Thursday, July 10, 2014

#757. Seven Reasons - Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

In the late '90s, probably flush in what was a decade saturated in Star Trek, Majel Roddenberry helped bring two of her late husband Gene's other projects to television.  The first was Earth: Final Conflict, which was very similar to V.  The second was Andromeda, which was part of a TV space opera boom that decade that included Babylon 5 and Farscape.  Come to think of it, Andromeda was kind of a mix between those two.  It was an attempt to create an alternative to Star Trek saturated with wild sci-fi concepts heavily steeped in an ambitious mythology.

Fans tended to think of Andromeda in two ways: 1) it was developed by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe and 2) it starred Kevin Sorbo.  A few years after the launch of Andromeda, another Star Trek alumni, Ron Moore, launched a very different kind of space opera in Battlestar Galactica.  Wolfe left Andromeda, famously, partway through the second season, taking with him any sense of creative integrity, at least as far as the fans were concerned.  Left behind was Sorbo, who had made his name previously in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, which at some point had become better known as the series where Xena: Warrior Princess came from.

Long story short, Andromeda grew to have a poor reputation.  It's another thing I love that very few others do.  Here are seven episodes that showcase the series at its best:

1. "Under the Night" (first season)
via DVD Talk
First episode of the series, establishes the Systems Commonwealth and its fall from betrayal by the Nietzscheans as represented by Dylan Hunt (Sorbo) and his first officer and best friend, Rhade (Steve Bacic, who was far from done with Andromeda despite his character dying this episode).  The second hour, "An Affirming Flame," sets up the salvage crew who round out the rest of the cast and how Dylan hopes to revive the Commonwealth after being stuck in a black hole for three hundred years.

2. "Ouroboros" (second season)
via Andromeda Wikia
The episode where everything changes.  Wolfe's final episode.  Rev Bem (Brent Stait) departs as a series regular.  Harper (Gordon Michael Woolvett) finally loses the nasty Magog larvae he picked up at the start of the season.  Trance (Laura Bertram) switches from purple to gold, loses tail.  The prime example of just how wild the series could be with its science fiction.

3. "Immaculate Perception" (second season)
via Andromeda Wikia
Probably the favorite character of just about every fan was Tyr Anasazi (Keith Hamilton Cobb, whom Jason Momoa can probably thank for his whole career).  Tyr was Dylan Hunt's constant rival, the consummate Nietzschean, incredibly cool, you name it.  When the decision was made to switch focus more heavily on Dylan, every fan assumed this would be at the expense of Tyr most of all.  His great arc begins with this episode, however, after the switch, as he conceives a son destined to be the messiah of his people (and genetic reincarnation of Drago Museveni , a name so awesome I could not pass up the opportunity to put in this series recap) and suddenly his loyalties, always reluctantly in Dylan's favor, shift.  The best character in his best episode.

4. "The Lone and Level Sands" (third season)
via Veehd
The great Tony Todd guest-stars in this episode that features the Andromeda version of Star Trek.

5. "The Unconquerable Man" (third season)
via Veehd
Is that Rhade, the dead Nietzschean, again?  Indeed!  This is before his genetic reincarnation, introduced in "Home Fires" a season earlier, becomes a regular in the fourth season.  That means this is the original, in an alternate life where he's the one, not Dylan, who survived the fight in "Under the Night."  Andromeda frequently meditated on fate, but this is certainly one of its more interesting efforts in that regard.

6. "Shadows Cast by a Final Salute" (third season)
via Sidereel
Although he returns for a handful of appearances in the fourth season (to be killed off), Tyr's farewell must be considered the highlight of Andromeda's stream of ambitious season finales.  This is the man bowing out on his own terms, switching allegiances but getting fond farewells from everyone anyway.

7. "The Heart of the Journey, Parts One and Two" (fifth season)
via OV Guide
The series finale, in which everything is resolved, including the Seefra System tangle, Trance's true nature and ultimate role, the fate of the Commonwealth.  Typically, Andromeda goes out big.

I haven't even mentioned Beka (Lisa Ryder), Rommie! (Lexa Doig), or Doyle (Brandy Ledford), three more strong ladies, or Beka's Uncle Sid (John de Lancie), or any number of exceptional elements or moments from the series.  If anyone ever made a movie out of Andromeda, I think more people would understand how awesome it really was.


Pat Dilloway said...

Never watched that. I watched like half a season of Earth Final Conflict and then the next season they almost completely rebooted the show and I lost interest. That was way back in 2001 when I routinely stayed up until 4am on Saturdays when that aired along with "The Invisible Man" on a local station.

Tony Laplume said...

Invisible Man was pretty good.

The Armchair Squid said...

I can't say I know this series at all. Five seasons - that's a decent run.


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