American Odyssey battled for survival in the ratings again this weekend with the NBC Sunday night thriller going up against CBS’s Battle Creek and Showtime’s Penny Dreadful in the 10pm slot. Shows introduced mid-season traditionally do not fair particularly well in the ratings and NBC, having arguably failed to produce a successful Sunday night drama in quite some time, will be pinning all their hopes on American Odyssey being a hit.
Battle Creek, starring Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters, has already fallen to its knees at the CBS guillotine with its cancellation after just one season. This will come as no surprise seeing as the Vince Gilligan follow up to Breaking Bad failed to impress with its debut, scoring a measly 1.0 rating amidst its key demographic. Showtime’s Victorian monster drama Penny Dreadful, however, is fairing much better with both British and American audiences enthralled by the guts, glory and gore of the period thriller.
American Odyssey still has much to prove as it battles to impress in the ratings. Airing its ninth episode last night, Sunday May 31st, the drama follows the plight of female Special Forces sergeant Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel) as she fights to find her way back to friendly soil after being abandoned during an operation in Mali, North Africa. Her fellow soldiers murdered by their own, Ballard is believed to be dead by her husband and daughter back in the US and must use stealth and brute force to survive in hostile territory and find her way home. Meanwhile, former US attorney turned corporate litigator Peter Decker (Peter Facinelli) finds himself caught in a moral dilemma as he uncovers some underhand dealings at his new firm, corporate giant Simon-Watchel. Battling with his own code of ethics and trying to keep his family out of the firing line, Decker investigates a conspiracy to hide American money financing an Al Qaeda terrorist organisation, the same cover up that has abandoned Ballard to her own devices in the desert. Add to this a political activist (Jake Robinson) and his friendly, if slightly unstable, local hacker (Nate Mooney) who discover information about the true status of Sergeant Ballard as well as claims of an international cover up, and the plot only thickens in this dramatic thriller. The show, born from the idea of a modern day re-telling of the Greek poem Homer’s Odyssey, is written with the experiences of real life war veterans in mind and hopes to challenge the every day American viewer’s opinion on corporate and military power. Says writer and creator Horton, “It asks the question, where is the power today? It’s one we’re asking more and more these days because there is such a gap between rich and poor,” he continued, “the government, more and more, is influenced by money.”
The first episode of American Odyssey saw over 5 million viewers tune in for the premiere of the Peter Horton show, but numbers have declined over the past few weeks and now the series appears to be struggling to hold onto just over 2 million viewers. As American Odyssey battles for survival, fans and NBC bigwigs alike must be asking whether the complex journey of war, corporate espionage and global politics is worth a second season.
By Alison Klippenstein
TV Series Finale: Sunday TV Ratings: Battle Creek, Dateline NBC, American Odyssey, NASCAR
Hollywood Reporter: CBS Cancels Vince Gilligan’s ‘Battle Creek,’ ‘Stalker’
NY Times: NBC’s ‘American Odyssey’ Deals In Corporate Conspiracy
NBC: American Odyssey
Photo Courtesy of University of Missouri’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Photo Courtesy of Red Carpet Report’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License