TV review: Odyssey

13 July 2015

Our TV blogger takes a look at BBC Two’s new, high-octane American thriller.



Odyssey is BBC Two’s new, high-octane American thriller, a tale of intrigue, corporate wrongdoing, greed, conspiracies and cover ups. The plot is fast-moving and somewhat complex, but don’t worry, there are also lots of explosions and bullets and SWAT teams and people shouting “Aiiieee” as they fall theatrically off walls. It’s all absolute hokum, of course, but it’s pretty good hokum.

An elite US army team is in Mali. One of their number is Sgt Odelle (it sounds like Odysseus, see, and she’s going on a journey) Ballard, who is played by Anna Friel. If modern dramas are anything to go by, pretty much every unit of the armed forces in both Britain and the US is now largely peopled by extremely attractive women. It’s enough to make me want to join the army. Apart from my irrational fear of bullets. And authority. And exercise. And not sleeping under a goose-feather duvet. Mainly bullets though.

Abdul Abbas would have done well to have been a little wary of bullets, seeing as he’s now riddled with them. Mind you, as he’s the head of Al Qaeda, I’m not going to lose sleep over it (plus that duvet is sooo comfy). Meanwhile, Odelle finds some information on a laptop. It’s probably important, I suspect they wouldn’t show it if it was just her checking Facebook.

Meanwhile, back in the States, the G8 are meeting in New York and Occupy are there protesting. Most of them are a bit unkempt, but one is rather handsome and has a great woolly hat, so I’m guessing he’ll be significant. Oh, and some attorney who works for a big company is following a money trail. Something is amiss. He starts to investigate, because he’s a decent sort. Clean cut, loves his kids etc. Come on, where are the guns?

Oh good, we’re back in Mali. Odelle and the unit are chatting. She goes off for a pee. That means something’s going to happen. You never just see people going for a pee and coming back again on telly. Crikey Moses, her entire unit is wiped out – blasted by a drone and then finished off by other US troops. That’s just plain rude! Now they’re after her. As are the local extremists. They chase her everywhere. They’d chase her all the way to Timbuktu if they had to. Actually, bad example – Timbuktu’s only a few miles away from where they are. I should have said Dundee.

It’s pretty high octane stuff. That’s just the first ten minutes, but after that it gets pretty complex and involved. There’s a hacker, who’s a bit crazy, because it is written in the rules of TV dramas that all hackers are a bit crazy. There’s a sexy reporter who may not actually be a reporter. There are very bad corporate men. And there’s a body count to rival Tarantino making an exaggerated version of the Charge of the Light Brigade. What, in short, is not to love. This Odyssey is a bit different from the Homer version though. Let’s agree to call it an ‘update’.

Odyssey, Sunday 28th June, 9:15pm, BBC Two


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