ADV Films presents
Andromeda 1.2 (2001)
Beka: What if they start shooting? How am I supposed to run in a dress?
Rommie: What kind of dinner parties have you been to?- Lisa Ryder, Lexa Doig
Stars: Kevin Sorbo
Other Stars: Kevin Sorbo, Lisa Ryder
Director: Keith Hamilton Cobb, Laura Bertram, Brent Stait, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Lexa Doig
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sci-fi violence)
Run Time: Approx. 220 min.
Release Date: 2002-09-10
DVD ReviewVolume Two of Andromeda picks up where the first left off. That's not to imply that the plot is on-going—at least in these first installments, the show is fairly episodic and self-contained. Rather, the pattern of rehashing old sci-fi plots continues. Strong premises lead to ho-hum, predictable conclusions, dialogue is, more often than not, stilted and awkward, and the series as a whole is rather unfocused.
I still feel that the strongest element of the series is the cast of characters, a ragtag bunch that sets the show apart from other Roddenberry creations. I continue to find amusement in the actions of sentient ship Rommie and the dim-witted purple Trance, and there is a nice dynamic between those two and the wisecracking, likeable Harper (the Chandler Bing of Andromeda). I even find myself warming to Kevin Sorbo as Captain Dylan Hunt, who commands with a kind heart, an even temper, and a powerful space mullet (seriously, do they not have SuperCuts in the future?).
If the characters continue to develop, I'll be able to forgive the mediocre writing. Hopefully, though, the series will work harder to establish continuity and take advantage of the "reconstruction of the Commonwealth" story arc. This two-disc set includes episodes 6-10 of the series' introductory season.
Episode 6: Angel Dark, Demon Bright
Originally aired 11.06.2000
"Daddy always said, never mess with time travel."
Time travel is a well-worn sci-fi concept (heck, this is the second time it has popped up on this show already), but it is hard to complain when it's done this well. Trance tries to learn to use the slipstream drive and ends up transporting the Andromeda back in time 300 years. Dylan is faced with a decision—does he change the past, and stop the Nietzchian invasion before it can begin, saving civilization but possibly ending the lives of his new friends? Or have any actions he might take already been predetermined, meaning he can only sit back and watch history repeat itself? This one has a nice twist (though one that is fairly predictable about halfway through), but its real strengths are the character moments, particularly between Dylan and his friends from the past, and Rommie's frustrations with being a warship that can't go to war.
If the show can hit these levels consistently, I'll enjoy reviewing it very much indeed. This one earns 4.5 Andromedas out of 5.
Episode 7: The Ties that Blind
Originally aired 11.13.2000
"He's my brother, he's my problem." -Beka
Beka's brother Rafe (Cameron Daddo) is picked up by the Andromea. Beka labels him a troublemaker, but he claims he has reformed, and is now living the monastic life. His cover turns out to be a cover for an even bigger scam, one that will mean trouble for the Andromeda when it becomes the target of terrorists. This is a decently plotted little episode, but quite routine throughout, with the standard twists, turns, and deceptions, and few surprises. It's all a bit uninvolving, really. At this point, I never really believed Beka was ready to kill her brother, nor did I care. A story like this needs to come along later in the life of a series, or has to be much better done.
Episode 8: The Banks of the Lethe
Originally aired 11.20.2000
"We had our time." -Sara Riley (Sam Sorbo)
Oh, Andromeda, what happened to you? You do a nice time travel episode like Angel Dark, Demon Bright, then you immediately return to the well with this schmaltzy retread, substituting the paradoxes and ethical dilemmas of that episode for bland "love conquers all" sermonizing (and really, three episodes so far involve Dylan making contact with his past, and we're only a third of the way through the first season!). Anyway. Dylan receives a transmission through time from his one true love, Sara (played by Sorbo's real life wife Sam, who clearly was cast for reasons not having to do with her wooden acting), who is orbiting the Andromeda of the past, attempting to pull it from the black hole that has trapped it in time. The crew is unconcerned about the fact that they have no idea why the message was able to pass through time; they immediately decide to try to send back Dylan himself. They plan to use Harper's new, transporter-esque invention, also unconcerned that it wasn't able to transport fruit without it exploding. Sigh. Emphasis is placed on the greatest love of all between Dylan and Sara (there is even a sci-fi "meet cute" à la Han and Leia). Pushed to the side is the story of the first planet joining the Commonwealth, the reestablishment of which is theoretically the premise of the series.
