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"Odyssey 5" Tv Series DVD - Ugo.com Review (joss whedon mention)

Troy Rogers

Wednesday 3 May 2006, by Webmaster

The Show: B+
Look: B
Sound: B+
Extras: C-
Overall: B

It’s really too bad that certain sci-fi shows never get a chance to have their story arcs fully fleshed out before they’re cancelled. Fortunately, in a lot of cases, that situation results in a certain degree of cult status. Fans of the short-lived Showtime series, Odyssey 5, can be a little happier knowing that the complete first (and only) season is now available on DVD. For those of you out there that didn’t get a chance to check out this clever sci-fi drama, let’s link up with ground control and see what the set’s payload has to offer.

Four years ago, Showtime debuted Odyssey 5. The premise followed the crew of the space shuttle Odyssey, with commander Chuck Taggart (Peter Weller), geneticist Kurt Mendel (Sebastian Roche), Chuck’s son Neil (Christopher Gorham), TV newswoman Sarah Forbes (Leslie Silva), and astronaut Angela Perry (Tamara Craig Thomas) as they witness the complete destruction of Earth. Considering the shuttle doesn’t have a hyperdrive or the ability for long-term life support, the show takes a very cool turn as the crew begins to slowly die from lack of oxygen. They’re eventually rescued by an alien life form called The Seeker. They may be safe, but here’s the hook: the Seeker agrees to help them by sending them all back in time five years so they can figure out how to stop the eventual implosion of the planet, which wasn’t necessarily a man-made event. Aside from the overachieving concept and believable characters, there’s a healthy influence from other sci-fi shows, especially considering that writer/creator Manny Coto worked on Strange World and The Outer Limits.

As a TV series that had a $5 million budget for the pilot, Odyssey 5 is a major failure on a business level. For $5 million, the show certainly should’ve had staying power. On DVD, though, the series looks more like a sleek $25 million feature with a stellar 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment. On a side note, the CGI was actually done by a very small company in Toronto and the effects are surprisingly consistent and visually stunning. From the realistic shuttle to long forgotten cars floating in space to the crystalline spacecraft of the Seekers, everything is extremely lucid, almost as if the series was shot on DV like a documentary, much like Battlestar Galactica. The audio gets a huge boost in the home version as well with Dolby Digital 5.1, so whether you want to isolate the subtle whoosh of thruster jets or pump up the dialogue during action sequences, all of the elements on the acoustic side of things are near-perfect.

Fans looking to get a mess of extras may feel a little shortchanged since the five-disc set only serves up a small amount of goodies beyond the 19 episodes. The set does offer a pilot commentary featuring Manny Coto and Peter Weller. Even without your standard deleted scenes, blooper reel or making-of featurette to back it up, this track provides a wealth of interesting entertainment value as both Coto and Weller fill us in on various aspects surrounding the series, from the the space shuttle in the opening sequence of the pilot, the fact that it was actually Sebastian Roche who suggested using Coldplay’s music for the show and how Coto came up with the name of Weller’s character, Chuck Taggart (it’s a blend of Chuck Yeager and Dagny Taggart from Ann Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged).

One of the most promising pieces of news for diehard fans of the show comes from Coto. During the cool scene of earth being destroyed, he states quite seriously that he plans on getting the show back on the air. While this may seem like a long shot, stranger things have happened - remember when Joss Whedon’s Firefly was prematurely cancelled and then he turned it around to become the major motion picture, Serenity? You never really know - Odyssey 5 could be reborn sometime down the line. Also included are seven previews for Stargate SG-1 Seasons 1-8, Stargate Atlantis Season 1, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, The Cave, MirrorMask, Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King and Poltergeist: The Legacy.

Odyssey 5 is a show that didn’t connect with sci-fi fans on TV, but if you’re looking for some quality sci-fi that does deserve a look, this is it. All of you sci-fi fans out there that enjoy original ideas to go along with your eye candy will really appreciate Odyssey 5. Hopefully, it will return to give Galactica a run for its money. Not likely, but you never know.