The Passion List Podcast
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
I figured it was about time I caught up with the rest of the human race and made a podcast. Having gone through the phase in university of trying to be part of a comedy one I realised now that if I were to try again, it'd have to be something more intimate. One of my favourite things has always been when people are super passionate about a topic and can ramble on for ages and ages. Whether it's during the aftermath of a drunken night out or in an unexpected learning lesson from someone you thought you knew everything about, a person's passion is often a defining trait and something that allows them to feel comfortable in their own skin.
So of course I took that concept and I'm trying to put it into an interview format entitled 'The Passion List Podcast' (The Passion Podcast was taken, unfortunately). The first episode is now available on an ever-growing list of podcast providers, including Spotify and Anchor.
The logo and primary image for the podcast were created by the ridiculously talented Molly Massey, whose work and contact details can be found here. She's a digital artist whose gentle colour palette perfectly encapsulates the laid-back vibe I wanted the podcast to give off.
The podcast's smooth, jazz-infused theme was composed by Kristen Kenyon, an independent music wizard who's also going to be the subject of the podcast's second episode. His music can be found here and it's exquisite.
For the first episode I knew I needed someone who I was comfortable enough with to feel an immediate rapport. Harry Marshall was the natural choice. A close friend and digital creative, Harry's topic of his favourite TV show (the UK version of Utopia) allowed us both to gush across the hour as we dug into the highs and lows of the production and what it means to him. Of course, different people talk about their passions in different ways, and I can't wait to see the interpretations on the subject as I record more episode. Of course with lockdown, these episodes are recorded virtually and, with this being the pilot, the editing and quality side of things may vary a little, but it's all a learning experience right?
But what about if you're hard of hearing? Well don't you worry your little cotton socks because below is a written version of the conversation too! Now you have no choice but to give me precious, precious feedback! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Hope you enjoy!
GM: Hi there Harry.
GM: Thank you for coming on.
HM: My pleasure, absolutely.
GM: Would you like to tell us a bit about your chosen ‘Passion List Project’?
HM: Well my chosen passion is my favourite TV show of all time-
GM: Oh it’s actually your favourite?
HM: Yeah yeah, at least this version, but we’ll get onto that later. I think it’s the best TV show of all time in my opinion-
HM: -I know, big title. In terms of cinematography, sound, music, directing, acting, all of it, everything hits ten out of ten for me and that’s Utopia.
GM: What is it about?
HM: Basically, it’s kind of like a conspiracy theory that runs through the heart of an intertwining plot of family, love and betrayal. It’s all based around this book called ‘The Utopia Experiment’-
GM: It’s a graphic novel isn’t it.
HM: -yeah a graphic novel. And in the series it predicts several things, one of which being Deals Syndrome which is the driving motive for one of our main characters – Becky. We open up with her in the process of trying to get a PhD in researching Deals Syndrome and it uses the Utopia Experiments, which the people she’s being interviewed by disregard as a comic book, a conspiracy theory.
GM: Even though they offer PhDs in David Beckham and Doctor Who.
HM: Ah, Star Wars and Doctor Who!
GM: Star Wars and Doctor Who, sorry. Is it Becky’s dad that passed away from Deals Syndrome?
HM: Yeah so Deals Syndrome is a syndrome where the body shuts down, organ to organ.
GM: So she’s arguing that the manuscript that, and a bunch of other conspiracy theories – assassinations, major global events across history, and she argues that the author knew about all this stuff and was able to predict it, in part, because this was all government-lead. You know the classic ‘the government invented this disease or that disease’.
HM: Exactly, exactly. It’s an extremely interesting and thrilling plot that just, episode to episode, leads you in with beautiful cinematography, colour grading, sound – the music is some of the best in TV history…to me it’s one of the best TV shows of all time and I can’t get enough of it. I don’t watch it every day, but I watch it a lot and every time feels like I haven’t watched it before. Every episode, I think they’re only 45 minutes-
GM: The first one’s a little longer because it’s a premiere. But there’s only twelve of them, too.
HM: -which is crazy because every episode feels like it matters. For some TV series’ it wouldn’t matter if you skipped a few episodes, you’d still get the general vibe of what’s going on, but with Utopia so many detrimental things happen to our characters…
GM: It’s jam packed. The whole show.
