Blu-ray Review: ANDROMEDA SEASON 1

PrintE-mail Written by Julian White

Review: Andromeda Season 1 / Cert: 15 / Director: Various / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Lisa Ryder, Gordon Michael Woolvett, Laura Bertram, Keith Hamilton Cobb, Brent Stait / Release Date: June 24th

Andromeda was based on an idea by Gene Roddenberry and developed after his death by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who had previously worked on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Introduced like that, it sounds like a painful exercise in scraping the bottom of the barrel, but among late Nineties/early Noughties SF shows it's actually quite a plum.

After a raging battle, Captain Dylan Hunt (Sorbo) and his starship, the Andromeda Ascendant, pride of the Systems Commonwealth, get trapped in the event horizon of a black hole, where they are frozen in time. Three hundred years later, the Andromeda is pulled free by a ragtag salvage team. In the interim, the Commonwealth has collapsed and the galaxies have degenerated into a state of dog-eat-dog anarchy. Hunt decides to put the pieces of the Commonwealth back together, and he cajoles his unwitting rescuers into helping him with this Herculean task.

Robert Hewitt Wolfe's approach would nowadays be called Whedonesque. The tone is much more informal than that of the various Star Trek series. Everyone's on first name terms, and Hunt's (sorry, Dylan's) attempts to impose military discipline on his civilian crew are doomed to failure. (“Captain on deck!” the ship's AI declares grandly in one episode, while everyone slouches around indifferently, picking their nails.) Instead, the feel is of a dysfunctional family, with Hunt and First Officer Beka Valentine (Ryder) as long-suffering mum and dad, the bat-faced Rev Bem (Stait) as the kindly uncle, dreadlocked badass Tyr Anasazi (Cobb) as the surly and rebellious elder son, and with two squabbling kids in the form of brilliant but mischievous engineer Seamus Harper (Woolvett) and clueless Environmental Sciences officer Trance Gemini (Bertram) a dippy purple flower child with a prehensile tail.

It's a delightfully motley cast of characters, and the scripts by Wolfe and his writing team are brimming with witty interplay. The show has no lack of darker themes – Hunt regularly encounters bitterness and mistrust from planets that remember only the bad things about the Commonwealth – but what really distinguishes it is this lively sense of the absurd, as when the crew hosts a diplomatic dinner for a race of bubbly-voiced gill people who do everything to ear-piercing musical cues. It's bright, brash and doesn't take itself too seriously, while still just about steering on the right side of camp, and on the whole it's very endearing.

Looks-wise, Andromeda is very much of its time, but most of the early Noughties CGI pass muster and the alien prosthetics, although a little panto-ish in design, are well executed. The picture, digitally enhanced for this HD release, is as sharp as a Nietzschean bone blade, and the show's pageant-like colour palette is now almost shockingly vivid. All in all, a Stellar Level event for fans of science fiction telly.

Extras: Alternate takes / Bloopers / Deleted Scenes


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Comments  

 
0 #5 Mark 2015-03-27 05:38
I only see it available in the UK and Europe. How about here in the U.S., can't find it.
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0 #4 Mr Cheese 2013-09-30 15:57
I'm pretty sure that the quality of the Blu-ray will be high unless otherwise commented on by the reviewer.
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+1 #3 SFJunkie 2013-09-29 06:44
Nice to get a review about the story, which everyone knows already! I wanted to know more about the blu-ray itself. I guess I'm not gonna read it here.
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+1 #2 Marco 2013-06-26 21:27
Most of the review... mwah... mainly based upon the storyline, which is great, of course. Except, I too was wondering whether the quality is good. @apocalypse: The Farscape series had the unfortunate circumstance of the 35mm film being lost. So they could only do a 576i transfer from the master to bluray. Mind you: 576i is better than 480i (DVD's don't support higher resolutions, that's why it had to be transferred to Bluray)

Still, I would like to see some full-sized stills from the Andromeda bluray release. Comparing scenes with VFX and without VFX. As with Firefly they upscaled the VFX, but the actual shot footage was real 1080p. There doesn't seem to be very much information about the quality of this Andromeda release.
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0 #1 apocalypse 2013-06-19 23:03
Thanks for the review! If I understand correctly, the season 1 of the Andromeda series in bluray is much closer in video quality to the 'Star Trek: the next generation' series than the Farscape series which was very disappointing from my point of view?
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