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15 January 2013

TV Critics: Utopia; Sarah Millican; Yes Prime Minister; Locomotion

“Fresher, weirder and confident enough in its chilliness to flaunt a pronounced sense of humour”. Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV.

Utopia, C4

“Utopia is nasty. Then again, Utopia wants to be nasty, so you can take that verdict both as a fair warning and as a recognition that it has achieved its ambitions….A dysfunctional fantasy has been populated with relatively real characters and genre terrors mixed with familiar human ones – that the boy you like might be interested in someone else, or that your alcoholic mum might one day not come out of her stupor. And all of it is delivered with great visual style. Get out the glassine envelopes and collect the whole set.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

“Utopia is better than the autumn’s Secret State:  fresher, weirder and confident enough in its chilliness to flaunt a pronounced sense of humour…Utopia lacks the meretricious gloss of most of Kudos’, its maker’s, output and creator Dennis Kelly, (Pulling) writes with insight into the conspiracy mind-set, a love of character and nerve.”
Andrew Billen, The Times

Utopia, written by Dennis Kelly, is a work of brilliant imagination, a murky labyrinth of a conspiracy thriller that traps you from the opening scene…Utopia is dead complicated. There’s a hell of a lot going on…It’s also ingenious, and does – or could- all kind of make sense of sorts. This labyrinth may be dark, there will be wrong turns and dead ends, but there will be a way through.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

“Whereas a director of 50 years ago might have found some creative way of suggesting something nasty and letting his audience’s imaginations do the rest of the work, the modern method involves spelling it out in skin-crawling, sick-making detail…Are people genuinely affected by having watched a dramatic reconstruction of a person having chillis rubbed into their eyes or having seen snapshots of a battered child’s body? Psychologists and pundits will be debating that for ever.”
Matt Baylis, Daily Express

The Sarah Millican Television Programme, BBC2

Thank heaven for The Sarah Millican Television Programme, proof that you don’t have to be really horrid to be funny. Good jokes, quick wit, timing, a bunch of bawdiness, that all helps…though speaking dead funny is obviously the main thing.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

The revived Yes, Prime Minister, returning after a 24-year absence, at least came in on the perfect political cue. “Dealing with Europe isn’t about achieving success,” David Haig’s exasperated PM tells the head of his Policy Unit, “it’s about concealing failure.”
Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent

Locomotion, BBC2

“Locomotion would be pedestrian were that obviously not the adjective for a history of the railways. The presenter Dan Snow, like his father, has an extra chromosome that makes him enthusiastic about everything… What I did not find out was how a steam train works. It was so simple, Snow said, even an idiot could understand the mechanics. So try me.”  
Andrew Billen, The Times

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