HM: It’s got a sense of direction and beats to hit and every time it hits those beats in every episode and you don’t even realise it’s just a 45 minute episode because they’ve literally cut all of the fat from some of these plots.
GM: So when did you first watch Utopia?
HM: I didn’t watch the first series when it aired, but I did watch the second series when it aired.
GM: So around 2014.
HM: The second series had come out, and I think I caught, like, I think I actually watched the first episode of the second series – which is actually a flashback episode – first.
GM: That must’ve been confusing.
HM: Yeah, very confusing. I guess I watched it a bit out of order? But I think after that I went back and watched the whole of season one, and by the time I’d done that the whole of season two was out so I binge-watched that before ‘binge-watching’ was really a thing.
GM: It’s quite interesting you say that because I think one of the big reasons why Utopia is so good was because it came just before the cusp of this ‘golden age of television’. I reckon if this was even six months later Utopia would have ridden that wave, wouldn’t have been cancelled, and if it had it would’ve been picked up by Netflix or something like that.
HM: I also loved the attention to detail with the branding. It was so striking. Obviously you had the yellow for season one and the green for season two. Everything about it was so iconic and living in the time of an outbreak, a pandemic even which is one of the themes of Utopia without spoiling it, is-
GM: It’s quite weird watching it now.
HM: Definitely. It’s got so much more meaning to it.
GM: I met you almost five years ago now, we met at university.
HM: Yes, yeah we did.
GM: And I remember in the first year of uni, just on the cuff, one of us mentioned Utopia and then we had this giant discussion whilst everybody was talking about something else. We just sat in the corner of the room, in the middle of a house party, talking about this show. And then when we lived together we then made, well, you made everyone we lived with watch it. I just walked in and you were like ‘we’re watching Utopia’ and I was like ‘cool, yes. Up for it, let’s do it’.
HM: it’s one of those shows that, because it’s only so many episodes long, doesn’t feel like that much of a commitment. Obviously people who lived in our house hadn’t seen it, so I was just like ‘come on it’s only six episodes. Sit down. We can all watch it together’ and they were like ‘oh okay whatever’ and when they came out the other side they were just like ‘fuck…oh my god’-can I swear on this [podcast]?
GM: No you can’t fucking swear on this podcast. How fucking dare you?
HM: You forget how graphic [the show] is as well.
GM: Like a comic book! One of the things I loved about it was that immediately it was gorgeous. Even when I was re-watching it (I hadn’t watched it since we did a couple years back) I was just like ‘oh, yeah this is one of the prettiest TV shows I’ve ever seen’. I was doing research for this [podcast] and the cinematographer was saying he specifically tailored it to 1950s Hollywood film. They don’t go for the red, green and blue colour palette they specifically went for the opposite, the yellow, scion and magenta.
HM: They really did well with it, to the point where it’s almost too much.
GM: At points, yeah.
HM: But it felt right.
GM: It felt like it had a purpose because it blended in with the comic book nature of things.
GM: In as broad a sense as you want to go, why is this your favourite TV show?
HM: Does it have to be one thing?
GM: Oh god no.
HM: Because there’s so many good things about it. First of all the soundtrack is bloody beautiful. Cristobal, isn’t it?
GM: Cristobal Tapia De Veer – see, I’ve got notes.
HM: You have got notes! The way he got across the sense of creepiness about it, like the whole situation is really creepy and then, if you’re living it how do you possibly make the sound of a conspiracy theory? The soundtrack really disorientates you and makes you uncomfortable.
GM: It’s music made out of sound effects isn’t it? Ones from the show.
[Both of them proceed to then make various Beep and Boop noises for a whole minute]
GM: Exactly like that!
HM: The music is absolutely brilliant at mirroring, emphasising and saturating the storyline in a way. Obviously the colour grading is very saturated too but the music is a device to bring out the actual creepiness. The timing of the pieces works well too. There are times when the director wants you to be uncomfortable in that scene so he uses the music to saturate that really uncomfortable situation. That’s what sound is at the end of the day. It’s a device to convey the mood.
GM: It’s weird yeah. Utopia’s one of the first shows I can think of where the soundtrack doesn’t just accompany the scene, it uplifts it. It takes it to the next level. The opening scene from the first episode alone is…one of the best opening scenes of any TV show I’ve seen.
HM: It just hooks you doesn’t it? It’s when they go into the comic store isn’t it?
