Andromeda – Season 1: “All Great Neptune’s Oceans” – O. Deus and the Devil’s Advocate

2021 UPDATE – Twenty years ago the Trekweb.com forums used to also host semi-official Andromeda reviews posted by a user who went by ‘O. Deus’  along with Star Trek reviews, that were posted by the site owner Steve Krutzler. I often had contrasting views to this reviewer’s Star Trek reviews, but he and I felt pretty much the same about Andromeda.

Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda was one of two shows launched and using his name as credit posthumously under the conceit that he had developed their premises before his death. Andromeda was produced for its launched in part by Robert Hewett Wolfe, who had been a writer and producer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Sadly these few early negative reviews of the series would hold generally true for its quality throughout its entire run.


Andromeda All Great Neptune's Ocean Title Card
Andromeda All Great Neptune’s Ocean Title Card

Gene Roddenberry-Inspired Sci-Fi Series Still Doesn’t Settle With ‘Deus’: “All Great Neptune’s Oceans”

Posted: 08:24:32 on January 21
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Reviews – Andromeda
Reviews Ex Deus
Written for TrekWeb by ‘O. Deus’
“All Great Neptune’s Oceans”

Summary: Murder Investigations for Dummies, Commonwealth Creation for Dummies, Andromeda borrows Insurrections Formal Captain’s waiters uniforms and the plot of Star Trek VI. And the pride and joy of the High Guard fleet is sabotaged and boarded…yet again by rejects from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Remember those Star Trek episodes where the crew arrives for a seemingly peaceful conference, tour or meeting and then someone is killed and a crew member is framed for the murder and the Captain has to prove him innocent? All the Trek series had them, the Babylon 5 pilot was based around the same plot and now Andromeda duplicates these achievements in All Great Neptune’s Oceans. For those who were waiting for a solid plot dealing with the actual premise of the show, namely rebuilding the Commonwealth, they’ll have to wait because Neptune is just another of Andromeda’s “Look what happened to us on the way to our mission of rebuilding the Commonwealth.” There’s still nothing in the show about what signing the charter means for those worlds or why anyone is signing on to a Commonwealth that has is composed of a starship and a few crew members or just what Hunt has to offer them besides the occasional services of the Andromeda which convinces them to sign on the bottom line. Instead we get Murder Investigations for Dummies. The President is ready and incredibly enthusiastic about signing the charter as a result of whatever happened offscreen but unfortunately he’s assassinated. 30 minutes later and confessions to the murder from half of Andromeda’s crew, we dramatically discover what the entire audience knew all along…namely that the murderer is one of the two guest stars in this episode, rather than a member of his crew.

This isn’t actually a surprise since anyone who’s watched SciFi TV shows on a regular basis knows its pretty darn unlikely that a show will have the guts to actually expose one of its regulars as the murderer. The time until this revelation is mostly wasted time that involves a focus on the crew investigating each other and discovering the technobabble method of the murder in an episode that is supposed to focus on the compromises and political tensions of the fish people. Once we do focus on the revelations about the fish people, the whole subject carries very little weight because the balance of the story hasn’t focused on them making most of the episode pretty much pointless.

The Technobabble locked room murder method like most technobabble isn’t particularly interesting. While Babylon 5’s pilot had a gadget that could change appearances, Andromeda’s technobabble involves an overly complicated plot dependent on sabotaging Andromeda. This now has the majority of Andromeda’s plots dependent on people sabotaging or boarding Andromeda…or both as in Neptune’s Oceans. Clearly this ship needs a security officer, desperately. And locks, big iron ones that no one can open without the right key. The complexity and messy nature of the method itself suggests the chancellor is an idiot because as Tyr points out, there were so many easier ways to carry out an assassination and many more sane ones than setting an assassination to presidential music. He proves that he’s an idiot by pretty much demonstrating his guilt on camera and instantly confessing to Hunt even though the evidence against him is as slim as the stuff Columbo might cook up.

