On the starship Andromeda, hope lives again!
Made nine years after Gene Roddenberry's death, using material over 27 years old, Andromeda Is a sometimes smart, sometimes frustrating science fiction program.
Can a solid DVD presentation overcome an intriguing yet unsuccessful attempt at science fiction?
Facts of the Case
Many, many years in the future…
Dylan Hunt, captain of the Andromeda, discovers too late that a rescue attempt to save Hephiastos' citizens from a black hole is nothing more than a trap by the Nietzcheans to destroy the Commonwealth. An attempt to maneuver around the black hole is disastrous (due to an event I will leave you to discover) and a combination of factors leaves Hunt and the Andromeda frozen in time.
Three hundred three years later, the Eureka Maru, a salvage ship, discover the frozen ship and restore life to it. After a weary battle, Hunt convinces the crew to join him in a new crusade to restore the Commonwealth from control of the Nietzcheans.
At least that's what I think it's about.
The first question some of you may ask is how could this program contain the name Gene Roddenberry? It is true that Roddenberry is no longer with us, having died in 1991. However, Roddenberry wrote an outline that served as a possible spin-off to Star Trek in 1976. (Maybe the ill-fated Star Trek: Phase Two?) The premise bears a slight resemblance to Roddenberry's 1973 TV movie Genesis II, which also shared the same lead character, as did Roddenberry's 1974 TV movie Planet Earth. The show came to fruition when producers approached Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who holds the rights to her late husband's unfilmed projects.
Would Roddenberry have liked it? It's hard to tell. I'm sure he would have enjoyed the lead performance of Kevin Sorbo as well as the solid visual effects. We would have praised some stories, and rewritten others. I doubt he would have liked the militaristic aspects, something he fought against with the Star Trek movies.
What do I think? The stories could be so much better. There are some intriguing ideas at play here and I appreciated the intelligence and wit. Unfortunately, the pacing is awfully slow and toward the end, plots tend to repeat themselves more than I would have liked. It took me two screenings to finally appreciate the good that is in the program. The show has breathtaking special effects, but as is the case with a lot of recent science fiction, when ideas take second stage to visuals, you know you're in big trouble. The acting is okay for the genre; nothing remarkable, with the exception of Kevin Sorbo, who imbues his character with the same warmth, intelligence, and humor he invested in Hercules. If only the material were up to par.
All 22 episodes from the first season are spread out over ten discs. On a scale from zero to five laser guns:
"Under the Night"
"An Affirming Flame"
"To Loose the Faithful Lightning"
"D Minus Zero"
"Angel Dark, Demon Bright"
"The Ties That Blind"
"The Banks of the Lethe"
"A Rose in the Ashes"
"All Great Neptune's Ocean"
"The Pearls That Were His Eyes"
"The Mathematics of Tears"
"Music of a Distant Drum"
"The Sum of Its Parts"
"Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way"
"The Devil Take the Hindmost"
"The Honey Offering"
"It Makes a Lovely Light"
"Its Hour Come Round At Last"
ADV has done an excellent job bringing this series to DVD. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is excellent. It's mostly clean, with the exception of some light grain in several scenes. Colors look natural and strong and there is no edge enhancement present at any time. The decision to put no more than three episodes per disc was a wise one, since the higher bitrate means better quality for your buck.
Audio is even better. Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround is the way to go with a recent science fiction series. The depths of the sound effects and majestic score will blow you away, even while you're in a deep slumber.
Extras are plentiful:
• Selected episodes feature Kevin Sorbo and executive producer
Allan Eastman on commentary. As with the Hercules box sets, Sorbo is an
engaging speaker and fun to listen to. Fans will love these tracks.
For Fans Only:
• Timeline of the Commonwealth: chronological order of what
happened before and after the story. Boring for non-fans.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Some have said that the show improved greatly in the second season. Would I be willing to give it a try? I may surprise some by saying yes. The first season has some good episodes and they show the potential this series could fulfill. I look forward to and hope for improvement.
Die-hard fans are the only ones who would want to purchase this set. Casual viewers will be snoring before the first disc comes to an end.
I'm going to withhold a final judgment about the series itself. The first season as a whole isn't successful, but there are enough intriguing elements that would make me want to see more.
ADV is not guilty of producing a top-notch presentation and package.
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What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Audio Commentary by Kevin Sorbo and Allan Eastman on Selected Episodes
Review content copyright © 2004 Bill Treadway; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.