GM: Yeah with Arby, which is Neil Maskell and even before he shows up you just hear his heavy breathing.
HM: You hear his odd steps as well. He doesn’t walk, he waddles. Then you’ve obviously got Lee and his amazing suits too.
GM: ‘It’s just Gas…’ Not many shows have the balls to kill a kid in the opening five minutes.
HM: Exactly! That’s the hook! They’re so disturbed and you’re left like ‘what the fuck did I just witness? What is this TV show that just killed a kid on Channel 4?’
GM: Prime time too.
HM: Yeah I think that immediate hook…you’re not introduced to the heroes first. It’s not like the alarm clock goes off and the hero gets out of bed, it’s the villains. The antagonists who are hunting down Jessica Hyde. You get that instant catchphrase as well. You get the theme of the whole show within the first few minutes.
GM: Yeah, arguably the whole first season is all about ‘where is Jessica Hyde?’ and we find out who she is, but the whole first season is Arby and Lee doing the whole cat and mouse thing. They are immovable objects. They are killing machines.
HM: And Arby is very expressionless and there for just one goal whilst Lee is a psychopath who’s there for the killing.
GM: He’s quippy. He’s the comic relief, almost.
HM: Yeah, exactly. It’s that contrast of characters that really hooks you in to the antagonists as well as the protagonists. That’s one of the great things, because the protagonists and the antagonists are both as likeable as each other in different ways.
GM: Do you have a favourite?
HM: Wilson Wilson.
GM: Yeah. I took you as a Wilson Wilson man.
HM: I’m definitely a Wilson Wilson man. His character development through season one and then on to season two is very logical. A man who’s gone through what he has allows you to understand why he does what he does. And he’s such a brilliantly written character. It’s such a shame that season three didn’t happen. So sad because you have that shot at the end of season two where you’re just like ‘holy shit, shit is getting real here’ and then nothing came.
GM: I don’t know if we’ve mentioned it already but Dennis Kelly created Utopia.
HM: Of course, how can we get this far into it without introducing him.
GM: I know. He had mostly done theatre beforehand, this was his first big TV show.
HM: Was it really?
GM: Yeah yeah yeah, this was his first ‘created by’ TV project. Obviously it started in 2013 and Channel 4 was at a slight turning point. Because they’re the place where there’s a bit more of an ‘artsy’ feel on terrestrial TV, but they had started Black Mirror the year before. And I think that served as almost a statement of intent for Utopia. Because Black Mirror was the anthology take on it and was a relative hit before moving on to Netflix, but then it was like Channel 4 said ‘you’ve had that…now let’s have the real shit. This is Utopia we’re putting this on prime-time baby’ was it Sunday nights?
HM: Yeah Sunday nights I vividly remember it being on Sunday nights.
GM: The first time the Utopia titles come up you’ve got the white rabbit costume and all the illusions to Alice in Wonderland and you’re like ‘oh my god that’s so cool we’re following the white rabbit dude.’
HM: ‘We’re going down that hole!’
GM: ‘We’re learning about conspiracy theories dude!’ But it’s never like that, is it?
HM: No. I’d say it’s more charming in the way that conspiracy theories are. But it’s going down a very dark hole.
GM: Oh definitely. I’ve watched a couple of video essays on Youtube about the show and there was one person that was talking about the relationship between the visuals and the violence in Utopia. Obviously everything’s saturated in Utopia so when it is violent it’s bright red blood and it’s usually spurting or gushing from some kind of orifice. And it’s so pretty. In the weirdest way it’s so pretty. Some of the effects are a bit bad now, but it’s never framed traditionally. It never dwells on the violence. It’s usually in a wide or a static shot. It never tries to go in and show how gruesome it is. It’s usually just ‘hey look over there’ BANG! And you’re left like ‘oh crap!’
HM: You’re just like ‘holy shit that just happened.’ Yeah I completely get what you mean. There’s another scene in episode two where the guy who originally posted the manuscript to the guy on the forums, he steps out onto the road in front of a moving truck and…looking back at it now, I watched it the other day, and the effects aren’t great. The blood on the floor is obviously fake. But it’s so shocking. He literally walks out in the path of a moving truck and goes PFFFF! And the camera goes with it, like the camera itself is shocked that that just happened. Then later on when we come back to that road, you see Arby come down the hill very slowly and then a hearse drives by. The attention to detail of that makes it feel like a bad joke.
