Following on from "A For Andromeda" Fleming and Andromeda are recaptured by the British government but then kidnapped along with Professor Dawnay by the forces of Intel, headed by Kaufman ... See full summary »
Following on from "A For Andromeda" Fleming and Andromeda are recaptured by the British government but then kidnapped along with Professor Dawnay by the forces of Intel, headed by Kaufman and the evil Gamboule, and are taken to the Middle East country Azaran, whose leaders hope to make use of Fleming & Dawnay's skills... and Andromeda's other worldly abilities... Written by
'A For Andromeda' (AFA), the BBC's great lost sci-fi TV series of 1961, can be viewed as a single story in its own right. And, perhaps because of this, public awareness of this, the second part of the story, is very low. But it is every bit as good and thought-provoking as AFA.
Featuring Susan Hampshire as Andromeda (replacing the unavailable Julie Christie) and the continuing cast from AFA (including the superb Peter Halliday), and again written by Fred Hoyle and John Elliott, the story begins where AFA left off. AFA ends with Andromeda being feared drowned in a cavepool. 'The Andromeda Breakthrough' (TAB) beings with her being found almost dead on the edge of an adjoining pool. Fleming escapes with her and they seek shelter on a remote Scottish island. However, Andromeda's hands were badly damaged during her attack on the now 'dead' computer at Thorness, and Fleming has to seek help from his colleague Professor Dawnay to heal them. This enables the government to track them down, and they end up back in London. However, they are then kidnapped by Intel and taken to their secluded base in the newly liberated Republic of Azeran. Fleming is shocked to find that a new 'computer' is awaiting them. Apparently his colleague Dennis Bridger had supplied blueprints to Intel as part of his deal with them (in AFA). At least he has some support, Professor Dawnay is already there, having been recruited to work on increasing crop yields.
As the story progresses, two main things happen. The first is that the world's weather deteriorates to the extent that it is apparent that something is seriously wrong. And the second is that Azeran is wracked with civil strife, fuelled by Intel.
The weather situation, it transpires, was caused by the original Thorness computer, a response to Dr Fleming's continual attempts to sabotage it. An apparently harmless formula was produced, which Dawnay washed down the sink when it apparently did nothing. Now it has spread throughout the world's oceans, and is removing all the nitrogen from the atmosphere, worsening weather conditions and making it impossible to breathe. Humanity is doomed unless it can be stopped. The new 'computer' continues blithely with its mission, unaware that the world is dying.
The political situation is made worse when Andromeda reveals the 'message' to Madame Gamboulle, the Intel leader in Azeran. She has been given a message that has no understanding of the current world situation, and she is therefore uninterested in dealing with it, except in any way that it can benefit Intel and her.
To make matters worse, Andromeda's body is lacking something, and she is slowly dying, and there is no time to waste the computer's functions on finding a cure.
The story is as good as AFA, and very satisfyingly different in the way it progresses. That said, it is hard to believe that this series wasn't conceived before AFA started, as it ties up so many loose ends and dovetails so neatly with the original story. Fleming is once again superb, wracked with doubt and guilt, and there are also excellent performances from Mary Morris as Dawnay and John Hollis as Kaufmann.
This is a vastly under-rated and sadly neglected series, which, as is apparent, not so much a story in its own right, but part two of AFA. It is not just a rehashing of the original ideas, as with so many sequels, but is a development and continuation of the original story, leading to a definite conclusion.
One of the strengths of sci-fi TV series of this era, such as the Quatermass stories, is the characterisation and the story, as opposed to the almost total reliance on effects nowadays, and these stories are no exception. They are gripping, compulsive, entertaining and totally fascinating, but you are also drawn in to empathise and sympathise and care about the characters. And, as I've said, Dr John Fleming is one of the great sci-fi characterisations, a truly memorable piece of writing and an equally memorable performance by the grossly under-rated Peter Halliday.
Unlike AFA, this series exists in its entirety in the BBC's archives, but they seem to have little interest in exposing it to a modern audience, which is a minor tragedy. If, however, you can't find a copy of it anywhere, then buy the book of the same name by Fred Hoyle and John Elliott, which is a superb book in its own right. But, if you haven't read AFA, by the same authors, get that and read it first. You won't be disappointed.
This was classic science fiction, worthy of the name, and it is very sad to think that we will never see a series like this again.
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