30 April 2005 | gravity3
Episodes are a roll of the dice...
Thanks to it's release on DVD, I have managed to watch the first 4 seasons of "ANDROMEDA" while avoiding pesky TV commercials. Thus, my take on the series might be different from someone who had the show's rhythm broken by advertising - talk about taking one out of the moment. I really wanted to like this show from the beginning, mostly because of its origins with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. I strongly disliked actor Kevin Sorbo's previous show "HERCULES" (except for the rare appearance by the brilliant Bruce Campbell), but was willing to give his new show a try anyway. After 4 seasons (season 5 is still airing and not available on DVD as of this writing), here's my take on ANDROMEDA: This might be as clear of a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde writing as I can remember in a TV series. There have been episodes that stand up with the best of sci-fi television writing (the original "TWILIGHT ZONE", "City on the Edge of Forever" episode of "STAR TREK", "The Inheritors" episode of "THE OUTER LIMITS", etc.). The two-part episode that ended season 4 was probably the best thing I've seen from TV since "TAKEN", the Spielberg mini-series.
But when ANDROMEDA is bad, it's really bad. I've never been a fan of "BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY", and some of ANDROMEDA's shows must be compared to the very worst of "BUCK ROGERS". Unfortunately, it's not like there's a good season or a bad one. It's, as my summary states, a roll of the dice. This 50/50 result of script writing (and I really must put the blame there) is in some part due to the pace that TV writers must produce these days. But there's the rare quality TV show out there to make the case that it can be done. I won't blame the actors, because when the writing is good, they're all fine - even impressive at times.
I think the issue with ANDROMEDA is a lack of clear cut identity. Is it a light space romp with plenty of humor? Is it a serious take on a potentially exciting premise? Is it experimental? Is it space opera? Unfortunately, the answer is 'All of the Above'. Beyond this, it's hard to define just why the show is sometimes terrific and other times pathetic. The one thread that I found had to do with the character Trance Gemini. It seemed when the show centered on her, it was usually better than when it didn't. But even that is not always the case.
So my recommendation for viewing ANDROMEDA is this: If you like your sci-fi goofy, this might work for you. If you're really hardcore sci-fi, it also might be worth sifting through the episodes on DVD. As I said, when it's good, it's hard to beat. For special effects junkies, Season 4 has some stellar (excuse the pun) and stylistically unique CGI work, some of the best I've seen on TV. For most casual sci-fi viewers and others however, I imagine wading through the bad apples to get to the good shows will be more trouble than it's worth.
I heard Mr. Sorbo comment on that last season 4 episode I mentioned earlier, and he seemed to think it was their best and they should do more like it. I fully agree, but as the show is running out to it's end now, I think this was a case of finding what was best about the concept way too late. I really wanted to like it, but overall just not as good as it should have been.