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What We’re Watching Wednesday: Utopia

This January has seen Channel 4 up their game with some great new shows to fill those hour long slots left empty by Fresh Meat and Homeland. Utopia is absolutely no exception, and is what we’ve been yearning for – the nation was crying out for a modern, innovative and thought-provoking British drama with, let’s face it, a superb marketing campaign, some hot young tings, and absolutely no period costumes involved.

I’m reluctant to reveal too much of the plot, partially because I struggle to understand what the hell is going on with some of it, and partially because if you haven’t started it yet, it will certainly ruin it. It centres around The Utopia Experiments, a mysterious cult graphic novel that was thought to only have one issue, and was written by a paranoid delusional schizophrenic. When a second part is found, conspiracy believers and newly-found friends find themselves caught up in something which spreads much deeper than they could have imagined.

There are some pretty graphic scenes of surprising violence, which creep up on you because the series is shot with such beauty. Colours are bright, movement is slow; like something the lovechild of Edgar Wright and Richard Ayoade might direct, having taken some advice from Tarantino on how to include enough hyper-violence to make you squirm but not quite vomit. It’s absorbing in making reality look more vivid, and despite the bleak outlook of the situation, the dark humour is great momentum for a complex story.

Even if you don’t really understand what is quite an intricate situation (think Revenge, where the baddies are way higher up than you can comprehend), it’s still utterly compelling viewing, with a great cast (aside from one dodgy accent), an intriguing plot and brilliant direction. I’m so interested to see how the series pans out. Bravo, Channel 4!