Interestingly enough Trance who as recently as the last episode proved her ability to the crew to find the right answer (which might come in handy for a murder mystery) is completely absent from this episode to the extent that she’s not in one single scene and even appears to be missing from the background. Not that this is a bad thing since Trance is Andromeda’s worst and most annoying character next to Harper himself but it does seem a bit odd and a word of explanation might have been a good idea. And RevBem, Andromeda’s other weird alien, is increasingly being written out of episodes to the point that he seems to be mentioned more when he’s offscreen than the total amount of times he’s onscreen. It would be understandable that the executives would be unhappy with the character and prefer the show to focus on the male and female models, still after Tyr RevBem is Andromeda’s only interesting character played by a real actor. Considering how precarious a position Andromeda is in quality-wise, it would be a shame if the same purge that removed all of Earth Final Conflict’s actors and characters replacing them with models were also to happen to EFC’s sister show Andromeda.

Certainly there’s plenty of money being saved on the makeup which in Neptune’s Oceans reaches a new and truly godawfull low. The fish people are human beings with dabs of silver paint on their cheeks, a plastic tube sticking out of their necks and what looks like a Buck Rogers jetpack filled with water on their backs. If Andromeda is this badly off in the makeup department, why not make the fish people just straight humans instead of trying to pull off an effect they clearly can’t manage. Or maybe they could have skimped on Hunt’s formal waiter’s uniform borrowed from the TNG crew’s formal waiters uniforms of Star Trek Insurrection which barely sees any wear and spent it on an actual makeup department instead of a few items from the back of the Halloween clearance rack. Between the fish people and the security officer who looks like a reject from the Rocky Horror Picture Show complete with Valeris’s wig from ST6 it’s just plain impossible to look at the guest stars without laughing no matter what they’re saying. And what they’re saying doesn’t much matter since the supposedly underlying moral issue of whether his and Lee’s actions were right or wrong never gets addressed. Instead in the time honored methodology of mediocre programming, the show beats you over the head with the assertion that he’s evil by having him carry out a clearly evil act later on, without ever allowing any debate or perspective on his actions. And this is the second time in the first half of the first season alone that Andromeda again abuses the word “Genocide” as a catchall term for condemning some sort of military action as immoral. Hopefully the Andromeda writers got a dictionary for Christmas because killing a few thousand people in a military base is certainly not genocide, nor is genocide just a general term for “killing lots of people”. Genocide refers to planned extermination of entire peoples.

Firing on a Nietzchian base which was utilized for military purposes regardless if there were civilians inside is standard practice for the United States Military. Firing on it after it had surrendered is a violation of the rules of war, but since the Nietzschians themselves don’t follow the rules of war, no one is obligated to uphold the laws of war when it comes to them. Double Helix made it pretty clear that Nietzchians view diplomatic conventions as meaningless, meaning that such conventions would in turn not apply to them. Indeed everything we know about the Nietzchians so far from Andromeda tells us that “surrender” would be Nietzchian for “pause to reload.” Furthermore since Tyr has shown very little qualms about means and ends, his behavior is out of character. The Republic just did to the Nietzchians exactly what the Nietzchians would have done to them if they’d gotten the chance. Tyr of all people would be expected to understand that. But abuse of the term genocide is really stretched to ridiculous extents when the security chief claims that the deaths of 10,000 Nietzchian slaves was genocide. If the Bajoran plans to blow up or contaminate Terrokh Nor\DS9 while it was under Cardassian occupation had succeeded in killing the Bajoran slave laborers along with their Cardassian masters, no one would have been whining about genocide. It would have been accepted as a logical resistance action and indeed in Babel we saw something fairly similar being carried out with the only problem being poor timing. And if it’s genocide to kill a few thousand civilians as part of a larger military campaign, then every civilized nation on earth is genocidal because even the Gulf war featured at least that many civilian casualties to say nothing of Vietnam or World War II. Star Trek has been accused of being naive but not so delusional as to take Andromeda’s policy line of apparently believing that you can win wars and defend yourself without actually having to kill people. That’s not the position of a progressive but of a pacifist and while pacifists may be nice people, they don’t belong in command of warships for obvious reasons.

