Why Andromeda Sucks

While I see the potential to Andromeda, I have to disagree with any general praise it's received. "Relentlessly mediocre" is the nicest thing I can muster up to say about it.

Sorbo is awful in the lead role. Our Man Herc has a very limited range, and he's generally at his best when he's relaxed and easygoing and at his worst when he's being the square-jawed noble hero. One of the reasons why Hercules worked was because he struck a good balance between the two. Hercules was a hero and demigod, true, but he was also someone you wouldn't mind sitting and having a beer with. Dylan Hunt, unfortunately, is all square-jawed noble hero, and it do get tiresome.

Worse, he doesn't have anybody to play off of. Hercules was at its best when Herc and Iolaus were together (which is why the decision to kill off the Iolaus character and replace him with his ineffectual double from a parallel universe -- no, really! -- was fatal). Thus far he has yet to establish any kind of chemistry with any of the characters. Hopefully that will change over time, but time's a-wastin'. (Actually, the person he seems to be doing the best with is Lexa Doig's Andromeda.)

But the biggest problem with Andromeda is the execution of its premise. The point of the show is that Dylan Hunt -- captain of the ship Andromeda Ascendant of the High Guard of the galaxy-spanning Commonwealth -- and his ship were stuck in a black hole for 300 years, and came out to find that the Commonwealth had fallen. His self-appointed mission is to restore the Commonwealth, along with a bunch of misfits and salvagers.

The problem? I have yet to be given ANY good reason to give a rat's patootie about the Commonwealth. We are constantly told that restoring the CW is a good idea, but since we've never really seen the CW (and what we do know about it comes from the hoariest infodump I've seen on television in years, delivered by Hunt and his erstwhile first officer in the middle of a fight scene that reminded me of nothing more than a particularly bad Bill Mantlo comic where Captain America delivered the equivalent of the Gettysburg Address while engaged in a close-quarters fistfight), Hunt's mission is meaningless. I'm still not clear on why the rest of the crew is following him so fanatically. Tyr's acceptance is especially unconvincing, as he's constantly arguing against Hunt's mission. It's remarkably similar to the Blake-and-Avon dynamic on Blakes 7, but on that British show the two of them were stuck with each other -- they were fugitives, and Avon didn't leave the Liberator because he didn't have a choice. Tyr, though, does, and there's been no convincing reason for him to stick around beyond the fact that Keith Hamilton Cobb has a contract and is listed in the opening credits.

Andromeda is a classic case of telling rather than showing. There's potential there -- I love the character of Beka Valentine (and would much rather she was the focus of the show instead of Sorbo), Cobb has a great voice, looks good in chainmail, and can almost act, Seamus Zelazny Harper is a fun character (I was prepared to hate him, but he's grown on me), and Lexa Doig is great fun to look at -- but it's been depressingly unfulfilled so far.

(The weak FX and overdependence on computer rendering rather than actual model or CGI work for the outer space scenes don't help. Visually, the show is dull as dishwater.)

Ultimately, to my mind, Andromeda is Farscape with poorer writing, weaker visuals, weaker acting, limper directing, and more inept handling of the basic premise.

[First posted on sff.people.krad at SFF.net on 3 January 2001. The show picked up considerably in its second season premiere, however, which I talk about here.]

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