Sunday, February 27, 2011


Well. What a load of rubbish has been written about Outcasts, mostly by people who should know better.

The reality is that Outcasts is a thoughtful, entertaining and rewarding series which has been, perhaps, let down by a less than dynamic first episode.

Issues of pace have been covered in depth elsewhere but it is not an arresting first episode, and certainly not an episode that will hook a non-genre audience. If they wanted another Life on Mars then the opener needed to be much, much stronger.

As Den of Geek suggested we badly need to see more pilots being made. They test the programme concept and, I think, they make the production team focus a bit more on tightening up. They know what's at stake, I guess, as if the pilot doesn't get a good reception then it's game over (man!). I think Outcasts relied on people sticking with it beyond the first episode (whereas regrettably I doubt some people made it through the first episode). I don't think, as a writer, producer, leading television company, anyone-else-in-the-decision-making-chain, you can ever assume that the audience isn't going to turn over if you don't keep them interested, that's a basic rule (particularly well drummed/seared into writers).

I also think that the heavy ad campaign, primetime BBC1 slot and decision to show two episodes a week have worked against the programme, particularly as the Beeb then decided to move Outcasts to 10.45pm on Sunday nights after two weeks/four episodes. That's not really a vote of confidence in your product is it? If it was running on BBC3 they'd be crowing about how good the ratings are (the same bitterly ironic situation Survivors was in when it was cancelled)*.

The fact is that this is a well written, beautifully shot programme with excellent performances. Locations are stunning and are used to spectacular effect. Aside from some clunky exposition in episode one the dialogue has been good and the characters and relationships interesting. There are many threads being woven here, given time this could become a very rich, muti-layered show.

Of the cast Hermione Norris, Liam Cunningham (always a pleasure to watch), Ashley Walters and Daniel Mays are excellent, while the rest are very good. Only Eric Mabius and Jeanne Kietzmann have seemed a little passive to me, but hopefully will be given room to impress before the first series ends.

Anyway, the point of this waffling is to tell you that I'm really enjoying Outcasts, and I very much hope that the BBC accepts that there is an audience and allows it to continue.

And if you're not watching it because you've heard or read that it's crap, then give it a try yourself and make up your own mind.

**UPDATE** (1/3/11)

Dom likes Outcasts too, why not wander over and have a read?

*For illustration: in its second week Outcasts averaged 2.703 million viewers and a 10.8% audience share; Survivors, cancelled after its second series, had enjoyed an average of 3.81m viewers that year; while the third series of the stonkingly successful (and precious to this blog (and bloody hell how good is this series???)) Being Human opened (on BBC3) with 1.368 million viewers, a 5% audience share. The benefits of multichannel programming....