I’m thoroughly enjoying the BBC’s new science fiction drama series Outcasts. Although I regret the premature demise of Survivors, which Outcasts replaced after just two seasons, I think think it’s a worthy replacement and more than fulfills the BBC’s obligations regarding science fiction drama that isn’t mostly aimed at kids (i.e. Doctor Who). Despite this it is receiving what I consider an undeserved panning by critics, although this panning has dwindled a little now that we’re half way through the series and I think people have warmed to it a little more.
Outcasts is based a number of decades in the future and tells the story of a colony of humans on a distant planet that they have named “Carpathia” (after the ship that came to the rescue of the survivors of the Titanic disaster), established for a number of years and because Earth has become uninhabitable due to an as yet unspecific catastrophe, although several characters have already mentioned nuclear weapons and catastrophic earthquakes. The big budget for the series allowed the BBC to shoot it all on-location in South Africa, which makes a welcome change for a Stargate fan who’s very used to almost all alien worlds looking exactly like British Columbia.
Star actors include Hermione Norris (Ros from Spooks), Eric Mabius (Daniel Meade from Ugly Betty) and Liam Cunningham, who’s been in a number of films. I think the inclusion of Eric Mabius in particular was an enlightened decision given that the BBC sells much of the programming content it makes these days to the US market via the commercial BBC America channel. I believe that having to take this market into account has made it up its game regarding the quality of its content which will allow it to capitalise on the BBC’s already excellent reputation abroad.
The BBC have already changed its weekday prime time schedule spot to a less prime-time spot at the weekend, which I think it a little bit ominous, frankly. Good as I think it is, I don’t expect it’ll see another season and will therefore be even less successful than Survivors was. It will be a real shame. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts though.