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Lost in a maze with somebody who may not be trustworthy
As this episode opens Indra Xicol, an emissary of Tri-Jema, arrives with an offer of peace. In return it is expected that Dylan will hand over the Route of Ages... unfortunately it appears to have been stolen. Luckily there is a copy but that is hidden in a maze within a maze; looked after by a rather difficult couple. Dylan, Rhade and Indra head to retrieve the copy from the couple looking after it. Rhade is soon separated from the other two. As they search together Dylan and Indra appear to be getting closer but can she really be trusted. Meanwhile Tri-Jema arrives in a fleet and threatens Andromeda.
This was an enjoyable episode. Having Dylan getting involved with yet another beautiful character may be more than a little cliché but Emily Holmes, who plays Indra, is fun and has a good chemistry with Kevin Sorbo's Dylan. The design of the maze is a little simplistic; lots of corridors lined with red curtains but at least it wasn't another cave system. It isn't too clear just how trustworthy Indra is; my opinion of her changed more than once as the episode progressed. Calvino and Astrid, the couple in the maze, are enjoyably over the top; Calvino clearly a pastiche of a character from a Shakespeare comedy. Overall a fun episode; largely thanks to the guest stars.
Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018)
An atmospheric new adaption of an Australian classic
This six-part Australian mini-series is set in a girls' school in a remote area of Victoria during early 1900. It is owned by Mrs Hester Appleyard; a woman who claims to be a wealthy young widow but in a voice-over in the opening scenes tells the viewer that she isn't what she appears to be. On St Valentine's Day most of the girls attend a picnic near the titular Hanging Rock. Four of the girls and their governess explore the rock while others sleep... when their classmates awaken there is no sign of those who went to the rock. An extensive search ensues and one of the girls is found; she has no memory of what happened and offers no clue as to what happened to the others.
As time passes without any further signs of the missing girls various theories are suggested but nothing is proven. Rumours abound and parents start withdrawing their daughters from the school. Mrs Appleyard wonders if the disappearances could be connected to her past; a past that may be catching up with her. We also see various flashbacks of life before the fateful picnic and further tensions that will ultimately have fatal consequences.
It is surprising that this is based on a story that is just over fifty years old; if I hadn't read otherwise I would have assumed it must at the very least have been inspired by real events! I suspect that sense of realness is largely down to the number of questions deliberately left unanswered. The series is impressively atmospheric; there is a constant sense that something isn't quite right. There are plenty of possible answers to what happened to the girls; they ran away and were lost in the bush; somebody did something to them or even something supernatural could have happened. The cast do a fine job bringing their characters to life; most notably Natalie Dormer who is really impressive as Mrs Appleyard and young Inez Currõ who is great as Sara Waybourne, a girl who missed the picnic but is still key to the story. I can't say how it compares to the 1975 film as I've yet to watch it, nor have I read the book but if you are looking for something atmospheric and mysterious and don't expect everything to be wrapped up by the end I'd certainly recommend giving this a go.
Harper is drawn into helping the Patriarch
As this episode opens Dylan, Harper and Rhade are aboard the Eureka Maru investigating smuggling of certain minerals when they are attacked by people looking for Harper. They are eventually caught and it emerges that The Patriarch is still alive and he needs Harper's engineering knowhow. He is planning to build a bridge between the planet and its moon... if that weren't enough to moon-end of the bridge is to be two hundred years in the future. Harper agrees to help on condition that that Rhade isn't executed... as completion approaches Dylan tells Harper not to activate the bridge... he is desperate to find out if it works though.
This enjoyable episode is a clear homage to the classic 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' so anybody familiar with that film will have a good idea what is likely to happen. That said the ending still provides a real surprise. It was fun seeing guest star Michael Ironside return as The Patriarch. The episode provides plenty of good action scenes and some tense moments. For a long time there has been talk of the arrival of the Magog world ship; here it is suggested that its arrival is imminent and unavoidable. Overall a pretty good episode which provides to good twists to a familiar story.
