Channel 4’s Utopia. Not quite what it seems?

Tom Parry, 

The definition of a Utopia in the Oxford English dictionary is as follows;

Noun, An imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.

With this in mind and after a few hours in front of the TV I’ve come to one conclusion about Channel 4’s brilliant new conspiracy thriller. If this show really is the true embodiment of a Utopia, then you know what? Count me out.

But hey don’t let the fact that I wouldn’t last 5 minutes (and clearly don’t posses Jason Bourne-like survival skills) put you off. Playwright Dennis Kelly’s drama, centred around the hunt for a fabled graphic novel, is all at once both shockingly terrifying and highly addictive.

The very first scene of the very first episode is testament to this and sets the tone perfectly. Two oddly dressed men go into a comic book shop, repeatedly ask “where is Jessica Hyde?” to which nobody has any idea who she even is and then proceed to murder everyone inside (including gassing a child off screen)

If this opening sounds a bit intense then get ready because there’s plenty more to come.

The story itself picks up as we are introduced to our main characters. Becky, a feisty valleys girl brilliantly played by Alexandra Roach. Oliver Woolford’s Juvenile delinquent Grant, Misfits star Nathan Stewart-Jarrett who is somewhat mis-cast as Ian, a 20 something still living at home and working in IT despite this he still provides a reassuring every-man quality amidst all the madness. Juxtaposing him completely is the group’s stand out member, Tin foil hat wearing, conspiracy spouting nut, Wilson Wilson, (yes that really is his name) given all the comic eccentricities by Adeel Akhtar.

This unlikely team are brought together by chance in an internet chat room and given the opportunity to read the never before seen sequel to their favourite comic ‘The Utopia Experiments’

Though without even reading a single panel they’re in serious danger and most worryingly in the sights of those two oddly dressed men from before, Arby (Kill list’s Neil Maskill) and Lee, his ultra quaffed accomplice (Paul Ready)

The two are head hunters (In the most literal sense) for ‘The Network’, a shady omnipotent organisation (Hey every conspiracy based show has to have one right?) whose motives so far have yet to be fully revealed.

You might consider them, as I like to do, the Trinny and Susannah of the Hitman world. Although (partly) fashion conscience the comparisons should definitely stop right there.

Arby, A wolf in sheep’s clothing (well more like a wolf in a tracksuit) Plods and wheezes his way from act of extreme violence to act of extreme violence and it seems like Lee will only put a bullet in you once he’s sufficiently combed his hair first.

Yes the show’s casual use of violence is unsettling to put it lightly and there is a high body count in the first two episodes alone.

Perhaps the stand out scene of Episode one involves some chillis, some sand, a bit of bleach and a spoon. If you haven’t seen it I’ll let your imagination do the rest.

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