The Andromeda Strain (2008): Part 02


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 01 here.

The nuclear missile is re-armed, the fighter jet and missile crash into the ground, and the missile detonates, irradiating the quarantine area. The team examine the footage of the crash, and realise that Andromeda has mutated again and is now able to consume nylon.

As Andromeda grows and mutates into more virulent forms and takes host in anything from mammals and reptiles to the bird population, the Wildfire team continue their tests to find a way to stop Andromeda before it reaches Las Vegas, the closest city to the quarantine zone with an international airport. Further studies reveal Andromeda is actually a sulfur-based bacterium. A set of tests with bacteriophages reveals that one phage can kill Andromeda. However, repeated tests with this phage prove unsuccessful, causing the Wildfire team to theorise that Andromeda can communicate through an unknown mechanism among its separate parts. By the time they discover a binary code on Andromeda’s cell wall encoded on buckyballs with potassium and rubidium atoms, the team suspects Andromeda to be a message according to the Messenger Theory. The information included the six-digit number “739528” and the words “Bacillus infernus” encoded in ASCII plus a bitmap image of a symbol with interlocking triangles. Bacillus infernus is the name of a bacterium found only in the thermal vents. At this time, President Scott was championing the new and controversial industry of thermal vent mining, and it was likely that the mining would eradicate the bacteria. Wildfire requests samples of the bacteria to begin testing its effects on Andromeda.

Tests with Bacillus infernus reveal that the bacterium easily consumes and destroys Andromeda because of Andromeda’s sulfur structure. The Wildfire team begins to grow large amounts of the bacterium in culture vats, intending to spray the culture liquid over a quarantine area in an attempt to sanitise it of the extra-terrestrial bacterium.

As the team watches the video footage of the crashed fighter jet, Dr. Stone suspects and considers the possibility that Andromeda did not attack until the launching sequence of the nuclear warhead has been halted, which means colonies of it could probably think and so attack the jet to force the warhead to be detonated, hence accelerating their own growth. The team therefore begins to destroy the remaining samples of Andromeda in the lab in an attempt to prevent Andromeda from communicating the nature of the tests with its other parts.

As part of a government conspiracy to preserve cultures of Andromeda for future use, Colonel Ferrus blackmails Dr. Barton to keep a single sample container. The bacteria then disintegrate their container setting off the lab’s contamination breach sensor and initiating the self-destruct sequence. The self-destruct sequence also causes the flashing emergency lights to turn on, triggering Chou’s photosensitive epilepsy, which causes him to inadvertently destroy the self-destruct control panel on the lab level of the complex.

With the elevators deactivated due to the self-destruct sequence, Keane decides to climb to the control panel on the level above through the lab’s main exhaust vent. However, the pipes and other components in the vent have begun to deteriorate due to the escaped Andromeda. The pipe Keane climbs suddenly bends, dangling Keane above the radioactive water at the base of the vent. Before falling, Keane manages to throw his badge to Stone. Realising Keane’s right thumb is also required to shut down the self-destruct sequence, Chou sacrifices his life to enter the radioactive water to cut off Keane’s thumb for Stone. With Keane’s thumb and badge, Stone reaches the control panel and deactivates the sequences with only seconds to spare. Eventually, the bacteria being dropped eradicate all traces of Andromeda.

As the remaining Wildfire team attends the funerals of their fallen colleagues, both General Mancheck and Colonel Ferrus are secretly assassinated. Dr. Stone reveals some of the events to the public in an interview with Jack Nash. In the final scene, the saved sample of the Andromeda is inserted into a BSL-4 compartment with the access code “739528”, held in a vessel marked with a symbol with interlocking triangles. Director Beeter watches over the operation on the computer in his office. The camera then zooms out, revealing Andromeda has been stored within a space station orbiting Earth. The ending implies that the sample saved on the space station is the cause of the outbreak in the future that necessitated sending the organism back to the present via the wormhole, creating an ontological paradox as to the cell’s origin. The ending also implies that Andromeda could really think, since the future outbreak of Andromeda has happened after the bacteria Bacillus infernus, the only thing capable of exterminating Andromeda, was completely destroyed, and so Andromeda avoided unnecessary risks by waiting for its right opportunity.

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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