And this pacifism is all the more ironic considering that the producer’s and Alliance Atlantis desire to push the action aspect of Andromeda causes the insertion of a completely gratuitous and unnecessary action scene that has Hunt beating up a half dozen soldiers who boarded his ship. Of course rather than having Andromeda use nanobots or some other means of subduing them from a distance, Hunt jumps around beating them up. Apparently violence for entertainment is perfectly fine, violence as a means of defending yourself against a real threat is wrong. This moral position is somewhat confusing in the sense that it makes no sense except as a means of self-righteous posturing.

Perhaps next time when Hunt is reading “Commonwealth Building for Dummies” which will tell him that it’s more important to research the history and political situation of the people you’re trying to induct into the Commonwealth instead of their table settings and dining protocols; he’s also sneak a look at the chapter about self-righteous speeches. He has the poses and the tone of voice down, now he just needs to understand what the words in the speeches actually means. Or perhaps the writers will actually put Hunt into a situation where his self-righteous is actually tested instead of having him going around and delivering lectures to other people on how to resolve their problems. But then again in Rose in the Ashes the writers contrived to deliver Hunt to a prison planet while still keeping him uninvolved from the problems at hand as he lectured the prisoners on being better people, so it’s no wonder he’s uninvolved in their problems secure on his starship where there isn’t a single crisis that can’t be resolved by a self-righteous speech.


TREKWEB TALKBACK

Yes. Good Review.
By Imbarkus at
15:08:29 on January 22

I’ve layed into you in the past over Voyager O Deus but I think your perceptions of Andromeda are dead-on and unbiased. I for one am starting to find Andromeda flippant when it comes to plot detail but absolutely cowardly and conservative when it comes to tone and moral. This moral posturing and lecturing by Hunt is becoming really tiresome, and I greatly agree with you that it carries less and less weight until we actually see what Mr. Perfect Pants does when he’s forced to make a tough choice himself. What’s further–I don’t mind an imperfect crew, a totally undermanned ship that gets invaded every week, even an imperfect brooding captain who makes mistakes–as long as I then don’t have to see these imperfect people lecture all people they come in contact with (and, by extension, the audience).

And you know the biggest tragedy so far? All this wandering and signing up random worlds and LACK OF FOCUS on the real mechanics of building an alliance of worlds, this BUILT IN INTEREST everyone seems to have in the commonwealth based on the existance of one ship, makes Andromeda feel very much like Trek. We haven’t heard squat about gathering of resources or protection agreements or any benefit at all of Commonwealth membership. It’ll be real uninteresting if Dylan just is the right man at the right time to just mention “Commonwealth” and get everyone all misty-eyed about the “good old days” enough to join a poorly defined intergalactic alliance. Peoeple welcome the Andromeda as if they were a Federation ship. Andromeda offers membership like it means something, like they have backup to protect a memeber world if they happen to be off sigining another one up when help is needed. They act like they’re handing out Federation membership, and I’ve never seen a decent scene where anyone argued or had to be convinced–where Dylan was pushed to put this “dream” of his in WORDS.

“Duet” was a defining moment for DS9, fleshing out the Bajoran and Cardassian conflict in a way that was never done before, with pure talk, pure drama. Andromeda needs just such a moment–an episode of all talk, one hour in a room, Dylan and the head of some minor empire, and the simple questions “How? Why?” when it comes to this ‘reviving the Commonwealth’ thing. Let’s get it out of theory and leture mode, let’s reveal the mechanics of it, because I think the fans are INTERESTED in that, just as we were interested in the formation of the Federation in First Contact.

So my challenge to Robert Wolfe, whom I still greatly respect and credit with much of the best work on DS9, is to SHOW US HOW THE COMMONWEALTH IS REBUILT.

Don’t make it like Voyager’s “We’re trapped away from home,” which was a premise but not a quest because it was so pass/fail–simply a matter of distance, of travel and survival. Make it a quest, a construction of alliances we can look back on, a CONTINUITY that isn’t developing now, an overall plotline of Commonwealth restoration we can follow–one that has tone tempo and meaning unto itself. Step up to the challenge of a premise that promises future utopia and SHOW US HOW IT IS BUILT, not just how those that used to live in one are sort of out of place in a harsher universe.

Because right now Dylan seems more and more each week like a relic, and that if he REALLY wanted to rebuild the Commonwealth, than pretty soon he’d give the decision-making power to Tyr and just show up to make some pretty speeches.

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