Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Odyssey 5 (2002)

A group of astronauts are on a mission to deploy a satellite.  Moments after they complete the task, the entire planet Earth is destroyed in fire, leaving only dust.  Talk about your bad days at work.

Anyway, Plot Happens, and the astronauts end up having their minds transported back in time in a desperate attempt to prevent the catastrophe.  They have five years and one clue: that it probably has something to do with the satellite they were in space to launch.

Odyssey 5 gets off to a fairly brisk start as the group learns that (a) history is most definitely able to be changed, often unintentionally, and (b) humanity's AI experiments have been far more successful than we knew.  Numerous true AIs have been created, escaped attention, and disappeared into the internet where they feed on data - and each other - in a race to become the strongest.  These Sentients, as the show dubs them, operate in the real world through agents both human and Synthetic: the latter look human but are grown in vats and are stronger and tougher than we squishy organics.

(Yeah, it's kind of a lot like the Westworld TV show or the Battlestar Galactica relaunch with this whole 'androids infiltrating humanity' thing)

Our heroes set out to find and confront the schemes of the Sentients and that's more or less when the wheels come off the show.

You see, like a lot of programs built around a core mystery - in this case "who blew up the world and how do we stop them?" - Odyssey 5 largely fails to convince me that it has a answer in mind, let alone a plan to get there.  The team tangles with various Sentients - most hostile, though very few obviously self-destructive to the point of destroying the world they live on - but it all tends to be bad guy of the week stuff, with no real sense of progress or development until the very last episode, where actual progress seems to happen ... for the audience at least, the characters are still in the dark.

Of course, few shows have managed to evolve a core mystery in a satisfying manner over a long period of time, so it's no easy task.  And I might cut Odyssey 5 more slack over it were it not for two other factors.  The first is the show's use of nudity and naughty words.  I generally have no issue with either of these things, but there's a "teenage boy"-ish tone to the way the scripts use them that just make me roll my eyes.  A far worse flaw though, is that the most prominent character in the show is an utter, utter jerk.  He's pretty much horrible to everybody, all of the time.  There's a scene in the second last episode they made where a crowd beats him up and frankly, I was cheering them on.

This is a mystery-focused show that didn't last long enough to come up with any answers, and which features an unpleasant lead.  It would have needed something really special to make me recommend it in those circumstances, and frankly, it doesn't.

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