Where is Jessica Hyde: Utopia

I like watching televsion shows. 


I know, it's pretty uncool and mainstream to own a tv, let alone watch shows. And I have been known to watch some terrible shows (in my defence, Come Dine With Me is perfect background noise when I'm editing photos, or spending the few spare hours I have each day relaxing).


But I really enjoy well-made series. I've already discussed Ripper Street here, and I'm still loving that. But I'm also particularly partial to certain other big-budget (mostly American) shows such as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. 


 My boyfriend started this obsession. When I first met him he had a box-set of LOST, which I remember sneering at, assuming it was some American dross. That is, until he sat me down and made me watch it while also giving me a pop quiz of theories. I suppose previously I hadn't spent much time analyzing the shows I watched. All that changed with LOST.


Of course, in the UK, there isn't such a big budget for TV... apart from the X Factor. There are few creatives that actually put together a very good TV series (or, the ones that are good are too risque to be shown). That's why I'm loving Channel 4 right now.


Sure, they put out some really quite questionable concepts (see: Big Fat Gypsy Weddings), but they also gave Charlie Brooker a budget to create Black Mirror. I could, and probably will, make a whole separate post regarding my love for Brooker, and Black Mirror. But what I do think happened is it unleashed a whole new level of surreal onto the general public (which would probably have NEVER been considered acceptable on the BBC for example), and this allowed for an upgrade of mind-fuck in the form of Utopia.


Described thusly:

"Five online strangers end up being drawn together by the legendary manuscript of a cult graphic novel and they end up being pursued by a secret and deadly organisation known only as The Network. The online comic book forum agree to meet after gaining possession of the original manuscript for the cult graphic novel 'The Utopia Experiments'. "

 (Well that was an exceptionally bad piece of copy, but I assure you, the writing of the show is far, far better)


It's not for the faint-hearted. The opening scene involves multiple murders, and just in case that and "dark future" didn't tip you off that this is pretty fucking dark, the first episode includes a horrendous torture scene involving eyes.


Utopia is surreal. Like if Charlie Brooker teamed up with David Lynch, surreal. The "baddie" (well, the one that murders people for "The Network") is the most bizarre and saddest bad-guy I've seen for a while. With his glazed-over eyes, labored breathing and constant repetition of "Where is Jessica Hyde?", he's just... weird and terrifying.



It's also REALLY, REALLY well shot. Although I can't seem to find a decent high-res image that shows it off. You should probably just watch it and see for yourself.


Utopia is a 6 part series, already on the 4th, with the 5th episode showing on tuesday. So far, it's ridiculously well written, consistantly leaving me on the edge of my seat. I just hope that it continues in the same vein, and rounds off the series well. I say "rounds off the series" because I'm hoping against hope that there will be another series, and the characters won't just suddenly wake up from a dream or some equally hideous writing-cop-out.




Ripper Street or "How the Daily Mail Fails at Feminism"



There seems to be a historical drama face-off going on between ITV and BBC.

I know everyone flails about Downton Abbey, and I do admit when I tried to watch it I did have 4 large dogs trying to jump on me at the same time (don't ask), but it didn't entice me to watch more than one episode. To me it has that certain.... nicely nicely British historical drama, can't offend the censors, fun for all the family.... feel to it. I'm probably wrong, and I am most definitely not one of those people that watches one episode and gives up (god forbid the kind of twat that watches an episode IN THE MIDDLE OF A SEASON, then moans about how they don't understand what's going on), so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and try to watch it again soon.

But unfortunately, I do find it difficult to believe that ITV can produce anything of worth. Chalk that down to the X Factor/Britain's No Talent generation.

So when I see that ITV is filling it's Sunday slot (previously belonging to Downton) with a new show, Mr Selfridge, I am hardly scrambling for the remote. In fact, I had little knowledge (due to never watching ITV) of it, and turned to BBC One instead, where I happened upon Ripper Street in all it's gory glory.


Oh, and the "bad guy" in the 2nd episode is Joe Gilgun, who I first saw in This Is England. To say he plays an immensely brilliant villain is an understatement.

After gulping down Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad in 2012, it's fairly safe to say that British TV is just nowhere near the level of it's American counterparts. Mainly due to budget. However, I'd say that Ripper Street is pretty damn close in terms of writing and attention to detail (although there are rarely any GRAND sets, the detail put into the small snippets you see is brilliant). This is possibly because it was created as a collaboration between BBC and BBC America.

Unfortunately, the theme of the show isn't anything new, and is very similar stylistically to Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films. Very gritty, a specific colour palette in terms of costumes, and a very similar soundtrack (that AMAZING broken Romanian-esque sound created by Hans Zimmer, who apparently "did hideous things to a piano" alongside banjos, violins and other unconventional instruments). It's the very tried and tested Victorian-era gritty-bits-of-East-London style, but if you like that kind of thing, it ticks all the boxes, and it does do it well.


However, what Ripper Street DOES do is deal with the time period shortly after Jack the Ripper went about his business, and the paranoia left behind, causing conflict with the police force. I won't go into the details of the characters (if you care enough to read this far, just watch it), but will say it's a "monster of the week" show, with some loose relationship plot development moving throughout. We actually accidentally watched half of the second episode without seeing the first, and while we didn't know the detail of each character, you can get the gist, which goes to show the storytelling is well-written.

What I do want to discuss is the role of women in Ripper Street. The Daily Mail, that seems to consistently objectify and degrade women on a regular fucking basis, claim that Ripper Street is an "Anti-Women Orgy of Gore"


The Daily Fail article complains about the "souring atmosphere and the way that violence is rather too lasciviously portrayed against a backdrop of fetishised period-perfect sets" and the "torture and murder of women, enthusiastically depicted... nothing to do with the Ripper, mind you." She goes on to complain that the first episode featured a "convoluted plotline about the first snuff movies ever made", and that "we see a great deal more of this act than is strictly necessary".

Mustn't it be lovely, to live in a world of puppy dogs and kittens, where the idea of sitting down on a Sunday night to watch a little bit of gory drama is viewed in the same titillating light as 50 Shits of Grey. Such a terrible shame when your little drool-fest is interrupted by the TYPE OF SHOCKING VIOLENCE THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO REAL WOMEN EVERY DAY. "It would be laughable if it wasn’t quite so nasty", apart from it's not, is it, because it has actually struck a nerve, that you aren't capable of dealing with in an intelligent manner.

She even goes on to complain about how the men are kitted out in exquisite tweed and plaid suits while the "women are generally naked - or just shuffle about in rags".


Nice rags.....?

The Daily Fail article may have had a point, if the series continued with female murders (it started out with one to highlight how all female murders were linked to Jack the Ripper shortly after his time), however the article fails to highlight that point. The second episode features a male victim and the introduction of a strong, mothering character (albeit just for one episode) - and the only "tart" actually ends up almost (well she beats the crap out of a few extras) kicking some arse in a full gown, corset and tiny wobbly hat.

Fuck your false feminism, Jan Moir. Calling out misogyny just because something is depicted in a violent way does not mean that Ripper Street's creators are anti-women.

Have you seen Ripper Street - if so, how did it make you feel? Also, would you suggest I give Mr Selfridge a go?