The decision to watch television shows that I once enjoyed is a tough one. On the one hand, I could go back and affirm why I loved a show so much, as was the case with the bad but good Cleopatra 2525 and the delightfully cheesy Mortal Kombat: Conquest. On the other hand, there’s a chance I could spoil my pleasant memories of the show and end up wondering how I could possibly think it was all that good in the first place, which is what happened with Highlander and the 90’s X-Men cartoon (speaking of animated X-Men, there’s a hilarious but NSFW Honest Trailer here).
However, there are also times when I don’t remember a damn thing of a show I watched, and in that case I get to rediscover it all over again. This happened recently when I chose to watch a television show called Andromeda (also known as Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda). Premiering back in 2000 and running for five full seasons, the show starred Hercules: The Legendary Journeys actor Kevin Sorbo as Dylan Hunt, a High Guard captain of the starship Andromeda Ascendant, who is pulled into the orbit of a black hole and, as a result, frozen in time until a salvage crew manages to pull the ship back to normal space 300 years later. Having not aged a day, and now aware that the intergalactic government he was sworn to serve, the Commonwealth, has fallen, leading to galaxies being plundered and people living in darkness, Dylan takes it upon himself to put together a skeleton crew and wage a one-starship mission to restore the Commonwealth and bring peace, justice, and unity back to the known worlds.
Sounds cool, right? Well, it is!
From the mind of the late Gene Roddenberry, the famous creator of Star Trek, Andromeda pulls together a diverse cast of unlikely heroes and melds them to perfection. There’s the leader of the salvage crew, Beka Valentine, who becomes the street-smart first officer Dylan needs if he’s to understand this new universe he finds himself in. There’s Tyr Anasazi, one of a genetically altered human race known as Nietzscheans, whose stringent self-preservation instinct is a great foil for what Tyr calls Dylan’s “blind idealism.” This rendered dramatically clear in a late second season episode when Tyr proclaims with his typical Shakespearean confidence, “When the universe collapses and dies, there will be three survivors: Tyr Anasazi, the cockroaches, and Dylan Hunt trying to save the cockroaches.”
Also on the crew is Rev Bem, who is essentially a monster, from a race of monsters, attempting to walk a path of peace. There’s also Trance Gemini, an adorably mysterious purple girl with a tail, exuding the type of innocence you’d likely see from someone who seems to have only recently come into contact with the people of the known worlds. There’s the scrappy mechanic, Harper, who can’t help but to fall in love with the image of the starship’s AI. And finally, there’s the Andromeda’s AI herself, whose flesh-imbued avatar is nicknamed Rommie, who must deal with learning emotions such as love and how they contrast with what she was made for; as she says, “I’m a warship, and warships only know how to do one thing, and that’s kill.” The dangers of this direct contradiction of emotions affecting her basic programming and how it may all end up driving her insane is a subject brought to the forefront in a couple of my favorite first-season episodes: “The Mathematics of Tears” and “Star-Crossed.” Through her struggles, the character of Rommie is an eye-opening device for bringing up the question of whether we can choose to be what we want or if we’re simply destined to be what we are.
What I enjoy about the crew is not only how well they fit together in the good times, but also how seamlessly they blend in moments of conflict. Each has their own motivations and desire to use the current situation they find themselves in (and the current starship they find themselves on) to bring their desires to fruition. So Dylan not only has to deal with the external struggles to reunite the worlds of the former Commonwealth, but also the internal conflict of keeping the crew together and working as a team. Each character is true to themselves which speaks to how well-developed they are.
Currently, I’m only through the first two seasons, but what I’ve seen has been a television show that is well-written, cleverly at times, has a wonderful cast of characters to latch onto, and does a fantastic job of drawing the viewer into its world as it explores what we refer to as the human condition, mixing in something to learn about ourselves as a species, something touched on at the very beginning of each episode with quotes from fictional characters within the universe: