Posts Tagged 'Channel 4'

Like all good, criminally underrated TV shows, the implosion of Utopia after its second series is dragging a trail of fan related news stories in its wake. We covered its inception and continuation here on Drozbot during 2014. But now, it seems as if we’ll never have closure regarding this pre-apocalyptic viral conspiracy.

Writer Dennis Kelly has tried to get a two hour special commissioned to make up for the cliff hanger that concluded the final episode, but Channel 4 vetoed the idea. There was a flurry of activity around #whereisjessicahide on Twitter – which was still running in June this year – so perhaps there’s a chance we might see a Futurama-esque resurrection instigated by the show’s avid supporters. There were even plans for a US version with David Fincher at the directorial helm and Rooney Mara as Jessica Hyde. Once again though, things have gone disturbingly quiet on that front.

Some say that time is the great healer, but as it moves forward and the cast dissipate to various other projects and, to be blunt, they age, the window of opportunity for this most darkly comic and stylistic of SciFi shows quickly closes.

Meanwhile, Neil Maskell – the sociopathic Arby – is well on his way to becoming a pin-up here on Drozbot. Not only has he gone on to a leading role in Channel 4’s android drama Humans, he’s also featuring in Ben Wheatly’s upcoming adaptation of J G Ballard’s High Rise.

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Humans Channel 4

There are times when the inherent integrity of science fiction is humbling. Yes, the genre is currently squirming in the aftermath of its own version of gamer gate, but the fact that it is so open and inclusive means that even reactionary elements are heard, considered and then either supported or derided. It’s a mess, but a very self-aware, contemplative mess and one that has more than enough homegrown tales of caution about stifling freedom of speech to ensure Noam Chomsky will never have reason to complain.

There have always been questionable libertarians, homophobes and closet racists who have decided that SciFi is a worthy – and probably safe – platform for their views. History has been rewritten through its lens, a religion has been formed and a lot of truly terrible books, films, TV and radio plays have been produced. All of which, while challenging to personal tastes, is wonderfully nonprescriptive.

It’s unsurprising then that while the genre takes itself to task over the views it voices, it is always a basic reflection of the times we live in. Look at the demonising of minorities, and then consider the flurry of android-based ethical tales that have recently appeared. While Quantic Dream’s Kara tech demo, within the games space, perfectly captures the uncanny effect of these ‘living dolls’, there are numerous other recent examples. Swedish TV’s Real Humans, created by Lars Lundström, was aired in 2012. This was then followed more recently by Gabe Ibáñez’s 2014 film Autamaton which starred Antonion Banderas. This year we’ve already seen Alex Garland’s Ex Machina and now Channel 4 are releasing their own, distinctly British, take with Humans this June. Which as far as French/Swedish/Spanish/British cross pollination goes, already seems pretty diverse to me.

So, while the Sad Puppy saga may well be disheartening for some, it’s also evidence of just how adaptive SciFi can be and that, my friends, is why it will endure. To steal from one of the past highlights in machine/human relations… All this has happened before, and it will happen again.

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So why are you here? No, seriously. Did my government send you to help update their file on me? It’s a conspiracy I tells ya! A conspiracy! Which is all very useful as July is shaping up to be a scorching summer of paranoid sweats here in the UK. First up, the provocative Utopia returns for a second series on Channel 4. Despite the show inevitably lacking unsettling mystery – we all know where Jessica Hyde is now – it’ll no doubt make up for the short-fall with a fresh, infectious dose of unhinged interconnections.

At the start of last year I compared the original series to the quality once seen in the BBC’s Edge of Darkness and, as if to generate a perfect opportunity to compare and contrast, BBC 4 have obligingly rescheduled that whole slice of duplicitous magical realism starting tomorrow. While registering on the less whacked-out side of the spectrum, it’s still a chilling, fictional consideration of the shadowy world of the nuclear industry.

Maybe it’s a personal thing but I’ve always preferred my conspiracies as way out as possible, yet with enough meat on them to leave you fearing for your sanity should you ever research the connections they purport to make. Which does result in a very fine line as far as artistic appreciation is concerned. For instance, the Mel Gibson helmed Conspiracy Theory is a definite miss. As is Dan Brown’s horribly sanitised Davinci Code series. However, head back to the late 1960s/early 1970s – and the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination – and you’ll find the well-spring for the seminal Illuminatus Trilogy (Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson), Erik Von Däniken’s wonderfully left-field theories on alien intervention in our culture and, last but not least, Philip K Dick’s vision of a totalitarian state under the rule of Richard Nixon (Radio Free Albemuth – recently adapted for film). Collectively there’s enough within these to keep you second guessing for a month of Sundays. Just make sure you don’t let the fretfulness spill over into our current world of internet surveillance, spy bots, agenda driven news feeds, democratic capitals investing in water canons

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