Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pilot Review: American Odyssey

American Odyssey (NBC)
Premiered April 5 at 10pm

This was one of two new shows that premiered on NBC this past Sunday, and I didn’t watch the other. The title of “A.D: The Bible Continues” is informative enough, and that’s not how I’m interested in spending my time. This show, on the other hand, is more disappointing since it actually had some potential to intrigue and enthrall. Instead, it’s the latest in a recent trend of shows stretching for internationally-set thrillers that bring together a diverse group of people all involved tangentially in some worldwide conspiracy involving numerous languages and secret identities. “Allegiance” only aired five episodes before being pulled by NBC, and this show may turn out similarly. I find it funny that the United States needs to outsource the role of an American military icon to a Brit, with Anna Friel stepping into a part that feels reminiscent of Damian Lewis’ Nicholas Brody in more ways than one. I know Friel from her likeable stint on “Pushing Daisies,” and it’s strange to see her in such a different setting. This show’s pacing is all over the place, and I don’t find any of its threads all that interesting. Aslam was able to send a picture of Friel’s Odelle to Al-Jazeera quite quickly, and now her being alive is too widespread for it to be covered up as it surely will be. I’m also not sure what was so damning about the e-mail Odelle fired off to her commander and why she didn’t think to turn off the sound before typing it. This show is full of holes, and though Peter Facinelli won’t be distracted by touching breasts as he is on “Nurse Jackie” as he searches for the truth, I don’t see it coming together well at all.

How will it work as a series? This show needs to decide whether it wants to be a high-minded drama about outsmarting insurgents in Mali or a low-rate thriller in which worried activists wander around parks looking for colleagues they worry have been apprehended or killed. Neither works well and reduces the quality of the show as a whole. Friel might be a decent anchor but doesn’t exactly imbue her character with too much commanding energy.
How long will it last? Probably not long as well. While other viewers tuned in to find out about Jesus and the Bible, they didn’t stick around for this show, which is likely to go the way of its Russian spy predecessor and get pulled before it has the chance to resolve its initial threads.

Pilot grade: D+

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