Anyone who spent Memorial Day weekend not glued to A&E's two-night premiere of the miniseries "The Andromeda Strain," worry not: The "epic television event" is now available in DVD, in an easier-to-digest three hours, shorn of 60 minutes' worth of commercial interruptions.
But it's still too long. Adapted from the Michael Crichton novel, "Strain" strains patience as it draws out its story of an alien virus loosed on a small town, where everyone dies except the birds and a lone baby. In sealed suits, government-appointed researchers take samples and then head to a state-of-the-art underground complex to unravel its mystery, with potentially fatal results for mankind.
Crichton's book and the 1971 feature film benefited from brevity and a largely insular setting, whereas this one branches outside the complex's walls to visit peripheral characters in other settings, which pads out the running time and detracts from the main plot.
The cast is comprised of TV regulars Benjamin Bratt, Christa Miller and Eric McCormack, all of whom are gravely miscast, but director Mikael Solomon deserves credit for "Strain"'s slick, sleek visage. —Rod Lott