Space Cowboys (2000)
Four elderly test pilots go into orbit in this amusing and exciting film
In the late 1950s a group of USAF test pilots are flying higher and faster than any American and anticipate that they will be the first Americans in space... then NASA is created and they are humiliated as they learn a chimp is to replace them! Forty years later a Russian general approaches NASA asking for help; a vital communications satellite is about to crash to earth in a matter of weeks. It is too big to bring back to earth in the shuttle and the electronics system is so antiquated nobody working at NASA understands it. The system is a stolen version of that used on Skylab and its designer is Frank Corvin, one of the old test pilots. When asked for help he agrees but has conditions; he and his old team; William "Hawk" Hawkins, Jerry O'Neill and "Tank" Sullivan; will be the ones to go into orbit to fix it. With no other choice NASA agree and the quartet of aging pilots prepare to finally go into space. Of course there will be plenty of hiccoughs along the way; passing fitness tests; learning that one of them has cancer and finally discovering that the Russians weren't entirely honest about the satellite's purpose.
This film may be more than a little far-fetched but if you can suspend your disbelief it is a lot of fun. There are plenty of amusing moments as Corvin reassembles the old team and gets them through training, often showing younger astronauts a thing or two in the process. Once the mission gets started there is a reduction in the comedy as the tension rises and we ultimately get a bittersweet conclusion. The veteran cast which includes Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner as the four elderly astronauts does a fine job; they never play it too seriously but at the same time avoid things getting silly... even though the story is far-fetched it is easy to believe it while watching. There are some good twists towards the end when we finally learn the truth about the old Soviet satellite and just how they got Skylab's systems. The special effects are of a high quality; one could almost believe our protagonists really went up into orbit. Overall I'd say that this is a bit cheesy at times but who cares as it is a lot of fun; I'd certainly recommend it to fans of the main cast or anybody likes the genre.
Another clip show as Beka comes under suspicion
Every time Andromeda drops out of slipstream it isn't long before bounty hunters arrive at the scene; it would appear that there must be a traitor on board. Few people have the access required; Rommie produces a list... Rhade, Trance Gemini, Harper and Beka. By analysing footage taken at the time of the attacks a single suspect is identified... Beka Valentine. When confronted she draws weapons on her friends but is soon taken into custody. A medical scan of her brain reveals that she has been infected by the Abyss. Her friends must find a way to remove all traces of the Abyss from her mind without getting 'infected' themselves.
The central idea of this episode was solid enough and ultimately led to some enjoyable scenes where the Abyss is confronted... unfortunately it didn't provide enough material to fill the episode so once again we get an episode containing numerous clips from previous shows. Some of these are entertaining enough but many weren't particularly relevant... worst of all seeing 'season one Rev Bem' confirmed my suspicion that his appearance had radically changed for no obvious reason when he returned in the episode before this one! Overall not a bad episode; just a pity it featured so much old material.
Dicte - Crime Reporter
This series, retitled 'Dicte - Crime Reporter' here in the UK, follows crime reporter Dicte Svendsen as she reports on, and gets involved in, various cases in her home city of Aarhus, which she has returned to after some time away. She lives with her teenage daughter, Rose, and usually ends up working with policeman John Wagner. The cases typically, but not always, concern murders. These cases are each two episodes long although they were combined into single double length episodes here. As well as the mysteries there are ongoing personal stories involving Dicte and her friends' various relationships, personal and professional problems.
Amongst all the 'Nordic Noir' this series is lighter fare with its shorter individual cases and a protagonist who is closer to the enthusiastic amateur of classic whodunits than more realistic police investigations. Dicte constantly gets herself into situations that put her in danger or could get her arrested in real life. The cases are intriguing and the characters' personal lives are entertaining if rather chaotic... some might say soapish. The cast does a fine job; although not being Danish I can't comment on their accents. Most notable amongst the cast are Iben Hjejle, who plays Dicte; Lars Brygmann, as Wagner; and Dar Salim, who plays photographer and Dicte's love interest Bo Skytte. Overall I'd certainly recommend this for fans of crime drama looking for something lighter than most recent Nordic offerings.
