Odyssey 5 (2002)

Odyssey 5 is a Canadian science fiction series that first ran in 2002 on Showtime in the United States and on Space in Canada.

Odyssey 5 is the brainchild of Manny Coto, who served as a script-writer and executive producer during the series run. Through his website and in interviews, Coto has expressed his interest in returning to the series at some point, either continuing it or giving it a conclusion.

The series was produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The story revolves around a set of people on a routine spaceflight of the space shuttle Odyssey, on August 7, 2007: four astronauts, a scientist, and a television news reporter. However, during the course of the flight, the Earth rapidly dissolves into a fiery ball and suddenly implodes. Before regaining control of the Odyssey, one astronaut is killed. The remaining five crew members resign themselves to death, but a non-organic being called the Seeker rescues 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 (and therefore to present day, at the time of the series), so that they can prevent the disaster. He sends only their consciousnesses back, and not their physical bodies, as physical time travel is impossible. The mission commander knows only a codeword associated with the disastrous event: Leviathan.

The villains seem to be a race of artificial intelligence. These AIs are trying to learn about humanity through human-mimicking surrogates, called “Synthetics”. In the course of their learning they apparently destroy the Earth. However, 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 a cabal within the US government. Whether this act of destruction is seen as a declaration of war by humanity’s AIs or the Martian Synthetics are to blame for the Earth’s destruction is never resolved.

While they deal with the search for the truth, the team must also deal with being back in the past, with memories of what is to come. A running plot through the series is reporter Sarah Forbes trying to save her five-year old son, who died of cancer. However, her efforts to get him experimental help end up with her husband leaving her, taking the boy with him. Astronaut Angela Perry must deal with her Senator father’s corruption that would ultimately destroy her family. Commander Chuck Taggart must try to keep his family together, while his son Neil, a computer whiz who was also assigned to the Odyssey, deals with being back in his seventeen-year-old body, when he was known as a screwup. The last member, pessimistic scientist Kurt Mendel, doubts they can change history at all and wants to live his life as much as he can before the end.

The series is very different from most science fiction because it is set in the present day – in a fashion similar to Stargate SG-1 and Sliders – and also because the team of five is not a group of friends who always get along; the humanity of the team is shown through arguments, jokes, and their attempts to maintain social lives and help the world with their limited knowledge of the future.

Many of the show’s plotlines revolve around technologies like AI, nanotechnology and neuroimaging.

A recurring theme is that the actions of the group may hasten the timetable to Earth’s destruction. A character who was supposed to live until 2007 ends up dead in the first episode after helping the group out. They learn that defeating history isn’t as easy as it sounds; the interweaving threads adapt. In one episode, Sarah and Angela, knowing a girl will be kidnapped, keep an eye on her to make sure it doesn’t happen. However, the kidnapper simply takes another child in her place. History in the show is malleable in smaller ways too, as Kurt makes a rather large bet on a football game to which he knows the outcome, but the knowledge and pressure of knowing has an adverse effect on the kicker who would have won the game, causing him to fail.

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