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’ Ends Season One With Action-Packed …ITS HOUR COME ROUND AT LAST
Posted: 08:28:47 on May 21
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Reviews – Andromeda
Reviews Ex Deus
“…Its Hour Come Round At Last”
Written for TrekWeb by O. Deus
Summary: The Andromeda season finale features the ship coming under attack by Magog as an accidentally revived personality backup program leads them on a repeat of the mission that got the last ship’s crew killed.
…Its Hour Come Round At Last is certainly impressive. Not so much for the script or acting but for the carnage. This script written by DS9 veteran and Andromeda creator Robert Wolfe is better than average for the series, defining and patching up crew relationships. But the real action is the, well… action. The Andromeda crew kill what looks like a few hundred Magog over forty minutes during which the Magog chase them around the ship like a pack of rabid hyenas and the issue isn’t resolved by some meaningless ploy or technobabble or speech by Dylan. Indeed it isn’t resolved at all.
Since Andromeda has a two year commitment and a drooping audience, its finale has been written as a cliffhanger with the usual crew in jeopardy and Captain out of commission bit. Attempting to duplicate TNG and Voyager’s use of the Borg in cliffhangers like Best of Both Worlds, which generated audience interest and suspense, Andromeda has brought out the Magog as its unstoppable insatiable enemy. The series has reserved them for an entire season (barring a few cameo appearances) and now introduces them as the horrific unstoppable enemy.
And there are similarities. The Magog are powerful, dangerous and keep on coming no matter what. They’re also unarmed and their strategy involves lots of screaming, leaping and clawing. Which is why the crew can kill hundreds of them without great difficulty. Basically they’re B Movie monsters with their own spaceships. It’s hard to see why they would be a threat to anyone. From Roman times, battle has favored the prepared army fighting in a coordinated and disciplined manner, utilizing technology. British colonialism demonstrated quite comprehensively that screaming and leaping is no match for superior firepower and sound strategy. The Magog may be a problem when you only have a handful of crew and no control of your ship, but any well disciplined crew and sound defense system should hold them off easily. On a planet, killing an unarmed attack force, no matter how large, is a turkey shoot. But the Magog are still intimidating and unpleasant and once they’ve landed a few thousand warriors on the ship whose internal defenses are non-functional, they actually can pose a threat. It would help though if the threat was not once again the product of the Andromeda crew’s incompetence and stupidity. Unfortunately it is. Harper tampers with systems he doesn’t understand, producing an old version of Andromeda on a mission. Like Voyager’s Warhead, this new version of Andromeda won’t recognize that times have changed and its mission no longer relevant. It treats the crew as intruders, even though Dylan is a valid Commonwealth officer with valid ID. It also behaves in a surprisingly brutal manner for the AI of a supposedly high-minded civilization.
You have to wonder if there wasn’t some way to kick off this plot without the cause being another screwup by the Andromeda crew and the peril coming simply from the Magog, instead of their own stupidity yet again. It might make it easier to take their plight seriously, instead of having to think once again, that if they had displayed a bit more intelligence, they wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.
The steps to resolving this mess involve the usual technobabble and ladder climbing we’ve seen in all the Star Trek “ship disabled episodes” with lots of Magog howling along after them. RevBem’s poorly developed spiritual crisis mainly takes a back seat to Tyr-Harper and Dylan-Beka bonding. It probably should have gotten more screen time, especially since it looks set to play a major role in the resolution of the cliffhanger; but I suppose we should be happy, he got any screen time at all, let alone a storyline of his own. It would have made more sense if a Magog centered story which triggers a spiritual crisis, had worked around RevBem to begin with.
But instead we have more disposable scenes in which Dylan rebuilds the Commonwealth, while we weren’t watching. For a show supposedly dedicated to featuring the rebuilding of the Commonwealth, we get to see very little to none of this activity. Instead we have characters walk on stage and talk about how well the commonwealth rebuilding is going. This is somewhat akin to having a cop show whose characters never actually prevent crimes but come on stage talking about how they prevented some great crimes. How is anyone supposed to take Andromeda’s premise seriously, if the show won’t take its own premise seriously and would rather dedicate episodes to the personality problems of its half-wit crew, than its own premise?
Well, to distract from that issue, Andromeda’s season finale features more scenes of the shadow alien who’s directing the Magog and a cliffhanger that features the crew and ship taking severe damage. In comparison to the average Andromeda episode, …Its Hour Come Round At Last is more polished and better written but it still suffers from the same fundamental flaws this series continues to suffer from. Lack of originality, lack of content and lack of focus on its own series premise. As Voyager has shown, all the big bad aliens in the world will not make your show work, if you don’t maintain your premise and the reality of your situation.