GM: I mean Wilson Wilson’s a joke from the first moment you meet him and then he gradually becomes this serious threat across the course of the show.
HM: He’s just this wacky conspiracy theorist guy at the start. You think ‘this man is crazy’, his name is Wilson Wilson and he says his family named him that because his dad’s mad or whatever so he’s obviously from a mad background. But as it gets progressively darker in tone, you see how that affects his character and morphs him into this daunting creature who looks like a shell of his original self.
GM: He becomes scarier than Lee and Arby by the end of it, and he’s the only person in the whole show that kills out of spite.
HM: Yeah, yeah.
GM: Everyone else, Arby, Lee, the entire Network, every time they kill someone they always have a reason.
HM: They’re doing it to further the cause of Utopia and this whole thing…
GM: Wilson’s the only person to kill someone for no reason. Even when I watch it now I see where they’re coming from – The Network.
HM: Oh yeah, yeah.
GM: It is horrible, but it is justified. I’m going into major spoiler stuff here but the whole point to why they’re doing this is to prevent overpopulation for the continued existence of humanity.
HM: It really hits the notes with these big philosophical questions, moral questions…the whole point of this whole conspiracy is to do this whole eugenics situation and make it so that certain people can’t have children. It doesn’t kill anybody. Nobody dies in that situation. It’s completely randomised selection of who is able to procreate and who can’t. Another issue is that, obviously, they go down the road of certain races being able to have kids, but they kill so many people to get to that point that I wonder if it’s worth it now.
GM: Have they gone against their cause already?
HM: Yeah, they’re saying the means justify the ends.
GM: Especially back then, overpopulation was a proper concern. Obviously now we have studies that show the population will ease out and actually start dropping fairly soon, but I can imagine if it didn’t and the population kept rising then food supplies would dwindle and the quality of life is gonna dwindle. It would have been a global catastrophe that would have needed some serious intervention.
GM: I’ve got a quote from Dennis Kelly and I want to get your thoughts on it. He says when he was creating Utopia ‘you’d see shows that were British attempts at Scandinavian shows or American, heightened drama’ and he always thought that was a bit sad so he said ‘why don’t we have our own type of show?’ and so he wrote Utopia. What do you think of Utopia as an example of a British show?
HM: I think that the beats that it hits, with certain British values, is spot on. One of Arby’s favourite restaurants, we find out, is a greasy spoon on the side of the road. He’s the kind of person you’d expect to see inside a greasy spoon.
GM: Tracksuit, yeah…
HM: I mean I don’t want to stereotype, but…yeah you’d see him sitting in a greasy spoon munching on his meal. You wouldn’t think ‘oh that guy’s a fucking psychopath.’ It incorporates so many elements of ‘Britishness’, like the humour and how we kind of par everything off. In the first episode there’s a moment where Becky and Ian try to have sex, and Ian can’t get it up so they just laugh and laugh.
GM: It’s self-deprecating isn’t it.
HM: It’s self-deprecating yeah and I think that’s one of the defining features of British comedy, I think.
GM: I remember when the Network are telling Wilson Wilson about their plan, about the eugenics and everything…it’s in a food court in what looks like Maidstone or Lakeside. And I was just like ‘yeah, I could very easily be sat next to these two people eating Pizza Hut or eating Nandos or whatever the fuck.’ And those two are just saying ‘yeah we’re going to sterilize fifty percent of the population.’
HM: And you’re just like WHAAAAAAAT?!
HM: One of the other things is Dougdale.
HM: Underrated character, I’d say. I loved the threat towards him. He was trying for a baby and he gets this Russian prostitute pregnant (in parenthesis)-
GM: He’s such a wet blanket-
HM: He’s such a wet blanket and the threat that is put towards him where they’re just like ‘this is your mission Dougdale. Do you understand? Do you fucking understand?’
GM: That’s his first meeting, isn’t it?
HM: Yeah, and the look in his eyes when he realises he’s part of this big conspiracy is so good.
GM: He’s played by Paul Higgins who’s a very very very good actor, but he doesn’t even have a proper Wikipedia page. Like he has one but there’s no segments or anything despite the fact he’s got some of the best lines in things like The Thick of It.
HM: Yeah he’s in The Thick of It as well isn’t he?
