The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"Pitiless as the Sun"

by David E. Sluss

30 October 2001

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: A decent outing, even though a few items seem to be the product of fertilizer addiction.


SPLIT PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK: Tonight, in the Crossfire: Dylan Hunt: Fool or brilliant strategist?

Bill Press: Captain Hunt has made bonehead plays in the past, but not this time. This was simply a command performance.

Bob Novak: Command perf -- Did you see the way he let himself be talked out of a perfectly reasonable course of action -- ignoring the boondocks planet Inaris altogether -- because of the pleadings of his less-than-trustworthy first officer, a recovering drug addict, no less.

Press: Yeah, yeah, knock over that straw man, Bob. Staying on point, Hunt correctly judged that the Inari couldn't be trusted and refused to be swayed by the feminine charms of Major Whendar, shamelessly attired in a low-cut Breakdancer from Hell uniform. Instead, he tested the Inari by giving them access to the ship, and found them sorely lacking.

Novak: Bill, that's just silly. He didn't trust them, but he sent Trance all by herself to that planet anyway?

Press: He knew the Inari were up to no good. He saw right through their ridiculous cultural exchange story, and sent Trance in as a spy.

Novak: Even though she is, for all he knows, completely incapable of defending herself. What was he planning to do if Trance hadn't managed to somehow escape her captors?

Press: Well, let's talk about the Nova bombs. You have to admit, Hunt's showing real street smarts in developing those weapons, but keeping some of his shadier crew members in the dark.

Novak: So smart that he's counting on Seamus Harper of all people to keep it a secret? So smart that he walks the Inari right by the machine shop, where the door might as well have a sign on it saying, "Secrets inside - Break in?" And then he's surprised to find that Gadell has indeed broken in and upset when the man starts blabbing about what's inside in front of his crew. The Captain is a dim bulb.

Press: No, he's a tactical genius, and you're too bull-headed to see it. But let's see what a real expert thinks. Joining us in the Crossfire is short-skirted psychiatrist Dr. Georgia Witkin. Doctor, what is you assessment of Dylan Hunt's behavior?

Witkin: He's certifiable -- get the butterfly nets. Do you like my legs?

Novak: Thank you for your keen insights, Doctor. When we come back, two of the biggest Dicks in Congress, Armey and Gephardt, argue capital gains taxes.

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK: The "plot twist" with Gadell being a Pyrian fink actually worked. And it resulted from a story that played fair; the clues were there and it made perfect sense.

PRODUCTION VALUES OF THE WEEK: We got two brands of aliens this week: Alien Aliens and Forehead Aliens. Both worked well enough. We also got kewl new sets. I'll admit the new command deck looks good, but some of its functionality is questionable. For starters, why is it better for the Slipstream station to be five feet off the deck with no chair? Somebody could really get hurt doing the Shatner Shake...

EXPOSITIONAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: As in "The Widening Gyre," a questionable frame of reference is used when Hunt characterizes the Pyrians' home as a "Venus-like planet." While that's useful for those of us watching the show on Earth, that description would most likely be absolutely meaningless to everyone in the conference room, including Hunt himself.

EXPOSITIONAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Hunt and company inspect the debris from the Inari frigates. Hunt observes two things, that the weapon was powerful (no kidding!) and that it had a short range. What was the basis for the latter conclusion?

EXPOSITIONAL ABSENSE OF THE WEEK: Even if William B. Davis hadn't been the guest star, I doubt anyone would have expected to get the whole truth about Trance; we did, however, get some useful information, certainly more than we ever got from Davis' previous series. Still, I think the script played overly coy with the Purple Guy and his role in the Inari civil war. It's hard to believe that both Logitch and Whendar would condemn the Purple Guy for starting the war, without saying anything about exactly how he did it. Did he use super powers? Mind control? Simple rumor- and gossip-mongering to polarize parties on the planet and turn them against each other? Why wouldn't they say, other than to string along those of us playing the home game?

CULTURAL REFERENCES OF THE WEEK: In this show, we got a good example of how to use in-jokes, and a good example of how not to. Good: the "pod bay doors"/"I have the utmost confidence in our mission" exchange; it's subtle, not completely in your face, and not played as if the characters knew a centuries old sci-fi movie. Bad: "Freaky Friday"; it's subtle like a two-by-four to the head, completely in your face, and plays as if Harper knows the movie (while in reality, I'd wager most people around today, 25 years after the movie was made, wouldn't know about it).

COMMONWEALTH UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: Hunt and company don't seem to have done their research, and given their Magical Mystery Database, there's really no excuse. Hunt doesn't seem to know, for example, about the Inari civil war or that the Inari economy depends entirely on ammonium phosphate, things that anyone in the sector would presumably know. The MMD always seems to have information of this sort, and you'd think Hunt would have been interested, if he was really considering any sort of Commonwealth alliance with the Inari.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: I always love scenes like this: The Pyrians are blasting Andromeda non-stop, when suddenly Gadell gets a case of the guilts and makes a speech Explaining the Whole Thing; considerately, the Pyrians quit firing for the duration of that speech...

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: I guess we just have to chalk it up to another "Trance mystery" how she actually evaded the bad guys on Inaris for what seemed to be a significant period of time, possibly days. She just walked out that door, and - then what?

WELFARE RECIPIENT OF THE WEEK: I wouldn't swear to it, but I'm about 85% sure that the voice of the Pyrian captain is also the voice of the dreadful narration in this season's opening credits. If so, how could he have gotten another gig based on that performance?

Previous: "A Heart for
Falsehood Framed
Next: "Last Call at
the Broken Hammer
NEXT WEEK: It's hard to say, since the voiceover on the trailer was nearly drowned out by gunfire, but it looks like there's ultra-violence, and maybe a story to go with it.



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