These comments are based on watching the series in Danish with English subtitles.
Every Man Is an Island
These comments refer to the whole two part story, not just episode two.
As the series comes to an end Dicte learns that her father didn't tell her the truth about her half-sister... far from being killed in an accident she is still alive. Her father explains that this is because she is trouble. Dicte goes to see her and sure enough she is soon asking for money claiming that she needs it to get away from a stalker. Early investigations suggest she is lying but what if she isn't? She may be in real danger. Meanwhile it emerges that there are two possible fathers for Rose's child, Bo is back in town and Nina's superior, Tonni, is continuing to pressure her at work and she is drinking heavily.
This is a fine conclusion to this enjoyable Danish series; it provides an solid mystery, which is personal for our protagonist, as well as wrapping up several long running plotlines involving most main characters. The story of Dicte's sister is well handled with plenty of misdirection that keeps the viewer unsure as to whether anything she says is true. The story provides plenty of shocks; including a scene that will disturb dog lovers. The story's conclusion may not please all viewers but I found it exciting and more than satisfactory... even if it would be less morally acceptable if this weren't a work of fiction. The various personal plot strands are wrapped up in a pleasing manner... the way the Nina/Tonni storyline ended was particularly pleasing. As expected the cast were all on fine form.
These comments are based on watching the episode in Danish with English subtitles.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
Sam Peckinpah's take on the last days of Billy the Kid
Set in 1880s New Mexico this film tells the story of Sheriff Pat Garrett and his hunt for his old friend, the outlaw William H. Bonney... aka 'Billy the Kid'. Early on Pat catches up with Billy and arrests him but he isn't in custody for long as he escapes from the jail in the town of Lincoln, killing two deputies in the process. Billy reunites with friends and head off. Garrett is soon looking for him again and it is only a matter of time before the two will meet again... before then though many other people will die.
As one might expect from Sam Peckinpah there are some bloody moments; most notably when Billy guns down a deputy with a shotgun loaded with dimes. Still by today's standards the blood shed is fairly mild. The plot is fairly simple without twists and turns; that suits the subject matter though. Neither of the two protagonists are particularly sympathetic; both are quick on the draw and aren't too bothered by killing people... in fact nobody seems bothered by the violent deaths; children watch as men are gunned down in the street. James Coburn impresses as Garrett and Kris Kristofferson is solid, if a little old, as Billy the Kid. The rest of the cast, which includes many familiar faces is pretty good; even singer Bob Dylan, who also provided the film's music, puts in a good turn as a man who calls himself 'Alias'. Overall I'd certainly recommend this to people who like their westerns gritty with morally ambiguous characters rather than obvious heroes and villains.
Rev Bem contacts Dylan and leads him into danger
This episode sees the return of season one regular Rev Bem; he contacts Dylan and tells him he will show him the weapon to defeat the Abyss... but he must come alone. They meet on an infamously dangerous planet and Rev Bem's behaviour seems rather different... he helps the Collectors drug and capture Dylan. When he awakens he is aboard a dead ship heading into a black hole. When the rest of the crew realise something has happened to Dylan they follow clues that lead them to a Collector scientist who may be their only hope of finding Dylan.
I enjoyed this episode; it was a real treat to see Rev Bem again; especially as his character was more ambiguous than expected... the old Rev was somebody to be trusted; now it is far from clear whose side he is on for much of the episode. The way Dylan is captured and forced to face his fears is well handled... we see him struggling on the doomed ship interweaved with scenes showing the others attempts to find him. These attempts include trying to discover what he fears most; this led me to wonder if he was actually in a simulation for much of the episode. Brent Stait's return as Bem was most welcome even if the character's appearance seeded to have changed slightly... possibly a make-up change or perhaps just the fact that he wasn't wearing his robes and hood. Guest star Ingrid Torrance was fun as Collector Sakkai Saguro; it wasn't hard to see why Harper was immediately in lust with her! Overall a pretty good episode.
