BBC’s Outcasts bombs with a dull first episode

Oh dear. Where do we begin, readers? I found myself watching the first episode of BBC One’s Outcasts tonight, hoping for gritty sci-fi drama and finding a tedious space colony that borrowed heavily from every other space series.

Human beings have branched out to a desert-like planet they’re calling Carpathia. With planet Earth presumably wasted by humanity, the last survivors are trickling across space to live on this new planet. However, it’s not the fresh new start for humanity that you might have hoped for, and it seems there’s a rising schism between the powers that be and a small group of…I don’t know what you’d call them.

The thing is, as a pilot episode Outcasts failed to engage the viewers. I always lament the fact that more shows don’t have a Knight Rider or A Team style intro monologue to explain the premise of the show. Outcasts could have done with one, because most of the viewers showed up tonight for a science fiction show and found a bafflingly dull cliche. It kept coming back to one simple question – what’s this show about again?

Characters…so incredibly hard to give a damn about any of them. And that’s after watching Daniel Mays leading a pig around. Sadly the black market bacon joke may have been the highlight of the episode. We had a President Richard Tate who seemed to be a solid ruler, though more of a military leader than a president. We had the psychotic Mitchell Hoborn who (we think) bashed his wife on the head, escaped from the compound, then tried to smother his son. But then got scandalously shot dead before the end of the episode. And still it was hard to care.

With your first episode, you’re supposed to reel the viewers in. Make them want to come back for more.

You know the only thing that makes me want to watch a second episode of Outcasts? I want to see Daniel from Ugly Betty. I want to work out what persuaded Eric Mabius to sign up for what appears on the strength of this first episode to be a deadly dull space colony. The people who died on that spaceship at the end of the episode may have had a lucky escape.

Come on readers, help me out here. Am I being too hard about Outcasts? Give me a reason to tune in for a second episode!

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10 Comments

  1. Quaxile

    I was not impressed with the Pilot. It was not compelling. The Characters were boring and the not so subtle political message was hard to watch without feeling insulted. I personally got a lot of anti firearm and anti self defence messages from this show. It’s nice to know that in the BBC’s vision of the future even on a frontier planet people will be under even more bureaucracy and government control. I found the character that I actually had any support for (obviously not his wife being assaulted though) was the one that gets killed off. People want to be free and that isn’t going to change. But all that aside, I am a huge Sci Fi fan and I enjoy a more adult approach but this was painfully slow and uninteresting. It feel bad saying this because the graphics were good and I have enjoyed most of the actors in other series.

  2. danbo1984

    This truly was one of the worst opening episodes to a new drama that I have ever seen; staggeringly ill-conceived, with a pathetic, childish script and no sense of pacing/placing the viewer in the world of “Carpathia” (yep, that’s what you’d call a new world, because obviously the most famous “rescue-type-thing” in history is the obscure liner that picked up some Titanic survivors…).

    And given that it crammed a ludicrous amount of background into the first episode, why was so much left unexplained? Not in a “can’t wait to see those loose threads tied up next episode” type way, but in a “i are a script writer wot is allowed to rite wiv my own crayons” type way.

    I really thought it was bad enough to warrant cancellation; Survivors, cancelled last year, was a far better example of this type of “grown-up sci-fi” idea.

  3. damarez

    Outcasts was truly awful. It was one of those rare shows where it is impossible to find any redeeming aspects. The plot was dull, the acting risible. Why the BBC felt the need to recycle tired, washed-up actors is beyond me. Jamie Bamber screamed and shouted but failed to evidence one ounce of emotion; it is no wonder he now devotes his time to making awful movies like Pulse 2. Daniel Mays was wooden; and the rest of the cast were absolutely forgettable. What a waste of air time. Perhaps Eric Mabius can rescue the show in the second episode. As for the others, I think there should be a Public Service Announcement saying, “warning…do not hire these actors, writers or directors”.

  4. Gerard McGarry

    Thanks for your comments, everybody. I agree, Outcasts was truly horrible. How many of you are tuning in for tonight’s second episode? 

    I know a couple of you are new members on this thread – just wanted to let you know that you’re free to write your own blog posts on Shout. Just in case any of you wanted to wax lyrical about Outcasts or any other show that strikes your fancy!

  5. Keth417

    Yep, pretty abysmal. I lost count of the amount of slow pans and walk-towards camera shots there was. The writers seem very keen to pad the show out with whatever rubbish shots they can.
    RE: Earth and humanity…. almost zero explanation as to how Earth is, except in passing in the canteen over whatever they drink.

    A clear lack of explanation leading to disjoint, dullallity, and left over face-ache from the east enders cutting room floor.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Whatever you do, don’t mention the lens flares. Somebody’s a big fan of that effect, aren’t they?

      I read the EastEnders In Space comments on Twitter. Really, all they need is a Space Market and a Space Queen Vic. I watched last night’s episode and it was a minor improvement on the premiere, but the key thing that it lacks is imagination. There really isn’t a single thing I can think of to recommend this programme to other sci-fi fans.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      The one and only time I’ve ever heard of Carpathia was in Ghostbusters 2 – it was part of Vigo’s blustery speech:

      I, Vigo, the scourge of Carpathia, the sorrow of Moldavia, command you!

      But it all sounds eastern European enough to apply to Dracula as well. 

  6. capewrath

     

    Here we go again. Why cant the beeb take a decent idea and just run with it? Outcasts is another example of angst drama so beloved by the corporation. It’s all so PC, so desperately equal opportunities right-on prechey nonsense. Loads of meaningful looks and soul searching and all of ’em moving with the urgency of a sloth on its way to its next bath. For crying out loud, put so pace into it! I’m already fed up with Fleur (dumb name) the moral compass of the show who thanks to a frankly bizarre hairstyle looks like she has a giant slug crawling up her neck. President Tate has all the charisma of a wet mop. Stella is dull dull dull and the other characters just fall into the usual cliché by numbers. when I tune into a scf-fi themed show I’d rather like to see a fair bit of sci-fi. Someone on the forum has already compared this to Eastenders in space which I think is spot on. The dialogue is clunky, the characters bland and uninteresting, the tension non-existent. Its boring and so far utterly predictable. I’ve just finished watching the second episode and I was actual shouting at the screen in frustration – “For Gods sake get on with it!” I’ll watch the third episode tonight but if it does not improve drasticly then that’s it. Life is just too short to waste time watching half-baked badly executed guff like this.

  7. Colin Lord of Belfast

    Finally, in episode 5, Outcasts delivers its first interesting story. I’m not sure why I have continued to watch Outcasts – sci-fi nerd probably – but tonight’s episode was actually absorbing, believable and intellectually engaging.

    The wee Scots guy (Pac) was a great character – complex, ambiguous and endearing. The 2nd best character to the late Jamie Bamber’s Mitchell.

    I hope the remainder of the series continues in this form.

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