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Is it excessively violent, as has been claimed by some critics? Sure. Is that a bad thing, is the violence gratuitous? I don’t think so. Utopia is a dystopian thriller that does not really come up with a new story line (Katheryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days” immediately comes to mind, as do a couple of convoluted Dan Brown stories), but what it does is combine the run-of-the mill “The Company hunts down The Kids because The Kids stumbled across a Dark Secret” plot and provides a new setting for it.

Very often, the bleaker sides of British life provide very interesting change of pace, backdrop and atmosphere for just about any story, and the same applies here: this is a very British tv show, and one of the advantages of British tv is that they usually do not shy away from extremes and edges. Hence: yes, violent and brutal in the way the hunters treat the hunted, at the same time often funny and peculiar, and even the kid actor is not annoying. Most of the cast is great, actually, with award for most creepy hit man in recent history going to Arby, the chubby guy in the bomber jacket, lurching slowly through this world, leaving behind a trail of blood (not in his face, though, he has this well-practiced habit of protecting himself from splatter…).

The only slighcomplaint I have is that I wish the story’s core McGuffin, a graphic novel manuscript that allegedly contains information on a number of global diseases, was exploited a bit more cleverly. I felt a bit let down by the actual explanation, and by the fact that the artwork itself plays less of a role than you would expect or wish. Still: a visually stunning and atmospheric dense, thrilling and entertaining piece of modern television.

Side note to US tv producers: six episodes is the perfect length for a tv drama. No need for convoluted plot twists, no need for quarter- and mid-season interim pseudo-finales…

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/utopia/episode-guide/series-1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopia_(TV_series)

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