Mixed reviews for NBC’s soldier-focused ‘American Odyssey’

Sgt. Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel) battles terrorists and traitors in "American Odyssey," debuting on NBC this Sunday. (NBC photo)

Sgt. Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel) battles terrorists and traitors in “American Odyssey,” debuting on NBC this Sunday. (NBC photo)

The early reviews are in for “American Odyssey,” an NBC drama premiering Sunday night at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Central) that tracks a female Army sergeant through a conspiracy-laden maze of big business, high treason, imprisonment and cyberwarfare.

Sound complicated? It is — and that’s either good or bad, depending on the critic.

Alessandra Stanley at The New York Times calls the series “an exhilarating thriller,” lifted by the special relationship between Sgt. Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel) and Aslam (Omar Ghazaoui), the Muslim teenager assigned to guard her after her capture when the rest of her unit was wiped out … by American forces.

Confused? It’s one of many plot layers in a structure that Variety’s Brian Lowry calls “tedious.” While he lauds the performance of Friel and other cast members (including film and TV vet Treat Williams, who plays Col. Stephen Glen), Lowry’s less kind to the writers, saying the conspiracy’s twist and turns offer a “been-there, seen-that sensation, which doesn’t spur much curiosity about how these tentacles connect.”

David Wiegand of Hearst Newspapers disagrees, saying “conspiracy buffs will be in heaven” watching the series, which adds enough of a human element to the various plot points to interest a broader audience. Spoiler alert: His four-star review gives a fairly detailed rundown of the show’s early surprises.

Longtime Pittsburgh Post-Gazette critic Rob Owen wasn’t having any of it: He calls the show “convoluted” and says it may be one stop too many at the conspiracy-theory well, already populated by TV shows like USA’s “The Dig.”

“It doesn’t catch viewers in a plot that feels real,” he writes. “[R]ather, it feels like a planned, plotted, manufactured-for-your-enjoyment TV show.”

Viewers can judge for themselves on Sunday. Leave us a comment with your review, and check out a quick trailer below:



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