Friday, 11 February 2011

First Impressions: Boardwalk Empire and Outcasts

There's loads of really good stuff on tv at the moment, mostly due to all the HBO shows now being broadcast on the new 'Sky Atlantic' channel. However, there are a few original programmes that have grabbed my attention, and I thought I'd fill you in on my initial opinons.

Set in 1920's prohibition-America, Boardwalk Empire tells the story of the illegal import, manufacture and sale of alcohol in Atlantic City, focusing on the life of crooked politician, Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi. The first few episodes of the programme have been fairly slow-paced, but I think that helps the characters stand out, and there are quite a few characters. The sets and costumes are really impressive and convincing, allowing you to immerse yourself in the narrative. Mister Buscemi is joined by a host of talented actors, such as Kelly Macdonald and Stephen Graham, who continue to build the illusion to greater level. My only criticism so far is that I can't see how the show can develop much further; I guess I'm waiting for a twist that will complicate and lengthen the plot - but I'm sure that twist will be the cliffhanger into season two!

Traveling back across the pond and also into the future, it's the BBC's new sci-fi show Outcasts in the spotlight now. Co-incidentally the recent remake of Battlestar Galactica is now being shown on Sky Atlantic, providing an interesting contrast between high-budget US sci-fi and its not-so-high-budget UK counterpart. I didn't have many expectations of Outcasts, as BBC science fiction tends to be cheap and tacky, but it's actually not that bad. The show is about the residents of the planet Carpathia, a recently colonised world struggling to cope with dissident settlers, rogue clones and a variety of unsavory characters with personal agendas. Although there are a few sci-fi cliches the programme has quite a few original ideas and themes, and doesn't look cheap at all. Some of the performances aren't exactly stellar but Neil Cunningham and Langley Kirkwood hold it together as Carpathia's president and the enegmatic clone leader respectively.

Along with these two programmes I'm also watching Six Feet Under, Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos and House, so my Sky+ box is going to fill up very quickly! Let me know your thoughts on any of the above shows in the comments section below, or on my twitter/facebook page.

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