The Andromeda Strain

3 out of 5 stars
CALL THE DOCTOR Bratt and his team chase an alien virus.
Photograph: Diyah Pera/A&E CALL THE DOCTOR Bratt and his team chase an alien virus.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Based on the first novel that Michael Crichton published under his own name, The Andromeda Strain features so many well-known TV faces—including past and present stars of Law & Order, Lost, Will & Grace, Scrubs, 24 and Homicide: Life on the Street—that at times, the absence of Shelley Winters is the only thing keeping A&E’s miniseries from feeling like a ’70s disaster movie. After an awkward start, however, it becomes an engrossing, broad-canvas science-fiction thriller that uses its stars’ familiarity to good advantage—and which is mercifully free of the ideological baggage found in Crichton’s more recent novels.

Benjamin Bratt commands the most screen time as Dr. Jeremy Stone, a scientist who is drafted by the government (along with peers played by Christa Miller, Ricky Schroder, Daniel Dae Kim and Viola Davis) after all but two people in a Utah town are killed by a mysterious, rapidly evolving virus that is apparently from outer space (the only survivors are a newborn and an elderly drunk). A fair amount of what follows deviates from Crichton’s 1969 novel and Robert Wise’s 1971 film, including the addition of a coke-addict reporter (Eric McCormack) pursuing the story. Some of the changes may irritate fans of the novel and previous movie, but it’s hard to argue with the decision to incorporate subsequent advances in physics and other fields. And while there are points at which the script gets dumb, it’s never dumb enough to be flat-out insulting. The current TV season officially ends on May 31, but the small-screen response to the summer flood of popcorn movies has already begun.



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