Odyssey 5, Showtime's latest science-fiction series, seems poised for a strong lift-off, judging by its upcoming two-hour pilot.
Like any mission, though, true success will depend on how well development stages are handled thereafter.
This series offers its own take on turning back time — so far, an intriguing one.
First, we see the crew of the fictional Odyssey 5 space shuttle during a routine mission to dock with an orbiting satellite. Also aboard for the mission is a cable-news reporter named Sarah (Leslie Silva).
Suddenly there's a blinding flash of light as the earth explodes into nothing.
As their nine-hour oxygen supply dwindles, the astronauts fall asleep. Capt. Taggart (Peter Weller) and the others gradually awaken and meet an avuncular old man who calls himself "The Seeker." Wearing a Ward-Cleaver-type sweater and bowtie, he certainly breaks the space-alien mold.
The Seeker tells the crew he can send them back in time five years and prevent the earth's destruction — if they can track down the cause. His only hint: "The destroyers attack from within."
Other clues are sprinkled throughout the opener. Taggart recalls having seen a ground-to-air transmission on his computer screen — just before the explosion — to a newly launched satellite. The latter is code-named "Leviathan," as is the top-secret government "Artificial Lifeform Project."
When Taggart asks an old NASA friend to check into a mysterious project called "Bright Sky," that friend winds up dead. The crew's investigation leads to people who seem to have stepped right out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
The series' best-known actors — Weller (RoboCop) and Sebastian Roche (NBC's Merlin) as a womanizing scientist named Kurt Mendel — portray its most dominant characters so far. As they race against time, the characters also attempt to change things in their personal lives. Sarah's story is the most poignant, as the reporter tries to keep her five-year-old son from dying of cancer.
will bow on Showtime June 21 at 8 p.m.