GM: He’s almost the audience’s window, more so than the main characters for me.
HM: He’s very innocent.
GM: He’s a blank slate. He’s nothing but pathetic. He’s introduced and he’s trying to commit suicide.
HM: Yes, yeah.
GM: Because he’s trying to down all those pills.
HM: You’re introduced to him after he’s found out that he’s got this prostitute pregnant.
GM: It’s the bit where he has to get the government to sign off for the vaccine for the ‘Russian Flu’ and he’s trying to hide the word ‘Russian’ on the forms…that’s brilliant. That’s such a good fucking funny moment. He shakes it and he snips the top inch off the sheet so that he can put a paper clip over that one word and they might not read it properly. That’s so good.
GM: What do you think of Grant’s character? Because he’s obviously about ten or twelve, but he’s one of the main characters and he’s actually a very good child actor.
HM: He’s a brilliant child actor. It’s Oliver Wolfhard isn’t it?
GM: Yeah that’s him. The only other thing I’ve seen him in is Ghost Stories and he only had a tiny part as a school bully. But it’s his emotional journey in the second season after his family’s unfortunate comeuppance and his relationship with Arby which is possibly the most interesting part of the whole show for me.
HM: Oh definitely. In the first season you see a lot of Jessica trying to relate to Grant, but you see that it’s only because she wants to get her hands on the manuscript.
GM: But because Jessica (who’s played by Fiona O'Shaughnessy) is an alien or, the closest thing a human can get to an alien, she’s trying to connect with Grant because they’ve got the same emotional age.
HM: Because she’s still basically a child and she never got to have a childhood. She’s had to run from the Network for her whole life. Obviously Arby and Jessica are siblings, but you see Arby and Grant have a genuine connection.
GM: Yeah I really like them together. And I think Arby, especially in the second season, he makes such an attempt to be compassionate and be decent that’s it’s strange to re-watch the first season where he’s the killing machine who’s like ‘don’t put the gas away…’
HM: That’s a really good impression…
GM: I really like the actor, Neil Maskell’s one of my favourites.
HM: The only other thing I saw him in was Humans and I was quite surprised that he wasn’t-
GM: A bigger deal?
HM: -Arby in real life.
GM: Oh, yeah. That too. He does a lot with Ben Wheatley and he was in a film called Kill List which is one of my favourites where he’s like a British hitman and it goes from a hitman drama into a horror very quickly. That’s also got Michael Smiley in it though, who is in Utopia, he’s the detective in the first episode.
HM: Is he the northern bloke?
GM: Yeah yeah. He was actually the reason I watched Utopia.
GM: Because I loved him.
HM: Is he Scottish or is he northern?
GM: He’s Irish.
HM: Oh, whoops. Sorry about that.
GM: Season two, then. Season two was very different.
HM: Yes, right okay we’re on this now.
GM: As you said it starts with an entire flashback episode. Before Wes Anderson and all that lot did it, Utopia did the 4:3 changing aspect ratio all throughout a TV episode. I remember my dad watching it and being like ‘what’s wrong with the TV?’
HM: To be honest when I first watched it I was just like ‘why is it all in 4:3?’
GM: It was a bold move. Because not a lot of people watched season one, so then to start season two with an hour of ‘oh yeah by the way if you’ve not seen season one…don’t’ wait this is you Harry! This was you! It was almost as if it was going to you personally Harry ‘hey, you’re not gonna fucking understand…any of this!’
HM: And I didn’t! I’m pretty sure I stopped watching halfway through because I was like ‘oh wait, it is season two I got to watch the first.’ That first episode of season two is…quite good.
GM: Oh yeah it’s very good.
HM: It really teases out the start of season two. And I like that.
GM: It’s also got one of the most disturbing moments in the show, for me.
HM: Is that the rabbit?
GM: The rabbit. Yeah. I can deal with kids getting shot in the head, I am fine with that, but if you torture a rabbit and I hear it…then I can’t handle that.
HM: I mean are you surprised that Arby turned out like he did? A trail of blood and fur that leads up to this child…and it never actually shows you this dead rabbit.
GM: No. No it never ever goes too far. It hints at so much.
HM: That’s what’s great about the show, it makes you make up your own mind.
GM: It’s worse when you have to imagine it yourself.
HM: yeah it puts the image in your head without showing it, and that’s good sh- that’s good-
GM: That’s good shit.
