Adventures in Netflix! Episode 17: Outcasts

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Welcome to Episode 17 of Adventures in Netflix! Today I’ll be talking about my first impressions of the 2011 BBC sci fi show Outcasts.

Now as usual, I’ve only seen the first episode of this series, so this won’t be a review, but rather a first impression. That said, Outcasts makes a good first impression. The concept of Outcasts reminded me quite strongly of the Fox show Terra Nova, but done right. Both are about near future human colonies in hostile environments, a planet dubbed Carpathia in Outcasts and Earth 85 million years in the past in Terra Nova. In each the human colonists are fleeing a decaying earth, and deal both with the issues of environment, and more human drama. But whereas Terra Nova squandered its potential and wasted its time with badly written characters and boring subplots, Outcasts offers up a promising story and a cast of interesting and realistic characters.

Outcasts wastes little time on introductions, and its exposition is handled fairly well, with relevant information inserted fairly believably into conversation. I bring this up because a many TV shows and movies, especially sci fi with a lot to explain, has the unfortunate tendency to resort to blatant info dumping, bombarding the audience with information in contrived bursts of “conversation” that make no sense given the stories context.

One of the first characters we meet is Mitchell Hoban (Jamie Bamber), a gruff, troubled man at odds with the colony’s government, who leads a band of scouts called the Expeditionaries who secretly, and illegally, plan to break away from the colony and form their own settlement. Sound familiar? *Cough* TerraNova *Cough* Anyway, the struggle soon becomes personal when Mitchell’s wife Karina (Jessica Haines) betrays him and two of the colony’s security agents, Cass Cromwell (Daniel Mays) and Fleur Morgan (Amy Manson) are forced to hunt him down. At first I was worried that Bamber may have been typecast because of his role as Lee Adama on Battlestar Galactica, but Mitchell quickly proves to be sufficiently different, and Bamber does an excellent job of playing him.

One thing Jamie's characters do have in common; they could each use a vacation.

I was somewhat pleasantly surprised at the special effects in Outcasts. There weren’t a great deal of big, flashy sci fi scenes, but what few there were were quite good, especially the orbital shots of Carpathia and its moons.

It might not look that impressive here, but the space shots were actually quite gorgeous.

I could go on; I’ve mentioned less than half of the characters and only one of two major plot lines, but I don’t want to spoil the story, which I found to be truly exciting and well told.

I realize television shows don’t always make good on their promises, or even get the chance to do so in some cases, but the first Episode of Outcasts left me hungry for more, and I look forward to watching the remaining seven episodes. If you too were disappointed by Terra Nova, were a fan of Battlestar Galactica’s gritty human drama, or just plain love sci fi, I strongly recommend you give Outsiders a try.

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