The long night has come. The systems commonwealth - the greatest civilization in History - has fallen. But now, one ship, one crew has vowed to drive back the night and rekindle the light. On the starship Andromeda, hope lives again.
There are some people who view the sci-fi show Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda as, essentially, an unbranded Star Trek spinoff. It is perhaps more accurate to describe it as Star Trek in reverse. The show lasted from October 2000 to May 2005.The story opens aboard the titular starship, the Andromeda Ascendant, a "warship of the line" for the Systems Commonwealth, a government founded by a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens called the Vedrans, which kept the peace among their worlds spanning three galaxies—emphasis on the past-tense. Though their technology was vast and their captains were noble and compassionate, they ran into a mess of problems all at once. First a race of cannibalistic savages known as the Magog invaded by the billions, wiping out entire Commonwealth worlds. And just after fighting the Magog to a standstill and making a peace treaty with them, one of the Commonwealth's member races rebels, the fractious Nietzscheans, genetically engineered humans obsessed with eugenics and following the chilly philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. The first battle of the Nietzschean Rebellion ends up with the Andromeda evacuating its crew and trying a slingshot around a black hole to escape, freezing ship and captain in time.Three hundred years later, the Commonwealth is a distant memory, and a dark age has fallen over the known worlds. The Eureka Maru, a salvage ship crewed by a rag-tag team of minor-league criminals, happens upon the Andromeda and tows it to safety, thinking this will be the score of a lifetime. Mostly through his own strength of character, the revived Captain Hunt convinces the crew of the Maru to join him and try to re-unite the Commonwealth (or, at least, try to be of marginal assistance to his quest as they mooch off the Andromeda's resources).The show has its origins in a combination of two separate Roddenberry story ideas from the 1970s, one about a sentient starship and a second about a man from the past trying to piece the remnants of civilization back together after it has crumbled. The former never made it to the air prior to Andromeda (except a sci-fi parody, LEXX, that aired only a little earlier in the US) but Roddenberry (who died in 1991) used the latter concept in no fewer than three separate unsuccessful pilots — two of which actually included a main character named "Dylan Hunt" — before giving up on it. Undoubtedly these ideas were scrounged from the trash can further developed by the Andromeda creative team. As a consequence, it's difficult to see Roddenberry's hand in this hard-boiled, dystopian future. Andromeda also had a heavy spiritual bent radically unlike anything seen in Trek, except perhaps in the God Guise aliens of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.The initial core crew is, approximately, a Five-Man Band:
Captain Hunt — The Hero, a human from the now-lost Commonwealth capital on Tarn Vedra (He eventually turns out to be not-quite-human after all: he's a Human-Vedran hybrid, or rather Human-Paradine: Vedrans who have become something more), and his human half comes from a genetically-enhanced Heavyworlder)
Beka Valentine — The Lancer, hotshot pilot, recovering drug addict, and captain of the Eureka Maru. Secretly the genetic matriarch of the entire Nietzschean race via Time Travel.
Rommie — The ship's female-shaped android avatar ("Andromeda" refers specifically to the ship's holographic AI, and also to the three individual entities of the ship (Andromeda Ascendant), the AI (Andromeda), and the android (Rommie))
Rev Bem — aka. Behemial Fartraveller aka. Red Plague. A reformed Magog, scientist, sociologist and pacifist priest
Late in the show when Rommie is believed destroyed Harper builds a new Robot Girl named Doyle as a Replacement Goldfish, who has identity issues and who thinks she is the rightful avatar of the Andromeda Ascendant. Hilarity Ensues (not).
