The Andromeda Strain (2008): Part 01


Introduction

The Andromeda Strain is a 2008 science fiction miniseries, based on the 1969 novel of the same name written by Michael Crichton about a team of scientists who investigate a deadly disease of extra-terrestrial origin.

The miniseries is a “reimagining” of the original novel rather than an adaptation. In addition to updating the setting to the early 21st century, the miniseries makes a great many plot and character changes from its source.

Refer to the 1971 film here.

Outline

Part 02 here.

A United States government satellite crash lands near Piedmont, Utah, and two teenagers find it and bring it back to town. The town’s inhabitants open it and release a deadly microorganism, which is later codenamed Andromeda by the US Army. A team is sent from the Army’s biological defence group to retrieve the satellite, only to die from the disease themselves. The video footage recorded by the retrieval team and their strange deaths capture the attention of General George Mancheck, the head of the group, who activates “Wildfire,” a team of five scientists who are called upon when high-level bioterror threats occur in the United States. The team, headed by its creator, Dr. Jeremy Stone, investigates Piedmont. They retrieve the satellite and rescue a hysterical 60-year-old man and a colicky baby who have survived the Andromeda outbreak.

In an isolated underground laboratory, the Wildfire team begins their examination of the downed satellite and the two survivors. The laboratory is powered by a small water-cooled nuclear reactor. In the event of a contamination breach, a 15-minute self-destruct sequence would be automatically initiated; however if the activated sequence is deemed unnecessary, Major Bill Keane, designated by the Odd-Man Hypothesis, is the only person able to deactivate the sequence, using his pass key and right thumbprint.

The scientists begin their analysis of the Andromeda strain by recovering a sample from inside the satellite. They initially discover that the microorganism contains large numbers of buckyballs, and the team believes Andromeda is a product of advanced synthetic biology. The team hypothesizes that Andromeda may also have an extra-terrestrial origin, as it has no DNA or amino acids. The team discovers Andromeda is an airborne microorganism that kills its host by entering the bloodstream through the lungs and coagulating the blood in the body, causing death within 10 seconds via a blood clot in the brain. Those who survive the blood clot become insane, extremely violent, and suicidal. It is revealed that the two survivors from Piedmont had not been affected by Andromeda because of their acidic blood. Later testing reveals the cell to be resistant to all known antibiotics.

Cable news reporter Jack Nash becomes aware of some of the events related to the fallen satellite and Andromeda. As he investigates further, Chuck Beeter, the Director of the NSA, uses General Mancheck’s aide, Colonel Ferrus, to perform assassinations to prevent knowledge of Andromeda from reaching the civilian population. Nash travels to one of the temporary Army outposts performing quarantine procedures, and witnesses the effects of Andromeda spreading through various modes of transportation. He becomes a target of assassination due to his presence at the outpost, but manages to escape from Ferrus and his subordinates.

Meanwhile, a government agency forms a conspiracy to contain the microorganism for further uses, probably weapons related. To handle the situation, General Mancheck deliberately isolates the Wildfire team and cuts their contact with the lab’s exterior. However, Jack Nash manages to report to Dr. Stone about Project Scoop, a secret programme that was hidden by the government and General Mancheck. Mancheck, being forcefully questioned by Wildfire and fearing for the whole world’s safety being threatened by Andromeda, reveals the truth about the satellite. Project Scoop was one of several attempts to investigate a singularity, or a wormhole, that has mysteriously appeared in the Solar System. Sent specifically to collect biological samples, the satellite malfunctioned upon approaching the wormhole and fell back to Earth. When it was picked up, it released the deadly agent.

In an attempt to neutralise the problem, the President of the United States authorises a small tactical nuclear strike on the quarantine area in hopes of completely irradiating and destroying Andromeda. When the Wildfire team is informed, they realise that they have not reviewed the test results for irradiating Andromeda. They find that the microorganism grows at an exponential rate when irradiated. The Wildfire team alerts the President, and the air strike is called off before the pilot launches the nuclear missile. However, as the fighter jet continues to fly over the quarantine area, the pilot reports a malfunction of the aircraft’s controls. Through video feed, the Wildfire team and President watch in shock and horror as all plastic components of the aircraft, including the pilot’s visor, disintegrate.

