British TV: Outcasts

13 Feb

So, Outcasts. I have watched the pilot episode. British Scifi drama! Jamie Bamber who apparently can’t stay away from scifi dramas! An otherwise promising cast! I was… mostly underwhelmed.

So, the thing is, this show wants to be Stargate Atlantis: Not Written by Morons. Unfortunately the writers are still not good enough to carry off the scope of the kind of premise they’re working with. It’s hard writing a scifi opener! There’s the history of the universe, the technology, the current state of affairs, all the characters and everyone’s personal dramas AND an actual plot du jour usually AND the need to hint at further adventures. It is really hard! I know because when I wrote my little original scifi novella the HARDEST part was the beginning and sorting out the characterization from the plot from the worldbuilding without dropping any anvils or boring people or losing them completely. I am very sympathetic to the needs to scifi pilots, even though I do believe that you’re being paid to write for a scifi pilot you better know your shit better than I did when writing my novella. ANYWAY.

So, the one thing this show’s got going for it is that it’s British. It is Very Very British in the way that Stargate Atlantis is Very Very USA. And I like that, because there really isn’t a lot of British scifi I get to watch, so. The conflicts, the character types, the dialogue, even the worldbuilding is very clearly based on Different Things than say, SGA or BSG. For example, this is a society where people strive to not have weapons anywhere near civilians or civilian life. Weapons are specifically for fighting and they are specifically for soldiers or other keepers of the order. Preferably even they would not have possession of arms any time they’re not on duty. Which is a very “oh! So.. you too come from a country where private citizens are not allowed to randomly own/carry guns?” lovely sort of thing that I hardly ever see on US based TV shows (where no fuss is ever made of half the population walking around armed).

It’s also got good actors. Great actors, even, although their casting is… dreadful. Really, really dreadful. This is the distant future, where the survivors of Earth are… a bunch of white British people. I mean, at least in SGA they tried to PRETEND to have people from other countries out there? Here’s it’s just… everyone’s British and there’s one woman who speaks English with a non-native accent who acts as the maid a kindergarten teacher. Whereas everyone else is a scientist of an engineer or a soldier. OK THEN. There are also almost no non-white people on the show. Like, 80-90% of the people you see on the screen at any given time are white. I… really don’t know how a vision of the future of humanity can be more bland.

Oh no, wait, let’s talk about the women. So um, there are a few? They get to have power, though of course never more power than the men. I’m also not actually sure whether this episode even passed the Bechdel test, which for this kind of show is just SHAMEFUL. I counted so far 2 main female characters. TWO. On a space-station style scifi show with a billion angles and characters. Needless to say of course (and honestly, this is the part that pisses me off most because FFS fucking SGA did better on this – SHAME SHAME SHAME) none of the actual soldiers on the show are women. The soldiers, like in SGA, serve as explorers who basically go around with their guns in unknown terrain exploring a completely unknown planet. None of these people are women. Women only work security inside the city walls where they carry no weapons and basically deal with petty drug busts and keeping everyone polite.

The head of security and the second-in-command of the station/human outpost is also female! And has about as much to do with security as Elizabeth Weir had with actually being in charge on SGA. Meaning it’s… a word that people keep using to describe her, but has nothing to do with what she actually does on screen. She’s… a political adviser? Sort of? IDK IDK. I wish people who wrote male-commander female-2IC would watch La Femme Nikita before they start writing. Madeline and Operations were probably the best execution of that idea/dynamic I’ve ever seen. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel people!

Anyway, bland bland bland. Everyone’s human drama is both overplayed and extremely cliche. I care about none of these people. I mean, I like scifi? And I like the premise, because these kinds of grand premises are what draws me in for scifi to begin with? But the anvils, ow ow ow, the anvils. The dialogue is just… are they for real? The handling of the exposition is criminally inept considering you have things like BSG or even Firefly to learn from. Show not tell is not just a slogan, watching old wise white dudes who are in charge talk to each other about their ~feelings~ does not excite me, what is this blandness I don’t even. Fantastic sets, fantastic acting, writing worthy of a snore.

I shall now proceed to picspam the part of this show you’ve all no doubtless been looking for (if not, who are you and why are you reading this?) Archie Kennedy Apollo Jamie Bamber being his fine ass self.

We begin with a shot of Jamie Bamber.

Pretty scenery is pretty.

Scruffy Bamber.

Scifi shot of scifi.