Midway through the second season, the showrunner has a falling out with the male lead and is replaced. Rev Bem leaves the ship when his actor develops an allergy to the Magog makeup. This is when things start to get a little zany. After the third season, Tyr Anasazi is replaced by Telemachus Rhade, the Identical Grandson of Hunt's original first officer. This is when things get a littlemore zany.In the universe of Andromeda, every celestial body has an "avatar", a humanoid counterpart of vast power. Such beings crop up from time, including the moon of Tarn Vedra, the black hole (who turns out to be the universe's greatest clingy ex-girlfriend), and, most importantly, Trance, who, it is eventually revealed, despite her youthful appearance and character, is the wayward sun of Tarn Vedra, the oldest star in the universe. Halfway through the second season, Trance is replaced by an older and moodier version of herself (not an other Darrin; it's the same actress in different makeup).Subverting the Failure Is the Only Option trope, Dylan and his crew actually do restore the Systems Commonwealth, though internal politics promptly gets Dylan and his crew kicked out of it.For most of the series, an approaching Magog worldship serves as an impending Dragon, guided by The Man Behind the Man, a shadow-cloaked avatar known as "The Spirit of the Abyss", a powerful chaotic force. When this comes to a head in the fourth season finale, Dylan is forced to escape through a Negative Space Wedgie to the timeless, isolated Seefra system, really the massively transformed Tarn Vedra system.Andromeda was inordinately fond of the Negative Space Wedgie, depicting a universe rife with temporal anomalies — in fact, the Andromeda Ascendant itself incorporated dimensional anomalies into its very construction. For a starship crew the cast also spent a great deal of time underground, presumably because somebody in the first season invested money in a tunnel set that had to be re-used over and over again.In addition to the obvious Star Trek parallels, Andromeda clearly owes a lot to Blake's 7.Technically set approximately 3 millennia into the future (Figure from ep. Harper^2), though effectively A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away...: Earth exists, but is hardly ever mentioned, except to say that it's not a very nice place to hang out these days.Sometimes described as "Herc meets Kirk", because Kevin Sorbo, best known for his role as Hercules in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, is playing the role of a kind, wise and mysteriously super-strong character in the role that Captain Kirk filled in the original series of Star Trek, which this show so closely resembles.
This series provides examples of:
Always Chaotic Evil: Assumed of the Nietzscheans and the Magog by most people in-universe, but subverted in both cases.
Apocalypse How: Many different ways, starting with High Guard ships of the line, such as the Andromeda, that are said to be capable of de-civilizing an Earth-like planet in six minutes with their conventional weapons, and moving on to the planet crackers that are talked about and occasionally seen or the target-dependent Nova Bombs that the Andromeda carried 40 of as part of her class's standard load out (they destroy planets and stars by nullifying the gravitational pull of the target). Then there are the Magog whose designed goal of ridding the universe of pain and suffering by horribly killing everything that can feel pain and suffering lends them from disasters from "mere" genocide to the destruction of entire solar systems. And the mount point singularity projectors, which fire miniature black holes at their opponents that can tear through ships and planets like they weren't there, and whose sole defense is to open a slip point in the way (which if done too close to a planet can cause major geological instabilities).
Brain in a Jar: Referenced when the crew have to fight the Consensus of Parts, a robotic civilisation. They're sure the Consensus can't follow them into slipstream because you need an organic mind to pilot a slipstream drive, but it turns out they use these to achieve it.
Cargo Cult: The child descendants of High Guard personnel from To Loose the Fateful Lightning.
Cathartic Scream: Rev Bem mentions that when he studied at the Wayist school, there was a cliff nearby for such screams.
Crew of One: The Andromeda Ascendant originally had a crew of over 4000, apparently she can make do with six or fewer.
The thing is that technically, the ship doesn't NEED a crew at all. Andromeda has full control of all of the ships systems, as well as her android avatar and a wide variety of other less sexy robots, from giant shooty war machines to nano-bots. She can run herself just fine. However, the Commonwealth was kind of not cool with AIs running everything, so its in her nature to take orders and respect the chain of command. Also, AIs can't navigate slipstream, so in a sense the absolute minimum crew size is literally one.
Sometimes subverted, sometimes not. Crewmen seemed to appear whenever expendable redshirts were needed, and vanish afterwards.
