Why Andromeda's Second Season Premiere is Nifty-Keen

Several months ago, I excoriated Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda for a variety of reasons. The primary ones were Kevin Sorbo's one-dimensional acting as Captain Dylan Hunt and the viewer's total lack of caring as to whether or not the characters' mission to restore a Commonwealth we don't give a rat's patootie about succeeds.

With the premiere of the second season last night, those two problems have been addressed.

My suspicion is that Sorbo deliberately avoided duplicating his relaxed, slightly wiseass portrayal of the title character on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in order to differentiate the two characters. The problem was, of course, that Hercules played to Sorbo's limited strengths and the way he played Hunt in the first season of Andromeda played to his considerable weaknesses.

In "The Widening Gyre," the second season premiere, however, Hunt was much more relaxed, much readier with the wisecracks, and full of the bon mots that made Herc such fun: "Magogs suck," "That's me, Captain Idiot," etc. I found Hunt to be a schmuck with a stick up his ass in the first season, but dad-gummit, I liked him in the premiere.

Better yet, between "Its Hour Come Round at Last," the first-season finale, and "...Gyre" they have established a new threat that gives the show the purpose it never really had. By giving us a Magog threat that is so devastatingly huge -- and one that the Andromeda Ascendant can't possibly defeat on its own -- we now have a reason for Hunt to pull a new Commonwealth together. Where in the first season it was being done for no reason except to give Hunt a hobby in his new home three hundred years out of time, now, at last, there's a reason, and one that has a ticking clock attached to it.

The new opening credits are fun, too. Not only that, apparently being blessed with the best syndicated dramatic ratings has borne an actual budget. The show doesn't look cheap anymore. There's good model work, from the scary multi-planet monstrosity of the Magog to the improved mechanical contrivances of the Andromeda Ascendant. Gone is the cheesy computer rendering that looks like something a high-schooler did on an old Mac classic. (Of course, the explanation for why we haven't seen the Shogun-warrior-like battle robots is weak -- but then, Rommie can't come out and say, "The show didn't have the budget for that kind of thing before.")

[First posted on sff.people.krad at SFF.net on 8 October 2001.]

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