* This is guest post written by Klemen Zupančič
This might be seen as an intruder in the best TV shows ever series, but for me, Utopia is by far the most interesting bit of television I’ve seen in the last few years – and it stands out so much it would probably be an intruder on any other list anyway.
Utopia is actually a mini-series written by Dennis Kelly. The first season was originally aired in January 2013 on UK’s Channel 4 and the second seasons has been confirmed. The story is a classic conspiracy: there’s a mysterious graphic novel called Utopia with some secrets hidden in it that can change the course of the world as we know it. While several parties trying to get a hold of it, things get complicated (and weird).
In the beginning the plot leaves you wondering a bit, but then slowly builds itself together like a puzzle, piece by piece with a few revelations on the way. However, the storyline actually isn’t the thing that makes the show so compelling – it’s the feeling, the vibe we get sucked into while watching.
It’s not a common thing to see a show done so well in these days. We got used to dramas that have similar plot twists but too many loose ends in the story, over-stressing and over-dramatizing some aspects (to the point it gets really banal) and other similar clichés. But Utopia is clear of all that. It feels like all the unnecessary elements were removed. It’s not ascetic or boring either – on the contrary – the show is fast, every scene is significant to the whole story and there are enough of details that keep you glued to the screen from the beginning until the end.
Utopia gets violent, unpleasant and nasty at times. On other occasions, it has the coolness and funkiness of a comic book. The show is all about a comic book (sorry, graphic novel), and it also presents itself in the way a comic book does: the cinematography with its vivid colors and graphic compositions isn’t trying to be realistic (and neither does the sometimes unbelievable plot), but it evokes a certain kind of mood. Characters are portrayed like comic book heroes and villains – with striking personalities, mysterious backgrounds and hidden agendas behind their actions. And they can still find time to be funny even when their worlds are collapsing.
As written before, the most appealing thing about Utopia is its atmosphere, which sometimes gets seriously uncomfortable. As if the explicit scenes of torture, toxic colors and nastiness of some characters weren’t enough, there’s also the music, which plays a significant role in taking the whole show to the next level of dark-comic book weirdness.
The brilliant score was done by Cristobal Tapia da Veer and it would actually deserve a post of its own, but let’s just say it hits the right spots at the right times and that it features some seriously experimental instrumentals (rhino’s dung and bones were mentioned somewhere). The album is much more than just a soundtrack and could be a great experience on its own, but combined with Utopia, a perfect match was born.
Klemen Zupančič is currently shifting between designing and making things (which can be seen on Handmade in Moste), finishing up his studies of architecture and sampling the best of series and music internet has to offer. Other than the studies sometimes he finds everything else mentioned very inspiring.