Also lampshaded, at least in the early seasons, with it often being mentioned that the Andromeda would be much tougher in a fight if she had a full crew. It's less because she can't totally run herself (she can) it's that the crew provide a lot of man-power to fly slipfighters (which are seriously powerful)and perform repairs. Also, a lot of the original crew weren't really crew, they were Lancers. Having a few thousand heavily armed men on board turns out to be pretty useful too.
Critical Staffing Shortage: The Andromeda Ascendant originally had a crew of thousands, but in the first episode everyone but Captain Dylan Hunt either abandons ship or is killed as it gets stuck in orbit around a black hole. For most of the series the crew consists of the captain and the five (later four) former crew of a salvage ship who pulled the ship away from the black hole 300 years later (due to Time Dilation). Other characters join as well, and the crew varies between 6 and 7 for most of the rest of the series. Andromeda's A.I. can fill most crew roles herself so they get by, but it's pointed out several times that the ship is way less effective in combat — or anything else — than it would be fully crewed.
False Friend crossed with Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal for the Pax Magellanic, a Com ship who has an affair with her Captain. He screws her, tells her that he loves her and can't live without her, and then, when they are at the end of the Commonwealth war, he gets his crew to safety and tells her to self-destruct, ostensibly to stop Commonwealth information falling into enemy hands, but it's strongly implied that he's doing it so no-one will know what he's done with her - which would probably have him stripped of command. When he easily gives the order without consternation, concern or even a goodbye, telling her to "not be emotional", it becomes fairly obvious that he was using her... Things don't end well.
Faster-Than-Light Travel: Slipstream, not the best way to travel faster than light, just the only way. Organic pilot required.
Fantastic Aesop: in "Forced Perspective" Dylan is tortured by a dictator for a mission that he had good intentions with but ended badly, with him getting shot by the bad guy while he was trying to negotiate and him having to return fire to survive. The lesson that Trance is pushing the entire episode is that in the chaotic nature of the universe control is an illusion and all we can do is control our own intentions, especially when justice and the fate of a people are concerned... so Dylan ends up being ashamed and apologetic for the mission that went badly despite his good intentions and offers the dictator a way to wipe the slate clean, ignoring his crimes of oppression and despotism that needed to be brought to justice.
Fantastic Racism: Not just for/against aliens, either; the Knights of Genetic Purity hunt down all modified human-offshoots.
As Dylan points out, only 12% or so of the humans in the entire known universe fall under their definition of "pure".
Flanderization: Oh, so very much, primarily after Wolfe left and any pretensions at character balance went with him.
Frameup: One episode had a conspiracy try to pin an assassination on Tyr. Although Tyr was in fact enraged at the man for something he'd done, the crew doesn't believe it for a minute. Tyr is a professional assassin, and it was far too incompetent and obviously him to be true.
Freudian Slip: In "It Makes a Lovely Night" when Dylan is talking to Beka after she got out of the shower, wearing nothing but a towel:
Dylan: "I was looking at your figure... I mean, figures..."
Give Me a Sword: Tyr and Seamus just before their Last Stand against the Magog, once Seamus has stopped panicking and agreed that fighting back is probably a good idea. Once he's pulled himself together Tyr has a little grudging respect for him and gives him one of the knives he just happened to have about his person.
Good Bad Translation: A certain DVD release suffers from this. The entirety of Season 2 and some episodes of season 3 are the worst offenders by far. So what if the subtitles don't remember proper punctuation in season 1? And there are no capital letters, except the first in every line, even when not supposed to be there. The subtitles in season 2 are way worse than that, by being translated... from an Asian translation. And they're not even correct most of the time.
One very horrible offender is in a scene, where Dylan says "Tyr, try not to destroy the warship." The subtitles say "Tyr. Get rid of the warship."
Not even when she pretends to be. Maybe especially not when she pretends to be.
Hostile Terraforming: The episode "Point of the Spear", the Pyreans (aliens that live in Venus-like environments) tried to forcibly pyroform a Commonwealth world. A large battle breaks out, and to prove that the Commonwealth is not one to be messed with, Dylan orders the planet's destruction via Nova Bomb.
