So this Utopia thing currently airing on Channel 4‘s pretty good, then. For those who don’t know and aren’t clicking through, the premise is thus (this):
The Utopia Experiments is a legendary graphic novel shrouded in mystery. But when a small group of previously unconnected people find themselves in possession of an original manuscript, their lives suddenly and brutally implode.
Targeted swiftly and relentlessly by a murderous organisation known as The Network, the terrified group are left with only one option if they want to survive: they have to run.
Sounds like your usual conspiracy theory thriller, huh? Well, thankfully I’m a fan of those, and the first episode doesn’t disappoint. It hooked me from the off, its opening punch of a comic store massacre given an odd twinge of the uncanny by virtue of its colourful decor and the killers’ unusual methods. It gave off a definite Black Mirror (and therefore Twilight Zone) vibe of being set in an altogether sinister alternate reality, and I’m quite all right with that.
Two points (among many) of interest:
1. The drunk (almost) sex scene between two of our heroes was immensely enjoyable, mainly because of the clumsiness with which the pair pulled (‘ripped’ would be giving them too much credit) each others’ clothes off and their hysterical laughter/embarrassment when – surprise surprise – Mr. Big doesn’t make an appearance. It’s nice to have those grounding moments where the characters who are about to be plunged into a world of international conspiracy and murder are shown to be just as capable of fucking up as any one of us. Come on, we’ve all been there.
I mean, uh, not recently. Or ever. Um.
2. A character corrects some university staff when they call a comic a comic, which she insists is a ‘graphic novel’. Why do TV and film writers still insist on attempting to legitimise comics by calling them something else? Does it change anything about them except how they might be observed by snooty dickheads? No? Well let’s all just grow the fuck up and call them what they’ve always been. It honestly makes me think the people who write this stuff read Watchmen and decided that’s all they needed to know about the form.
Or maybe I’m reading it all wrong and it’s supposed to be the character that’s a pretentious tool. In which case that ain’t great for getting me to sympathise with her.
But that was just something that bugged me. I’m still kind of champing at the bit to find out what happens next, though past experience *cough*LOST*cough* has taught me to be cautious when presented with a tantalising mystery that leaves you wanting more than the creators could potentially provide.
After all, I think we’d agree that concluding a story like this is a lot harder than starting it – giving the why instead of just the what. It’s easier to intrigue than it is to satisfy.
But hey, the cast’s pretty good (it’s nice to see Kill List‘s Neil Maskell playing against type as a vicious hitm–oh, wait) and the premise is more original than I’ve seen in some time.
[Saw the last line coming a mile off, though.]