Daddy Bamber! 😀

I was really disappointed with this scene! It’s one of the security officers randomly walking a baby pig around the station, newly cloned by the bacon-starved scientists. All I could think of during this scene was THANKS FOR MAKING THE ENTIRE HALLWAY NON-KOSHER/HALAL FOR ANY AND ALL JEWS/MUSLIMS ON BOARD, ASSHOLE >:\ But ahahaah that’s OK there are no Jews/Muslims in the future, so.

In this verse Jamie Bamber is a violent abusive husband. Which is how I guess they managed to recruit him to begin with. YES, IT’S SCIFI AND YOU’LL BE PLAYING A SOLIDER AGAIN BUT WE’RE WILLING TO MAKE YOU A VIOLENT ASSHOLE! REALLY! NO MORE PANSY ASS ROLES FOR YOU!

This is the wise white father who shall deliver us all president of the city. IDK why a city has a president and why his deputy is called head of security (and not, say, the vice president).

President Wise Old Dude has ~angst~ :/ life is so haaard you guys. So many cliches to deal with in his backstory! It’s lonely at the top, etc.

The president having a heart to heart with the captain of a random starship, who is also an older white dude, because apparently we have learned nothing from Star Trek.

These scenes might make it look like the episode’s passing the Bechdel test, but it’s not.

This is Jack! The random soldier guy and the only non-white protagonist. Although theoretically, plot-wise, he should get a bigger role in future episodes? IDK IDK.

Jack and Jamie Bamber like standing close together, because the military makes no sense in this verse but at least they got the homoeroticism right.

Bamber Bamber Bamber.

Homoeroticism, guy on guy action and violet-asshole!Bamber, all in one scene!

This is actually what most of the show looks like, and why the cinematography people need to be FIRED. ENDLESS LENS FLARE, ENDLESS SHADES OF GRAY, everything looks washed out and overexposed. SAY NO THE FILTERS, PEOPLE, SAY NO TO THE FILTERS and turn off at least half those lights during filming. The lack of contrast, IT DOES NOT SERVE AS A METAPHOR.

The scenes with this kid actually contain the best dialogue and the best delivery of said dialogue. Combination of a good child actor and the fact that it’s easier to write for a 6 old than for full grown adults? IDK

Sceeeenerey. They do have awesome special effects on this show, it’s true.

I will not tell you why the plot makes slash between Jack and Jamie Bamber impossible because I don’t spoiler unprompted, but I will say that I regret the circumstances greatly.

Two city dwellers/cops go on a trip! They are hunting a dangerous man who is armed and hiding in the forest and so, when they go to sleep at night they do so at the same time. Both of them. Without leaving anyone on watch. Apparently they no longer cover How Not To Be A Moron 101 in basic training in the future.

In the night we awaken to an intruder/enemy! SHOCKING! Only the guy has a gun because ladies don’t ~do such things~ in future!alien!UK, IDEK. No seriously words can not express my WTF that ~JUST BY ACCIDENT~ only he had a gun and she just DIDN’T THINK TO BRING ONE.

Another scenery break to calm my rage.

Daddy!Bamber ;_; it’s truly a sight to see.

Scruffy, scruffy Bamber. They don’t shave in the wild you know! And he’s a ~wilderness man~
Actually, on second thought I’m really sort of shocked/WTF at his non shaven condition. Yes he just came back from an expedition but he’s the military leader of like, humanity! They have protocols! He decided shaving just wasn’t cool enough for him anymore? *grumble grumble* DO YOU HAVE A PERMIT FOR THAT BEARD?

This is the scene of Jamie Bamber being betrayed. They told him he wouldn’t have to cry, but here it is, a crying scene. HE WAS PROMISED A ROLE WHERE HE MAYBE DIDN’T HAVE TO WEEP ON SCREEN but it’s never gonna happen :/ THEY KEEP TRICKING HIM WITH THESE GUNS AND THESE BADASS WIFEBEATING ADVENTURES BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY THERE’S JUST ~ONE THING~ HE’S GOOD FOR —–> ;_;


Wet, sleeveless Bamber, for your enjoyment.

It’s a shame he invested this much in working out, considering they never had him take his shirt off 😦

Archie Apollo Jamie Bamber, everyone!

Anyway. I mean, it was sort of bad but not eye gougingly bad? So I did watch the whole pilot, and possibly if I’m bored and in need of sporking material again I’ll even look into the second episode? But let’s put it this way, since this is an 8 part series I can actually envision myself marathoning it at some point, especially if I hear good reviews of later on it in the season. I did the same with Boardwalk Empire and Lord knows that bored me to tears as well.


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