Without a genuine accomplishment or threat, the Magog are just howling guys in furry suits.
Next week: Reruns and lots of ’em. Enjoy the summer.
By sxottlan () at 02:37:16 on May 23
I was genuinely surprised at how good “Its Hour Come Round At Last” was (love that title BTW). I was expecting some basic shoot ’em up, but was literally blown away.
One doesn’t really realize that we’ve never really taken on the Magog until this episode. The whole idea of them being the ultimate enemy really hasn’t been brought up at all, so it’s a bit anti-climatic when they show up. I was thinking, they’ve dealt with Magog before but never this many especially bent on destroying them.
The violence is certainly the most intense that I’ve seen on television since DS9’s Siege of AR-558. The feeling of being totally over-run was very palpable. The cliche of Andromeda being taken over was done to death about four episodes into the inagural season, but they cut back on those stories and never had those episodes had as much weight as it does here in IHCRAL. The scene of the Magog boarding with the excellent sound mixing really heightened the sensation.
The acting was good and the episode moved at a brisk clip. Especially well done were the Harper/Tyr scenes and the shot of Harper listening to the Magog boarding and saying “No! No! No! This can’t be happening!” Given the character background with the Magog, it’s a well acted scene especially coming from the usually cocky Harper.
I also liked the mystery behind the old mission although wasn’t the Commonwealth at peace with the Magog? That’s why their allies attacked in the first place. The effects were better than usual, especially of shots of the Magog juggernaut composed of a whole star system (although the scale was a bit weird). I just wish someone would donate fifty million to the show for the effects.
Overall, I have grown to like Andromeda. It is suffering from some of the same lack of common sense that Voyager experienced and there were a few episodes that I simply didn’t bother with, but I like the characters and the premise.
My top five episodes for the season:
- Angel Dark, Demon Bright
- Its Hour Come Round At Last
- The Mathematics of Tears
- Under the Night two-parter
Intensely Idiotic Finale
By Grand Admiral Thrawn () at 20:49:38 on May 22
I couldn’t get it. Maggog supposedly had nifty looking ships that can drill through the ship’s tough hull yet they kept on charging and getting killed with no weapons whatsoever; it appeared that Maggog are either just pure stupid animal like creatures(yet they have impressive space-ships) or that they wanted to reduce their population in one swipe. The leader who appear to be the most docile maggog, had a gun that he just used once on Rev Bem. Also aren’t Maggog suppose to either eat their enemies or lays eggs on them on the spot, yet they only just injured Dylan, Haper and Tyr while the flashback to the failed mission shows them clearly eating the crew. The carnage got boring pretty soon, only the last 10 minutes or so irked my interest with some above average FX. On the whole, a moderately above average episode with glaring plot-holes.
By Morbius () at 20:17:41 on May 22
The season finale has some tense and frightening scenes with the Magog running all over the ship. The “House of Cards” of events that left Andromeda’s crew in some real “pretty s*#T” beginning with “Mother Andromeda” going through some sort of identity crisis with forgotten memories and failed missions.
Harper at his annoying best setting the chain of events in motion and later unknowingly excaserbating the situation. I’m beginnig to appreciate Tyr’s impatience with him. But the wild card in all this is Rev Bem. Fighting his instincts, having his brethren calling to him and yet raging hand to hand combat with his race. It somehow reminded me of Odo’s internal conflict with the founders.
Sort of like the war on DS9
By Archangel () at 13:39:36 on May 22
“But instead we have more disposable scenes in which Dylan rebuilds the Commonwealth, while we weren’t watching. For a show supposedly dedicated to featuring the rebuilding of the Commonwealth, we get to see very little to none of this activity. Instead we have characters walk on stage and talk about how well the commonwealth rebuilding is going.”
Substitute “winning the war” for “building the Commonwealth” and you have DS9, after it changed its premise to “beating the Dominion.” At first, the AQ stands no chance, then for some reason they do, then they don’t again (or vice versa ad infinitum), all for things not shown on screen, or contrary to what was shown. Instead the war was mostly reduced to throwaway dialogue with no explanation or sense. I always felt, why change your show to a war show if you’re not going to show the war instead of Ferengi comedy, Vic fantasies, and other distractions? Could RHW be the recurring thread behind both of these? He wants do shows about something, but he doesn’t really want to do a show about that something?
