|Mad about the boy – young Pietre in Utopia 2. Pics: Ch4|
Ch4: July, date and time to be confirmed
Story: How did the Janus project to save humanity begin during 1979’s Winter of Discontent? And, in the present day, what has happened to Jessica, Arby, Ian, Grant and Becky…
NO SOONER has Fargo been put into cold storage than Ch4 has another drama for viewers needing something a little, shall we say, outre…
Utopia‘s first series last year was certainly on the excessive side, with teeth-gnashing violence and a stunningly off-kilter conspiracy tale.
It’s great to see it return with its surreal style, quirky soundtrack (by Cristobal Tapia de Veer) and nightmarish mood.
|Where is Jessica? Locked up…|
Utopia returns with a double-bill
Series two launches as a double-bill over consecutive nights, with the opener being an hour-long
flashback to the origins of the whole mad Janus conspiracy. We see how scientist Philip Carvel (Tom Burke) dreams up a plan with security agent Milner (Game of Throne‘s Rose Leslie) to save the world from overcrowding by secretly sterilising 95 percent of the population.
In the time-honoured tradition of know-it-all scientists from Dr Frankenstein to Dr Strangelove, the best laid plans – ‘We’re creating Utopia’ – go awry as Carvel and Milner’s relationship fractures.
In addition, Carvel fears for his daughter Jessica – yes Jessica Hyde, protagonist of series one – whom Milner is threatening, while also consumed with guilt over his experimentation on his toddler son, Pietre.
|Rose Leslie as deadly agent Milner|
Neil Maskell, Fiona O’Shaughnessy and Adeel Akhtar
With the little monster child, writer Dennis Kelly’s sadistic humour flourishes again. Carvel’s deranged bid to use the boy as a guinea pig for a treatment to inhibit violence turns the lad into a mini-Hannibal Lecter instead.
The opener is a wonderful evocation of that period of 1970s industrial mayhem, political paranoia and conspiracy incontinence. Thrown into the mix are Margaret Thatcher, Airey Neave (played by Tim McInnerny), the IRA, Aldo Moro and much more.
Episode two reunites us with the old gang who became embroiled in the conspiracy last time round – Jessica (Fiona O’Shaughnessy), who’s been held captive by latter-day Milner (Geraldine James), Arby (Neil Maskell), Ian (Nathan Stewart Jarrett), Grant (Oliver Woollford) and Wilson Wilson (Adeel Akhtar). The story rumbles on with news of the Network and its plans for ‘V’ Day…
Without ever trying to make a coherent case about the political shenanigans of the past 35 years, Utopia remains an engrossing and distinctive mashup of paranoia, dark suspicions and black humour. When it comes to conspiracy yarns, the drama is – to borrow the title of the 1979 Madness album – one step beyond.