Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cast Out

The BBC's latest foray into science-fiction is predictably dismaying nonsense


I must be in a particularly irritable mood.  Having administered a sly elbow to the kidneys of Midsomer Murders (apparently David Cameron's favourite TV prog), today I can't rest until I've vented my spleen about the BBC's execrable sci-fi drama Outcasts.

Grim faces greet the delivery of the latest script

The premise is promising, if unoriginal.  Human settlers struggle to survive on an alien planet, battling not only malevolent--if shadowy--indigenes, but their own rivalries and prejudices.  The vision is realised triumphantly, marred only by failure in the peripheral areas of plot,  dialogue, characterisation and acting.  Cliches which were barely tolerable in the 1960s incarnation of Star Trek spew forth with a straight face.  In one cringeworthy moment of the final episode, President Tate (Liam Cunningham, playing the role like a geography teacher striving for street cred with his students) rebuts the arguments of a hostile alien with "at least we know how to love!".  Come on!

Cunningham's task is not helped by an inconsistent and underwritten character, a problem which also afflicts Hermione Norris, phoning in a reprise of her role in Spooks.  Langley Kirkwood, as the leader of the persecuted ACs (if you don't already know what the ACs are, you don't need to now), spends eight episodes looking moody in a parka with the sun behind him.  These performances are Bafta-worthy when set against the plywood majesty of Ashley Walters as the one-dimensional soldier Jack, and Daniel Mays as Cass, who delivers a masterclass in bellowing and lumbering.

Luckily the show has a machiavellian villain, Julius Berger (played with actual competence by Eric Mabius).  Sadly for the viewer--and Mabius--the writers don't realise that your genuine machiavellian type doesn't go around announcing his plans as they unfold, so Berger rarely rises above the risible.

Fear not: there is good news.  Dire ratings saw the show shunted to the arse end of beyond in the schedules and, unlike The Killing, it was unable to recover.  The day after the final episode was broadcast, the BBC announced that the show was cancelled.  This was not, however, accompanied by an apology for wasting my licence fee on such trash.

Next time, happy pills at the ready, we'll look at something I like!

9 comments:

C. N. Nevets said...

Doesn't even sound fun to make fun of...

Tim Stretton said...

Yeah, just plain old-fashioned bad.

And a wasted opportunity.

Aliya Whiteley said...

I only made it ten minutes into episode one before hitting the 'pants' button.

I liked the one before, you know, the virus wiping everyone out and the survivors working it out between them type deal on BBC1, what was that called?

Tim Stretton said...

If anything it got worse across subsequent episodes. God knows why I watched it all the way through.

I think the other one was called "Survivors", but I missed it for some reason.

Luckily I've got two episodes of The Killing to catch up on.

Aliya Whiteley said...

Oh yeah - Survivors. Silly, but entertaining.

I've just realised that I've started dressing like Sarah. Woolly jumper tastic. I think it's having a profound effect on me.

Tim Stretton said...

Me too.

I've signed up on a seedy online dating site as "Faust" with predictable consequences.

Aliya Whiteley said...

Your password isn't your birthday, is it? That's asking for trouble. If signing up to a dating agency under the nickname 'faust' isn't.

Tim Stretton said...

Troels certainly made some bad life choices. Not sure he'd really make a great mayor.

At least that slippery sod Bremer knows how to work the levers of power...

Aliya Whiteley said...

Yes, you can be sure Bremer's password is something decent, even if his politics aren't.