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.
"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.