Humans Are Special: AIs are horrible at guessing, which makes humans and other organic life forms are far better at slipstream navigation. Also, ship AIs seem to make poor commanders, are more effective in combat when working with a crew.
Averted partly when the AI Ryan is given command of... well, himself, aka the Wrath of Achilles.
Also averted in that it's not humans in particular: it's ALL biological sentient beings, supposedly due to "something having to do with collapsing quantum wave fronts." It is, however, noted that an AI can navigate the slipstream if they have biological intuition... even if that intuition comes from harvested brains in a jar attached to the computer system.
Humongous Mecha: Planetary Defense Bots. Andromeda has two of them nicknamed "Tweedle-dee" and "Tweedle-dum".
Hyperspace Lanes: Several star systems are strategically important because you need to travel through them on your way from one slipstream to another. Just the place to lay in ambush, or place a BFGIN SPACE!.
In one episode, they're trying to get to Tarn Vedra (the lost capital planet of the old Commonwealth) by following a ridiculously complicated sequence of slipstram routes. Several of the steps are jumps between different galaxies! The lanes were purposefully scrambled this way to keep away the Nietzcheans after the Commonwealth lost the war.
I Am X, Son of Y: The Nietzcheans will give their given name, family name, name of pride, and name of both parents when introducing themselves formally. For example: "I am Tyr Anasazi of Kodiak Pride, out of Victoria by Barbarosa." Considering the importance of lineage to the Nietzscheans, this makes sense.
Identical Grandson: "Genetic reincarnation" is a proven phenomenon for Nietzscheans due to their low genetic diversity (caused by having all possible negative mutations or genetic defects removed). Telemachus is played by the same actor as Gaheris and Tyr's son was apparently the reincarnation of the first Nietzschean (and therefore their Messiah). It's lampshaded that the odds of this are still in the millions, but since there are billions of them it still happens a lot.
Beka Valentine once encountered a female Nietzschean who looked as close to exactly like her as a Nietzschean could look, which doesn't make sense until Season 5 reveals she's the genetic mother of all Nietzscheans.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Justified and lampshaded in an episode where it is revealed that most small arms ammunition are smart bullets whose guidance system is jammed by man portable jammers, causing them to miss.
Gerentex: Why am I the only one who seems to attract bullets?
Implacable Android: Rommie, Andromeda's humanoid avatar, is nearly indestructible and incredibly strong, which she often demonstrates by simply walking through scores of Mooks and tossing them aside like ragdolls.
Informed Ability: Despite being lauded as a tactical genius, Drago-Kazov Fleet Marshall Cuchulian Nez Perce sure gets his ass handed to him by Dylan and company. Twice.
Infinite Supplies: subverted in that despite the huge supplies of military arsenals the Andromeda Ascendant can fit in storage (keeping in mind she was fully stocked at the beginning of the pilot and she is a huge ship), a lot of episodes deal with the crew trying to salvage parts and supplies for her. It is mentioned, though, that as long as they can get a supply of the raw materials, Andromeda can manufacture or repair quite a lot of weapons tech etc. It's usually delicate and highly complicated parts of ship hardware that they have to find.
Insistent Terminology: The Commonwealth is not an empire, damn it! The fact it was led by the Vedran Empress and was an evolution of the Vedran Empire is irrelevant!
Arguably true. The British Commonwealth is composed of large numbers of ex-Empire countries. In some the reigning British monarch remains Head of State but plays no part in day-to-day political matters, in others a President is Head of State. All-Systems University did state that the Empress remained Head of State to salve Vedran pride, not to actually govern.
It's never really gone into if the Vedran Empress is actually the head of state for the whole commonwealth or just those parts that were part of the empire or just for the Vedrans. Whichever is true, people talk about her a lot.
According to the All Systems Library website, the Commonwealth was ruled by the Triumvirs, the three appointed heads of the Commonwealth, with the Empress being little more than a symbolic position.
A "Commonwealth" is just a political community founded for the common good. Having a central empire or kingdom from which colonies and subject states have gained independence or self-governance - joining in alliance with them to form a coalition - is neither uncommon or unnatural. It may be insistent terminology, but by all accounts Dylan's Commonwealth is exactly that. May come under I Thought It Meant...
