Milk and Cigarettes

Rambles about stuff I like.

Utopia and Big Fat Quiz of the Year: A Channel 4 Ramble

Wow! That show Utopia is amazing. I’ve only seen one episode so far, but man does it ever get its hooks in fast.

The opening scene, we’re in a comic book store, when two unassuming men walk in. “We’re closed!” yells the proprietor. One of the two men, takes a lead pipe from his bag and bashes in some guys skull. That’s the first minute of the show. It gets better (or worse, depending on your point of view) from there.

The basic sort of plot is as follows: There’s a graphic novel called “Utopia”, which was written by a guy in a mental institution. This comic has attracted a cult following, and these followers congregate on an online forum to discuss the book. When one of the forum members claims he has a copy of Utopia 2, he and a few other followers agree to meet in real life. However, the guy who’s got the copy of Utopia 2 gets sidetracked by the previously aforementioned two unassuming men. The main story then becomes how these other forum members get sucked into this Utopia 2 business, which appears to have deadly consequences.

Also going on at the same time is a B-story about a government worker, who got his mistress pregnant. But because his mistress is owned by the Russian mob, this government stooge is going to have to do the Russian mob a favour. And so this B-story is all about how this government worked is being pressured and is having to sneak around and do the mob’s bidding.

Anyhoo, it appears as if these two stories will intersect, as the deadly aspect of the Utopia novel seems to stem from a Russian company – where the writer of Utopia used to work before he went mad.

There’s a bunch of twists and turns, and it’s definitely a drama/thriller type of show. But man is it ever good. And that’s just based on the first episode! I’m looking forward to binge watching the rest of the series today.

It’s not a BBC show though, it’s Channel 4 – which I assume is a big competitor of the government run BBC. Is Channel 4 the one that did the Big Fat Quiz of the Year shows? After Googling, I find that, indeed it is.

Let me ramble a bit about Big Fat Quiz of the Year. If you’ve never seen the show, take a gander at the clip below.

That’s right, it’s 90 minutes long – but worth every second. It’s basically an end-of-the-year trivia show, but featuring 6 comedians. So it’s a non-stop laugh riot! Especially by the end of the show, when the taping has been going for 3 or 4 hours, and everyone’s tired and exasperated and ready to go home, but they’ve still got to put on their best faces and make jokes. That’s my favorite part, when the show starts going haywire and the show runners are too tired to reel it back in. 

Previous years have featured other comedians, notably Russell Brand. And although I’ve never been patient enough to watch one of his stand up shows, Brand is pretty awesome as a panel guest. I’d love to see Brand on QI or Mock the Week, just to see what he can do with it.

Of course, my favorite BFQOTY shows contain either David Mitchell and/or Ricard Ayoade. Both of these guys have nasally, inherently funny voices. Mitchell is unbelievably witty, and Ayoade is a master of the deadpan. There was one year where both these guys were on the same “team”, and I think that year is easily the best episode.

I don’t know what it is about British television – maybe it’s the short series length, or the lack of a Puritanical heritage. But British television always seems to be head and shoulders above American television. Luckily, I’m Canadian, so I get the best of both worlds.


May 28, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

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