A For Andromeda, BBC4

by | Mar 27, 2006 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

This reworking of the classic 1960s sci-fi series involved a counter terrorism project run by Professor Dawnay (Jane Asher) at a Military Research facility somewhere in the Peak District. While constructing a computer to monitor all earth-based communication for potential terrorist threats, brilliant scientist John Fleming (Tom Hardy) is also conducting a side-project monitoring background radiation from deep space. His team – which includes Christine Jones (Kelly Reilly) and Dennis Bridger (Charlie Cox) – soon pick up messages from the constellation Andromeda, which contain instructions on how to build a supercomputer. Once the computer is finished, it soon ‘learns’ how life is constructed and produces instructions on how to synthesise living cells from which a facsimile of a human is built, which the team names Andromeda…

This drama got off to a great start, introducing the characters well, setting the scene – including a sub-plot about Dennis selling secrets to America – and generally adding an air of mystery to the proceedings. Once the supercomputer had been built though, things went rapidly downhill both for the staff at the base and for the viewer.

What was good about it?

• Tom Hardy and Kelly Reilly were both well cast. The former as the interesting ‘hero’ John Fleming, and Reilly in a dual role as Christine/Andromeda. Reilly is unconventionally attractive and looked suitably odd and otherwordly as Andromeda, though less convincing as the brilliant mathematician Christine.

• The updating of the plot, such as General Vandenburg (David Haig) hijacking the project and using Andromeda to produce bio-weapons, was a nice contemporary touch.

What was bad about it?

• The original series was a six-parter, and it felt like the writer was trying to cram two hours’ worth of material into the last 45 minutes.

• There was an awful lot of plot exposition. At one stage,we expected Hardy to turn to the camera and say, “Are you following this?” Two 90 minute episodes would have given the plot time to unfold a lot more satisfactorily.

• The fully constructed supercomputer looked like a gigantic disco glitterball – we were expecting Kylie Minogue to enter the room wearing some gold lamé hotpants.

• Security in this supposedly top secret military facility was piss-poor – why was the supercomputer left unguarded and unmonitored so often especially once Christine had died after touching the machine? Why wasn’t Andromeda locked up after Professor Dawnay and her team were infected by the bio-weapons Andromeda had been constructing?

• The sub-plot of a fling between Fleming and Christine seemed crow-barred into the script.

• The majority of the plot felt clunky and the ending could be spotted a mile off. We’ve seen the ‘creature discovers remnants of human feeling and sacrifices itself” dénouement numerous times before (Alien 3, for example). What might have been new and radical in the 60s, now seems like lazy writing.

• So, despite a good start, this drama ultimately felt like a missed opportunity. Not so much ‘A for Andromeda’ as ‘A for Average’.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

27/03/2006

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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