HM: Yeah that some good shit, man.
GM: Now season two was the last season, unfortunately. But season two, I don’t know if you remember it at the time, but it has a huge marketing push all across a load of cities.
HM: I remember seeing Jessica Hyde looking out of her cell at the lavender fields as a sting trailer on Channel 4.
GM: I remember visiting London at the time, and all the video posters and video billboards were all just Wilson’s eye looking around at people. They were plastering it around everywhere because it was the lime green colour palette, and it was going all in on the ‘Big Brother is watching you’ kind of thing. I only found out doing the research for this that there was viral marketing for the show too. So you’d go on the Utopia website and it would take a photo of you, and then it would plaster your face over videos of crimes and print out wanted posters of you pinning you responsible for this murder or this robbery.
HM: Oh my god…
GM: And with all of that…even less people watched it. So why don’t you think it was a big hit?
HM: I mean it goes back to what you said at the start, it was early for its time. I understand why people didn’t like it, it was a very dark TV show, but it was one of the most gripping of its time and I think if it was made a few years ago it wouldn’t have had the same impact.
GM: Because there’s quite a lot of quality stuff…
HM: Yeah, it’s a hard one. It’s a difficult one, because a lot of the merit comes from when it was released.
GM: I’m going to read you the statement from Channel 4 of its cancellation.
HM: Oh, okay.
GM: Rip open the band aid. They said ‘Utopia is truly channel defining. Strikingly original, powered by Dennis Kelly’s extraordinary voice and brought to life in all its technicolour glory through Mark Munden’s undeniable creative flair and vision. The team at Kudos delivered a series which has achieved fervent cult status over two brilliantly warped and nail-biting series’. It also has the honour of ensuring audiences will never look at a spoon in the same way again.’
HM: Oh yeah, definitely.
GM: ‘It’s always painful to say goodbye to shows we love, but it’s a necessary part of being able to commission new drama. A raft of which are launching throughout the channel in 2015.’ I think they sent that out almost immediately after the second season finished. Logistically the main reason the show was cancelled was because of low viewership. I don’t think it even manages one million viewers pe episode. But, much like the series, there are some conspiracies saying that the first season’s school shooting episode had a bit of a role to play in the cancellation of the show.
GM: There were officially forty-four complaints after the episode. Season one episode…four I think? Starts with Arby going on a school shooting-
HM: Episode three, sorry.
GM: Ah, episode three. And it was only about three weeks after the Sandy Hook Massacre I think.
HM: Was that 2013? I thought this was ages before that.
GM: Well there’s been a lot of them! So…
GM: When watching the episode there was a disclaimer beforehand ‘we urge you not to watch this blah blah blah’ and in my head that’s enough. It’s fiction. It was filmed a year ago. It’s not like they suddenly went ‘you know when would be a great time to air this?’
HM: Just after a school shooting…
GM: Yeah, exactly. And then there were forty-four complaints, most of them obviously being about the subject matter. But Dennis Kelly has said, and here’s another quote for you Harry: “the only violence that I find offensive is violence that doesn’t shock you.”
HM: Yep. I mean, I agree. It’s a big contextual thing as well. Obviously it is a very bad thing, and I think [the show] makes it very clear that this guy is a psychopath.
GM: He’s a monster yeah, even though we end up loving him in season two.
HM: And I know you see the headteacher get killed and everything but…
GM: You don’t see any kids getting killed.
HM: No. No.
GM: You hear stuff. And that’s more than enough.
HM: And as we did say earlier, perhaps imagining things is worse than actually being shown them.
GM: Oh yeah. It was designed to be thought-provoking but never confusing.
HM: It’s quite obvious why he is shooting those people. The reasons behind it, although clouded, are obviously motivated by something greater than just…killing children. He’s motivated to stop Grant from meddling in their affairs. Actually, hold on wait before we get into this can I actually say something that I didn’t like about the show?
GM: Of course, yeah.
HM: Keep in mind this is my favourite series of all time…this is the most striking series in every way. But…one of the worst things about both series is the character Christian Donaldson, and his relationship with Becky. Obviously everything has its flaws, but the change from the season one character – who wasn’t focused on at all – to season two with his complete character change; when I watched season two I didn’t have a fucking clue that he was the same character. I know some of that is because they recast him, but it wasn’t even the same mannerisms.
