Bizarre and highly entertaining

by Ed Blackadder

Note: It was recently announced that the remake for HBO in its current carnation with Fincher has been canceled. You can read why here. HBO owns the property and should get someone else to develop the show. We can hope.

While reading up on David Fincher’s Gone Girl, I saw that he and Gillian Flynn had signed off on a new TV show for HBO. This got me intrigued enough to seek it out. It’s a British creation titled Utopia, and was created by Dennis Kelly for Channel 4. It ran for two short seasons then wrapped earlier this year. It’s also one of the best TV shows I’ve ever been fortunate enough to see. It doesn’t beat my top two, Game of Thrones and Hannibal, but it’s right up there with the best of them.

Utopia tells the story of a graphic novel that’s predicted some of the worst disasters to happen over the past few decades, and of the secretive organization who’ll stop at nothing to get it back. Very few people have ever seen it and the ones that have begin to realize that it’s far more than just a collection of crazy drawings.

This small group of people end up on the run after they begin to die off or get set up with various sex crimes to discredit them. They’re being hunted by one of the most powerful organizations in the world, known as The Network, and thanks to The Network, their old lives are now over.

Created by
Dennis Kelly
Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Alexandra Roach, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
Started Airing
5 January 2013
Ed’s Grade: A+

There are many things that make Utopia different than any TV show you’ve ever seen before, like the vibrant color palette (favoring strong yellows) or the fact that it’s shot entirely in cinemascope. But for me it was the characters that helped make this show great, and is something I hope that David Fincher and Gillian Flynn can do for HBO. For example, the main assassin, Arby (played brilliantly by Neil Maskell), has been raised since birth to kill. He has no idea how the world works thanks to some seriously cruel fathering. This we get to witness during episode 1 of season 2, as this entire shocking episode is dedicated to giving the main players a backstory. Arby and his sidekick kill their way through a lot of people and we also get to see some cruel torture involving eyes and a spoon. “Where is Jessica Hyde?” is the question Arby wants answered. We learn that everyone is controlled by someone known only as Mister Rabbit, and this person is very secretive indeed.

The other players are also just as good, like the unusually named conspiracy nut Wilson Wilson (Adeel Akhtar), or the always jealous Becky (Alexandra Roach). Everyone cusses like a trooper in this show, but Becky does it the best. Ian (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) has Becky and Jessica Hyde (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) bitching at each other as they vie for his affections, however, thanks to Jessica being on the run for 35 years she’s almost as dysfunctional as Arby. She can kill a lot easier than she can make friends.

As well as having a great cast of characters, special mention has to be made about the music, which, along with the incredible cinematography, make this show what it is. Pure cult material. The attached trailer will give you a taste of the soundtrack, and a glimpse at the visual feast you can expect.

Each season was only 6 episodes long but those 12 episodes ended perfectly, leaving everything nice and tidy. You will also see that they left it so that it could easily have continued had they so decided. Instead, HBO will have to retell, then complete what Dennis Kelly started, and I have high hopes that HBO can make it as great as Channel 4. The casting will be an interesting one, and also of the utmost importance, because without a good Arby, Mister Rabbit or Wilson Wilson, Utopia might not work. Only time will tell.