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Entry updated 10 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

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Canadian-American tv series (2000-2005; vt Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda US). Tribune Entertainment and Fireworks Entertainment. Created by Robert Hewitt Wolfe from an idea by Gene Roddenberry. Producers include Wolfe, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Kevin Sorbo, Robert Engles, and Karen Wookey. Writers include Wolfe, Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Matt Kiene, Joe Reinkemeyer, Larry Barber and Paul Barber. Directors include Jorge Montesi, Allan Eastman, Richard Flower, David Winning, and Peter DeLuise. Cast includes Steve Bacic (Telemachus Rhade; seasons 4-5), Laura Bertam (Trance Gemin), Keith Hamilton Cobb (Tyr Anasazi; seasons 1-4), Lexa Doig (Andromeda/Rommie), Brandy Ledford as Doyle (season 5), Lisa Ryder (Beka Valentine), Sorbo (Captain Dylan Hunt), Brent Stait (Rev Bem; seasons 1-2) and Gordon Michael Woolvett (Seamus Zelazny Harper). 110 one-hour episodes.

The second of two series developed around the turn of the twenty-first century from ideas by the late Roddenberry, the other being Earth: Final Conflict (1997-2002). Roddenberry's original concept revolved around Dylan Hunt, a captain in the Starfleet-like High Guard, the military wing of the Federation-like Commonwealth. When the Commonwealth is betrayed by one of its member species Hunt's Spaceship, Andromeda Ascendant, is trapped on the event horizon of a Black Hole and frozen in time for 300 years. He emerges into a galaxy in which the Commonwealth is no more and sets about trying to restore it, aided, more or less willingly as the case may be, by the crew of the salvage freighter which had dragged the Andromeda away from the black hole – Captain Beka Valentine, engineer Seamus Harper, man-eating Alien turned holy man Rev Bem, and mysterious ditzy girl Trance Gemini. The crew is rounded out by strongman Tyr Anasazi, a member of the post-human Nietzschean race, who believe in perfecting themselves through conflict and Genetic Engineering, and by the Avatar of the Andromeda itself, who appears as an image in its computer screens, as a three-dimensional hologram, and also as an Android, dubbed Rommie.

In its early seasons Andromeda told an ongoing story about Hunt's efforts to rebuild the Commonwealth even as he gains his new crew's loyalty and admiration, but the decision to retool the series into an episodic product more suited to casual viewing caused a change in direction (and included the ousting of creator Wolfe). Later seasons shuffled the show's characters and cast quite often and constantly introduced new settings and new goals for the characters. Andromeda was notable less for the quality of its writing or acting than for its worldbuilding, which is perhaps the closest that a modern television series has ever come to pure Space Opera (the other major contender is Farscape [1999-2003, 2005], but though it is a better series overall its worldbuilding, and particularly the attention it pays to its invented Aliens, is less detailed than Andromeda's). The various species and societies encountered are furnished with complex cultural and linguistic markers (there is something Iain Banks-like about the names of Spaceships, and each episode opens with an epigram from an invented literary or historical source), often inflected by non-Western touches and usually drawing on the traditions of high fantasy. Of particular note are the Nietzscheans, who demonstrate that Klingons make everything better even when they're not Klingons. This race of warrior poets provides the series with some of its best plotlines and recurring characters (it is even rumoured that the retooling of the series came about because Sorbo was envious of Cobb's growing popularity among fans). If a similar inventiveness and attention to detail had been applied to the show's plots and characters, it is possible that Andromeda would have been one of the major genre series of the decade. [AN]


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