GM: It’s always tricky, because saying something is your favourite means it isn’t the best, and you bypass any flaws or accept any flaws and love it despite, or even because of, those.
HM: Absolutely. And that was definitely a flaw that I found confusing, and I think his character could easily be filled by one of the other characters. Anyway, sorry, I just wanted to get that out there.
GM: No no it’s fine that’s why we’re doing this!
GM: If season three did happen, hypothetically, do you have a way the story would go?
GM: Have you got a folder somewhere?
HM: Let me just find it. I think Wilson Wilson, obviously a huge character in season three. I think Grant would die. I think there would be a big showdown between Ian, Becky and Wilson Wilson. It was them three at the pub in the start and I’d say season three would have to be the final season.
GM: You could almost have Wilson Wilson dressed in blue and Becky and Ian in another colour, because then it would almost be like – see now I’m getting into it – Wilson Wilson is now in blue because he was the only one who refused to wear blue in the first episode because he doesn’t look good in it. But then he’d also be mirroring how Lee looked when he started, so it’s almost like Wilson could become Lee.
GM: Shall we get Dennis Kelly on the phone?
HM: Oh yeah beep beep beep ‘Hello? Dennis Kelly? Yeah, got a pitch for you for season three. Right, George, what have you got?’
HM: ‘Season three, the colour scheme in my mind, should be a strong purple. Because it harks back to the first frame of the show.’
GM: The lavender fields?
HM: Yeah yeah. It’s also part of the CNYK. It’s a strong magenta, right. We’ve got that down. Grant dies. Grant gets killed by Wilson Wilson or somebody and then immediately after that the confrontation happens.
GM: Do the Network win? Do they achieve their goal?
HM: I don’t think there’s any other way. I think the Network has to achieve its goal. The bad guys have to win in this, because it’s the only way I picture it going. Or maybe, I don’t know. Maybe Grant gets looped in with Wilson Wilson and doesn’t die. Maybe Wilson grooms him or something.
GM: He could be the next Arby, that’s the whole idea isn’t it?
HM: Yeah. At the end of season two, he’s got all the cannisters that he needs to release the virus, doesn’t he?
GM: You could almost have it so that the Network achieve their goal and the cannisters go off, but Becky and Jessica could find a way to publish the manuscript. So even if it’s the last thing they do, if they die, someone else will find out about this. And then it just keeps going. Again and again and again and again. A lot of these conspiracy theories are, ‘there’s no way you could win’ and to just know this thing is a win. It’s futile to go against it.
HM: To know it is to fight it.
GM: Yeah. It could almost be a comment on the fact that fighting it is useless, but if you know about it and let other people know, you’re doing as much as you can.
HM: But the thing is, the Network understands that it is bigger than everyone. Whereas the people who are fighting the Network are fighting for individuality and a sense of self. I think that would be a good thing, that it doesn’t really end. Season three has to be the end of it…but it has to have some kind of open end towards it.
GM: Harry did you know that the Americans are remaking Utopia?
HM: Ooooooh yes I did. Because I work for the company that make it. And boy howdy, did I see things going around in emails and stuff like that. So before any of the marketing came out, and obviously we’re filming this the day after the first trailer’s dropped, which…uh…
GM: Let’s say ‘mixed’ reception online. It’s almost like, you know Lee’s bag that he carries around in the British version, the bright yellow duffel bag?
GM: When he puts it down it looks like a smiley face. In my head, my comparison is almost like I’m expecting the American version of the show to have a picture of a smiley face on the duffel bag. Like it’s going ‘hey, do you get it? It’s a smiley face. But he’s evil. Do you get it?’
HM: You can see that they’re trying to kind of…go for their own style. There’s a little bit of a sepia theme going on. I don’t know what it is. It’s very warm.
GM: But it looks like everything else.
GM: That’s a lot of people’s problem with it, from what I’ve seen online. And it’s an Amazon Prime production, and whilst season two was happening in the UK I remember David Fincher was going to do an American remake. Fincher obviously from Fight Club, The Social Network, Gone Girl, the whole shebang. He had tapped the writer of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, to handle it. He wanted a big budget and I was like ‘okay…if anyone was going to do Utopia right in America it would be someone like David Fincher.’
HM: Oh yeah.
