Manny Coto almost saved Star Trek. After 2 years of Rick Berman’s floundering on Enterprise, Coto came in and gave the show its legs. It was too little too late, of course. The show would be canned when most critics, myself included, thought the show was finally clicking. This near resurrection should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Odyssey 5. Coto created this Showtime series. Superior f/x and a compelling story arc drove this cable cousin to Stargate SG-1.
The astronauts of the Space Shu…tle “Odyssey” encounter one situation the nerds at NASA hadn’t prepared them for: the total destruction of Earth. The five surviving crewmen don’t have time to consider their situation before an alien approaches them with a sad story. It seems that every time he reaches a sentient species, he arrives after they have destroyed themselves. Fortunately for everyone, he has the power to send the crew’s consciousness back to their bodies 5 years in the past. They will relive the last five years, but with the knowledge they already possess in an attempt to uncover the conspiratorial elements that will eventually destroy the world.
Peter Weller is perfectly cast as Captain Taggart. Coto admits the role was written for him. The rest of the cast is pretty good. The chemistry’s not bad. Sebastian Roche also stands out in the self-professed Dr. Smith character. He’s likely the best representative of us in the crew. The series was a combination X Files and Lost In Space. The stories often combined humor with the deep conspiracy that drives the story arc. The last few episodes did begin to stray. I suspect Coto might have suddenly realized he needed to go somewhere fast. As any X Files fan will tell you, you can have too many conspiracy theories. I liked the idea of one running thread, but the series began to explore multiple threads that I feel might have been on the verge of unraveling. These kinds of shows are making a comeback. Threshold, Invasion, and Surface all dealt with far less success with the impending doom scenario. If you liked those shows, you will find Odyssey 5 to be light-years ahead of them.
Each episode of Odyssey 5 is presented in a 1.78:1 format. The picture is enhanced for 16×9 widescreens. The picture is very sweet. I must particularly call attention to the pilot. The shuttle shots are absolutely amazing. From the multiple Earth angles reflected in a satellite array to the Shuttle’s breach of an energy wave after Earth’s destruction, this is all grade A f/x. The transfer does it all justice. Colors are vibrant and sharp. Black levels are incredibly rich and textured with layers of shadow and detail. Contrast is stark. The lines of separation between light and dark are impressive to say the least. This might be one of the best pre-HD television transfers I’ve seen. If you have a nice monitor, it will eat this stuff up. It looks better than it ever did on Showtime. Hey, you may not get any plot resolution, but you’re in for some fine screen resolution.
While not near as impressive as the video, this Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers most of the goods. Ambient sounds are represented with some consistency in all of the channels. Dialogue is always well centered and clear. My main complaint is the lower end stuff. I feel there were missed opportunities to drive my sub. I mean, the entire Earth is blowing up. The Shuttle is shaking to pieces, and all I can get out of my sub is a little burp. Hell, I thought someone was passing gas. If ever a theatre should have been shaken to its core, the pilot was a missed opportunity.There is a nice audio commentary with Manny Coto and Peter Weller. You can tell these guys loved working together. Coto would bring Weller on board as a bad guy at the end of Enterprise. They have some good back and forth that makes this better than most commentaries. You won’t learn much, but it’s animated.
Just the commentary. Too bad really.
There was only the one season, and unfortunately we are left very unsatisfied in the end. If you don’t like to be left hanging, don’t buy this one. If you can handle leaving everything pretty much open ended, you will be rewarded with a mostly strong series of shows here.. Don’t look to the commentary for any answers either. That’s really the big question you have to ask yourself. Do you need any kind of closure. “Search within your own.”
Special Features List
- Commentary on pilot episode by creator Manny Coto and actor Peter Weller