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Series / The Andromeda Strain

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The Andromeda Strain is a 2008 Mini Series reimagining the original Michael Crichton novel about a group of scientists investigating a deadly extra-terrestrial disease. It was produced by the Sci-Fi Channel, and part of the marketing for the miniseries included the ARG What Happened in Piedmont?.

The story begins when a military satellite called "Scoop" crashes in a small rural town of Piedmont, unleashing a deadly plague when it's opened. General Mancheck (Andre Braugher) assembles a Dream Team of highly specialized scientists under the Codename "Wildfire": Dr. Jeremy Stone (Benjamin Bratt), Dr. Angela Noyce (Christa Miller), Major Bill Keane (Ricky Schroder), Dr. Charlene Barton (Viola Davis) and Dr. Tsi Chou (Daniel Dae Kim). Together they became isolated in a high-tech facility in order to find a cure to the pathogen code-named "Andromeda"

But team Wildfire soon finds the situation is more complicated than it first seems, and that the government is not being entirely honest with them about the situation. Reporter Jack Nash (Eric McCormack) attempts to uncover this government conspiracy and soon finds his life in danger from the people that don't want Andromeda to be known to the public.

While the miniseries was panned by many critics, it was still nominated for six Emmy Award, including Outstanding Miniseries.


  • Adaptational Badass: Andromeda itself goes from an alien disease that has an impressive evolutionary capability but a Weaksauce Weakness to an alien disease that has a Hive Mind and the capacity to reason and strategize, to the point it can figure out the best moments to play possum with its capabilities and catch people unaware, and is mentioned explicitly to be utterly unstoppable except for said Weaksauce Weakness (which is not a perfect solution) and a very rare element humanity is destroying through deep-sea mining.
  • Adaptational Diversity: In the source novel, team Wildfire were mainly white heterosexual men, while this adaptation deliberately changed the characters' ethnicities, sexualities, and genders for the sake of diversity.
  • Adaptational Protagonist: The original book and first adaptation were ensemble pieces but gave Dr. Mark Hall greater focus because of his importance as the Odd Man who was the only one who could shut down Wildfire's nuclear self-destruct. The miniseries gives Dr. Stone the greater protagonist role by being the one who shuts down Wildfire's self-destruct, with Hall's stand-in being one of the characters who is killed running the climactic gauntlet.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The sub-plot about how Andromeda arrived to Earth because of a project to obtain material for bio-weapon creation from space (the SCOOP Project) expands from minor plot point (the novel) to minor sub-plot that causes friction amongst the pro- and anti-establishment scientists (the movie) to a Government Conspiracy who plots to use Andromeda as a bio-weapon behind everybody's backs, has taken Charlene's family hostage to force her to smuggle a sample, kill Mancheck to keep their involvement silent, and is a major contributor to the chaos of the climax.
  • Adapted Out: Notably, the "Odd-Man Hypothesis" plot point. Dr. Bill (Dr. Mark Hall's stand-in) buys it at the climax, and if he had been the only one capable of shutting down the nuclear fail-safe, let's just say the miniseries would have ended even more bitterly.
  • Alternate Reality Game: What Happened In Piedmont is an ARG for the miniseries.
  • The Atoner: Dr. Chou was one of the premier designers of biological weapons for the Chinese government before he had a change of heart and defected, and works to atone for what he's done. Bill in particular still treats him harshly for his past.
  • Avengers Assemble: When Mancheck cannot control the Andromeda outbreak, he decides to assemble team Wildfire, and we cut to scenes showing the military coming to collect the five scientists.
  • Big Bad: Charles 'Chuck' Beeter, one of the President's aide and the head of the Government Conspiracy that is trying to eliminate Nash and obtain samples of Andromeda for future use.
  • Body Horror: Andromeda kills its victims by near-instant clotting of blood and team Wildfire ends up finding several macabre scenes when investigating Piedmont, where most of the populace ends up dying mid-stride or committing bizarre forms of suicide.
  • Bury Your Gays: In the original book and movie, Dr. Hall is straight and lives. In this version, he is replaced by Major Bill, who is gay and dies.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the start of the story, Dr. Chou turns away as a siren passes, mentioning he suffers from light sensitivity. This becomes relevant at the climax when the lab's Self-Destruct Mechanism is activated and he ends up being incapacitated due to all the flashing lights.
  • Circling Vultures:
    • When a military team approaches Piedmont in search of the Scoop satellite, they see buzzards circling over the town - a Foreshadowing of the massacre they will find there.
    • When Nash is alone in the desert being pursued by government assassins, a couple of vultures start circling over him, causing him to get pissed and starting throwing rocks at them.
  • Climbing Climax: In the climax, team Wildfire has to climb the elevator shaft to reach another level of the facility after the Self-Destruct Mechanism accidentally went off and the one on their level was damaged. Both Bill and Tsui end up being killed in the process, and Jeremy is almost blinded, but he managed to deactivate it Just in Time.
