sun 17/12/2017

Utopia, Series Finale, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Utopia, Series Finale, Channel 4

Utopia, Series Finale, Channel 4

First series ends but epic conspiracy looks set for a comeback

Arby (Neil Maskell) and Jessica (Fiona O'Shaughnessy) find they have more in common than they suspectedChris Raphael

"New Sars-like virus claims first Briton" according to a headline in yesterday's Times, news which will have sent spasms of alarm through Utopia-watchers. A couple of episodes ago we heard how the original Sars outbreak had been a fictional creation, and this series-closer began with overheard news reports of another attack of Russian flu in Britain, which was provoking "scenes of disorder". But we know that these outbreaks too have been fabricated, as an excuse to dose up the population with the antidote.

Utopia's tortuous and bindweed-like plotting has had us pondering over what, exactly, The Network has been up to over the shadowy decades of its existence. Is it planning genocide on an incalculable scale? Or selective destruction of particular racial groups? Last week we learned from Letts (Stephen Rea), a pitifully shrunken figure once removed from the baroque gloom of his office, that the project aimed at nothing less than the mass sterilisation of the global population, give or take a few per cent who we would be left to ensure the survival of the species. The inital batch of test subjects would be the population of the UK.

This has been an ingenious twist by writer Dennis Kelly. Looming global over-population and its potential for causing catastrophic wars over food and resources may be the largest elephant in any room, ever (why else are the Chinese colonising mineral-rich chunks of Africa?), but it's rarely discussed publicly. It's not hard to believe in the existence of covert organisations plotting stratagems to deal with it (Alexandra Roach and Emilia Jones, pictured above).

Moreover (Kelly asked us, through the reactions of his characters), despite its monstrous shadow-totalitarian behaviour, might not The Network's Janus project really be for the greater good? After all, they're not planning mass murder (though they're happy to kill everybody who gets in their way), merely the non-birth of billions of people whom the world's resources wouldn't be able to support. Wilson, despite having been shockingy half-blinded by agents Arby and Lee, found this argument surprisingly compelling.

Yet sadly, the anticipated cataclysmic punch of episode six, as our bedraggled band of refugees tracked down 64 million doses of sinister serum stored in a warehouse in Stevenage, was dissipated in a blatant set-up for series two, leaving countless loose ends flapping in the wind. Even though we were zapped with a staggering revelation about Jessica Hyde (Fiona O'Shaughnessy) and the legacy of her evil-scientist dad, what it really meant was that the wheel had turned full circle so it could start all over again.

But the scope and scale of Utopia are obviously designed with worldwide export in mind, so one series was never going to be enough. Apart from the numerous splendid performances (for instance Alexandra Roach's Becky, Neil Maskell's Arby and Emilia Jones as the cruelly orphaned Alice), the elements that stick in the mind are Ole Bratt Birkeland's stunning cinematography, with its enormously suggestive wide shots and intense colours, and Cristobal Tapia de Veer's cunning, menacing music. Can they keep the inspiration flowing?

The project aimed at nothing less than the mass sterilisation of the global population, give or take a few per cent

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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and the signs are with woeful low ratings this may be left flapping... the first week it launched with 1.6m (7.77%) in its first quarter of an hour and ended with 412k (4.15%) in the 15 minute period between 11.15pm and 11.30pm. Utopia secured less than half the audience of Celebrity Big Brother, which continued with 2.32m (12.66%) viewers over the 10pm hour. dwindling ratings... I doubt there will be a second season.

A great series dark, disturbing and thought provoking. Was Sars and Chicken flu an agency wind up? This will gain cult status and is this years 'Prisoner' methinks!

Massive plot discrepancies, unbelievable characters and situations, violence for violence sake - ultimately rather poor. The artwork was nice though.

Hope you're wrong Howard. So sad that the predictable, glossy, feel-good dramas get millions of viewers and Utopia -truly original,,looking amazing and sounding wierdly wonderful, with twisty scary plot gets only a few watchers. Hope Channel 4 are committed and brave enough to press on with next series.

I stayed with the series because I thought it would get better, but sadly if you take away the weird music and long pauses, it lacked depth. It was done on a budget and I could tell; very cleaver to keep the plot limited to 5-7 people and how those characters can have an influence on the entire world. All in all, it probably does deserve a second series because at least it has room for improvement.

I really enjoyed it. Although there was real cartoon element to the writing style, like a graphic novel itself, it brought me back to those brilliant conspiracy programs of the 1980s like 'Edge of darkness'. Although it is art, it does reflect modern fears, like famine, disease, over population. The characters were also highly orginal, and the violence was shocking, but then violence is shocking.

What a shame that the ratings have been poor.. I don't think it has been well advertised or perhaps it was meant to be guerrilla marketed? Ratings aren't always indicative nowadays with post DVD and downloads accounting for huge audience numbers. I see it was partly funded by BSkyB? Their audience goals are far lower than C4 and bizarrely they have begun funding half decent programming recently. I loved every single minute but I do think they should have wrapped it up...There's no way they can improve upon such a great first series. But I'd still watch it. Obviously.

The best series on television for such a long time, amazing tension , humour, horror and most of all style. If theres not a second series I will be devastated

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