Now that's what you call darkly comic! A comic book predicted real-life disasters (including a killer …

Now that’s what you call darkly comic! A comic book predicted real-life disasters (including a killer …

Melting icecaps. Raging fires. Political unrest. And a mysterious flu-like virus that threatens to ravage humanity.  No, this isn’t just another day in 2020. It’s the world of Utopia, a British fantasy sci-fi thriller that first aired on Channel 4 seven years ago, in which a cult comic book predicts real-life disasters – some eerily familiar.  It couldn’t begin more innocently. Under clear blue skies in suburbia, a wholesome young couple excitedly move into a house left to the woman by her late grandfather. The house is full of clutter, and among it they find the drafts for an unpublished comic book, Utopia, which they decide to sell at comic book festival Fringecom. British fantasy sci-fi thriller Utopia has been relocated to America for a remake on Amazon Prime. Pictured: Relative unknowns Jessica Rothe, Ashleigh LaThrop, Dan Byrd and Desmin Borges play the young crusaders Samantha, Becky, Ian and Wilson in the new series But here the eight-part tale takes a dark turn. Utopia isn’t just a comic: it’s the eagerly awaited sequel to Dystopia, a graphic horror novel about a world turned into chaos by supervillain Mr Rabbit.  Among the usual comic book obsessives at Fringecom are four young people who see Dystopia as a grim warning for the future.  Meanwhile, two strangers who will stop at nothing to obtain Utopia for their own sinister purposes arrive at Fringecom too… ‘I love the world of comic books,’ says Gillian Flynn, the author of 2012 bestseller Gone Girl who has loosely adapted the new series from the original.  Dr Christie, played by John Cusack (pictured centre), is loosely based on sinister versions of the Elon Musks and Bill Gates of this world ‘My dad collected them. We’d drive around garage sales and flea markets for them, so I’ve always had that fire.’ The original Utopia, created by Dennis Kelly, whose new show The Third Day is now on Sky Atlantic, was a cult phenomenon, admired for its smart storytelling yet condemned for sometimes excessive violence.  Due to budget issues, the American version has taken seven years to come to screens, after being dropped by HBO and Fight Club’s David Fincher leaving as director. In an eerie twist, one prophecy of Dystopia – a deadly pandemic – has gone from fantasy to grim reality just as the new show comes out.  ‘When we were trying to sell it, the concern was that this part isn’t believable,’ says Gillian.  ‘So of all the moments to have it happen. We’d just finished filming in late February and I was editing it when these notices started coming up on TV. It’s very strange.’ ‘We were filming Gone Girl,’ she says of the movie of her psychological thriller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, which was directed by David Fincher.  ‘I hadn’t seen the show, but then I watched it. Dennis had created such an amazing world that I thought, “Will there be anything new to say about this?”  The first change Gillian made was altering the look from Dennis’s stylised, slightly tongue-in-cheek visuals to make it grittier and more realistic.  ‘He had this chirpy Britpop sensibility that we Americans could not pull off if we tried – lots of bright colours and more explosive violence.  ‘My goal was to give it almost a lack of style. I wanted this world to feel real. I felt the more we could tamp it down into the real world, the scarier it would be.’ She also toned down the violence. ‘There are moments here and there, certainly at the start as I wanted to establish that this is a dangerous world.  ‘But there’s much more implied violence. I find that scarier – to me, it’s scarier when you can’t see the shark in Jaws than when you can.’ One element she did keep was the show’s distinctive dark humour that, in true British style, underlies some of its bleakest moments.  ‘The actors are very funny, and it was a treat to see them breathe life into the words – until then it had been my husband and me on the couch reading aloud and they weren’t funny at all!’ The new trailer follows a similar plot line to the original series, starting with a group of geeks meeting at a comic book convention. Pictured, Jessica Rothe as Samantha  Relative unknowns Dan Byrd, Jessica Rothe, Ashleigh LaThrop and Desmin Borges play the young crusaders Ian, Samantha, Becky and Wilson, respectively.  John Cusack, the star of Grosse Pointe Blank, plays Dr Kevin Christie, an entrepreneur and philanthropist.  ‘He’s one of those mega-billionaires with foundations,’ says John, 54. ‘He’s very powerful and committed to staving off the extinction of the planet.’ But Dr Christie – loosely based on sinister versions of the Elon Musks and Bill Gates of this world – may not be so virtuous.  ‘We are critical of the notion of benevolent billionaires – when you look behind the curtains, maybe they’re not as benevolent as they seem.’ John has not seen the British series. ‘I didn’t want to think about it while we made our show. But I hear people love it – and it’s controversial.  No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.
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Jann’s Back: Calgary singer-songwriter returns to fictional version of herself in second season of hit …

A welcome email is on its way. If you don’t see it please check your junk folder. The next issue of…
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Time Enna Boss web series Review: Is it a sitcom if you cannot sit through the comedy?