  • Death by Adaptation: Stone and two other Wildfire scientists (Chou, the Leavitt stand-in, and Bill (the Hall stand-in), brave the compound's core as it is falling apart at the climax. Only Stone makes it out alive. General Mancheck is also assassinated by the Government Conspiracy to keep their involvement secret.
  • Decontamination Chamber: Jeremy, Angela and Bill have to go through a complicated series of decontamination processes in order to get inside the Wildfire lab.
  • Disability Immunity: The Sole Survivors of Piedmont managed to live due to Andromeda being sensitive to abnormal pH levels. The old man was an alcoholic who drunk denatured alcohol and the baby had infantile colic, and had cried himself into oxygen alkalosis.
  • Dream Sequence: Angela has a dream where she's roaming Piedmont and talking to its past victims, and it's while talking to The Alcoholic old man that she has a "Eureka!" Moment and figures out how he and the baby managed to survive.
  • Driven to Suicide: People infected by Andromeda tend to off themselves in many grotesque ways. Later, even the birds that were infected by a mutated strain of Andromeda start suiciding themselves into a river in order to spread the virus further.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Nash is a cocaine addict who got his life and career ruined by it. He's introduced coming out of rehab, but soon finds himself falling back into old habits under the pressure.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Team Wildfire assembles in a high-tech, underground facility to identify and defeat the titular The Plague before it is too late, and it is located underground in order for them to experiment on it safely without fear of it leaking out.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: The lights that go off in Wildfire lab after the Self-Destruct Mechanism activate end up giving light-sensitive Dr. Chou and epilepsy and he ends up accidentally destroying the panel that allows the team to abort the Self-Destruct Mechanism.
  • Failsafe Failure: Due to Charlene being forced to save an Andromeda sample by the Government Conspiracy, the Wildfire lab detects a breach and activates its Self-Destruct Mechanism, but due to a nuke only accelerating Andromeda's growth, this only puts the entire world at risk.
  • Fanservice: The "showering" part of the sanitization sequence is played up for fanservice, with plenty of Male and Female Gaze as Bill, Stone and Angela have their naked bodies sprayed and soaped up in slow motion. And while no actual nudity is seen, they still show plenty of skin. Angela's front is covered by suds but she has a Toplessness from the Back shot with a gratuitous Side Boob shot and both Bill and Stone are shown from the waist up but are both Shirtless.
  • Feathered Fiend: The birds infected by Andromeda start to become aggressive and Zerg Rush an army unit trying to keep them away from the river.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Wildfire lab is equipped with a Self-Destruct Mechanism that will nuke the entire lab in case of a leak. Naturally, it ends up as a Failsafe Failure as the nuke will only cause it to spread itself faster and the Self-Destruct Mechanism activates in an inopportune moment.
  • Green Aesop: Turns out the only way to kill the disease is with a rare strain of bacterium found only in deep-sea volcanic vents which were destroyed in the future for their mineral resources (don't even try to make sense of it). People in the future somehow found this out despite the bacterium having been totally wiped out, thus they sent the disease back in time to infect Earth while we still had a chance of killing it.
  • Happily Married: Charlene is shown to have a healthy and loving relationship with her husband. The Government Conspiracy takes advantage of this by kidnapping her husband to force her to save a few vials of Andromeda for themselves.
  • The Heavy: While Andromeda is the real threat and Chuck is the Big Bad behind the government cover-up force, it's Col. Ferrus who performs most of the dirty work under Chuck's orders, including Nash's assassination attempt and the kidnapping of Charlene's family.
  • Hive Mind: Team Wildfire learns that Andromeda is able to communicate with other parts of itself despite being physically separated, as a separate part able to adapt to a cure they found in the lab.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Nash is dedicated to uncovering the Government Conspiracy behind Andromeda, despite knowing he's putting his life in danger in the process.
  • It Can Think: The Andromeda strain has at least some form of rudimentary intelligence, and it can even manipulate its carriers to get into locations that will spread the virus much faster.
  • I Have Your Wife: Charlene is forced to obey the Government Conspiracy's order to save samples of Andromeda because they have her family in custody.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: Both the government and team Wilfire agree to nuke Piedmont as a way to kill Andromeda. But this is ultimately Averted as Wildfire ends up discovering at the last moment that a nuke would actually spread the contagion much, much further. They manage to contact the military in time to abort it but Andromeda ends up taking control of the plane and fire off the nuke in order to spread itself further.
  • Karma Houdini: Chuck manages to avoid any repercussions for it's actions, despite them almost causing the end of the world.
  • Magical Security Cam: Played With. A small-town sheriff, infected with the virus, goes crazy and shoots and kills nearly everyone in a local diner. When the army watches the footage later, it's the exact same events, but seen from the security camera's position. However, this doesn't answer the question as to why a small-town diner in the middle of nowhere has such a need for security.
