Outcasts Review: Plenty Of Space For Development

OUTCASTS: Monday 7th February, BBC1, 9pm ALERT ME

The future. Humankind has finally destroyed planet Earth in unconfirmed circumstances – probably at the hands of Iran, North Korea or BP – and the last remnants of our species have upped sticks and headed off to into outer space to set up a better world on the distant planet of Carpathia.

This better new world is obviously still a few years off yet, because despite the fine weather, the mood is pretty grim in the township of Forthaven. Hermione Norris rarely looks pleased at the best of times, but then we suppose she has been separated from her husband and child for nearly 15 years. Her boss also has a lot on his mind. President Tate (Liam Cunningham) has a splinter group of residents trying to set up a rival base and a spaceship of people to worry about. Maverick hero-turned-rogue fifth columnist Mitchell Hoban (played by sci-fi old hand Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Gallactica) is hoping to create a rival base out in the wilderness somewhere and while this is all going on, some greatly-anticipated new arrivals from Earth are imperilled as their craft – carrying Norris’s daughter – begins its final approach. Neither Mitchell nor the stricken ship fare too well in this opening episode which, despite suggesting plenty of darkness ahead, passes at a slightly disappointing amble.

That’s not to say that Outcasts won’t develop into a very respectable drama however. The BBC have wisely decided to follow this opener up by hitting us with the second episode tomorrow night and there is certainly enough hintery and allusion to make those who have given this first outing a shot return on Tuesday. Creator Ben Richards is clearly going for a series that builds as it progresses and a lengthy post-screening trailer suggests that the pace will quicken significantly as we press forward.

It’s pretty clear that President Tate has had to make some rather difficult decisions as colony chief over the last couple of years (he actually says as much..) and there are a few other teasers to keep us guessing. Carpathia’s natives are barely mentioned at this stage (“He says they’re still out there..” – “They can’t be!”) but whatever ‘they’ are, these things lurk in the alien hinterland with menace. Lets’ hope we get a look at them sooner rather than later..