The biggest shocker is how impotent the time-travel angle is in this show, how little engagement—humourous or dramatic or emotional—results from it It’s the quintessential sitcom idea, innit: bringing together a motley group of youngsters in an apartment and capturing the comedy and drama resultant from their interactions. In the case of Amazon Prime Video’s Tamil sitcom, Time Enna Boss, there’s also the idea of time travel to further spice up proceedings. This means that the premise doesn’t just have people who are of different types; they are of different times and land at Bala’s (Bharath) apartment, specifically his toilet. The opening and final episodes of the show are titled Flush In and Flush Out. Towards the end, I wondered if it was a metaphor perhaps for the viewing experience. There’s Bharathi who comes from 1976, Hannah from 1895, Buggy from 2075, Killi from 1000 AD… I know what you are thinking. Surely, it has got to feel explosive, inventive… I mean, imagine the conversation possibilities, the sheer range of topics people from such diverse timelines could discuss, the comedy you could milk out of such people learning the ways of a world they are clueless about… How can you go wrong with such a premise? Across the ten episodes of this sitcom, you learn how. Each episode of this show lasts roughly twenty minutes and in all, works up to more than three hours of runtime—three breathtakingly tedious hours. As the episodes pass by, and as you count down to when you can finally escape from the imprisonment of it all, you are subjected to increasingly frustrating—and often repetitive—attempts at generating humour. There’s an idea about how Bharathi freezes each time someone says ‘brilliant’ and gets released upon hearing the word ‘Kannan’. It’s an idea that’s not funny the first time around. Around the 100th iteration of this idea, you are ready to eat your hair in frustration. Oh wait, the sitcom tells you there’s a word for people who eat hair: trichophagia. Perhaps the writers knew the effect the content would have, after all. It’s a show that frequently drops dialogues and references from popular Tamil films and international cinema. From time-travel films like Back to the Future and 24 to popular cinema like Aboorva Sagotharargal and 7aum Arivu to 7G Rainbow Colony and Game of Thrones, the references are very many. But the question is, so what? What’s it to us if the bonnet of a car has the words ‘Bodhi Dharman FTW’ plastered on it? Or how about all the play with brand names? There’s a drink called Dead Bull, there’s a shampoo called Aldo Raine (the character from Inglourious Basterds who wants scalps… get it?), a fashion brand called Coma (not Puma, get it?), a channel called Bore Darshan (are you sure you want me to explain why?)… There is just no respite. The biggest shocker is how impotent the time-travel angle is in this show, how little engagement—humourous or dramatic or emotional—results from it. It’s a show whose cast includes established actors like Bharath, Karunakaran, and Priya Bhavani Shankar, and successful comedians like Robo Shankar and Alexander Babu, but the problem is what’s on paper. Typically, I’d present a few lines from the show as evidence of ineffective humour, but with Time Enna Boss, you can feel free to stop at any point in its 3+ hour duration for a sample. The dialogues aren’t funny, the situations aren’t enterprising, and the characters… you feel nothing for them at the end of three hours of familiarity. Wait, to be fair, that’s not true. I did feel quite a bit of loathing. While watching a show like F.R.I.E.N.D.S or The Big Bang Theory (whose intro song seems to have influenced the one here), we occasionally catch ourselves wishing for similar content but that which is homegrown, that which speaks about problems we are familiar with, that which draws from everyday humour… Shows like Time Enna Boss take us further away from ever seeing it come to fruition. The only question I had after enduring all ten bizarre episodes of this show, concerns the laughter track that is often used in the show. Who are those people, and what convinced them to laugh to this content? Read Article: ‘A single Vijay film is all it takes to change the situation for theatres’ The New Indian Express | Dinamani | Kannada Prabha | Samakalika Malayalam | Indulgexpress | Edex Live | Event Xpress
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