Another week in Utopia, and you can hear the phones ring across the agency. “Shit,” they’re saying, “we’re running out of plot!”
“Don’t worry,” their mate reassures them, “the characters can always sit around for a whole episode. There was a traumatic shooting at the end of the last one, we can get away with a regrouping.”
In case you can’t tell, this show is really starting to bore me.
Utopia: Manuscript Day
Remember Torchwood: Miracle Day? If not, you can find my reviews under the Torchwood tag on this very website. Broadly: a ten-week mini-series built around a good concept, but stretching it far beyond natural length, leaving us with glacial plotting and long diversions whilst our heroes searching for pointless magic objects.
Utopia is starting to remind me a lot of Torchwood: Miracle Day. Except it doesn’t have the secret weapon of a few characters we’re already invested in, and seems less concerned with making people appear sympathetic when it could be doing cool shots of over-saturated skies.
Yes, it looks lovely, and when their final uber-conspiracy is finally revealed, it might be really clever, but they don’t have any ideas for this middle-chunk do they? Much like Miracle Day, it might’ve worked at half the length, but this is torture.
Speaking of torture, surprisingly little of that this week. Perhaps the writers at least realised we might’ve been getting de-sensitised to violence after last week’s kiddie-death-orgy, so time to give it a rest. And lo and behold, the one death in the episode (at the very end) felt a lot more resonant as a result. In fact, the final scene as a whole was good – tense, exciting, rare sense of progress.
There were a couple of decent characterisation moments too – Ian and Becky’s date, Grant helping Owen with her essay – but not enough to fill the allotted time, and Jamie from The Thick Of It needs to get angry and start smashing some printers, really. The down-side of the vague conspiracy plot is that I can’t yet tell why many of the subplots matter.
I still hold out the vague hope that next week, things will finally get good when the climax begins to happen. Don’t let me down again, Utopia.