Andromeda: The Others (2004)
Dylan is infected with a deadly ailment after getting between two sides in a civil war
When Andromeda comes across two relatively primitive ships that appear to have fought till they exhausted fuel and weapons both are brought on board in separate hangers. Each has one person on board who explains that they are on either side of a planetary civil war that has gone on for generations. Of course each side blames the other... General Lach, of the northern race accuses the southerners of unleashing biological weapons that have infected most of the North while Southerner Zara claims the North attacked the peace-loving South while denying the use of such weapons. An attempt to get them to talk goes horrible wrong when Lach bites Dylan, infecting him with the disease. It acts faster on him because he is a heavy-worlder. In an attempt to find a cure Rhade accompanies Lach to the northern settlement while Beka and Harper go with Zara to the southern encampment; before they can get the data that might help things go wrong and it looks as though they will be caught up in a major battle.
This was a pretty solid episode even if the ideas explored were hardly new. Interestingly neither side really emerges as victim or oppressor; each is as bad as the other in a war whose true origins have been lost in history as the hatred grew. Guest stars Kandyse McClure and Peter Wingfield put in solid performances as Zara and Lach; they make the viewer believe that each character believes in the righteousness of their cause and genuinely hates the other. When we finally learn the truth behind the illness it does seem a little far-fetched, as does its cure but it fits in with the obvious moral of the story... it is better to live together than die apart. Whether the two sides will ultimately do that is far from clear though. Overall a decent stand-alone episode.
Wonders of the Monsoon (2014)
A fascinating look at the effects of the monsoon weather system
This five part documentary series shows us how the monsoon weather system affects a swathe of countries from India all the way to Australia. It explains how the monsoon isn't just the heavy rains but the whole weather cycle, which includes periods of severe drought. We are shown how this impacts the lives of both the local populations and the varied wildlife of the area. This wildlife includes familiar creatures like Asian Elephants and Orangutans that have featured in numerous nature documentaries as well as showing us less well known creatures like a giant leach that preys on equally giant worms in Borneo and a species of from that signals with its large feet.
I really enjoyed this series; each episode showed me things that I didn't know about the way the weather effects an interesting part of the world. The makers visited a wide variety of counties, as well as several islands with unique animals. Narrator Colin Salmon does a fine job delivering his lines in a manner that keeps things interesting without ever sounding overly emotional as some narrators can at times. Each episode also included a final section about the making of the most challenging part of the episode; these are interesting snippets that give us an insight into the making of the episode... I suspect these sections may be lost if the series is shown on channels that include adverts. Overall a really interesting documentary about how the monsoons effect so many lives; both human and animal.
Sex and violence in medieval Europe
When a fortified city is taken from its rightful ruler while he is away he hires mercenaries to help retake it. I promises that they can have twenty four hours to loot as the please but once they are victorious he betrays them; ordering them to disarm and leave any treasure they have found. Soon afterwards the departing mercenaries discover a statue of St Martin and take it as a sign that their leader, also called Martin will make them rich. Not long after this they meet the man who betrayed them and make off with wagons loaded with valuables... and Agnes, the young woman promised to his son Steven. The mercenaries rape her but soon it becomes clear that Martin wants her for himself; especially after she helps him seize a castle which the mercenaries use as their new home. Of course things are far from over and they will have to contend with attacks from opposing forces and an outbreak of the plague!
If you have seen other films from director Paul Verhoeven you will have an idea of what to expect; violence, sex and nudity. While this means it won't appeal to everybody it didn't feel overly gratuitous. The film captures the filth and unpleasantness of the era in a way that might feel familiar to people watching things like 'Game of Thrones' now but would have been unusual at a time when things were far more sanitised. Our protagonists are more morally ambiguous than one expect; Martin is far from heroic as he forces himself onto Agnes and later she shows a cunning side as she appears to fall in love with him but doesn't forget Steven... one feels she will do what it takes to survive in the least unpleasant way possible. Rutger Hauer impresses as Martin and Jennifer Jason Leigh does a solid job as Agnes. The supporting cast are pretty good too. The action scenes are suitably gritty with many characters getting killed in ways that aren't swift and painless. One or two of these deaths are also quite inventive thanks to Steven's scientific approach to warfare. Overall one for fans of the genre who don't like things overly sanitised.
