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 ...
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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
This second Andromeda series survives in its entirety, all six episodes, unlike its predecessor (see my separate review), which only survives in part. Julie Christie was unable to continue playing the character Andromeda because of feature film commitments, and so her place was taken by Susan Hampshire. The other actors remained the same. Susan Hampshire did a better job than Julie Christie, so the quality improved in that respect. Michael Hayes did not direct any of these episodes. They were all directed either by John Elliott or John Knight, in turn, and the series was much better as a result. More money was spent on this series, and it looked less tacky, although the interiors, props, and sets were still as atrocious as ever. Much of the story takes place in a fictitious Middle Eastern oil-producing country which has freed itself from colonial influence and, judging from a map which is shown, is clearly modelled upon Iraq. In the series it is called 'Azaran'. A lot of location shooting of 'Azaran' took place, all of it in Cyprus, where they managed to find a mosque with minarets, presumably in the Turkish part of the island. Strangely, snatches of Greek bouzouki music are heard from time to time on the sound track, and we see occasional Greek or Turkish peasants, pretending, one supposes, to be Arabs. (In those days, few British people knew the difference.) The story is pretty corny, but in 1962 was nevertheless found enthralling because it continued to expound the underlying sci fi ideas of Fred Hoyle. The fabricant girl Andromeda has been rescued from apparent death by Peter Halliday, who seems to like carrying her in his arms rather a lot. They and the biochemist played powerfully by Mary Morris are all abducted by the sinister and totally unscrupulous John Hollis, who works for an international conglomerate called Intel. (No 'Intel inside', this was 1962!) Intel is using Azaran as a base for operations to take over the world. They want to use the extraterrestrial technology from the coded message, and have built a replica of the Thorness computer which Halliday destroyed in the previous series, so here we are again, with Andromeda staring at the viewing-tube and going into trances and being an automaton again. Susan Hampshire seems just as silly as Julie Christie in following the directorial advice to speak in a monotone and act like a humanoid. She manages to be a bit less stiff at this! Azaran undergoes a coup (shown by using what appears to be old Egyptian newsreel footage of some war with someone, perhaps Israel). However, a bizarre French woman who is a director of Intel and has been the mistress of the man leading the coup goes in front of the computer screen, becomes mesmerised, and decides it is her mission to take over the world, so she goes and shoots the military officer and, using the old president as a stooge, takes over Azaran herself. There are lots of scenes of ineffectual British ministers, and an aged prime minister, back in London, uselessly huffing and puffing and imagining themselves still running the Raj, but they don't accomplish much other than raising their eyebrows, posturing, and acting as drolly Oxbridge as possible. The world climate begins to deteriorate because the computer has launched a new bacterium into the world's oceans, which is destroying the atmosphere. Enormous storms and hurricanes (shown by using Florida hurricane newsreel footage) and drastic climate change occur. This is eerily prescient for what is happening today, just as the portrayal of a poverty-stricken Iraq trying to exploit high technology for warfare seems prophetic. It is amazing how much of this series is relevant to today, 45 years later. Now our heroes are rushing to manufacture a counter-bacterium to save the world, and, aided by Andromeda, who is on the verge of death because 'there is some vital constituent lacking from her blood, omitted by mistake when she was made', and we have a cliff-hanger situation: will the world be saved in time? Will Andromeda herself be saved? Will Andromeda become human enough to fall in love with Peter Halliday? Can Peter Halliday stop worrying about her being a threat to the world for long enough to fall in love with Andromeda? It is all gripping stuff if you go back to the standards of the 1960s, and ignore the cheap sets and aren't too critical. It is surreal for me to see Susan Hampshire in this, as I knew her fairly well in 1963, the year after this, and have only seen her once since then, so this is the way I remember her, as a fresh young thing. (I call her young even though I was so much younger than her, because looking back, she now seems practically a child, with her face not yet fully formed.) When I knew her, she was infatuated with J. P. Donleavy, the Irish novelist. I remember her bursting into tears one day when she saw that a young bird had fallen from its nest. She is an innocent, sentimental person, with a heart of gold, and a smile of gold as well.
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