I think it has to be said now that Channel 4’s roster seems to be just improving year upon year with brilliant one off dramas to new, fresh, inventive and groundbreaking series like Skins and Misfits which all make for more than interesting viewing. Utopia however just takes all of this to the next level. The last few years when I have thought of C4 I have always tended to just think of great sitcoms from Peep Show to The IT Crowd and darker stuff like Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place. Utopia has really taken this to another level now however, this week’s thriller see’s drama increase to Utopian levels (see what I did there?) as the episode opens with Arby entering a school and proceeding to kill a teacher and 6-7 school children, it is shock television at its best and done so well it is hard to watch but at the same time there is no way in hell you want to take your eyes off of it.
Utopia appears to have no boundry it won’t cross and where you don’t actually see the kids getting shot much like when an adult character is killed the combination of not knowing, the shots that fire light in a room and the hellish screams are enough to send you into a bit of a sweat. From there the episode only progressed and for the first time we actually get some idea of where this is going, not a crystal clear indication but the intentions are there and the story is obviously so well thought out that it seems to be able to fall deeper and deeper adding more characters without it losing any of the interest.
I won’t go far into the details of this week’s episode but I will say that there is something even darker about Jessica than I can put my finger on, her attitude towards Grant just seems so strange and whether that is because she sees herself in him or other motives it feels strange, her presence in the series is a weird but amazing one, she doesn’t seem ‘human’ and is so disconnected from everything it’s impossible for anyone in the audience watching to tell her intentions no matter what she says.
As ever, the episode was beautiful to look at with thick reds as more and more blood is spilt and lovely slow moving pans and long distance shots which are full with vibrant and bright colours like nothing else I have seen on television for quite some time. It is unique and different and I really hope this does get noticed because it is far more creative than a lot of other things on television right now in terms of thrillers and dramas.
There is no walking away from the style and shock tactics employed for dramatic effect in this series now and if they did start to have to tone things down as it were I think the show would lose all credibility and I think the style in which this episode opened was just as shocking and terrifying as you could go in that direction and that is still really pushing it.
Utopia is the kind of show designed for the audience to watch close and listen hard… very hard and I think that even after it is over it will still be being watched and picked apart by fans trying to find the links to everything… I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t! Utopia is as baffling as it is engrossing to watch and requires you to use your brains as well as your eyes… some might see this as too confusing but where would the fun be if it was all straight forward and predictable!? It’s the same principle I apply to Moffat’s Doctor Who a show you can think about is much more worthwhile than something served to you on a plate and spoon fed to you by your owner like a fat dog.