The Price of Addiction
These comments refer to the whole two part story, not just episode two.
This story opens with Dicte visiting the Tivoli Friheden amusement park; here she sees a crying man wearing a balaclava in the ladies' lavatories... she just assumes he is in fancy dress and leaves. Soon after it is announced that the park is closing early. It turns out there has been a robbery and a security guard was shot and wounded. Dicte writes about what she saw and is soon approached by Nina. It turns out that this crime was almost identical to a previous one but the man responsible for that has a cast iron alibi and claims that he never told anybody how he did it. Dicte returns to the scene and uncovers a second crime in progress; the police arrive and make an arrest but things aren't quite was initially assumed and the case is far from closed. Away from the central mystery it appears that Dicte's relationship with Bo is well and truly over and Nina's problems with her superior get far worse as he fears she is after his job and tries to drive her back to drink.
I found this to be another enjoyable story; the central mystery was enjoyable without being overly complex. Once again Dicte puts herself in a rather foolish amount of danger leading her to conform one armed robber and be kidnapped by a more dangerous character... this isn't too much of a problem as anybody bothered by her recklessness would have dropped the series by now! I was actually more concerned about Nina as her boss tries to undermine her at every opportunity as that sort of bullying feels more real. Stine Stengade does a great job as Nina and Søren Malling impresses as her superior Tonni. As the story ends there are plenty of loose ends that will presumably be wrapped up in the series finale... I look forward to finding out.
Dylan finds himself in an alternate reality
Andromeda is being pursued and running low on fuel. Unable to keep running Dylan orders Harper to activate his experimental cloaking device. It doesn't go as expected. When activated Dylan suddenly finds Andromeda abandoned; he explores and finds the ship is on a planet where Dylan's face is carved into a mountainside! It turns out this is an alternate timeline where Dylan wasn't frozen in time but saved the Commonwealth; became a hero and died a long time ago. If that weren't strange enough it emerges that Harper is now the despotic leader; Rhade is in command of the High Guard and Beka Valentine is leading the rebellion against their oppression. Dylan's priority is to get back to his reality but that means dealing with the situation he finds himself in.
The various 'Star Trek' series had many successful episodes involving the 'Mirror Universe' so it shouldn't be too surprising that something similar would be tried here. It isn't quite the same as this is an alternate timeline rather than a totally different universe... it is still rather fun though. We must suspend disbelief somewhat as it is rather unlikely that the most important people in this timeline are three of the series' protagonists; this of course is standard for such stories so should be easy to overlook. I liked how Trance Gemini was used; it showed us more about her already intriguing character. There is a decent amount of action; it was fun seeing Dylan having to fight against people he would normally see as friends. There were some laughs to be had; many provided by guest star Michelle Harrison, who was a lot of fun as an android tour guide. Overall an enjoyable standalone episode.
Tom yum goong (2005)
This Tony Jaa martial arts film follows Kham; a Thai villager whose father's elephants have been stolen with the help of corrupt local officials. He learns that the two elephants have been taken to Sydney so he heads to Australia to search for them. Here he soon getting into trouble as he confronts a variety of unsavoury characters. He also meets up with Thai-born Australian policeman Sergeant Mark as he finds himself confronting a senior officer who is in league with the criminals.
