February 8, 2011
Outcasts - Episode 1
Two of my favourite TV shows from the last few years are Spooks and Hustle, so if you take the TV company, Kudos, which made not only that but also Life On Mars, and you get the creator of Spooks, Ben Richards, to work together on a Science Fiction show I’m going to be excited. Right? Correct. What I’ve been waiting for, a serious attempt at adult SF by the BBC, called Outcasts.
The first episodes starts with a large spaceship heading towards a planet, of course, and so far so good, the visuals being fine, the spaceship looking a bit old and battered. The spaceship is a transporter for colonists, fleeing from Earth to Carpathia, a planet in the Goldilocks Zone which has been settled for ten years. The planet is earth-like, it was filmed in South Africa and looks suitably dramatic, but the settlement still looks a bit ramshackle.
The initial dialogue was not promising, quite a few explanatory sentences that were shoe horned in to explain things. Yeah, I know that prime-time SF will have to deal with audiences that aren’t SF literate but the blatant exposition was a bit rough and unnatural. Still, after the set-up it settled down to reveal a few interesting plots woven together: the arrival of the new settlers, the tension between the security forces and the expeditionary soldiers, the mystery of what happened on Carpathia in the early days. All pleasingly kicked off to mesh together. It feels like there’s a bold theme running throughout the series about whether the human race could start again and make a better society, a proper SF idea at it’s core, and hopefully one that’s fully explored in the future.
The visuals were also good, the interior shots reminded of Bladerunner, with bright lights through blinds except with added computer screen displays, whilst the outside shots were bright and almost bleached. Interesting.
Acting wise it was good too, Jamie Bamber particularly entertaining as the off-kilter soldier Mitchell, whilst Hermione Norris does a scientist version of Ros from Spooks, plenty hidden in her past.
And yes, I enjoyed it. There was every chance that my expectations would be let down seeing as I’ve been looking forward to it so much, but they weren’t. And even more promising is that there appears a whole snakes nest of plot threads ready to burst out and ensnare the characters. I’m looking forward to the next seven episodes….