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Andromeda 2.1
Force Entertainment/Force Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 82 mins . M . PAL

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From the fertile mind of the great sci-fi creator Gene Roddenberry comes Andromeda, an astonishing production - mainly because it was created many years after its alleged 'creator' Gene Roddenberry had died. Well, all things are possible in the wonderful world of sci-fi.

This is sci-fi for young boys aged, I guess, between 12 to 14. The 'M' rating on the cover says it's recommended for 'mature' audiences 15 years and over ("Low level violence"), but that audience would find this series poor fodder indeed.

It's indifferently acted, indifferently scripted, the 'special effects' are derisory and it's not even bad enough to be inadvertently amusing.

The only good thing going for this series is that Force Video, the Australian DVD packagers, have chosen to put only two episodes, for a total of around 82 minutes, on the disc. In America, Region 1 viewers have to put up with more than twice that content on a single disc!

In the first episode, the war against the strange furry creatures the Magogs continues, with lots of people in furry costumes getting holes shot in them. In the second episode, Captain Dylan and some of his crew visit an alien landscape which looks exactly like a snow-clad North American forest. In the original Gene Roddenberry classic Star Trek, the use of similarly prosaic 'alien' landscapes was sort of cute. Here it's just stupid.

The Andromeda crew's scout-ship is out of fuel and badly wrecked - but surprise surprise, at the episode's close, when all looks hopeless, there is, miraculously, just enough fuel for lift-off again. Everything that had happened in the previous 39 minutes need not have happened at all.

There's a nice quote which defines the target age-group. Captain Dylan Hunt has just fallen on top of his curvaceous First Officer, Beka Valentine. He tries to extricate himself, and she asks, beguilingly, "Don't you like hugs any more?"

"I love hugs", Dylan says. "It's the kissing that freaks me out."

Yes, that's the target age-group. The shoot-em-dead sci-fi short-pants brigade for whom kissing is just... yuccch! A bit like the show itself, really.

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This is exhibited in a full-screen 4.3 ratio, but was shot in 1.78:1. It's interesting how quality shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer are increasingly being released in anamorphic widescreen; I guess this one isn't considered quite of quality enough for that. But it is a sharp picture with good contrast - all the easier to appreciate the hokey sets and effects.

Sound is standard two-channel Dolby stereo, which doesn't really over-exert the sound-system, but is adequate enough for this purpose...

The introductory menu is well constructed with great musical/audio effects, and accounts for the 'extras' vote. In the end, however, more care seems to have been spent there than on the show itself.


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  •   And I quote...
    "The trouble with the 'M' rating is that it rules out any viewer young enough to enjoy this sci-fi juvenilia..."
    - Anthony Clarke
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