changes we want in this show. He'd toss in a leather chick and a raygun fight now and then, but what we really need is tits and ass and guns blazing the whole hour. And screw that 'arc' shit. Nobody cares about that. People just want mindless entertainment to tide them over between wrestling shows. Not sit there trying to remember what happened in every frigging episode. Why is that so hard for some people to understand?"

"I don't know," was all Kent could think to say, but he could barely suppress an ear-to-ear grin, because clearly the Big Bosses wanted to go in the same direction that he had in mind for the show.

"Okay, so we need to finish out the season. We can use some of the geek's scripts, but we'll have to doctor them up a lot. Like this one: Ora -- Oru -- what the hell is that? We gave it a different title: 'Time and Space Disaster.' See? Simple, understandable. Why do these shows have to have five-dollar titles? Anyway, we tweaked it. Take a look." He tossed Kent the script.

Kent skimmed through it, skipping over the few big words that hadn't already been excised from the script. It didn't seem to make much sense, but it had a lot of gun battles and cool stuff in it.

After a few minutes, the Really Big Shot asked, "So, what do you think?"

Kent replied: "Well, it's a hell of a lot better now than it was before." Then: "It looks like there's not much here about Padre Bug's leaving."

"Yeah, well, he was leaving anyway, screw him. Alien character wearing a bear suit. Nobody cares, he doesn't have a demographic, right?"

"Is that the reason for this big change to Daze?"

"That, and we want her to show more tits, you know, and be more action-oriented, bouncing up and down as much as possible. Hell, we'll have her doing jumping jacks in slow motion one of these weeks." All the men laughed. "Plus you wouldn't believe how expensive that pink make-up of hers is. And see, we used the time-travel crapola to justify it. That should satisfy those sci-fi pricks."

Kent said, "Yeah, that's great. You know, now that I think about it, this story reminds me of a couple of episodes from -- you know, that space show that got canned last year. There was a show where the ship is bent out of shape? And one where time is hosed up and they keep meeting people from the past and future? Then there's --"

The lawyer interrupted, saying rather menacingly, "It's nothing actionable."

Kent sputtered, "Well, I -- uh -- I didn't mean it like --"

The Really Big Shot laughed and said, "That's okay. And anyway, we put that dead guy's name above the title, that's got to count for something, right?" The lawyer smirked and shook his head as the Really Big Shot continued, "Go on, Kent. Any suggestions?"

Kent skimmed through the script again, and then flipped back to a particular page. "Well, right here, I'm talking about this Battle of Hef -- Heffus -- whatever -- with Dreamie. Is that something my character should know?"

The Standards and Practices guy was flipping through a copy of the Series Bible. "Here it is. Oh that's right, that was the big space battle in the first episode."

The Really Big Shot said, "Well, we'd better spell it out in that conversation."

The lawyer asked, "But both characters would know about it. Why would Kent's character act like they don't?"

The Really Big Shot snarled at the lawyer, "Who are you supposed to be? That clown with the web site going on about 'Exposition of the Week' and that shit? Leave the writing to the pros, why don't you." Turning back to Kent, he asked, "What else?"

"Well, I could use a chick."

"We could write in a girl from your old crew because of the time travel. Doesn't mean anything, but what the hell? It gives you more to do."

"Cool."

"Kent, we're going to need some right-thinking people like yourself on the staff. Even with the Chief Geek gone, somebody has to keep an eye on those other writers. Some of them are sci-fi people, you know? Tell you what; we'll make you an executive producer. You be the company's eyes and ears, and we'll give you some say in the show. How's that sound?"

"Great! When do we start?" asked Kent, visions of blue wigs and leather dancing in his head.

 


 

THE BOTTOM LINE: If  "Ouroboros" is our transition to the "new Andromeda," we may be in a lot of trouble.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.0 (D-)

We may never know how much of this episode -- or the series, for that matter -- represents Robert Wolfe's true vision and how much was dictated from above and/or rewritten. Regardless, this episode is nearly incoherent, featuring a lot of pointless encounters (e.g. Kylie Vance, Borg Babe Beka) and shifts in plot. For instance, most of the supposed drama in this episode arises from the attempt to prevent the tesseract device from being built (since a contrivance dictates that the machine is building itself); however, in the end it doesn't matter that the device was successfully built, because it required human(oid) intervention to be activated. This means, paradoxically, that the best way to prevent this temporal disaster would have been for no one to find the machine shop...

Time travel shenanigans, of course, never withstand any really scrutiny, and this episode is no different. Here we see the effects of the tesseract machine that take place in the device's past. By this logic, if you can call it that, tesseract effects should have been experienced in "Under the Night," "The Mathematics of Tears," and "Its Hour Come 'Round at Last," since characters and events from those episodes are impacted by them.

The "shattered" and "twisted" space-time continuum is used as a fig-leaf excuse for patented Andromeda shoot-em-ups with both the Magog and the Kalderans, and for the introduction of Trance, Warrior Princess into the series. No explanation is offered for the debut of Rommie, Anime Princess, although I suppose you could argue that it ties in somehow with her Giant Anime Robots, most recently seen in "The Prince."

That's not to say there weren't a few good things to be found this week, landing the show, just barely, in my D-range. Hunt's conversation with Andromeda, in a rare thoughtful moment, about how they failed from the beginning to view their ragtag crew with military detachment hit the right notes. And I respect the fact that in the end a real choice had to be made, for Hohne's life or for Harper's, and that the episode didn't cheat its way out of the consequences a la Star Trek.

In the end, though, while I sympathize with what has gone on "behind the scenes" this season, this "turning point" episode just can't be endorsed, and I don't think it bodes well for the future.
  

Previous: "Bunker HIll"
Next: "Lava and Rockets"
NEXT WEEK: Hunt hijacks a cruise ship. Or something.

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This review is copyright 2002 David E. Sluss
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