Some sad but not surprising news today: Channel 4 has decided not to renew the primary color extravaganza that was Utopia. The show got dismal ratings throughout its run even though it enjoyed a cult following online and was mostly well-reviewed. And while I recommended that you tune in for the second series a few months ago, I kept somewhat quiet once it actually premiered because… apart from a fantastic premiere episodes, great visuals and some fun dialogue, the show never seemed to deliver anything other tension stacked on top of more tension leading to a mostly impotent and underwhelming climax.
I’ve never been a fan of style over substance, but the first series did promise a certain amount of character development and plot. Where is Jessica Hyde and Who is Mr. Rabbit were two big questions that the series managed to satisfy while still leaving you intrigued about what would happen next.
Then the premiere, which was an entire episode’s worth of a flashback sequence, was beautifully self-contained, well-acted and tightly scripted. If anything, I kept hoping that they would give us more Milner/Carvel flashbacks to help break-up the doldrom of the current-day story.
But the rest of the show? Eh. We knew the old man was Carvel fairly early on, we knew the team would probably stop the virus from getting out (even though it would’ve been better story-wise if it had been released) and Wilson Wilson’s ascension to the black throne of Utopia’s secret underworld wasn’t quite as much of a shock or transformation as the show seemed to imply it was.
All of that said, I’m still sad that it was cancelled. It didn’t look particularly expensive to produce and was definitely more interesting than most of the formulaic gruel we’re often served up on either side of the Atlantic. A third series could’ve given the show runners a chance to turn things around or really revel in the consequences of all of the actions taken and not taken in Series 2.
Plus I hate knowing that David Fincher’s remake is probably going to last for 7 or 8 seasons on American TV with smugger, glitzier actors. What will Utopia be without the heavily-accented Becky saying Mr. Rabbit like it has an extra 5 syllables and its own postal code? Or the fantastically weird Fiona O’Shaughnessy — could anyone else be Jessica Hyde? No.
And so help me God if they cast Kate Mara.
What did you think of the second series? Did I miss its brilliance?