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Cancelled Science Fiction Show corner: Odyssey 5 April 15, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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A new series of posts, for science fiction often seems absurdly over-burdened with shows which almost, nearly, not quite made it to season two or three, or even a full season. This is an age where The Hour from the BBC made it to, what was it, twelve episodes spread across two seasons, and mighty fine it was too. So in a context of SF shows getting 13 or 21 episodes or… ambassador you treat us with a season and a half, or two, or – and this is sort of a cheat, Farscape which had four, count ‘em four, seasons before being cancelled only to reappear for a ‘special’ couple of episodes that wrapped matters up after a particularly trying cliffhanger at the end of the previous season.

But that point about episodes is not entirely incidental. So shorter seasons predominate. This is good – better writing. This is bad – less episodes. Person of Interest and Fringe staggered along on 22 or was it 24 episode seasons for years, finishing with ‘half’ seasons. Continuum, I’m on season three now, made it to four and a half seasons of 13 episodes apiece. Suddenly those 20 episodes of Odyssey 5 don’t look so bad, do they?

And what of O5? An odd blend of adult and not. Crew of space shuttle commanded by Peter Weller (you know him as Robocop and he kind of dials it in but it works sort of) see the destruction of our beautiful planet and are sent back in time a good five years to fix things. To their original bodies. To fix things. There’s five of them. Fixing things. From the shuttle Odyssey. Hence the 5 in the title. But we got that.

High jinks ensue, sort of, with the twenty one year old on the crew now in his late teens with all that that implies. There are aliens, and AI’s and it’s actually an awful lot better than it scans on paper with some nicely observed aspects to the tale. One of the shuttle astronauts is the daughter of a high profile politician who keeps pulling strings for her against her will and this allows some neat reflections on both sexism and nepotism. Speaking of sexism this turned up on Showtime and was pitched to a more ‘adult’ audience, adult in this instance meaning we get a fair few topless shots and the word fuck is used liberally. There’s a sexist fool as the second in command on the shuttle who perhaps becomes less sexist and less foolish as time progresses.

The effects are good for the time, but not spectacular, it would not be unfair to suggest that they spent much of that budget on the pilot. And I don’t think it’s entirely unkind to say there’s a sort of fan made aspect to the programme writ large, not so much in terms of production values, which are okey dokey, but more in regard to some of the direction script and shots. The dialogue in particular is heavy handed. But if this is a labour of love in that respect, well, why not?

Manny Coto, the producer and director and writer, went on to helm Star Trek Enterprise, late but largely unlamented (I liked the last two seasons of that show that he was involved in, I have to admit). Since then he’s been oddly quiet.

A neat piece of television. Diverting, if of its time. I wonder if it were made today whether it would survive into season two?

This references it and Jeremiah, which I wasn’t fond of despite being a Joe Straczynski show.

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