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TIT

'Outcasts: Season One'
(Liam Cunningham, Hermione Norris, Daniel Mays, Eric Mabius, Michael Legge, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2011 / BBC Home Video)

Overview: The three feature-length dramas in this collection originally aired on the BBC in England in 2011; all constitute adaptations of the popular Aurelio Zen novels by Michael Dibdin, and star Rufus Sewell as Zen - a seminal Italian detective who simultaneously investigates such crimes as abduction and homicide while trying to balance his work with an alluring romantic life.

DVD Verdict: Much like 'Zen,' a British TV series produced by Left Bank Pictures for the BBC that was screened in the UK this past January and yet is now here on DVD in US ... and much like 'Zen' it also, after one season and a cliffhanger ending got canceled by said same company some months later, 'Outcasts' is an eight-part 2011 British science-fiction TV drama serial. Starring Liam Cunningham, the always-great Hermione Norris (MI:5), Amy Manson, Daniel Mays, Jamie Bamber, Eric Mabius and Ashley Walters, I watched the entire box-set in one sitting and LOVED it, wanted more. And then I found out the horrible truth - it had already been cancelled! Indeed, it was on March 14th (the day following the final episode), the BBC confirmed that 'Outcasts' had been cancelled, and that there would be no second series.

So, that cheerful note in mind, let's review what we have, shall we! 'Outcasts' is set in the year 2060 on the fictional planet Carpathia, named in honour of the RMS Carpathia, a ship that came to rescue survivors of the historic RMS Titanic disaster. A planet some five years travel from Earth, Carpathia has been colonised by a succession of spaceships fleeing destruction and nuclear conflict back on Earth.

Most of the planet's population is living within the limits of the pioneer town Forthaven, which was first settled ten years before the time of the beginning of the series. Constructed out of reminents of the spaceships that either landed safely or crash landed killing all on board each time, the Carpathians live in ignorance of Earth's true fate. They receive news only through the few evacuee transporter ships that successfully pass through the difficult atmospheric entry to Carpathia - most all crash landing thereafter, as does the one we are introduced to in episode one.

The story focuses on the President of Carpathia, Richard Tate (Game of Thrones), and core members of the Protection and Security (PAS) team, as well as Expeditionaries (XPs), whose role is to explore the planet on foot and retrieve resources and medicines. With the arrival of CT-9, perhaps the last transporter that will reach Carpathia from Earth, the storylines revolve around the ongoing lives of the existing settlers, the induction of new evacuees into the Forthaven community and the effect of others living outside the walls of Forthaven.

These lost souls are known as ACs (Advanced Cultivars) and are a group of artificially created humans designed to survive in harsh conditions. Early in the colonisation, they were blamed for a plague which killed many of the new colony's children, including those of President Tate. Some of the ACs have specific problems due to their conditioning. They are supposedly sterile, and yet, as we see, a young baby girl is born to them.

Starring as Dr. Stella Isen, Head of Protection and Security (PAS) is the lovely Hermione Norris. Never one to break her acting comfort zone, she continues her role as Ros Myers in MI:5 (otherwise known in the UK as Spooks) to a tee. Same vocal tone, same body language, same lack of real anger in her stance, she may well have found an acting niche, but straying from it was never on the cards - thankfully!

In general, the planet only has simple native animals and birds, but over the course of the series the colony discovers evidence of both an extinct native hominid species and a mysterious alien presence - or are they the same thing?

As the so-called first season progresses we get introduced to stressed out soliders, batty women, young hormonal girls, a brainy young man who loves to DJ, a mutiny, secrets galore, and electro pulses that cause White Outs - and will soon build to become a devasting experience for Carpathia. Some will die, some will be born, and some will carry with them untold dangers to the society they seem destined to (wish to) control. And the ending is a right royal cliffhanger, one completely unexpected, one that begs for you to tune in next season ... and yet, well, that will now never happen, sadly.

These are all Full Screen Presentations (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:

Outcasts: Reach Out To The Stars Featurette
Forthaven: Set Tour

www.BBCamerica.com





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