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Cathode Ray Mission: THE JELLYBEAN ODYSSEY/THE ODYSSEY (1992-1994)

CanTV expert Cameron Archer navigates the often inhospitable landscape of Canadian television for the CATHODE RAY MISSION, our regular blog column that highlights some of Canadian television’s most offbeat offerings.

CBC fielded a unique children’s television series in 1992. It was an ambitious, intelligently-written series — intellectual enough for adults to enjoy, yet action-oriented enough to keep viewer interest. It stood in diametrical opposition from fare like BABAR (CBC, 1989-91), THE RACCOONS (1985-91) and STREET CENTS (1989-2006.)

Also, it focused around a coma victim’s fantasy life.

That reads like the most obvious candidate for cancellation, doesn’t it? Usually, it would be, but THE ODYSSEY (CBC, 1992-94) is not the average CBC children’s series.

The Basic Formula

In the pilot, initially titled THE JELLYBEAN ODYSSEY, main character Jay Ziegler (Illya Woloshyn) offers his father’s telescope as a membership fee to join a club of kids that meets in a tree fort. The tree fort club’s bullying leader, Keith (Tony Sampson), denies Jay membership but takes the telescope anyways. With the aid of disabled friend Donna (Ashleigh Aston Moore d/b/a Ashley Rogers)–whom he snubbed in order to enter the tree-fort club–Jay attempts to retrieve his father’s telescope but instead falls out of the tree,  hits his head, and lapses into a coma.

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