The story here is pretty basic but that doesn't matter; I doubt many people will be watching for a complex plot and subtle twists... this is all about martial arts action and here it really delivered. There are numerous fights; each seems more exciting than the one before. This action is brilliantly choreographed and at times fairly wince-inducing as our protagonist snaps limbs and severs tendons! Tony Jaa is great in these scenes. Petchtai Wongkamlao brings some humour as Sergeant Mark; a likeably character is funny without being silly. As well as the numerous fights there are a couple of fine chases; this includes a short car chase in Sydney and a thrilling boat chase in Thailand. Overall I'd say this is definitely one to watch if you are a fan of martial arts films.
Andromeda: The Spider's Stratagem (2004)
Dylan captures a sexy smuggler
This episode sees Andromeda dealing with Moldar, an oppressive ruler, who denies that he has anything to do with anything untoward. Then known smuggler Rox Nava is spotted in the system. Scans suggest she is smuggling people but when her ship is captured there are no signs of anybody... it turns out she is smuggling living bio-armour. The technology is like nothing in the Commonwealth so Dylan is determined to find its origin so he and Rox head to the planet she collected it from. Meanwhile Beka and Rhade deliver a consignment of armour and discover just how dangerous it is.
This episode was a lot of fun; the idea of living armour was interesting and when we learn where it comes from it becomes pure fairy tale. There is a decent amount of action and a nice twist involving what the armour does to its wearer. Nia Peeples puts in an enjoyable performance as Rox; she impresses in her fight scenes and is fun as she flirts with Dylan. John Cassini is also fun as the somewhat pantomime villain Moldar. There is a decent amount of action; this includes fights and a scene where we learn that force lances are more than just weapons. Overall I'd say this episode was really fun although I suspect some may not be keen on the obvious fairy tale elements.
What is on the planet under Babylon 5?
As this, the first episode of a two part story, opens Draal, Delenn's elderly mentor arrives on Babylon 5; a series of quakes occur on the apparently uninhabited planet beneath the station and contact is lost with Mars Colony. A shuttle is dispatched to investigate the goings planet's instability but activates what appears to be an ancient planetary defence system. Further investigation suggests that weapons are being launched from a fissure that is at least five miles deep. Sinclair and Ivanova head down to investigate and make a shocking discovery. Meanwhile Garibaldi is desperate to contact an old friend who he knew when he worked on Mars.
This episode was rather fun; there is a real sense of mystery concerning the planet below Babylon 5; especially after Sinclair, then Londo see what appears to be hologram of an alien being asking for help. There is a sense of danger as Sinclair and Ivanova go down to the planet followed by some real surprises when we see what they discover. We also get some good laughs; most provided by Londo... his comments about the Hokey Cokey were hilarious. Overall a really good first part with a great cliff-hanger ending that left me keen to see what happens next.
Dylan is put on trial
This episode opens with Dylan being arrested and put on trial for treason against the Commonwealth he created! Leading the prosecution is Pish Tryan, a Collector who Dylan has crossed paths with before. Pish manages to requisition Rommie's files and proceeds to use recordings of previous events against Dylan. Meanwhile his friends back on Andromeda are planning to help him get out of this potentially dangerous situation. Ultimately though Dylan will discover who amongst the senior Commonwealth still supports him and who is happy to have The Collectors controlling the Commonwealth.
This isn't a bad episode but there is an over-reliance on clips from previous shows as part of the evidence against Dylan. Perhaps it is just nit-picking but since these are clips from episodes they don't look like realistic security recordings thanks to the way the camera moves. On the plus side this episode gives us an insight into how the Commonwealth has changed from the one Dylan was trying to recreate. It was also fun to see Ivar Brogger return as Pish Tryan. Overall not a great episode but it did set in motion things that should prove interesting later.
When the Mind is Ill
These comments refer to the whole two part story, not just episode two.
Dicte's daughter Rose has got a new job working in the psychiatric wing of a hospital. On her first day she releases a patient's restraints so she can drink before being told she is in the wrong room. Shortly afterwards the patient is dead. Rose is suspicious as now the restraints are on again but the person in charge says he didn't touch them. Rose tells her mother who in turn approaches her new police contact Nina. A post mortem confirms the girl was murdered. Dicte is worried about Rose's safety as she continues to work on the ward. Suspects include both staff and patients but when there is an identical murder on the hospital's children's ward the possibility that somebody from outside is guilty. Away from the central mystery Dicte's relationship with Bo looks as if it could be reaching breaking point after he strikes her and Nina's new boss constantly underplays her role in key breakthroughs on the case.
