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Utopia series 1

November 20, 2013
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That’s Arby on the cover. Yellow seems to be his color.

This is a British six episode hour length series broadcast on Channel 4 at the beginning of the year that my friend Terry Frost over at the Martian Drive-In podcast recommednded to me.  It is a conspiracy thriller about a group of comic book enthusiasts who are fans of a graphic novel called Utopia.  When one of their members acquires a copy of the unpublished sequel novel their lives suddenly get a lot more interesting.  A second series has already been commissioned.

Our story opens with us meeting a group of comic collectors who are fans of a graphic novel called Utopia.  They all frequent a local shop that is rather quickly shut down when two assassins show up looking for an unpublished manuscript for the second issue.  The owner has already sold the material to a collector but, that doesn’t stop the two from killing everyone in the shop and making it look like they were all victims of a gas leak.  It turns out the collector has told his friends, the people we were introduced to earlier, of his acquisition and plans to meet them at a local pub to show it off.  The three who arrive at the pub are Becky, Wilson (whose last name is also Wilson) and Ian who I immediately recognized as Curtis from the show Misfits.  Their friend with the manuscript never shows up because he is being relieved of the manuscript and his life by the two assassins.  Unfortunately for these guys Grant, another member of the group decided to stop by the collector’s house before going to the pub and, as he sees what happens, takes the manuscript for himself.  Interspersed with this is the story of a government official named Michael who is a scientist involved in the department of health, specifically with the purchasing and approval of vaccines for the British government.

With this basic set-up the show kicks into full gear.  In addition to the Utopia manuscript one of the two assassins named Arby, the one who appears to be in, keeps asking for the location of a woman named Jessica Hyde.  Since his victims never have any idea who this is, things usually end badly for them.  Jessica does actually show up at some point and explains to our unfortunate comic fans that Utopia was written by a scientist involved in an actual planet wide conspiracy and that the comic was his way of spilling the beans on the conspiracy.  I will not go any further at this point because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who wants to check the series out.  Like most conspiracy stories some pretty horrible stuff is being planned and the classic trope of who you can trust or not becomes a major part of the story line. 

Overall, I have to say that I was quite impressed with the series on a number of levels.  It has this David Lynch sort of quirkiness that really sets the show apart from most of what you see on television.  Also, the actual conspiracy itself is quite interesting for reasons that I will cover in the spoiler section that follows.  The characters are very believably written and acted which lends a creepy air of credibility to the whole affair.  The one show that immediately came to mind as I watched Utopia was The Last Enemy which I saw comparatively recently as well.  I definitely found Utopia the more interesting of the two and would describe it as a cooler version of The Last Enemy.  If you are into dark conspiracy theory tales Utopia is definitely for you.

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