To make a high school debating start to this post, the word “utopia” is defined as…
an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.
…and, obviously, in the case of new ABC/Working Dog sitcom Utopia that’s not quite how things are for the main protagonists.
Tony (Rob Sitch) oversees the Nation Building Authority (NBA), a government department which manages major infrastructure projects. In the first episode we see him deal with the fallout from a logo redesign, while second-in-command Nat (Celia Pacquola) has to find room for a community garden in a major residential development. Subsequent episodes follow in a similar vein as the team – which includes Kitty Flanagan as PR woman Rhonda, Luke McGregor as Project Manager Hugh, and Toby Truslove as Marketing Guru Karsten – deal with crisis upon nation building crisis, all under the watchful eyes of the nation’s media.
Some of the themes of a previous Working Dog sitcom, the weirdly unfunny The Hollowmen, are explored again in Utopia, except it has the good sense to adopt the comedic stylings of the even older Working Dog sitcom Frontline. This means we get a sharp satire on the world of politics and PR but also a re-hash of some characters types. The ditzy receptionist, the unhelpful PA, the over-enthusiastic PR lady and the wanky marketing guy…these are very familiar from Frontline, albeit instantly recognisable and well played by the cast.
Utopia is one of those shows that will amuse its intended audience from the get-go and has the potential to run for several series or more. And if you image a state of sitcoms in which everything is perfect, those are just some of the characteristics of a new comedy series.