This is another solid story. The central mystery provides plenty of likely suspects; we learn that some are totally innocent and one is guilty of something else before the truth is exposed. The final resolution wasn't too obvious until shortly before the reveal so the viewer is kept guessing till almost the end but can still feel smug if they work it out before the end. The background 'character stories' worked well; I suspect we won't learn whether Dicte's marriage will survive until the final episode and Nina's problems with her boss will surely be ongoing. Overall a good mix of 'case of the week' and character development.
Searching for a missing princess
This episode sees the crew of the Andromeda searching for Aleyiss San, the only daughter of Shineoa San, the self-proclaimed king of an important commonwealth system. He believes that she was murdered by Kulis Bara, a pirate who attacked the ship she was aboard. Dylan isn't so sure she is dead. Beka and Rhade manage to track her down but it doesn't appear that she wants to be rescued. Has she crossed over to the criminal's side or is Bara not as villainous as everybody claimed?
I thought this episode was fun enough even if the twists weren't all that surprising. There is some decent action; this includes an impressive explosion and some fights... one of which, somewhat unexpectedly, Beka and Rhade lose. The locations were fairly standard; a crowded area populated with unsavoury looking characters and a final confrontation is the sort of cave system, which contains many dangers, so beloved of the series. We do get some character development for Beka as we are told about her mother. Overall a decent enough episode but not one of the more memorable ones.
The Black Hole (1979)
A surprisingly dark sci-fi from Disney
As this episode opens the crew of the spaceship Palomino stop to observe a giant black hole; to their surprise they see another ship positioned near the black hole. It is the USS Cygnus; an exploration vessel that hasn't been heard from for twenty years. The Palomino's crew make their way to the Cygnus. Here they find its commander Dr Hans Reinhardt alone apart from a crew of robots; he claims the original crew left and presumably died. As well as his humanoid robots he has created an army of combat robots and the sinister Maximillian, a large red robot with some unpleasant weaponry. The crew of the Palomino are divided about what to do; some think Reinhardt is clearly dangerously insane as he plans to take his ship into the black hole; others think he is a genius and wish join his mission. Eventually they learn the truth and must struggle to get away before it is too late.
Made by Disney shortly after Sci-fi became all the rage following 'Star Wars' this film is surprisingly dark at times. Early on it feels as though it may be typical Disney fare with a cute robot, Vincent, amongst the crew. Once aboard the Cygnus, and especially after the introduction of Reinhardt and Maximillian, there is a sense that something isn't right. Another cute robot, the battered Bob, later explains the sinister truth about what really happened aboard the Cygnus. The cast is solid enough, Maximilian Schell, is suitably menacing as Reinhardt, and I enjoyed Slim Pickens' uncredited performance as the voice of Bob. This may be a Disney film but there are some disturbing moments... while we may not see what happens and there is no blood seen there is one particularly horrific death! The special effects do show their age at times but are still decent enough. I'm unsure about the ending with its religious undertones but it isn't enough to spoil the film. Overall I'd recommend this to sci-fi fans.
Andromeda: Machinery of the Mind (2004)
Dylan is kidnapped and Harper gives a speech
This episode sees Andromeda's crew heading to a planet where the greatest scientists are due to discuss the Magog threat. Harper is due to be the key note speaker and is enjoying the attention... especially from an attractive female scientist. Inevitably things soon start to go wrong; one scientist goes missing and another can't give his speech because somebody has stolen key parts of his brain! If that weren't enough Dylan has been kidnapped by The Collectors who intend to recruit him whether he likes it or not.
