Monday, February 28, 2011

Outcasts

I like it. I know it has its faults, but I genuinely like it...so there :-P

What are those faults? Here are the two major faults as I see them: dialogue and characterisation.

The dialogue in the first episode was clunky, on the nose, often repeated in the very next scene, over expositional and used far too much to keep the story moving along. I know they had a lot of back story to get through to set the scene, but it was just so obvious in the dialogue and ruined what could have been a very good first episode. You can see the actors struggling to say the words sometimes, even in later episodes where it hasn't been such an issue. But is this the fault of the writer, or is someone else to blame? I can't see that the writers are to blame too much for this as the poor dialogue happens in almost every episode, each written by a different writer, therefore I can only assume someone else is having a bad influence on what goes into each script.

Characterisation is also very weak, characters doing odd stuff simply to justify the plot rather than their own existence. When Julius Berger came on the scene it was obvious from the moment we first saw him he was not to be trusted, yet on several occasions during the series so far people are actually being nice towards him rather than suspicious. He even got placed on the council with no opposition at all. Indeed in one episode Stella tells Julius she's going to keep an eye on him because she doesn't trust him and the very next episode she's all excited, singing his praises because he's got her daughter talking to her. Where did her suspicion, her distrust of the man go? I also thought they could have done a lot more with Mitchell Hoban, showing his slow decent into the madness that eventually took him. I don't want to be told he was a good man, I want to see it and his journey to his eventual suicide.

I think the faults emphasise just how much the series focuses on the telling of the story at the expense of characters and dialogue. The plot is everything! It shouldn't be. For me good stories are told through good dialogue and characters.

What I do like about the show is it's boldness. It dares to challenge, bring us a new, interesting world, which grows even more intriguing week by week. Episode five has been my favorite episode so far and even though I looked, and believe me I looked hard, I couldn't find a single fault with it.

So what now for the show? Will the BBC green light another series, or will sci-fi on the BBC be dead for the foreseeable future?

9 comments:

rob said...

I like it too!

Adaddinsane said...

I generally agree. I'm having a job forcing myself to watch it - though it certainly improved after the first awful episode, but by then it was too late for the majority of viewers.

As someone who writes a good deal of SF and Fantasy, exposition is not required in anywhere near the quantities supposed. Usually it can come out naturally as the story progresses.

Unfortunately I have a horrible feeling that The Deep and Outcasts will be used to "prove" that SF doesn't work. (While they studiously ignore Primeval, Dr Who, Sarah Jane Adventures, Sparticle Mystery, Being Human...)

Dom Carver said...

I liked The Deep as well and really enjoy it. Primeval was hard to like at first, with the whole monster of the week thing, but I really got into the third series. Being Human is just the best because it's about the characters and from them come the stories. That to me is good drama and the way I try and write.

I really would like Outcasts to get a second chance, but I fear this may never happen.

Me said...

The problem is though: the first episode was really, really bad. It doesn't matter if later episodes were/are better. Would you continue reading a book if the first chapter was dire? Even if you were told that it got better later. Chances are you wouldn't.

And if the 'on-the-nose' dialogue has been a feature across the episodes and writers then it suggests that producer(s) / director(s) have had a hand in it, in which case I feel sorry for the attached writer who'll take the blame.

It's strange that the BBC can do some things to world-class standard: costume drama etc, but often fall flat with sci-fi or supernatural.

Andy Goodman

Iain Coleman said...

According to IMDB, Outcasts has a producer, a line producer and four executive producers. Too many cooks?

Dom Carver said...

Iain: Could be, but I guess we'll never really know.

Dom Carver said...

Final episode Sunday. Let's see what they've got for us.

rob said...

I thought last week's was about the best so far.

Fingers crossed for a good conclusion to a patchy series.

Let's hope they don't end on a cliffhanger...

Dom Carver said...

Last week's episode wasn't too bad, but episode five has been the best so far for me.