Odyssey 5

Odyssey 5 is a sci-fi television series that I had heard a little about but never got to see it on television here. Considering that it is a lot in the vein of the scifi & fantasy show that were prevelant on AXN channel (for us in India) I’m surprised that it was never shown here. Anyways, the show is the brainchild of Manny Coto, who also was a script-writer and executive producer of the show. The series starred Scifi heavyweight actor Peter Weller (Robocop, Leviathan, Screamers) along with Leslie Silva, Tamara Craig Thomas, Sebasien Roche & Christopher Gorham. It lasted one season & 19 episodes were shown but the dvd has the unaired season finale.

The story is about a group of 5, the last survivors of humankind on a shuttle called the Odyssey. While on the routine the Odyssey crew witness the earth’s destruction, rapidly dissolving into a fiery ball and sudden implosion. The spaceship is rocked and in the tremors a cameraman & an astronaut are killed. Astronauts Command Chuck Taggart, his son Neil Taggart & Angela Perry along with news reporter Sarah Forbes & Nobel Prize winning geneticist Kurt Mendel are the only survivors, although Angela is knocked unconscious – the last remnants of humanity. With no place that they can go to they resign themselves to their fate and wait to run out of oxygen. However they are soon taken aboard an alien vessel and meet a mysterious being known only as the Seeker.

The Seeker, taken on the form of an elderly human male, has rescued them. Fifty other worlds have been destroyed in the same way as Earth, but the Seeker has always arrived too late to observe it and this is the first time he has found survivors. He offers to send them back in time five years (which is 2002), so that they can prevent the disaster. He sends only their consciousnesses back, and not their physical bodies, as physical time travel is impossible. As he sends them, he tells a code word ; Leviathan. As soon as they sent back Chuck & Neil, back at their house check up on each other. Soon both Sarah & Kurt catch up with them but the fifth member is in danger! Angela having been hurt & unconscious never met the Seeker and is totally unprepared. Worse, when she regains consciousness, 5 years in the past it is at the time she is doing a space walk while on a space mission! Angela is confused and disoriented and Chuck talks her through the process of getting her grips back and going back into the shuttle. Once she gets back to Earth, the 5 meet and form a little group with a huge secret that they cannot share with anyone else – they & they alone know what is going to happen in 5 years.

The villains & culprits turn out to be incredibly intelligent entities living in the internet called Sentients. These AIs are trying to learn about humanity through human-mimicking surrogates, called “Synthetics”. These Synthetics are stronger & faster that humans and can be detected by checking thermal imaging. The Odyssey 5 try to find out what The Sentients and Synthetics are up to, which is hard and dangerous. But they also find that there’s no evidence that they are responsible for the Earth’s destruction and a military project that was on the satellite the shuttle was adjusting, related to the covert group inside NASA known as the Cadre, or something else all together could be responsible. During the series, another group of Synthetics are discovered to be from Mars and that in the original timeline, all the Synthetics created by humanity are destroyed by a satellite designed for that purpose by the Cadre. As the series ended on a cliffhanger, we never get to know if it was the human AIs or the Mars AIs that were finally responsible for the destruction of earth.

Along with the greater purpose of trying to save the earth from destruction, the 5 must also deal with personal issues. Any changes they make in their life causes changes in the time line too. Sarah is now obsessed with saving her young son’s life – her 5 year old was diagnosed of having a rare form of cancer, detected too late. So she makes efforts to get him experimental help and constant check ups with numerous specialist, which end up with her husband leaving her, taking the boy with him. Angela is estranged from her father and also tries to prevent an incident that shook her family apart. Chuck struggles to keep his family together – keeping this big secret from his wife & older son while going at all hours of the day or night with Neil to work on their mission. His wife almost leaves him until he admits to what happened and shows her proof. His older son didn’t want to be an astronaut and in the original timeline didn’t but now he cheats to pass the test. Neil has to adjust to being a 22 year old IT whiz & young astronaut now in a 1 year old high school kid’s body. Pessimistic scientist Kurt, doubts they can change history at all and wants to live his life as much as he can before the end, drinking and having lots of sex with as many women as possible while hiding his regret at breaking things up with Angela in the original timeline.

A recurring theme is that the actions of the group may hasten the timetable to Earth’s destruction. The group discover that they have to be careful not to make too many mistakes when they alter the events that happen in the timeline they know. Chuck’s wife is killed after being taken over by a sentient and the older son leaves the city.At the end of the series we find Angela missing while on surveillance of the activities of a group of Synthetics, Kurt injured and arrested for her abduction and possible murder (although her body is not found) leaving Chuck, Sarah & Neil on the outside. The series ends on the cliffhanger and we are left wanting more. Although it has been 10 years since it was made, Manny Coto has not completely abandoned the series and has said that he might pick it up, albeit with a different cast, perhaps rebooting the series. Despite some things that don’t make sense, and a couple of things that they could avoided, it is a good series nevertheless and had a lot of promise.

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