Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Odyssey 5

The talking media heads that blather on about the movie industry can't seem to determine why the box office looks to be bleeding internally and taking ticket receipts with it.

The patient is on life support, awaiting a Supreme Court like Schiavo decision to save it.

Tom Cruise, the savior of all that is box office gold, will not save the summer or the remainder of the year's totals.

There's one simple, obvious reason why the movie industry is in big, big trouble.

They're not the most creative people in the room anymore.

When you go back historically and review movies in the seventies against television of the same era, there's no comparison. The most engaging, compelling material was definately on the silver screen.

"The Godfather", "Dog Day Afternoon", "Star Wars", "Jaws", "Rocky", "Mean Streets", "Chinatown", "Taxi Driver", "Superman", "Network", "M.A.S.H.", "Apocolypse Now", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"...the list is enormous (and obviously, subjectively biased, but you get the idea.)

During the same period you had "Starsky & Hutch", "Charlie's Angels", "The Dukes of Hazzard", "Gilligan's Island", "The Brady Bunch" all nearly unwatchable except for morbid curiosity.

The above examples could be debated ad nauseum, but my point is this:

Television is where all the quality, creativity and compelling material is residing today in contemporary media.

And the fantastically wonderous thing about DVD is that even when a show doesn't last more than a season due to whatever reason, you can go back and watch an entire season in a weekend and be thorougly entertained.

"Just My Luck" with the overrated Lindsay Lohan? A remake of a 70's cheese-fest "Poseiden"? Both at nearly $10 a viewing?

I don't think so.

Which brings me to a show I'm watching presently that I wish were ten seasons longer:

"Odyssey 5"

If you took the "X-Files" and gave it more of a sci-fi bent and then produced it with an R-rated mentality and added a time travel angle, you'd have "Odyssey 5."

It originally aired on Showtime in 2002, which is a shame because if it were on a more promotionally reliant channel like HBO, it might still be on the air.

Of course, they just cancelled "Deadwood" so what do I know?

This is one of those gems where the writing, casting and production come together to create a truly original and entertaining show.

The premise has endless possibilities: a crew of three astronauts, a scientist and a journalist the "five" in the title) are on a routine mission in space when the Earth explodes. A vortex opens up and their shuttle "Odyssey" is sucked into a giant ship manned by "The Seeker."

He tells them that this problem has been happenning all over the galaxy and he has the power to send them back in time five years to discover and halt the destruction of the Earth.

Five years is usually what a show needs to survive in syndication.

Clever, no?

Time Travel! Science Fiction! Horror! Drama! Comedy! Pathos! Ethos! Both of 'thos!


There looks to be five discs and twenty-something episodes and I only have one disc left.

That's the only disappointing part...how the hell does it end??

Will Sarah's son get cancer in this new timeline? Does Chuck Taggart's younger son still become an astronaut? Do Sarah and Kurt still end up together? And will any or all of them survive long enough to defeat the Sentinels?

Here are my Top 10 Reasons Why TV is Better Than Movies Today:

10. "Arrested Development"
9. "Lost"
8. "24"
7. "Smallville"
6. "Justice League"
5. "House M.D."
4. "King of the Hill"
3. "Odyssey 5"
2. "Sopranos"
1. "Freaks & Geeks"

I could compose a geeky, highly annoying blog entry about each and every one of these shows. They were all conceived (or are still going) in the last five years.

The last movie I saw in the theater was "Lucky Number Slevin" and I must admit I did enjoy that film, but I used to go the movies two or three times a week.

Yes, times have changed. I can rent movies by mail with Netflix and I am on a budget. But when I go to the New Releases page, each and every week I seem to be disappointed by all the choices. Every week there are fewer and fewer films I'm just dying to see.

Which is why this is the perfect opportunity for those producing "independent" film outside the studio system to prevail and allow their voices and vision to be heard.

Thank you and good night.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree. If I get to the movies once a year, it's amazing.

  2. Along with AD, Lost, and 24, I'm addicted to the delightful "Scrubs."

    Yeah...television is where it's at right now.

  3. I think you made a good point at the end, that in the film world it's the independants that are making the best stuff. As Hollywood gets more and more focussed on the bottom line (and how could they not? they have to fund those anti-piracy suits somehow) the good people keep going independant.

    I don't really think it's fair to compare tv and film. Apples and oranges.

    I'm a little disappointed that J.J. Abrams did m:i:iii (even though I have to say that I haven't watched it yet). I'm not into Lost but from what I hear I'd expect something a bit more creative from him than jumping into a franchise like that. But, again, I haven't seen it so maybe it's fabulous.