  • Mr. Exposition: Jeremy Stone is The Leader of team Wildfire, and often explains to the rest of the team (and the audience) about its many protocols.
  • Murder-Suicide: Due to causing blood clotting in the brain, the people infected by Andromeda can become insanely violent, and kill themselves as well as anyone around them. One cop shoots multiple people in a diner before shooting himself in the head and several of the soldiers that become infected start firing at their fellow soldiers.
  • Not Me This Time: When the plane ends up nuking Piedmont despite team Wildfire's warnings to abort it, the team is immediately distrustful of General Mancheck thanks to his previous obstructed nature, but it's soon very clear that Andromeda itself was responsible for it.
  • Off with His Head!: One of the suicides in Piedmont. With a chainsaw.
  • Ominous Message from the Future: In a change from the original story, the disease itself turns out to be this, sent back from a dire future in which the source of the only cure has long ago been destroyed by pollution.
  • Outrun the Fireball: A variation. Nash (and the officer attempting to assassinate him) have to outrun the Andromeda virus itself as it is visibly shown advancing over the hills.
  • Parking Garage: General Mancheck and Colonel's Ferrus final conversation takes place in one, where Mancheck is threatening Ferrus with coming clean about the Government Conspiracy around project Scoop, but they're both assassinated by Chuck's men before anything comes of it.
  • Safely Secluded Science Center: The Wildfire lab is an isolated underground laboratory that allows scientists to analyze and experiment on a deadly disease without fear of it leaking to the outside world. Only the scientists are even allowed inside, and they have to go through a rigorous Decontamination Chamber just to get inside.
  • Science Hero: Team Wildfire are the heroes of the story, fighting against the deadly Andromeda virus using their scientific knowledge.
  • Sex Signals Death: The satellite containing Andromeda happens to crash near two teenagers that were planning to have sex on a car on the wild. They bring the satellite to town where it's opened, and they both end up being some of the first victims of Andromeda.
  • Shout-Out
    • The teenager at the start of the film is preparing to have oral sex with his girlfriend and says "I'm about to go where no man has gone before".
    • When team Wildfire is discussing Andromeda possibly being an alien, Charlene mentions "It's not cuddly like E.T.".
  • Straight Gay: Bill has none of the mannerisms usually associated with gay men, and Charlene is very surprised when he confesses he is gay.
  • So Crazy, It Must Be True: When Mancheck tells Team Wildfire about the Scoop satellite investigating a wormhole before crashing on Earth, the team is skeptical but Stone believes it because "It's too fantastical to be a lie".
  • Sole Survivor: Only an old man and a baby survived the Androme outbreak at Piedmont and team Wildfire brings them both to the lab in order to analyze them and figure out why.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Falls under the Recognizable Adaptation criteria. It has the premise, several plot elements and many of the characters from the original novel, but just as many deviations and many new characters and plot elements as well as a Setting Update.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: General Mancheck and the President are constantly overseeing one. It's how they discover Andromeda is specifically spreading in the direction of a river that will lead it to Lake Mead in New Vegas, where hundreds of international flights are made every day.
  • Stable Time Loop: Implied. The final shot of the series is of a disease sample being stored aboard a space station, suggesting that it will survive to reinfect humanity in the future. The ending also implies that deep ocean mining will continue, jeopardizing the only known cure. Think about it- Andromeda *always* survives the loop, and as such lives on to carry a little bit more of what it's learned into the past when the loop restarts. Even if what the audience just saw was the worst possible timeline, Andromeda still survives to try again, a little smarter this time around.
  • Tainted Veins: Humans infected by Andromeda have their arteries pop-out in their heads.
  • Temporal Paradox: Not only it's implied that the outbreak in the future is set off by the sample in/from the past, it also implies that the virus itself may posses at least some rudimentary intelligence!
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Jeremy and Angela had some history when they worked together in the past, and there's some obvious sexual tension in their interactions. They resolve it near the end of the series, and are shown to be together as a couple in their final scene.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The two teenagers that decide to pick up the satellite containing Andromeda and bring it back to town.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Andromeda still maintains its vulnerability to odd blood acidity from the other versions of the story. Unlike the other versions of the story, it's explicitly mentioned and showcased that this is not going to be a helpful solution in the long term.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Both the old man and the baby vanish in the last half of the story and their final fate is never brought up, with none in Wildfire mentioning them even when the facility is about to self-destruct, despite the fact both of them are still in the lab.