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xaxat

Compare and contrast: Utopia UK, Utopia 2020

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I just started a rewatch of the original and that show was even creepier than I remembered. Especially since we are actually in a real life pandemic. now And conspiracy theories are a real thing now. And the director of the FBI is warning about Russian disinformation and. . .

I'm not feeling the new version based on the trailers. In part because the original was such a unique experience. I don't think I'll ever be able to judge this version on its own merits. 

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10 hours ago, xaxat said:

I just started a rewatch of the original and that show was even creepier than I remembered. Especially since we are actually in a real life pandemic.

Pandemic narratives are very popular now! IIRC thr film Contagion was streaming heavily on Netflix a few moths back. Human Psychologyis so interesting.

Looking forward to this version of Utopia.

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On 9/27/2020 at 12:29 AM, ottoDbusdriver said:

Two words:  completely unnecessary.

 

That may be, OBD, but I can't find the original anywhere!  Where can I stream it?

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So far I've watched Season 1 of the US and the UK versions. With luck, I'll watch Season 2 of the UK tonight and tomorrow night.

On the whole, I prefer the UK version, but I'm not among those -- I don't refer to anyone at Primetimer -- who act as if the UK version is the greatest work of art since the Sistine Chapel and the US version is such a terrible POS, it's not even suitable for fertilzer.

A major difference is the length of the story. UK Season 1 has 6 episodes whereas US Season 1 has 8. I don't think the story needed the additional 2 episodes. To put it another way, the US version didn't make particularly good use of the extra 2 episodes.

Another major difference is Jessica Hyde. My sympathy for the US Jessica Hyde ended with Episode 2 when she murdered Samantha for no reason. It served no narrative purpose, the proof of which is that UK Jessica did nothing comparable (at least not in Season 1, I haven't seen Season 2). All it did was turn US Jessica into someone who was no better than her adversaries. Worse, in some ways. It's as if the US show runner decided Jessica Hyde should be more Arya from Game of Thrones than Arya.

A third difference is the tone. I'm trying to think of a better word than subdued, if such a word makes sense to describe conspiracy story such as this, but the UK version strikes me as more subdued. The basic story is over-the-top, but it unfolds in a more matter of fact way. In contrast, the US version took over-the-top and dialed it to 11: Jessica murdering Samantha; the use of twins to fabricate vaccine results, one of whom sacrifices herself for the cause; John Cusack, etc. Not to mention the twin blonde female assassins who, as I wrote before, looked as if they'd walked in from an Austin Powers movie.

The UK version is also usually better at making something seem plausible. For example, when the vaccine is destroyed, in the UK version they pour gasoline all over the warehouse and light it up. In the US version they somehow have enough time to destroy it by using forklifts (and it's rather convenient how quickly Grant and Alice became adept at driving forklifts). Or how Grant first acquires the comic -- sorry, graphic novel -- in the first place. In the UK version, Grant breaks into the apartment of the guy who has it, and runs out with it after seeing 2 assassins murder the guy who lives there. Fine. That's a pretty standard story, but told well. In the US version, the story has been changed to a comic-com at a hotel, and the assassins murder what seems to be half of the convention's attendees (another example of the US version dialing it up to 11).

Which isn't to say the UK version is perfect. UK Michael was such a goof in the first 2 episodes, I couldn't believe he was a senior civil servant. If he's at that level, he should be able to fake being nonplussed even when he's plussed. By the time he started acting semi-competently, I had lost  all faith in him as a character. And the succession of "Big Bads" in Season 1 of the UK was neither particularly original nor particularly interesting.

I think the US version did a better job of explaining why Wilson was tortured to the extent that he was. In the UK version, they already knew Wilson didn't have the comic and had likely had never seen it. In the US version, we know they know Wilson had seen it and also had a picture of one page of it (thanks to US Ian).

I'm still undecided about Arby. I think I tend to prefer UK Arby because they lay the groundwork a little earlier for why he started helping Jessica. And he seems to have a little more emotion than US Arby. US Arby seems cold even after he turns. That said, Lee, UK Arby's fellow assassin, is far cooler than Rod, his US counterpart.

There are other comparisons to make but I've already gone on far too long.

Edited by Constantinople
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So far, I don't think the UK version ever mentioned what would happen if the plot to sterilize almost everyone works, though I still have the last 3 episodes to go of Season 2. I know the US version at least mentioned it, albeit a little offhandedly.

But it's an important question. How will youth of the future take care of the elderly when the youth are outnumbered 10:1 (or whatever the ratio would be). Even today, people point out how the strain placed on social safety nets due to the aging of the population the drop in fertility. That's one reason why some advocate for immigration, an influx of new young people to help take care of the older people.

But immigration isn't an option if the plot is successful across the globe.

So what happens then? Ultimately you still have a resource problem. The Earth may no longer be overtaxed, but it's doubtful the existing labor pool will be able to take care of 7+ billion people. A lot of those people are going to die very unpleasantly.

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On 10/5/2020 at 5:14 PM, Constantinople said:

There are other comparisons to make but I've already gone on far too long.

Not too long for me. That was actually very helpful in my decision on if I should try to continue with the US version or check out the UK. Since the OTTness of the US one was getting too much for me I think I'll see if the UK one tells the story with less pointless flash. 

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On 10/5/2020 at 5:14 PM, Constantinople said:

I'm still undecided about Arby. I think I tend to prefer UK Arby because they lay the groundwork a little earlier for why he started helping Jessica. And he seems to have a little more emotion than US Arby. US Arby seems cold even after he turns. That said, Lee, UK Arby's fellow assassin, is far cooler than Rod, his US counterpart.

There are other comparisons to make but I've already gone on far too long.

UK Arby comes off as WAY more menacing from the very first episode.  US Arby -- not so much.
At least Lee had style -- Rod looked like a poor man's Hugh Laurie.

The musical score of the UK series is way better as well.  Fits the mood of the series better.

Gillian Flynn really watered down the US version.  For example.
End of the US first season -- Jessica Hyde goes home to her little house on Christie's property and lays down on her bed in her bedroom.
End of the UK first season -- Jessica Hyde in abject terror on the roof of a building, having just been shot in the leg by Milner.

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Another difference is the guy who purchased the comic. In UK he's part of the group; in the US he's not. At first I didn't think it made a difference, but now I do. When the Network killed one of the UK group, it brought home in a more visceral and personal way how dangerous the comic was (since I think they find out what happened in the comic store after they find out what happened to the guy in their group). But killing the guy in the US just made him another statistic.

Also, I wonder if this had a Domino effect in the US version. I wonder if the US show runners felt they should kill off one of the group early, partly for shock effect and partly to keep the US group size the same as tbe UK. That might  make it easier to tell the US story, so you don't have to keep figuring out what to do with Sam. But by having Jessica kill Sam for a trivial reason they ruined Jessica's character.

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I finally watched the UK version. It was so much better, right from the start I was interested. I think it explained things as the show went along so you didn't spend most of the show trying to figure out what it is even all about. There was still a lot of violence but it didn't bother me as much. Maybe because, having been given more of a sense of what was at stake, I could accept that the people did what they had to. As opposed to the US version having Jessica murder Sam for no in show reason, only for audience reasons. 

I much preferred all the UK actors/characters better. They felt more like people than caricatures. Unlike the US which I had to struggle through and only made it maybe half way, I watched the UK all in one shot and am considering season 2. 

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