Dark, compelling and addictive Channel 4 series combines conspiracies, bleak comedy and graphic violence
David Fincher is currently working on an American adaptation of Utopia for HBO. And you can see why Dennis Kelly’s thriller would appeal to the director of Se7en and Fight Club, with its mix of conspiracies within conspiracies, bleak comedy and graphic violence (including a particularly memorable scene involving a teaspoon and an eyeball). There’s no respite in season two as someone has their brains blown out within the first five minutes.
The second series deliberately wrong-foots viewers by opening in Rome in 1979, then jumping back to London, 1974. The attention to detail, from fashion to film stock, sets a backdrop of strikes, blackouts and the three-day week. It’s the perfect breeding ground for the inception of the Janus Project, a drug that sterilises the majority of humanity to preserve the planet and combat the exponential population explosion. Series two delves into the background of Milner (here played by Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones), Jessica and her father (played by Tom Burke), who wrote the original graphic novel that everyone was chasing in the first season.
Episode two takes us back to the present day. Ian (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is finding it difficult to readjust to normal life; The Network have Jessica (Fiona O'Shaughnessy) in custody while monosyllabic hitman Pietro (Neil Maskell) is called back into action. The bold use of intense, queasy colours make Utopia an almost surreal experience. Dark, fierce, compelling and addictive, it’ll be intriguing to see how Fincher handles this very British mystery.
Channel 4, Mon 14 & Tue 15 Jul