Andromeda-1.01 (2000)

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Released 11-Apr-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 82:22
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Allan Kroeker
Brenton Spencer
Studio
Distributor

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Kevin Sorbo
Lisa Ryder
Keith Hamilton Cobb
Laura Bertram
Brent Stait
Gordon Michael Woolvett
Lexa Doig
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $29.95 Music Alex Lifeson
Matthew McCauley


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It is a little hard to get accurate information about just how much of Andromeda came from Gene Roddenberry. Fan sites report that interviews with Gene's widow and the head writer seem to indicate that the rough concept was created by Gene but little else. I suppose that the inevitable comparison between the various Trek shows and this show do indicate some similarities: an idealistic captain on a large spaceship travelling around the universe fixing problems. Comparisons between other shows, in particular Buck Rogers due to the time travel factor, will also be made.

    I think we are spoiled these days with many good and some excellent sci-fi shows. It was not that long ago that we all used to sit around and bemoan the fact that all our favourite shows, such as the original Star Trek, UFO, Moon Base Alpha (early episodes only), Quantum Leap and so on had disappeared from regular television programming.

    This show is entering the market at a time of stiff competition and appears to have earned a loyal following overseas, at least for the first season. I have only watched the first two episodes so far and I am pretty impressed. There is nothing earth-shattering here but it is a reasonably good, solid show that holds out quite some promise. We will see over the next few months as the episodes are released whether it lives up to that promise.

    The basic story is that at some stage in the far future (or is that the far past - I get confused sometimes), there is a galaxy-wide federation committed to peace and goodwill, in this case called the Systems Commonwealth. It backs up this peace and good will with a very large and very well-equipped space fleet populated by idealistic but firm beings from a wide variety of races. The story focuses on one particular ship in this fleet called the Andromeda and her captain Dylan Hunt (played by Hercules, err I mean Kevin Sorbo). During the battle that seems to eventually bring about the downfall of the federation, the Andromeda is nearly destroyed. Nearly all her crew, except the Captain of course, abandon ship and the ship and Captain are caught close to the event horizon of a massive black hole. Due to the time dilation effect of a black hole (Einstein would be doing about 3000 rpm by about this stage) they are frozen in time for 300 years. The Captain then puts together a rag-tag band of optimists that agree to run around a universe that has descended into the dark ages due to the destruction of the Commonwealth, and attempt to restore the aforementioned peace and goodwill.

1.01

    In this first episode we are introduced to our main character, the captain, and the ship, the Andromeda, which has an AI personality that was obviously programmed by a man and appears as a very three dimensional hologram. We learn a little about a couple of the races that make up the Commonwealth and of course the tension between them. Not too far into the episode, a ferocious battle occurs and our ship and captain take their 300 year nap only to be rudely awakened by a party of interlopers that are trying to take over the ship. Our captain is not happy about this and we get to see this sci-fi's shows 'special weapon'. We have seen many ...phasers/light sabers/batliths and this is a pretty good one, a sort of combined phaser and collapsible staff.

1.02

    Captain Hunt continues to try and delouse his ship, but this is made somewhat more difficult as the alien that hired the salvage ship also brought with him a number of mercenaries. The rest of this episode contains a couple of fairly predictable twists that are described on the synopsis on the back of the DVD, but I regard them as spoilers so will not repeat them here in case you haven't read the back cover. I suggest that you don't read the back cover before watching the second episode because while the storyline is reasonable, it does need all the help it can get. To top off having spoilers on the back of the DVD they are not particularly accurate either!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Overall, this is a pretty good transfer, although there is one visible problem that I am a little at a loss to assign a name to. On some of the graphics that are used in the show, in particular the rendering of the Andromeda herself, there is a problem with some near horizontal lines. They appear to only be present on every second scan line and appear somewhat broken. This is similar to aliasing but is not present in the live footage. As the ship moves and turns, these lines appear to shimmer. You can see an example at 0:26 in the first episode. My own thoughts on this are that it might be some sort of artefact from the NTSC to PAL conversion process but that is only speculation on my part.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    The live footage is sharp and clear most of the time. There are a couple of occasions where the focus is a little out as in the last scene of the second episode where the captain is making his big speech. The computer generated sections are somewhat less sharp but still reasonable. Shadow detail is excellent throughout and there is no low level noise present.

    The colours are excellent with good saturation and no noise. This applies to both the live and computer generated footage.

    There are no MPEG artefacts present nor are there any film to video artefacts. IMDB lists this as having been shot on 35mm film which may be true but I thought it might have been shot on video. If it was shot on film, the master used was in perfect condition with no film artefacts or grain present.

    There are no subtitles and this is a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Overall, this is a quite reasonable surround-encoded soundtrack. The packaging has the Dolby surround logo on the back but the surround flag has not been set. Manually overriding this setting gives a good surround presence.

    There is only the single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack present on this disc.

    Dialogue quality is very good with no problems throughout. Audio sync is spot on.

    The music is not too bad, and certainly better than the music that accompanies the latest Star Trek effort.

    The surrounds contain both music and some effects. Whilst still somewhat front-heavy, they certainly add to the overall effect.

    I was a little disappointed with the subwoofer activity. I expected something more, especially during the space combat scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    A very impressive animated menu with a 24 second intro section that then leads on to rolling scenes from the show with voiceovers. All are presented behind a control panel that allows you to select either episode or the chapter selection for each episode. While I love these menus as a viewer, they are a bane for a reviewer who ends up waiting that long 24 seconds each time he does something with the disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc has not yet been released in Region 1.

Summary

    Despite being disappointed that they have yet again followed the tried-and-true formula for the captain, the rag-tag crew, the deep and dangerous hard guy and so on, I really think that this show is off to a reasonable start. The special effects are not too bad, though not as good as some TV series out there. The acting so far has been reasonable and everyone seems to have kept a sense of humour including the writers. If they continue with this, all will be well. I will give them credit for one more thing - there is not a single mention of a tachyon anywhere, neither a particle nor a beam. If Star Trek does not stop using them in every episode I am handing in my convention card immediately.

    The video is good, particularly for a weekly series.

    The audio is good, again for a weekly.

    They seem to have forgotten to include any extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Monday, May 13, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
The Region 2 release is better - Peter Frame
Andromeda Region 2 Is Better - Bob Dubej
R1 is 16x9, but no 5.1 - gRANT (Read my bio, mmm... uncompressed surround audio)
Region 1 Details - Chris W (read my bio)