Cast

  • Benjamin Bratt as Doctor Jeremy Stone.
  • Eric McCormack as Jack Nash.
  • Christa Miller as Doctor Angela Noyce.
  • Daniel Dae Kim as Doctor Tsi Chou.
  • Viola Davis as Doctor Charlene Barton.
  • Ricky Schroder as Major Bill Keane, M.D.
  • Andre Braugher as General George Mancheck.
  • Louis Ferreira as Colonel James C. Ferrus.
  • Paul Perri as Doctor Smithson.
  • Barry Flatman as Charles “Chuck” Beeter.
  • Ted Whittall as President Scott.
  • Ted Atherton as Edward “Ed” Dewitt.
  • Eve Harlow as Leila.

Background

In September 2004, the Sci Fi Channel announced that they would produce a miniseries of The Andromeda Strain executive-produced by Ridley and Tony Scott and Frank Darabont. On May 2, 2007, the SciFi channel’s news website The SciFi Wire announced that the miniseries would be broadcast on the A&E Network.

Filming

On 16 August 2007, the cast and crew filmed at the Surrey, B.C. campus of Simon Fraser University. The production also filmed in the Kamloops Brewery in Kamloops, British Columbia. Exterior scenes were filmed in Hedley, British Columbia, Ashcroft, British Columbia and the shoot location for the black helicopter was done in Savona, British Columbia. Although no filming was done in Utah, the satellite image appearing in the nuclear strike sequence is that of Emery, Utah.

Marketing

A&E created an alternative reality game that is set around a fictional blog, titled “What Happened in Piedmont?”. The blog accompanies the miniseries and features references to trouble in the town in which the miniseries is set. The “author” is a journalism student at the University of California, Berkeley, and the blog discusses his attempts to contact people from his home town of Piedmont after receiving a “bizarre voicemail” from his sister that left him with “a horrible feeling inside”. After the first post in April 2008, the blog revealed further insight into the plot of the miniseries, with cross-links to other fictional sites where players of the game could enter passwords to obtain more information.

The series’ tagline is “It’s a bad day to be human.”

Release

The miniseries originally aired as a four-hour, two-part miniseries, airing in the UK on 11 May 2008, and with part one premiering in the US on 26 May and part two on 27 May 2008. It was screened as a single three-ish hour movie in Australia on 21 September 2009.

The Andromeda Strain mini-series received mostly negative reviews from critics.

Award Nominations

Though it did not win any, the miniseries was nominated for six Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries. Part one was nominated for its cinematography, single-camera picture editing and sound mixing. Part two was nominated for sound editing. Both parts were nominated for makeup (non-prosthetic).

Ratings

  • Part one of The Andromeda Strain averaged 4.8 million total viewers, making it the second most-watched A&E program ever, behind Flight 93.
  • Part two averaged 5 million total viewers.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Mikael Salomon.
  • Producer(s):
    • Ron Binkowski … co-producer (4 episodes, 2008).
    • Clara George … producer (4 episodes, 2008).
    • Malcolm Reeve … co-producer (4 episodes, 2008).
    • Mikael Salomon … co-executive producer (4 episodes, 2008).
    • Ridley Scott … executive producer (4 episodes, 2008).
    • Tony Scott … executive producer (4 episodes, 2008).
    • Tom Thayer … executive producer (4 episodes, 2008).
    • David W. Zucker … executive producer (4 episodes, 2008).
  • Writer(s):
    • Michael Crichton (novel).
    • Robert Schenkkam (teleplay).
  • Music:
    • Joel J. Richard.
  • Cinematography:
    • Jon Joffin.
  • Editor(s):
    • Scott Vickrey.
  • Production:
    • A.S. Films.
    • Scott Free Productions.
    • Traveler’s Rest Films.
  • Distributor(s):
    • A+E Networks (2008) (USA) (TV).
    • Kutonen (2015) (Finland) (TV).
    • MTV3 (2010) (Finland) (TV).
    • RTL Entertainment (2009) (Netherlands) (TV) (RTL5).
    • TV5 (2014) (Finland) (TV).
    • Telekanal TV3 (2008) (Russia) (TV).
    • Universal Home Entertainment (2008) (UK) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Finland (2009) (Finland) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) (2008) (USA) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (2009) (Japan) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD).
  • Release Date: 11 May 2008 (UK) and 26 and 27 May 2008 (US).
  • Running Time:
  • Rating: 15.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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