John Fleming -
Professor Dawnay -
Dennis Bridger -
General Vandenberg -
A For Andromeda (1961)
OTHER SINGLE DRAMAS
The Flipside of Dominick Hyde
A FOR ANDROMEDA - First Transmitted 27th March 2006
In a remote quarry, a small team of scientists is creating a computer system capable of sifting importance intelligence data out of the formless static of a billion mobile phone, television, radio and text transmissions. One of the test programmes picks up a signal from the formless static of radiation in space, a signal that comes from the Andromeda galaxy and contains the information for creating a computer far more powerful. That computer designs a new human being, a human being that is controlled by the machine, but what is the purpose of this new human and are the two deaths already sustained merely the start of something greater?
In 1961, A FOR ANDROMEDA was a seven part series penned by Fred Hoyle and John Elliott that helped propel Julie Christie on the road to stardom. This has been distilled down to a 90 minute precis for the new age, main premise intact , but new advances in computer and biotechnology to make it just as relevant today as it was back then, perhaps even more so.
This new A FOR ANDROMEDA is a very cold experience. Apart from the isolated setting being snowy and cold, the interiors are sterile and bare with hardly any hint at all that real people live here. Then again, real people don't. There's a lot of plot to get into 90 minutes and its the characters that suffer. There is little, or no, character development at all. We don't get to know these people, beyond their purpose in the plot, and so when bad things happen to them we simply don't care. Why does Dennis feel unloved when he is so unloving? Don't care. How can Christine switch so readily from one part of the team to another for affection? Don't care.
This is the fault of the characters and not the actors. Tom Hardy makes his idealistic, even naive, hero only a step away from obssessive/compulsive disorder and is really quite interesting, but Jane Asher's realistic head scientist and Charlie Cox's overshadowed junior partner are mere cyphers whilst David Haig never manages to convince as a man who could make general in the army. Kelly Reilly gets two chances to make an impact, but Christine is barely a character in her own right and so we have to wait for Andromeda to come on the scene before we start to take notice. It is surprising how unearthly a person can look with a pair of contact lenses and slicked down hair. Her struggle with the conflict between her alien programming and emerging humanity forms the core of the later part of the show, but there isn't enough time for that to be handled convincingly. Two conversations and she's converted.
There is little (or nothing) in the way of special effects, possibly the sign of a limited budget, but the central effect of the huge, spinning spherical computer is well-realised and impresses every time that it is on screen. Andromeda herself, however, emerges from what appears to be frozen vegetable freezer from the local supermarket.
A FOR ANDROMEDA, though is about the ideas rather than the effects or the characters, something of an irony when the fate of the human race hangs on the need to awaken the humanity within Andromeda.
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