Fortunately for you this is not a treatise on Thomas More or his Discourse on Utopia, but just a few of my thoughts on Channel 4 UK’s brain-screw created and written by Dennis Kelly.
I had not be previously acquainted with Dennis Kelly or his other work (but his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda with Tom Minchin certainly has struck my interest), and frankly it is hard to describe what this show is… especially stylistically. I am on the last two episodes of a 6 part series and let me just say this show just featured a 10 year old girl in pig tails sports a shotgun.
If you know me at all then you know I fancy my conspiracy theories. I have a Frank Black 12″ figure standing proudly in my living room. Some of my favourite television shows of all time are The Prisoner and Nowhere Man. If I had to describe Utopia in an elevator pitch I would say it Nowhere Man meets Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles. Have I got your attention?
Utopia follows a small group in possession of a manuscript sequel for a graphic novel called “The Utopia Experiments”. Now this graphic novel is thought to have predicted the worst disasters of the last century in the style of Nostradamus’s Black Mirror (another UK program on to-see list). Looking for the manuscript is ‘The Network’ which is an Illuminati-esque group of powerful people who are also searching for this book.
But that brief description of Utopia would not set it too far apart from some run of the mill Davinci Code movie or the recent Zero Hour. What sets it apart is style and quality. The first scene of the show at Doomsday Comics is a perfect litmus test that reminded me of Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. I’m not sure if my hesitancy to elaborate is due to my not wanting to spoil it or just because it is so damned disturbing. One thing this truly impresses me with Utopia is that while the members of ‘The Network’ are not very sympathetic, they don’t think they are bad guys. They clearly believe (with a compelling argument as well) that what they are doing is for the betterment of the human race. Which makes all of the insane violence of this show all the more disturbing.
I mentioned style earlier. Aesthetically this show loves to use eery bass driven music contrasted against lush crop fields, wind power generators, and colour corrected blue skies. If Millennium had existed in the 21st century I suspect Chris Carter would have opted for a similar look. The cast is all around solid and fans of The Misfits series will recognize Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as an IT Geek trying to solve a mystery as well as survive.
As I near the end of the first series like any show you really enjoy, you want more. Thankfully Channel 4 has commission a series 2. If you are Canadian and cannot get your mitts on the Blu-ray, thankfully Space will begin airing Thursday April 25th at 10PM EST.
Don’t worry it’s just gas…