Interfaith Smoothie: Wayism is a religion that seeks to blend all the good bits of the religions that came before it. Rev Bem is a cleric of Wayism, and the religion was founded by another redeemed Magog.
Kaleidoscope Hair: Beka has nanomachines that can change her hair to any color she wants.
Lady of War: Rommey. Being an avatar of a battleship counts doesn't it?
Ahemm!!! She's a heavy cruiser thank you very much. Glorious Heritage-class.
Large Ham: Tyr, and, to a lesser extent, Dylan and Harper.
Definitely not all the time. Just when they feel especially diabolical, idealistic or enthusiastic, respectively.
As for guest characters, there's Bartolome Naz.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Tyr Anasazi in an episode in Season One. Subverted in that it's not natural in the least—it's the result of infection by nanobots designed to scramble memory systems, both biological and electronic.
Most Writers Are Human: While the Commonwealth consisted of many, many species, humans are apparently the most populous of them. The background information specifically notes humans as among the most prolific breeders and colonizers, as well as the source of most androids and genetically-engineered spin-offs like nietzscheans.
Humans seem to have been the most widespread because they were easy to engineer (or no-one cared enough to stop them) and pretty much anywhere that life could exist, there is an engineered form of humanity to plunder it. From high gravity worlds to under the sea, humanity is all up in nature's face eating her resources.
Planet Spaceship: The Magog come from worlds (yes, that's plural—twenty of them) locked together in some kind of structure. The whole thing is mobile, and even contains an artificial sun! Oh, and it can survive having its sun blown up by a Nova Bomb.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Due to Brent Stait's makeup allergies, his character, Rev Bem, got a less prominent role, and was finally Put on a Bus. Lexa Doig's pregnancy was one of the reasons for Rommie's absence in early season 5.
The Remnant: Dylan Hunt is this for a while; trying to restart the Commonwealth despite being the last soldier of the High Guard in existence.
Revised Ending: sort of. The original series developer, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, wrote a non-canon (technical Fan Fic) one-act-play of an outline, entitled Coda (warning, PDF) for how he envisioned the series to play out past the point of his departure.
Rommie is squicked to discover that Harper engineered her humanoid body with "certain parts" which, strictly speaking, aren't necessary for her normal operations, and asks to be assured that he used gloves while handling said parts.
Doyle was designed to pass as human and programmed to believe she was human, when one of her hands is damaged in Decay of the Angel, she sees the white superconductor fluid as red blood.
Carter of All Too Human managed to get a job in the security forces of the android-hating world of Machen Alpha.
Too Dumb to Live: In "Immaculate Perception" Tyr says sending the DNA of Tamerlane Anasazi for comparision with Drago Museveni's could not be kept a secret. He says that he is leaving with his son and wife while the rest of the pride can perish from it's stupidity. He invokes it himself in the same episode by acknowledging a "whatever you do don't send a message" message, although that was intentional.
What the Hell, Hero?: When the New Commonwealth kicked Captain Hunt out they listed several from over the course of the show. It was played like a biased kangaroo court, but most of them were genuine atrocities he had committed that the show had earlier glossed over.
Dyan returning to Andromeda to mope that he had accidentally given children access to 80 Nova Bombs in To Loose a Fateful Lightning instead of ordering them to stand down and surrender control over the weapons to Andromeda. Keep in mind, at this point Dylan knows they revere him as "The High Guard" and would likely easily have done so. Instead, his inaction causes one heavily populated neighbouring system to be destroyed and only narrowly averts them doing similar kamikaze runs with the rest of the arsenal.
Tyr was able to play at almost the same level in the first season and a half, very nearly defeating Dylan a few times before switching sides at the last minute. This peaked in the episode The Prince where both reached heights they never had before and never would again by working together on such a project. After the original creator "left", Tyr suffered a horrible case of Badass Decay and quickly became a more straight-forward villain type.