Thursday, 20 August 2015

Utopia S02E01 A Fresh Start (Recap)

The second series of Utopia (Australia's, not America's or Britain's) premiered on ABC last night in the best way it could: a head-tiltingly understated web of 2015-relevant pessimistic satire. Everything you need to know is in that sentence, but I'll write some more about this enjoyable episode of Working Dog Productions' latest comedy anyway.

Like any tightly written half hour comedy, Utopia's second premiere is a cascading tumble of ironic chaos. And to make this fall even more spectacular, our dysfunctional team of characters have changed while they've been off air. Actually... really just Tony has changed. Actually, scratch that... Tony hasn't changed, he's just accidentally become an optimist and he requires this episode to get beaten back into place. So uh... no, no one has changed. Sorry. But really, how could these people every change? They're stuck in an infinite loop of faux-work, a perpetual cycle of institutional meaninglessness which reinforces their current state.

Over the break Tony has treated himself to a Fitbit (official sponsor?) and is taking good care of himself; eating well, riding in to work. Well, that lasts about 10 on-screen minutes, before the inescapably petty stresses of office life gives him muffins (the cake, not the disease). Poor Tony finds himself more out of the loop than ever. From his out-of-date ID card to the fact he's on an email server no one else is connected to, does he even work at the NBA anymore? Did he ever? Technically, does anyone? It's getting existential in here.

I do have to point out that Scott seemed to be trying to help Tony come up with a unique string for a password, which in my experience has never been necessary in real life. You're allowed to have the same password as other people. But that's okay, I can accept that either (1) Scott was messing with Tony, (2) Scott did not know what he was doing, or (3) the show takes place in a different reality that contains establishments which are even more pedantic and infuriating than those in our own.

Nat was certainly and accidentally graced with the temporary illusion of actually getting stuff done when repairing one pool made its way into Jim's mind where it translates into a multi-billion dollar government initiative. Who knows what that means, but Jim likes it, the PM likes it, and its going ahead. Looks like this little plot might continue in the next episode(s).

Finally I'll call out the OH&S subplot, which was predictably delightful just by being so true.

There's more Frontline lodged in my heart than any other Working Dog Productions umm, production, but Utopia is certainly burrowing its own little home (in the pulmonary artery if you must know). The first series was consistently good, if a little bit unexciting. The same can be said of the second series so far, but I'm hoping the show will take some creative risks in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Nation Building Authority get done (or not) over the next 7 episodes!

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