While this isn't a classic episode it is still rather fun. It was nice to see Harper taking a lead with some laughs to be had from his inevitable failure to impress most of the ladies. What is happening to the scientists is interesting; the idea of taking parts of one's brain leaving a gibbering shell of a person is rather disturbing. It isn't a surprise that Harper finds himself targeted; nor is it a great surprise to guess who the threat really is. The secondary story involving Dylan is also pretty good; his blasé attitude to his captors was a highlight. Overall a decent episode.
Andromeda: Conduit to Destiny (2003)
Coincidence and prophecy
After Beka takes a 'wrong turn' in slipstream Andromeda emerges in a system housing a Commonwealth prison; almost immediately afterwards they receive a request for help quelling a riot. That is soon done but three prisoners manage to escape. Two are swiftly caught but the third proves more elusive... there is something odd about her; she appears on none of the prison's records despite clearly being there; it is suggested that she might be a rebel mole. Beka and Rhade follow her into a hidden area where they find old pictographs which, when translated, tell of a prophecy linking the woman, a man known as 'the conduit' and a device that the planet's administrator, Patrius, described as its power source. It is protected by a security system that even he can't crack.
This was an enjoyable episode; it may rely on coincidence but that is flagged throughout and fits in with the prophecy. There are some nice twists as the story unfolds although I'm sure most viewers will guess many of them before the reveal. There is plenty of solid action and guest star Laura Mennell does a fine job as the mystery prisoner who is later identified as Siara. Sebastian Spence is suitably ambiguous as Patrius. The regular cast are on good form and there is some character development for Dylan, who we learn has visited the planet before. Overall a pretty good episode.
Into the Abyss
This episode follows on from the previous one in what is effectively a two part story. It looks as if Beka has decided to side with Tyr and The Collectors as she learns that the Magog are due to arrive within months rather than in a year. Meanwhile the rest of the Andromeda crew have used the Route of Ages to discover the location of The Abyss. As Andromeda heads to The Abyss Tyr and Beka follow in the Eureka Maru. Getting into the Abyss won't be easy; once inside they will face dangers and then getting out will be close to impossible.
This episode provided a good conclusion to this 'return of Tyr' story. For most of the episode it was unclear which side Beka was really on; Lisa Ryder did a fine job keeping the character slightly ambiguous. The depiction of the inside of The Abyss was okay... it is of course virtually impossible to depict something that is meant to be so different it is beyond understanding. Throughout the series there have been hints about the true nature of Trance Gemini; here we are finally told what she actually is... if I hadn't come across spoilers on the matter I'd never have guessed the truth. This revelation is interesting and I'm sure more details of it will be explained in future. Overall a good episode with solid action; good plot progression and some surprising character development.
The return of Tyr Anasazi
As this episode opens Andromeda comes to the aid of a Commonwealth ship that is being attacked by the Nietzscheans. There are two people on board; Lieutenant Commander Telemachus Rhade and his prisoner... Tyr Anasazi. Tyr escapes with the attackers and Dylan is ordered to bring Rhade back to the Commonwealth. He considers the capture of Tyr to be more important. It emerges that Tyr has aligned the Nietzscheans with The Collectors as he believes they are the best bet to defeat the Abyss. To that end they are seeking the 'Route of Ages'. This is a map of the universe that shows the way to everywhere; including The Abyss.
The highlight of this episode was the return of Keith Hamilton Cobb as Tyr; even now his character is ambiguous... his aim appears to be the same as Dylan but he has chosen a new ally. Steve Bacic also returns as Rhade; a decent enough character who appears about to become a regular member of Andromeda's crew. There are also solid guest performances from Ivar Brogger as Collector Pish Tryan and Sonya Salomaa as Aurelia, the keeper of the Route of Ages. There are plenty of decent action scenes including space battles, a shootout and a fun gaol-break. The Route of Ages was interesting and as we learn more about it there is some good character development for Trance Gemini... to my mind the most intriguing of the main characters. Questions are also raised about the loyalty of another crew member. Overall a fine episode that sets things up nicely for future episodes.