It’s only polite, when you’ve borrowed an idea, to acknowledge its originator. Amazon Prime’s blackly comic conspiracy thriller remake Utopia does that by giving an executive producer credit to Dennis Kelly, the creator of the original UK series. Kelly recently told Den of Geek that though the remake had his blessing and best wishes, his involvement in the US series had been nil. As is often the case, his executive producer credit was a courtesy.
Another little courtesy is paid at around 04:30 in the remake’s second episode. A gang of comic book fans who’ve been speaking online for months meet up in person at a Chicago convention. They start drinking, and retire to the nearby home of one of their members, paranoid fringe culture survivalist Wilson Wilson (played by Desmin Borges). Naturally, he invites them down to his nuclear bunker and shows them an evidence wall packed with research on the comic book conspiracy that brought them together. Along with newspaper clippings and pages from the comic book in question, Dystopia, is a handwritten Post-It reminding Wilson to ‘Call Dennis K’, a tribute to UK screenwriter Dennis Kelly.
In episode four of the US remake, there’s another brief nod to the UK show. In the home of a family who have just met a grisly end (in Utopia, there’s a lot of it about), a children’s book can be spotted on the table. It’s called ‘The Case of the Vanishing Red Wolf’ and written by Phillip Carvel. The book is not real, but an invention for the series and ‘Phillip Carvel’ is the name of the brilliant scientist who manufactured viruses for The Network, a key player in the UK original.
There’s another wee nod to be spotted later in the series, though not to the UK show. When Grant and Jessica are heading to Alice’s house to retrieve the missing manuscript pages he stashed there, they walk down into a Chicago subway station, past a theatre. The theatre’s marquee advertises what’s currently showing, and it just happens to be Gone Girl: The Musical, the stage version of Utopia creator Gillian Flynn’s hit thriller novel, which was adapted by David Fincher into a feature film starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. (Incidentally, Fincher was initially involved in the US Utopia remake, but pulled out of the project early doors due to what was reported as issues with the budget.)
If you spot any other Easter Eggs in the Amazon series (aside from the obvious it’s-a-remake-with-mostly-the-same-plot stuff), do share.
Utopia is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.