The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"Last Call at the Broken Hammer"

by David E. Sluss

7 November 2001

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: Sloppy storytelling, stock situations, Super-Slo-Mo and Shaky-cam. Can you think of any other S-words to go along with this?


GOOD THINGS OF THE WEEK: Hunt and company actually doing Commonwealth work is a good thing. Hunt finally being told flat-out that people don't want a new Commonwealth is a very good thing; coupled with Hunt's own characterization of the Commonwealth as an "empire" in which membership was compulsory, it plays into my long-held theory that the Commonwealth was a corrupt, evil, and incompetent institution. A (possibly) recurring character and new crew member is a good thing, even if Isabella's change of heart and belated cave-in to Hunt's sanctimonious speechifying is a little disappointing.

MORAL OF THE WEEK: You can get a pass on a murder beef if you promise to raise your kids right. I'll have to remember that...

SLOPPY SCRIPTING OF THE WEEK: This script either went through too many revision passes or too few; I'm not sure which. Otherwise how could we have so much laughably obvious dialog (e.g. "They're shelling us," "They're shelling us again," "They're getting closer," "He's dead," "He's dead," "He's dead.") and so many outright goof-ups? Listen to Cori's story when sure first tries to convince Dylan that she's assumed the dead Ortiz's identity: She claims that Ortiz was killed by a bounty Hunter two years ago, and moments later says, "Three years later I realized whose face I was wearing." Say what? Is her story supposed to be that screwed up, and is Hunt supposed to be so out of it that he fails to notice the obviously out-of-whack timeline? Also, the script makes the location of the Hammer unclear at best and botched at worst. In the teaser, Trance has one of her Trance moments in which she suggests that Ortiz wouldn't be on Benesseret, where things turned out decently, but on Svorog's Anvil, where they didn't. Hunt agrees, and Beka sets course. But later, Hunt tells "Ortiz" that they came to Benesseret to find her. So, was this Benesseret or not? Was Svorog's Anvil intended to be a settlement on Benesseret or a planet in the Benesseret system? Or did the geography just get bollixed up somehow in the script?

CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: So, what are we up to - 10,273 uses for the High Guard Force lance? And that's not even counting some of its blatantly phallic applications. And where the hell did Tyr get that BFG he used on the Kalderans in the Final Battle? He's not carrying the gun when he follows the Kalderans after they take the body, but moments later he's cutting loose with it. Since the music played over that scene sounded almost exactly like something from Quake, it's strangely appropriate, I guess. Finally, you gotta love the built-in contrivance of the Kalderans being pack hunters, which had no other purpose than to justify the Relentless Action Climax, in which the Kalderans stepped one by one into the bar's kill zone only to be dropped into the body pile. Didn't we just see that with the Magog?

RESOURCE ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Funniest scene on TV this week: Short on ammo, Tyr, Beka, and Hunt nevertheless put at least two dozen rounds into Hsigo. Nice shootin'!

PRODUCTION VALUES OF THE WEEK: Let's run through the checklist:

  Excessive use of shaky-cam, even during expository dialog between mortars
  Aliens having novelty condoms attached to their shoulders and wearing Ray-Bans

Yep - it's Andromeda.

The Kalderans, like many of Andromeda's alien species, worked best in the shadows and moving fast. Once fully revealed, they looked a bit silly, like paler (but hipper) versions of the movie series Aliens. I couldn't understand why that lingering close-up shot of the bodies was included; it only drew attention to the rather mediocre masks.

WEIRD SCIENCE OF THE WEEK: Mix bottled ammonia and chlorine powder (presumably bleach) and you get grenades? As disinformation for any of Osama's boys who might tune in, it's pretty good, but taking a look at the basic science involved, this combination would most likely produce a chloramine gas, which, while toxic (most likely to the High Guard Fossil mixing it), is not explosive. Even if one mixed pure chlorine with ammonia, the result would still be chloramines, which in practice are used to clean fish tanks and kill bacteria in municipal water supplies. Regardless, you wouldn't get anything remotely usable in a grenade. But don't try that at home, folks.

SUICIDAL TENDENCIES OF THE WEEK: For someone whose principal goal is survival and procreation, Tyr wasn't minding the store on either count this week. The first time he leaves to have some off-screen mayhem with the Kalderans, he walks (jewels first) right in front of the force lance as it's firing anti-artillery rounds every few seconds. That is not a Good Idea, Tyr...

BIG EVENT OF THE WEEK: Got Tail? Rumor Central says that the amputation of Trance's tail took place at the behest of Tribune Suits who didn't like the way it looked. And now for their next act, according to a Reliable Source... If you've wondered where Rev Bem has been for the last three weeks, he's been off-screen so that his new appearance won't be quite so jarring when he finally does reappear. You see, Tribune thinks he's "scary and mean-looking" and they have ordered kinder, gentler Rev make-up. The explanation for Rev's new appearance will be that he was splashed with holy water while on his retreat, and was transformed into a furrier, cuter, and cuddlier Magog. Kinda like Gremlins in reverse. Remember, you heard it here first.

Previous: "Pitiless as
the Sun
Next: "All Too Human"
NEXT WEEK: Andromeda unleashed. And I loved the "bionic" sound effect in the trailer...



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