Friday, July 13, 2012

"Outcasts" (2011)

One of the things my wife and I have really enjoyed about Netflix is the exposure to British TV shows. One in particular kept hanging around as a recommendation, a sci-fi drama set on a distant planet that is being colonized by refugees from an Earth that has been devastated by nuclear war. It sort of seemed interesting, but never enough to start watching, until about a month ago. I'm grateful that I gave it a chance.

"Outcasts" only lasted for one season on the BBC. Apparently it was too much drama and not enough sci-fi to keep the ratings up. It did not help that so many of the main characters were just unlikable, so you were kind of rooting for them to get beaten or killed. But they were very human characters; the kind of people you would expect to find in such circumstances. And the story seemed more than plausible. It felt almost inevitable somehow. As if this was our future unfolding on the screen.

The final episode ended with a great cliffhanger. One of the best I've ever watched. It makes you want to scream at the BBC for not giving you another season. And yet it also leaves you with a deep and powerful question to ponder. A question you know the "right" answer to, but an answer you're not sure is correct after all.

Why does the human species deserve to live?

This a classic science fiction question that has come up in countless movies and TV shows. But the way "Outcasts" does it, it's like a gauntlet being thrown down by the universe. You're the center of creation? You're the apex of intelligent life? Just who the hell do you think you are? We are an arrogant and childish species, playing with the forces of nature like an overgrown toddler sticking a fork into an electrical socket just to see what happens. Perhaps it would be good for the stupid talking monkeys to get knocked down a peg or two. Sometimes the truth hurts.

Notions of Armageddon will be in the air as we get closer to December 21st and the whole Mayan Calendar circus. Yes, that "prophecy" is a farce. But we can still use it as an opportunity to do some necessary soul searching. Why do we deserve to live? Something tells me that if we don't come up with a damn good answer, we may regret it in the future. By the way, I didn't plan to publish this post on a Friday the 13th, but maybe it's the universe's way of firing off a funny little warning shot across the bow.

Check out this TV show on BBC One, IMDb, Wikipedia, or YouTube.