Andromeda - Way better than I remembered

Discussion in 'Off-the-Air Science Fiction Series' started by Joelist, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Recently I did a rewatch of Seasons 1-3 of Gene Rodenberry's Andromeda from videos on YouTube (a lot of old shows are there). While it started with me being bored and looking to just watch something different I discovered that this show (at least the first two seasons) is much better than I remembered.

    So, what made it better?

    First, world building. Robert Hewitt Wolfe was the show runner for the first season and a half and he did quite a job of world building for his show universe. He developed in a short time fleshed out descriptions of both alien races (like the Magog) and human entities like the Nietzscheans. Indeed, in season one a very well written episode was "Double Helix" where Dylan (the lead character) recalls a game of Go with his Nietzschean first officer before the fall of the Commonwealth (the civilization in power at the start of the show - the premiere episode has its fall and Dylan and the ship being caught in a singularity and frozen in time for three centuries). The recollection of the game and his discussion with his first officer is used cleverly to explain the core of Nietzschean philosophy.

    Second, overall the characters are well drawn and well acted. Special kudos have to go to Lexa Doig, who played as many as three characters in the same episode and made them all work well. She played the sentient AI of the titular starship and did it very well. Also Lisa Ryder did a good turn as salvage captain Beka Valentine, as did Brent Stait as Rev Bem.

    Third, overall the story threads were interesting and logical. However, see the section on "flaws" also.

    Then come the flaws:

    One, Kevin Sorbo was a bit flat as Dylan the lead character. It really did not cause an issue in the first few seasons as the show was VERY ensemble in nature and he was not dominant in the stories. Alas later in the show after Wolfe was forced out he did become more prominent but still flat.

    Two, again after the departure of Wolfe the story became less tightly written and more episodic action. It was still okay for action pablum but not what it was. Weirdly though, in its last season the writing improved again.

    Overall though, better than I remembered.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
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  2. Overmind One

    Overmind One GateFans Gatemaster Staff Member

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    This makes me want to rewatch this again. :) This and Earth: Final Conflict. They were both examples of Roddenberry stories outside of Trek and were interesting. Andromeda was (I thought) miscast, but over the course of Season 1, they managed to flesh those miscast characters into a good team. Andromeda may have been Lexa Doig's best work I have seen.
     
  3. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    I agree Lexa Doig nailed it in Andromeda. She also did good work in TekWar, Stargate SG-1 and of course she was Sonya in Continuum. It also helped that her character (actually the ship itself) was interesting as written.

    As to miscasting...I think the only real miscasting was the lead - Kevin Sorbo was just too "flat" for the role. Ironically, had they instead cast Steve Bacic (who played both the Nietzschean that betrayed him in the opener and a descendant of that Nietzschean later in the series) as Dylan I think it would have been better. That said, the heavily ensemble nature of the series minimized the issue anyway.
     
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  4. Gate_Boarder

    Gate_Boarder Well Known GateFan

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    I always wondered what happened to the Reverend, then I read somewhere that Brent Strait had to give up his role because he was allergic to his suit.
     
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  5. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    I believe that was the case with Brent Stait. They gave him a proper sendoff in a later episode where they could minimize the time he was in the Magog suit.
     
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  6. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Some things I also found interesting in the Andromeda universe as created by Wolfe:

    First, there is a LOT of genetic engineering going on. The Nietzscheans are genetically engineered humans who trace their lineage back nearly 2000 years to the work of a group of geneticists who left Earth and struck out with their followers into deep space, finding and settling a world a long way from Earth. The Magog were also created by genetic engineering, in this case by the being called the Spirit of the Abyss gene manipulating formerly non-sentient predators to make them.

    Second, we find out that stars themselves are life forms. They express themselves to non-stellar beings by creating avatars (Trance Gemini is one such avatar). The relationship between the Sun and its avatar seems to be one where they communicate telepathically with the avatar also being an independent being in its own right.

    Third, sentient spaceships. Of course this is the Andromeda Ascendant and her ilk of the Commonwealth, as no one else appears to have built ships with sentient AI capabilities. It seems that this philosophy of shipbuilding was mainly the province of the race called the Vedrans, who founded the Commonwealth and also provided much of the leadership.
     
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  7. Gate_Boarder

    Gate_Boarder Well Known GateFan

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    If I remember correctly the Magog were so like the Reavers from "Fire Fly". Then there was Trance Gemini loosing her tail.

    In Season 5 the Nietzcheans come full circle. It was a little hookey, but by then with the company going banckrupt the writing was on the wall for the series.
     
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  8. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Actually if you consider when the shows were made it would be the Reavers copying the Magog. Also, the Magog actually came in two waves. The first ones were feral to a large extent and the ones the Commonwealth made a treaty with (that made the Nietzscheans decide to revolt) while the second group (in the Worldship) while still savage were more sophisticated.

    Trance losing her tail I also didn't like, and it coincided with the move of the show to a more episodic format.

    When you say the Nietzscheans come full circle in Season Five I'm not sure what you mean. The war with the Drago-Kazov pride had been going on all series and on a more individual level there was an apotheosis by Telemachus Rhade coming to the conclusion (ironically similar to what his ancestor Gaheris Rhade did in an alt timeline episode two seasons back) that the underlying philosophies the Nietzscheans had developed were self defeating.
     
  9. Gate_Boarder

    Gate_Boarder Well Known GateFan

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    I'll try to be cryptic on this one: Doesn't Valentine do some time travelling in season five "joining up" with the Nietzscheans in some way. Thus in the end she ends up being the "mother" of all Nietzschea.

    I have to look up Wilhelm Nietzsche, the German philosopher, who the Nazi's based some of their philosophies upon.

    As usual I forgot something. I was a huge fan of Buffy, or Angel, so I was just being polite. The Magog were ripped off and the Reavers were nasty little buggars. Mind you with the Magog implanting the seeds inside humans I can see how they were feared.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
  10. Joelist

    Joelist I'm showing this for a reason! Staff Member

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    Oh! Silly me!

    Yep, in Season Five while they were trapped on Seefra (which later turned out to be Tarn Vedra) Beka got involved with a man who turned out to be Drago Musevini (the geneticist who created the Nietzscheans) who when he had her DNA left Seefra and the Route of Ages pulled him into the past - where he uses that DNA in creating the Nietzscheans.

    They actually hinted at something along these lines in Season Three where Beka encounters a female Nietzschean who looks exactly like her - add in the already established plot point that due to the extensive breeding restrictions plus the engineered genes Nietzscheans are on rare occasions exact genetics replicas of prior Nietzscheans and the obvious conclusion was that at some point Beka's genetics were in the "line".
     
  11. Overmind One

    Overmind One GateFans Gatemaster Staff Member

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    I am a HUGE fan of Nietzsche. Buy a book of his writings. For years, I had a Nietzsche quote as my signature here.
     
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