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Andromeda: Season 3 Volume 2
Now that the "new world order" of the restored Commonwealth has been established, what's a footloose captain, his trusty warship, and their ragtag crew to do? Why, roam the galaxy righting wrongs and saving the day, of course! While in name at least the Andromeda Ascendant is part of the restored High Guard, in reality the crew seems more independent of authority than ever. (And the token "new crew members," apparently tossed in to indicate Andromeda's connection to the rest of the fleet, are so unimportant as to be laughable. Star Trek fans will know what I mean when I observe that they can best be described as "redshirts"...)
The four adventures chronicled in Andromeda: Season 3 Volume 2 aren't too bad, all things considered. One of the better episodes is "The Leper's Kiss," in which Dylan receives secret orders to track down an assassin... before he kills the next Triumvir of the Commonwealth. The rest of the crew is glad to help, except that the "need to know" clause of Dylan's orders forces him to keep them in the dark about most of what's going on. Andromeda's venture into the genre of the spy thriller gives us a reasonably entertaining story that even manages to throw a twist into the mix. Unlike some other episodes, here some of the seeming incongruities in the story turn out to make sense in the end.
The first and fourth episodes, "Slipfigher the Dogs of War" and "And Your Heart Will Fly Away" offer standard Andromeda action and a touch of intrigue; in the first, Dylan and the crew must stop the inhabitants of one planet from unleashing their deadly weapons on the galaxy, and in the second, Tyr takes off to rendezvous with a secret love, while the rest of the crew has to deal with other threats.
If "The Leper's Kiss" is Andromeda as spy thriller, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" is Andromeda as horror, with a mix of gooey alien slugs and ghost hauntings on board the Andromeda. The episode does a good job of setting up the atmosphere of a horror B-movie, and nicely plays some humorous touches with Harper reading Beka's scary novels, but in the end style is about all there is. Both sub-plots stumble along awkwardly, tripping over plot holes left and right, and the less said about the conclusion's attempt to tie them together, the better.
Fans of Andromeda will likely enjoy the episodes here; at least there's some variety in style and plot, and slightly less random violence than usual.
This two-DVD set includes episodes 306-309, packaged in a double-wide plastic keepcase.
Andromeda looks very sharp in this outing, with excellent colors and contrast, and a generally crisp and clear appearance. As we've come to expect, the image is free of edge enhancement, and the print is clean and free of noise or dirt. There's no grain visible either, even in the challenging dark scenes of episodes like "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack handles the dialogue and special effects reasonably well, offering a generally clear and crisp sound.
As with the other volumes of Season 3, this collection has much better menus than earlier seasons: the opening animation is very short, and the menu interface is straightforward and easy to navigate.
The most interesting special feature is "Meet the Cast: Kevin Sorbo," on the first disc. This 21-minute interview is quite substantial, and isn't puffed out by episode clips, either. Sorbo discusses a number of topics, such as his childhood interest in acting, the circumstances by which he got involved with Andromeda, and his thoughts on the significance of Andromeda's themes. It's sure to be of interest to Andromeda fans.
The remainder of the special features are fairly standard. On Disc 2, there's a four-minute segment of "Lisa Ryder's Gags and Bloopers"; these aren't any funnier than any of the other blooper reels, sadly. Spread across the two discs are alternate takes and deleted scenes (about a minute and a half) and "Design Gallery" segments featuring production designs and conceptual art (about 5 minutes). ADV previews and TV trailers for all four of the episodes are also included.
The four Andromeda episodes included in Season 3 Volume 2 offer a reasonably entertaining viewing experience for Andromeda fans, and as always the superb anamorphic widescreen transfer makes it pleasant to the eye. There's not enough repeat viewing value here (except for die-hard fans) for me to suggest this set as a purchase, but if you've enjoyed other Andromeda episodes, it's a good choice for a rental.