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Outcasts

Series Premiere
Creator: Ben Richards
Cast: Liam Cunningham, Hermione Norris, Amy Manson, Daniel Mays, Eric Mabius, Michael Legge
Regular airtime: Saturdays, 9pm EST

(BBC America; US: 18 Jun 2011)

Same As It Ever Was

Outcasts descends directly from Battlestar Gallactica. Like the American series, the eight-episode cycle premiering on BBCA 18 June begins with a horrific tragedy, and in both series, a small band of humans attempts to create a new society.


In 2040, the earth is in shambles, wracked by war and multiple nuclear attacks Fifteen years ago, space ships evacuated at least some of the population, who settled on a planet dubbed Carpathia, for one of the ships that arrived to rescue survivors of the Titanic. A group of refugees are now living in an improvised city called Forthaven. The series picks up on the day where the last known transport arrives at Carpathia after a five-year journey, badly damaged and carrying a group of new survivors. The arrival sets off a frenzy of excitement in Forthaven, as hopes rise that the new group includes long-lost loved ones.


The president of Forthaven, Tate (Liam Cunningham), is a reluctant leader, but determined to keep his people sane and forward-looking. He’s helped by Stella (Hermione Norris), head of the Protection and Security (PAS) team. Since Carpathia is an unexplored planet, expeditionary forces are tasked with leaving the relative safety of Forthaven, and venturing into the unknown.


The growing tension between those who stay back and those who go out is exacerbated by the newcomer Julius (Eric Mabius), a manipulative bureaucrat of some importance back home, but here a nobody who ruthlessly slimes his way onto the transport and then Carpathia. He meets some resistance in Cass (Daniel Mays) and Fleur (Amy Manson), dedicated PAS team members who aren’t beyond questioning Tate’s decisions.


Such developing conflicts remind everyone on Carpathia that their new life are not so different from their old one, in particular the disputes that led to their apocalyptic end. They face plagues and storms on a hostile planet, as well as the sense of loss they’ve carried with them from home (some survivors have turned to drug use). Still another clash comes up, between humans and Advanced Cultivars (ACs), rugged human clones engineered to help colonize the planet. Following a crisis over the release of a deadly virus, Tate orders the ACs killed, ensuring that the struggle to survive on Carpathia will be fraught with still more risks.


At times Outcasts degenerates into space melodrama, complete with teens regularly pissed off at their parents. The human community works through corruption, lust for power, and betrayal, but also shows love, dedication, and sacrifice. Outcasts is too familiar to imagine it will have much of an effect on science fiction TV. (Does anyone else remember Earth 2?) And even if you fall in love with Outcasts, eight episodes is all you’re going to get: BBC has already cancelled the series.

Rating:

Brent McKnight lives in Seattle and has an MFA from the University of New Orleans. He likes dogs, beards, and Steven Seagal, and rants about movies at thelastthingisee.com, GiantFreakinRobot.com, The Playlist, and more. Recently he fulfilled a lifelong goal, appearing as an extra in a zombie movie.


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