Monday, April 06, 2015

"American Odyssey" on NBC recalls the film "Babel"

American Odyssey” premiered on Easter Sunday night, right after “A.D.”.   The NBC site is here and the Pilot had the title “Gone Elvis”.  The show seems to be the brainchild of Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster.
My first reaction was that series is like the movie “Babel” (missing Brad Pitt).  It has several parallel plot threads around the world, coming together.  And like “Babel” it opens in a combat area in Muslim Africa, this time, Mali.  We have a superwoman soldier Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel) whose mission is to help with communicating with females in the Muslim populations (particularly with medical needs).  She is well trained in native languages and military intelligence.  She stumbles on evidence of corporate funding of terrorist organizations on a laptop, with bizarre money transfers (a lot of money for poor countries).  But she gets captured, not before texting her location on an iPhone just in a nick of time.  Presumed dead (and her family in Massachusetts in notified by an official visit in dress greens) she is rescued by a Muslim teen Aslam (Omar Ghazaoui) and they set across the Sahara on an “odyssey” home in a scene that looks like it comes right out of “Lawrence of Arabia”.
Her text is intercepted in New York City by computer hacker Harrison Walters (Jake Robinson) associated with the street Occupy Wall Street movement.  And corporate lawyer Peter Decker (Peter Facinelli) has come across evidence of corporate funding of terror from the physical comfort of the office.
The series was first to be called simply “Odyssey” before the name was modified to separate it from Homer.
I have a script from 2002 called “American Epic” which I could have called “American Odyssey” which is set up in the immediate post-9/11 period when an ordinary blogger might get drawn into an international plot, a somewhat similar concept, descriptive link here.
Will this new NBC series hold the audience?  I think a clue is to introduce stateside characters and pose the notion “this could happen to me.”

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