GM: He’s got such an eye for detail, he’s in control of everything so sure why not. Then I think there was a dispute over budget and that was nixed in like 2014/2015. Then nothing happened. And then blip blip ‘what’s that? Amazon Prime have bought the rights to Utopia? Whaaaaaaat?’ Gillian Flynn’s back on board, she’s writing and I start hearing things. The main thing I grab onto is that John Cusack’s in it – because I quite like John Cusack, then Sasha Lane as Jessica Hyde, and she’s a fine actress, I love her in stuff like American Honey but, in my head Jessica Hyde is this alien woman with no emotion.
GM: And I know that’s probably just the fact that we love the British version… will you watch it?
HM: I’ll watch the first episode. If it doesn’t hook me, I don’t wanna say the same way because I don’t want to judge it by the same rules-
GM: Of course.
HM: But I’ve got such an emotional tie to this show. I don’t know if I could bring myself to disrespect it. It sounds weird, but I don’t know if I could disrespect the original in such a way. I just don’t want it to be generic. I don’t want them to turn it into an action because it’s not an action.
HM: It’s a black comedy thriller. Isn’t it?
GM: Yes. Yeah.
HM: That’s what it is. But I have this big fear that they’re turning it into an action drama. The only way that the US version could possibly bring back that same level of creepiness, is to make the soundtrack contrast with the visuals and make the soundtrack very happy.
GM: It’ll just be interesting to see how it turns out I think. A little bit of me’s optimistic that the trailer dwelled on the fact that we’re in a real pandemic, so it was trying to latch on to that. Get as much of a big audience as possible. Don’t want a repeat of Channel 4’s situation. Because it looks like they’ve sunk some money into it. But again, this is all conjecture, it’s not out yet. It could be fantastic.
HM: Could be. Yep.
GM: Put that positive hat on. You want it to be fantastic.
HM: I do. I wish it all the best but, unfortunately, it will never reach the heights of the original.
GM: That’s because you’re passionate about it, Harry.
HM: I am, yes.
GM: Which is why Utopia will be going on The Passion List and will be the first thing on it. See? It all comes round. IT ALL COMES ROUND!
GM: Thank you for joining me on this first episode Harry. Whether it works or not.
HM: No problem. It’s been my pleasure.
GM: For all the listeners out there at home where can we find you on things?
HM: Well I’m on Twitter on my handle @harryfmarshall I’m on Instagram on my handle @harryfmarshall my website is www(dot)-you guessed it, harryfmarshall.com. Not ‘www(dot)youguessedit….it’s www(dot)…www, wait. No. Www(dot)harryfmarshall.com
GM: That’s right you heard it, it’s ‘www(dot)youheardityepthatsrightitswww(dot)harryfmarshwaitnoitsnotharryfmarshallwaitwww(dot)harryfmarshall.com’
HM: That’s right, yes. Thank you for having me on The Passion List it’s my pleasure and, might I add, it’s been my passion.
GM: WHAT? What was that?
HM: I don’t know!
GM: Cheers Harry.
HM: No problem.
And now back to our regularly-scheduled world piece.
We're all familiar with the state the world we live in is in. But just because we casually drop apocalyptic jokes into the pool every now and then doesn't mean we know the facts. Just taking 10 minutes a day to keep up to date can arm you in conversation and help strengthen the flow of information. Educating more people could potentially make a difference in an election, then the next thing you know an idiot ISN'T running the most powerful country on the planet...
Whether it's the rising COVID-19 cases, the atrocious stabbings across Birmingham this past weekend, the continuing fires in California that get all the media coverage whilst Paraguay and Argentina continue to blaze in silence. Instead, we're too busy watching people get angry over climate protesters Extinction Rebellion because they've stopped some newspapers (who are owned by a cunt) from reaching stores. There's a reason so many people have little faith in humanity.
But you can be an exception. Take those 10 minutes to arm yourself and blow the minds of those around you.
Aside from Googling things, the carrd link I usually post has stopped being updated regularly so I'm trying out a new one. On it are hundreds of resources to charities and pieces of information on a whole load of news stories currently going on in the world. Spend 10 minutes. It's just 10 minutes.
Aside from that here is a link that allows you to help and donate to various causes (you can choose) by just watching adverts. So disable that AdBlocker and put your time to good use.
Stay Safe Everyone.
Thank you for reading/listening, have a wonderful day.
See you next week.