WARNING! No super-duper, retina-scan, magic-coded security thingamajig, nor any hyper-potent reverse DNA cocktail - not even a fleet of anti-toxin-spraying, techno-licious helicopters - will prevent you from feeling flat and flimflammed at the end of A&E's

The Andromeda Strain

remake that begins Monday at 9.

For about three hours and 40 minutes (including the 2 hours and 15 minutes of commercials - OK, not that much, but it always seems like it on cable), the mini-series rockets along, an exciting pile of preposterousness with conspiratorial overtones.

Then it fizzles, with stuff you've seen 1,000 times before, and irritating loose ends. Such indecisiveness may work in a cerebral sci-fi flick like

Blade Runner

, directed by Ridley Scott, who, with his brother, Tony, produces this show and knows how to generate excitement through machinery, but it's disappointing on TV.

The show, concluding Tuesday at 9, is a contemporary take on the book that launched the career of thrillmeister Michael Crichton, who in the mini-series is credited as J. Michael Crichton, the J standing for "Jumping Jehosaphat, look what they did to my book!"

It helped advance the genre of modern high-tech fiction that began when Jules Verne shot Impey Barbicane and his buddies out of a cannon on a trip to the moon in 1865. But in some ways the book, 40 years old next year, is almost as dated as

From the Earth to the Moon

. So lots of new stuff, like cell phones and cable news and photocopiers and the Homeland Security Department, had to be put in the mix.

OK again, photocopiers would be way too bland for this show, which has voice-activated robot computers that make


look old-fashioned, and video whoosie-whatsises that can communicate anywhere, and even an adorable pixie with a ponytail who pilots an F-16 at a million miles an hour (or some hotshot plane, don't e-mail me that I'm an idiot because I haven't kept up with America's fleet of nuclear- bomb delivery trucks).

But God bless cell phones, which are the red blood cells of today's thrillers, as anyone who has watched


can attest.

Not that red blood cells are worth much in

The Andromeda Strain

. The strain itself is something that falls from space and spreads like wildfire and turns blood into powder and kills you in 10 seconds, unless it causes you to douse yourself in gasoline and light a match, or cut off your head with a chainsaw. Cool!

"If you set out to deliberately exterminate mankind, you couldn't do better than Andromeda," says Ricky Schroder, who plays the combo Army tough guy/virologist, who is part of the big-time biological defense team that scrambles to the ultra-secret underground research center when folks in backwater Utah start dying after a couple of teenagers practicing their night moves bring a fallen satellite back to town.

"Maybe we should just leave it alone," says the girl. "It could be radioactive and stuff." But everyone knows boys never listen.

In the explanation stage of the movie, Benjamin Bratt, the putative leader of the team, takes extra time to point out that the research center has an automatic self-destruct system, an atomic bomb, that can be overridden only by a fingerprint-scanning key-card gizmo. "Gee, I wonder if that will come up later?" everybody thinks, except those already rendered mindless by holiday weekend excess.

By now, many of you will have detected a casting trend among the actors, who have a fine time with this fun stuff. Not only are


(Schroder) and

Law & Order

(Bratt) represented, but all the leads, save one, are notable stars from notable TV series:

Homicide: Life on the Street

(Andre Braugher),


(Daniel Dae Kim), and even

The Drew Carey Show

(Christa Miller) and

Will & Grace,

whose Eric McCormack plays the plucky cable news reporter trying to get to the bottom of things.

Good luck with that, Eric. This one might leave even Geraldo speechless.

Jonathan Storm:


The Andromeda Strain

Monday night at 9 (Part 1) and Tuesday night at 9 (Part 2) on A&E