Outcasts is an eight-part 2011 British television science-fiction drama serial. It stars Liam Cunningham, Hermione Norris, Amy Manson, Daniel Mays, Jamie Bamber, Eric Mabius and Ashley Walters. It aired on BBC One and BBC HD.
- "Are there any Human beings out there?"
- ―A line by Captain Kellerman commonly used in promotional material.[src]
Outcasts is set in the middle of the twenty-first century on Carpathia, a "Goldilocks" planet five years' travel from Earth (named after the RMS Carpathia, the ship that went to rescue the Titanic). Carpathia is being colonised by a succession of spaceships arriving from Earth. Most of the planet's population live within the pioneer town of Forthaven, first settled ten years ago. The Carpathians in ignorance of Earth's fate, receiving news only through the few evacuee transporter ships that successfully achieve the difficult atmospheric entry to Carpathia.
The story focuses on the President, Richard Tate, and core members of the Protection and Security (PAS) team, as well as expeditionaries, whose role is to explore the planet and retrieve resources and medicines. With the arrival of CT-9 – perhaps the last transporter that will reach Carpathia from Earth – storylines involve the ongoing lives of the existing settlers, the induction of new evacuees into the Forthaven community and the effect of others living outside its walls unknown to most of the settlers.
- Liam Cunningham as President Richard Tate
- Hermione Norris as Stella Isen
- Amy Manson as Fleur Morgan
- Daniel Mays as Cass Cromwell
- Jamie Bamber as Mitchell Hoban
- Ashley Walters as Jack Holt
- Eric Mabius as Julius Berger
- Michael Legge as Tipper Malone
- Laura Greenwood as Aisling
- Langley Kirkwood as Rudi
- Imdad Miah as Santi
- Patrick Lyster as Captain Kellerman
- Jeanne Kietzmann as Lily Isen
In development since 2007, produced by Kudos Film & Television for BBC One, the series was filmed in South Africa over five months beginning in May 2010.
Writing in The Independent, Brian Viner admitted that at first Outcasts rekindled his prejudices about science fiction but he was gradually sucked in. The first episode was "well written", "smartly directed" and "splendidly acted". In Metro, "Jamie Bamber's gun-toting Mitchell" was a persuasive reason to watch Outcasts, said Keith Watson. At the climax of the first episode "I'd just watched a cracking futuristic survival adventure yarn" but "then they went and spoilt it all by killing him off." Preparing to watch the second episode, he reflected "it's a bold move, bumping off your best character in episode one. Bold and potentially life-threatening. I'll give it a crack tonight but Outcasts is going to have to work hard to win me back."
Reviewing for The Daily Telegraph, Chris Harvey found it "staggeringly uninteresting", "drab" and "pretty turgid."
The Guardian's official TV & Radio blog posted a sympathetic assessment of the first episode, finding that "the cast looks promising" and liking the setting ("big enough for characters to enjoy a walk and talk scene"). After noting the necessary evil of exposition in the first getting-to-know-you episode, complicated by technology and socio-politics, "will [viewers] be back tomorrow night to see what this drama is really about?"
After seeing the second episode, The Guardian's Phelim O'Neill reflected on the balance between presenting episodic adventures and advancing a series story arc. He was "all for a bit of mystery" but felt we haven't "been told enough about the planet and civilisation yet". The hostage storyline "strayed dangerously close to" the idiot plot and it was too soon to say whether in his pivotal "Baltar manqué" role Eric Mabius could really distance himself from the Battlestar Galactica character. After two episodes "I'm not really any closer to finding out what this show is actually about. Are you?"
Previewing episode three for "Cult Box", Cameron K McEwan said the third instalment showed "some welcome warmth" and has "lifted its head above the morose. Whilst still keeping the drama very much at the forefront, the lives and liveliness of the characters are now beginning to shine through."
The Guardian welcomed the "pretty solid" fourth episode after "the drivel we've had to sit through so far", citing strong pacing and good action direction from the new writer and director. This episode "was pretty much all good, all round.... If this keeps up then we might have a decent show here." Metro agreed: the series had "struggled to find its feet" but "tonight’s plot was genuinely gripping". As the characters were fleshed out, the series has finally picked up the pace and things now look as though they're "set to get even more dramatic."
The Guardian thought the main story of Cass and Fleur's journey with Pak to be far more interesting than the B-stories and praised Garry Lewis' performance as Pak, although it felt his dialogue was poorly-written. It also commented on the unbelievability of some plot elements, such as pre-cut diamonds being found in huge quantities on an otherwise normal beach, and on how the characters almost all seem to be terrible at their jobs. A note on the final scene suggested that it added excitement "more than the usual sense of relief that comes when an episode of Outcasts finally grinds to a close."
Rescheduling and cancellationEdit
Having launched on Mondays and Tuesdays at 21:00, The Guardian reported that after disappointing ratings the fifth episode would be the last in this prime time slot, with subsequent episodes being rescheduled to a late night slot on Sundays. On 14 March, 2010, the BBC confirmed that Outcasts had been axed. The announcement was made on Twitter, "No series two Outcasts - we're sorry," it stated. "Thanks so much for all your support over the past three months." Writer Ben Richards added: "To those asking - there are still some ideas about the "missing" series 2 floating about - you'll be first to know!".
- ↑ Meet the Outcasts in a major new BBC One drama series BBC Press Office, 13 May 2010
- ↑ BBC Drama develops Outcasts BBC Press Office, 24 May 2007