A bit off topic there, but the Andromeda finale certainly was action packed, I’ll say that. I’ve noticed a slight pickup in quality recently.
Gog and Magog
By Imbarkus at
13:34:53 on May 21
I too was more than a little thrown by a species that has mastered interstellar travel in order to invade other ships, where they can swarm and stoop and growl like 1st season TNG Ferengi. But there was some effective scenes of fear, especially highlighted by the sound mixing, and some hints at a Magog mindset and culture that, hopefully when fully revealed, would make this contradiction make sense.
Obviously they attack in swarms and don’t put too much value on individual Magog life, evidenced not only by their attack style but the brief scene of Magog life aboard the hollow planet solar system thing. I’m very curious to have some answers as to how much of this technology, including that weird planet thing, was set up by the shadowy figure who has been hinted to be the cause of the Magog attacks that started out the fall of the Commonwealth.
That I have curiosity about the species is a good thing. I enjoyed this episode’s story a lot more than some other recent entries. But perhaps more importantly I think the characters have grown on me (yes even Harper). I been recording the show this season, and one of the best ways for me to judge a TV show is not on an episode-by-episode, scene-by-scene basis, but rather to watch a bunch in a row, even peripherally, and see what kind of impression I get.
So far, Andromeda is unfocused and sloppy in its plots. Watch a tape full of them and its clear. It is also very clear on some significant details and totally ignores others. But it is generating in me a sense of long-term interest, a curiosity about what will happen next. The most frustrating thing about the show is also its strength–it focuses on character arcs, even to the detriment of sci-fi stories or the series arc, and even if the character arc at hand is uninteresting and unfruitful. After a few hours of background watching, one thing I’ll say about the show is that the principals have character, consistent character that rings through clearly, and IS refreshing. Anachronisms may bug purists but maybe its worth it if it means you care more about the people you’re watching. Even with some of the brush strokes of character this season being obnoxiously broad, I have affinity for the people.
But the UNIVERSE of Andromeda seems poorly considered, self-contradictory, and even incidental. Premises like the unreliability of slipstream, or of a ship’s AI, or of Andromeda’s ability to go a single episode without being boarded, hurt the idea that the Commonwealth was a civilisation to be admired. The season ender did a lot to ignite some interest, at least within me, in the Andromeda UNIVERSE. All these crooked humans, fanatical humans like Resters, placid fish men, and gene-snob humans who act like they are an entirely different race have led to an impression that the whole universe is populated with the same boring in-fighting species: ours. There is no sense of exploration, expansion, organization of a new light of civilization. The Commonwealth has already become a cliche, something people randomly quote about: “holding the line against the night.” Well, until this episode, the night didn’t seem all that scary, and even with this episode the other side of the line don’t seem all that utopic. It is as much a joke to me as it is to the apathetic, bemused, or uninterested civilisations Dylan presents his case to.
I believe good drama is centered around characters. But I also believe Trek has been as successful as it has because it conveyed a MEANINGFUL message of hope. It conveyed an idea of how it felt we’d need to act to grow together in peace. Right now my interest in the characters and my cuirosity about the Magog and the bad guy are all that I care about when it comes to Andromeda. At some point, for the show to fulfill its potential, I’m probably going to have to start caring about Dylan’s mission, and believing the progress I keep hearing about.
I still say an entire episode about the ‘petition’ by Dulan to a world leader could be Andromeda’s “Duet,” the watershed episode that both galvanizes character arc and justifies premise.
By jhuang0 () at 12:28:29 on May 21
I disagree with you description of the Magog. Sure they’re mindless, unarmed drones… but we’re talking in real numbers here. These numbers make China look bad! Also, remember that during WWII, there was trench warfare. Everyone once in a while a group of soldier would jump out of a trench, and attempt to fight their way to the enemy line. That was futile, but imagine the whole army doing it at the same time… now double the numbers of that army… now double it again…
By Susan () at 09:43:08 on May 21
Someone posted here months ago saying the Borg, as an enemy, weren’t frightening anymore because Voyager had defeated them so many times. I think some of that original fear was brought back with the Magog. Yeah, I was also wondering why they weren’t armed. But generally, the scenes were quite suspenseful.
I hope the next episode doesn’t wrap everything up neatly, however, magically restoring both crew and ship to mint condition. Would be nice if it took them some time to recover from this.