So the BBC’s latest Sci-fi drama has come and gone. An 8 part serialised drama telling the story of the last survivors of Earth, beginning life anew on a planet called Carpathia. The story begins 10 years after the planet has been colonised, 70,000 people live on Carpathia. Today is the day the final transport from Earth arrives, bringing who knows, could be friends and family, could be VIPs from Earth, long lost kids or spouses. But there are other things afoot, there are two forced protecting people on Carpathia, the XPs(expeditionaries) and a sort of police force. The Xps handle everything outside the town and the police force inside.
Mitchell Hoban the leader of the Xps returns from the wilds outside the town and has taken a disliking to the way things have been run and begins to sow the seeds for a splinter group forming their own colony, but when he finds his own wife has been spying on him for the president of the colony he isn’t happy. When an attack leaves his wife in a coma fighting for her life suspicion falls on Mitchell and he goes on the run with his son out in to the wilds.
Now I don’t want to spoil too much so I won’t really go in to the plots for the rest of the series or give away anything even from the first episode. But let me say this, people accuse the series of dragging its heels, being glacially paced and being boring. I disagree. Yes there are problems, that is undeniable, it’s not your typical pilot episode, there’s not enough set up to really give you a connection to the characters that you need to really feel for it to have the impact it’s obviously supposed to have. But honestly the accusations of nothing happening is complete rubbish. By episode 2 more things had happened in Outcasts than in the first half of a season in any given arc driven American TV show. There’s a lot happening you just have to have paid attention, and undoubtedly this is a show you need to keep focused on.
Other complaints seem to centre on dodgy CGI, writing, acting and of course the low ratings. So lets go with these complaints in reverse order. Low ratings, well there are many reasons for this, poor handling of the timeslot it was aired in to the very harsh critical response.
The writing and acting, personally I saw nothing wrong with either, now there are characters I didn’t connect with easily, this wasn’t the acting, in my opinion in fact there are some very good performances on display here, they just took time to get to grips with. The writing also nothing wrong with it, again there may have been mistakes and the writer himself admits he would do things differently if he could do it again, but it is also intelligent, adult aimed drama and despite all the pre-air talk of “This isn’t sci-fi” it very much is, but the “mainstream” don’t connect with sci-fi so they had to sell it as something else. There’s many intriguing sci-fi threads there, from clones to alien intelligence. There’s very little sci-fi around that lives up to the classic sci-fi stomping ground like this show does. Shame so many people dismissed it early on.
And the CGI? I again have no complaints, this show can look stunning at times, yes there are some duff effects shots from time to time but you can’t expect feature film visuals on a TV show.
Now I have to say overall the complaints I’ve read seem petty, poor ratings don’t make it a poor show yet it has been used as a stick to beat it with. Now I understand it isn’t a show for everyone, but it’s an adult drama that tells its story at a slow pace without relying on action every 5 minutes to excite and distract you. The lack of a point to connect with in the first episode does detract some what but it also does some daring things, like throw you in at the deep end and see if you get one with it. To me this is a good thing, rather than weighing the first episode down with back story you get right in to the heart of the matter, a new ship is coming, a group want to split off, everything you need to know you learn as you go.
As for the rest of the series, you really learn a lot. If this was an American show we probably wouldn’t have learned a lot of it for another few years, but as lot is rounded off within 8 episodes and then set up for the next year rather than keeping you holding on for pay off. Though it looks like there will be no second series and I think this is a shame and a blow to adult sci-fi on TV.
I want to recommend it whole heartedly to anyone who enjoys sci-fi, or slow paced drama, but I know there are people who won’t like it for various reasons, I will say if you try it then stick with it, if you can’t make it through the whole lot wait for episode 4 and give it a fair shake. It may not be perfect, it may not have a second series and it may frustrate you as much as it entertains you but I’d say it’s worth the watch.