The Image Of Andromeda

By Fred Shedian
Posted at December 9, 2000 - 11:29 PM GMT

Half a season ago, Kevin Sorbo returned to the small screen to take command of a starship lost three hundred years in the future. The show's continued promise and writing has helped to establish quality entertainment. However, science-fiction relies heavily on special effects. These are needed to help portray the idea that we are looking at something "futuristic." Today, I'd like to take a couple of minutes to discuss a sore spot I'm seeing with the special effects provided for Andromeda.

Putting my feelings in a summary, I am very disappointed at the graphical quality of the exterior shots involving battles sequences and the ships themselves. I am not certain this is a permanent problem, as it takes all shows some time to come into focus. However, looking at half a season, I would have hoped the special effects would have improved a little bit more than what we're seeing.

I completely comprehend remarks made by Andromeda production staff indicating they were trying to create their own "style" of effect. For example, looking at special effects shot in science-fiction you can name and identify the great ones. Star Wars, Babylon 5, Star Trek and Space: Above & Beyond all had distinctive methods and approaches to portraying how the universe looked outside the hull. All of the examples I just gave provided some excellent images. I am having a very hard time trying to figure out why it is taking so long for this show to come into proper focus regarding it's special effects.

Looking at the first episode, which is airing again this week, I see very little/if any change in the methods used. Despite one or two exceptions, most of the Andromeda exterior shots remind me of the very early days of computer generated effects. Overall, despite remarks from some saying the computer model has great detail, almost all of the Andromeda shots we've seen could have been produced in 1982. In fact, I see a better quality in battle sequences/shots with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn than I do with Andromeda and there's almost a twenty year difference between the two.

I may indeed be one of the few people who hold this opinion. At first, I thought it was simply an inability to adapt to something new. However, the more and more I see it, the more and more I am certain that it may be hindering this show's ability to become an instant hit among the science-fiction community. The acting is wonderful, the writing is to die for, leaving only one problem...the show's general appearance. The ship's interior I can comprehend the layout and design off. However, the exterior is simply getting to the point where if they ever show a torpedo actually impacting the hull I think I'll faint.

I only hope that this perception is either flawed or something the production team is aware of. I hope the special effects develop during the second half of this show's first season, moving from the "abstract" images seen now to a more "serious/realistic" approach. I would hate to see the show fail in it's second season because of a more poor image. At a time when shows fail because they have a good image, but poor writing/acting, having Andromeda produce the opposite would simply be a Greek tragedy.

As I am sure many disagree with this, and some may agree, I always love to hear your remarks. Please feel free to submit them on a self addressed, stamped, e-mail to Please note the column next week will be a combined Star Trek/Andromeda issue containing a massive mailbag feature.

Until next time...

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.