It’s lonely out in space, as Elton John once informed us, and it’s lonely watching Outcasts these days, as plummeting ratings have shunted it to a slot in the dwindling hours of Sunday evening and I’m the only person left in Britain still watching it.
I can see why many people fell at the televisual wayside. The negative aspects are pretty obvious. Plot-wise and theme-wise, it’s all over the place. Partly it’s about how people use and abuse planetary resources (“This planet doesn’t want us here,” said a wizened old man, who, as officially the first human settler on the planet in question – Carpathia – was required to embody the wisdom of the ages and some kind of mythology all on his own); partly it’s about the morality of creating then disposing of genetically modified people as and when it suits you. A supernatural element has recently been introduced, with people being visited by their presumed-dead relatives (and pets). And in the most recent episode it looks like some alien life form is able to create doppelgängers of existing people. There’s also a power struggle going on between the President of the planet’s only settlement, Forthaven, and a man who we know is very evil because he does everything apart from go “Mwah hah hah!”
Further silliness is provided by the set, which requires anyone who has to run anywhere to do it along the same small, curved length of corridor, and by the small character pool which means that two under-equipped and fairly useless police people (Cass and Fleur) end up doing everything. “We’ll send back up!” the President announces, and off go Cass and Fleur in their leisurewear. “We need a search party!” says the President, and barely have Cass and Fleur had time to change their socks than they’re off again for another hike into the desert.
So why am I watching this stuff when there are two perfectly good episodes of Treme on my Sky+ waiting to be watched? Darned if I know, really, but I’m sort of hooked. Having come this far, I want to find out where it’ll all lead, although the writer Ben Richards said in an interview that it was all going to finish with a cliffhanger, so possibly an “end” will be frustratingly elusive. I enjoy watching Hermione Norris, whose stiff upper lip is practically a character on its own (she should send it out on missions with Cass and Fleur). I like the idea (or ideas) behind it, even if the execution doesn’t always work. It is getting better as the series continues (too late to save those ratings, though).
So I will stick with it till the end, to find out who’s on this spacecraft that evil Julius keeps communicating with and whether they will be defeated by Hermione Norris’s stiff upper lip. And whether Fleur really did see a snake in the grass.
Posted by PLA