Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What is Odyssey 5?

Apparently I was the only person who ever watched this show when it originally aired on Showtime several years ago. This was a great show then, and I think that it is still pretty good and very gripping. The question is: why did it die so quickly?

The answer, my friends, is really quite simple: no market would pick it up. Odyssey 5 was fairly inexpensive to produce, however Showtime was completely unable to sell this for syndication as it had successfully done with The Outer Limits, Dead Man's Gun, and Stargate SG-1. In addition, the branding of the Showtime Sci-Fi Friday was already falling apart by that time as the Sci-Fi channel picked up The Outer Limits and was already making noises about taking over SG-1. This failure is what lead to the cancellation of a promising, and very interesting show.

Like Total Recall 2070 before it, Odyssey 5 showed us that the imagination was no boundary for the inventive and clever folks at Showtime. Smartly written, with a great cast and good direction, this show had all the ingredients for another mega hit. Why, then, would nobody pick up the hot potato? The answer: language.

This show was written at a time when The Sopranos and Queer as Folk were highlighting the fact that swearing on cable was A-OK by the viewers. The problem is that this show needed the influx of cash that would come from syndication on Fox or UPN, and without it, even the small production costs of a show like Odyssey 5 could not be funded out of pocket indefinitely.

We should learn a great big lesson from this: cussing is OK if you do not need to sell the show to networks, but it will kill your show if you need the cash.

Thankfully, I will get to watch my old friends from the shuttle Odyssey ever Friday for the next few weeks.

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