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Andromeda - Season 4 Collection 3
After the surprisingly OK second installment of Andromeda's fourth season, Collection 3 picks up the story with four more episodes involving the Andromeda Ascendant and her motley crew, who are determined to save the universe whether it wants to be saved or not. With the Magog threat and the Nietzchean menace on the back burner for now, the episodes in Season 4 Collection 3 offer various adventures that hint at a Commonwealth that's becoming increasingly unstable (and less amenable to Dylan's unconventional approach to leadership).
Taking the trophy for "Most Pretentious Title of the Season" is the first episode, "Exalted Reason, Resplendent Daughter," in which Dylan and the rest of the crew hunt down a pirate of the space lanes who has, it seems, kidnapped the "crown princess" daughter of an important Commonwealth leader. Despite the banal-sounding summary, this episode actually turns out to be a reasonably entertaining adventure with a bit of an unexpected twist at the end.
"The Torment, the Release" ought to have been better than it is. Dylan is put on trial for crimes against the Commonwealth, including treason. What makes this a potentially interesting episode is that the charges aren't unjustified: as we're reminded in flashbacks, Dylan really has broken any number of regulations and twisted truth to suit himself as he goes about "doing the right thing." Unfortunately, the potential for a bit of ethical complexity is lost, as the thrust of the episode turns out to be that because Dylan knows in his heart that he's doing the right thing, he really is, and those who oppose him or criticize his methods are the bad guys. Uh-huh... and how many megalomaniacs in power have said (and even believed) the same thing? That's a pretty scary attitude to present with a straight face, but unfortunately, it also seems to be a very common attitude for today's leaders, which just highlights what a missed opportunity this episode is in terms of actually having something meaningful to say.
"The Spider's Stratagem" is merely OK, with the Andromeda crew involved in intercepting a smuggler's shipment of high-tech items to a war zone. It's pretty much run-of-the-mill adventure.
The final episode of this set, "The Warmth of an Invisible Light," shows a spark of imagination, as a freak equipment malfunction sends Dylan to an alternate reality, where Harper is an evil genius who has overthrown the Commonwealth and set himself up to rule instead. It's some light fun that will be certain to please fans of the series.
This two-DVD set, packaged in a double-wide keepcase, includes episodes 410-413.
Since Andromeda usually looks so spectacular on DVD in terms of video quality, I was surprised to note that the image quality for the episodes presented in Season 4 Collection 3 is merely good rather than outstanding. The episodes are presented in their original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and are anamorphically enhanced, and the overall appearance is clean, with natural, strong colors. However, the image is just a tad on the soft side, with longer-distance shots just not looking as crisp as in earlier collections, and the contrast is noticeably too heavy, with dark scenes looking far too black. We're still talking about a solid transfer here, but it's not as dazzling as other sets.
The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack does its job competently here, as in earlier collections. The dialogue is clean and clear, the music and sound effects are integrated well into the soundtrack, and there's no background noise or distortion at all. It's fairly center-focused, and the action scenes are sometimes a bit flat, but really it's a decent 2.0 track.
Disc 1 has two reasonably interesting featurettes: "Meet the Cast: Brent Stait (Rev Bem)" (18 minutes) and "Meet the Director: Richard Flower" (9 minutes). In each case, the interviewee offers some worthwhile background on his participation with the series. Unfortunately, Stait does the interview in full makeup; it would have been more intriguing to actually get to see the actor behind the mask. Also on this disc are text biographies of the characters Dylan Hunt and Beka Valentine, a text entry on "slipstream" from "The Andromeda Guidebook," TV promotional trailers for the two episodes on this disc, and ADV previews.
Disc 2 has one more featurette, an 8-minute piece on "Behind the Scenes: Make-up" which, like the other featurettes, is moderately interesting. We also get text biographies of cast members Kevin Sorbo and Lisa Ryder, a text section on "Powering the Andromeda Ascendant" from "The Andromeda Guidebook," a bland 4-minute set of "Gordon Michael Woolvett's Bloopers and Gags," TV promotional trailers, and ADV previews. Unlike other collections, no deleted scenes are included on either disc.
Andromeda: Season 4 Collection 3 offers four moderately entertaining episodes, thereby allowing this embattled show to redeem itself at least a little bit. While the episodes here aren't good enough to make it worthwhile to start watching the show if you've never seen it before, they do offer some reasonable entertainment for devoted fans of the series. Rent it.