Episode 9: A Rose in the Ashes
Originally aired 11.27.2000
"The truest measure of a society is how it treats its elderly, its pets, and its prisoners." -Keeper of the Way Vision of Faith VII, C.Y. 9891
Dylan and Rommie travel down to a strictly governed planet in an attempt to get them to join the Commonwealth, but the Tribunal Council refuses, and moreover, they decide that the two are trying to incite rebellion, and the heroes find themselves exiled on a prison planet. It's up to Dylan to band together with his fellow prisoners (who are, in typical sci-fi fashion, all really good guys forced by circumstance to act like savages... good thing Dylan is here to preach about a higher ideal!) and escape the planet and return to his ship. The episodes on planet look extremely cheap, and there's very little action to sustain the rather melodramatic plot. There is, however, a lot of talking. Most of it from Dylan, who seems to think that he can rebuild the Commonwealth by never shutting up.
Ouch. 1.5 Andromedas.
Episode 10: All Great Neptune's Ocean
Originally aired 1.15.2001
"For a man determined to cook history's greatest omelet, you are awfully squeamish about cracking your eggs." -Tyr
It's another ho-hum outing as Tyr is framed for the murder of a political representative from the underwater planet Castalia, whom Dylan is trying to coax into joining his vaguely defined New Commonwealth. The rest of the episode follows the fairly predictable course of proving the accused party is innocent, and the conclusion is fairly obvious from the get go. It's entertaining enough while it's going on, but there are more than a few holes and vague motivations that muddle the plot. Like all episodes of this show, there are speeches about the great ideals and the interactions between different races, but they are half-hearted, and add little weight to an uninspired episode.
See what happens when you try to sign a treaty with Sea Monkeys? 2.5 Andromedas.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Andromeda airs in 4:3, but was shot with high-definition cameras; thus, we can enjoy the show on DVD in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are nicely saturated, and though the rich hues are a bit cartoonish, they match the intended look for the series. Blacks are nice and deep, and shadow detail is very good. The special effects scenes show some shimmer, likely because they were mastered at a low resolution. Aside from that small problem, though, this series looks great.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The included DD 2.0 mix isn't bad, and presents dialogue well, anchoring it in the center channel with only a bit of bleeding into the mains. The wide front soundstage features some nice directionality during space battles and fight scenes, but nothing too impressive. Surrounds stay mute throughout, not even offering enhancement for the score.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Farscape: Season 2, Noir, Zone of the Enders: Idola, Samurai X, Excel Saga, The Devil Lady, Neon Genesis Evangelion
5 TV Spots/Teasers
7 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by executive producer Allan Eastman and actor Kevin Sorbo for episode Banks of the Lethe
Packaging: Double alpha
- Character Profiles: Beka Valentine; Production Biography: Executive Producer Allan Eastman
- All Systems University 101: Commonwealth Transportation
- Timeline of the Commonwealth, Glossary of the High Guard
- Image Galleries and Concept Art
On disc one, actor Kevin Sorbo and executive-producer Allan Eastman provide an informative commentary for Banks of the Lethe, providing behind-the-scenes info and trivia that fans will appreciate. The latest in a series of text profiles is the Profile of Beka Valentine, a few text screens about the character's history, along with a brief interview with actress Lisa Ryder and some costume design sketches. There is another text bio on disc two, this one for Eastman.
There is an extensive text section that provides information about Commonwealth transportation, complete with sketches and blueprints. There's also another glossary that includes pseudo-scientific terms created for the show (E-J). Disc two's text extra is entitled Timeline of the Commonwealth: The Age of Reform.
Both discs include deleted and alternate takes—the first, about ten minutes worth of footage deleted from episodes 6 and 8, and the second, a scant minute deleted from episode 9. Both also include image galleries—the first, "The Eureka Maru"; the second, "Prop and Set Concept Drawings."
Disc two includes a nice 11-minute tour of the Andromeda conducted by Kevin Sorbo for E! Celebrity Profile. Once again, he can't refrain from mentioning the fact that the force-lances look like sex toys. There is also another blooper reel, good for a few minutes of amusement. Witnesses as Sorbo gets method and destroys the sets.
Disc one has promos for the first three episodes, while disc two has promos for episodes four and five. ADV previews are also split between the disc; all told, there are clips for Farscape: Season 2, Noir, Zone of the Enders: Idola, Samurai X, Excel Saga, The Devil Lady, and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
With another impressive set of extras, we're reminded why it is worth waiting the extra time it takes for ADV to release a series.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsThough there is one great episode and a few that are halfway decent, this is an uninvolving volume of Andromeda. I still like the cast and the production design, but the writing rarely moves beyond dull formula. Though ADV offers wonderful audio and video and a nice package of extras, the high per-episode price means this one is recommended only to series' fans.
Joel Cunningham 2003-03-13