Last night saw the airing of the last episode of Channel 4’s super-stylish, mind-bending drama series Utopia. But, fingers crossed it will not be the last we see of this intriguing creation from the mind of Dennis Kelly. The series followed a group of misfits who all had an inkling for more knowledge about the Utopia manuscripts they fall together through an internet forum and when they meet up at a pub shit starts to get real. I’m slightly worried that if I say anything more I’ll give away one of the shows many, many twists and turns so I’ll try not to divulge any more of the story.
Basically, this series has been quite simply the best British-made drama series I have seen in a long time. It’s shot with hyper-focussed alarmingly bright colours in almost every scene giving the whole thing a unique and gripping style, mixed with the unusual but tonally perfect score the scene is set for Kelly’s scripts to realise their true potential. Scenes of graphic violence are a signature from the off, with a Tarantino-like zest for seeing our protagonists as well as our antagonist torture each other. And that’s not the only way in which this show had shades of Tarantino, the dialogue although shaky at times, at other moments doesn’t seem a world away from Pulp Fiction. There are some great characters here too, of the gang my favourite was easily Wilson played by Adeel Akhtar, who you may recognise from Four Lions. Wilson is a paranoid computer whizz who has a conspiracy theory for almost everything and is portrayed so well by Akhtar it’s hard to remember how much of an idiot he was in Four Lions. Aside from the main group though, the shows greatest character is Arby (Neil Maskell), a man who seems to have no conscience and throws his weight around killing an torturing anyone in his path to get to Jessica Hyde, ‘Where is Jessica Hyde?’ He speaks drolly and that is his only line for about two or three episodes.
It does have its flaws, at times it felt as though as there’s too much going to fully comprehend all the plots twists and reveals, some of the scenes between group members feel forced and at times unnecessary and I felt as though the Jessica Hyde character never quite lived up to the elusive person we were expecting. But as a whole this really works, I want to go back to the beginning and watch it again to pick up on bits I may have missed and that in itself says a whole lot. This series has raised the bar of not just British TV but TV as a whole, in my opinion, perhaps it’s time for auteurs to make their names in television, let me know what you think on that. And let’s all keep our fingers crossed that we get a second series and that those pesky Americans don’t get their hands on this gold dust and try and re-make it.