Hence Dystopia’s refrain: “Where is Jessica Hyde?”. Visceral scenes of physical violence and torture, offered up with metronomic regularity. Given that the Amazon show is adapted from the first, six-episode season of a well-regarded 2013 British series, you may find yourself demanding something similar of various scenes and characters in the comparatively overlong and overstuffed US version, and even — ultimately — of the show itself: "What did you do in this episode to earn your place in this crowded script, and in this crowded landscape of streaming choices?". I groaned when one episode opened with Jessica standing up to pee in a toilet with the bathroom door open and her gun trained on some hostages—not because I was shocked to see the arc of urine but because I was so exhausted by Utopia‘s attempts to shock me. The mystery of "Utopia" hinges on the fact that the original comic, Dystopia, somehow predicted the threats to come, including outbreaks of deadly diseases. They’re accompanied by a grim young woman (Sasha Lane of “American Honey”) who’s a character in the comic and whose father may have written it; they’re pursued by a doughy killer in a windbreaker (Christopher Denham) with ties to a businessman (John Cusack) whose level of evil is a central part of the puzzle. "Utopia" is at times uncomfortable and occasionally gruesome, but as edgy dramas go, effectively maintains its momentum from one hour to the next. No matter when it came out, Utopia was always going to be a tough sit — that's what it was engineered to be. A deadly flu is hopping from one American city to another and the word pandemic is in common use. Gone Girl’s psychotic Amy and philandering Nick embody the pathos lurking within a regular-looking heterosexual marriage. While Jessica eventually escapes, Daddy Hyde remains in the monster’s clutches. Available for everyone, funded by readers. Why ‘Mank’ and ‘Borat 2’ Are Serious Oscar Contenders in a Very Strange Year, ‘Soul’ Aims for Oscar Glory as Disney Shifts to Streaming, but Not All Films Deserve the Same Release, How Closed Theaters, Drive-In Movies, and Netflix Supremacy Are Shaping Oscar Season, Introducing ‘Deep Dive’: Damon Lindelof and His Team Go Behind the Scenes of ‘Watchmen’, ‘Succession’: How Editing Helps Every Dinner Scene Come to Life — Deep Dive, Becoming Hooded Justice: The ‘Watchmen’ Craft Team Analyzes the Emotional, Pivotal Scene – Deep Dive, 40 Must-See New Movies to See This Fall Season, The Fate of Movie Theaters Could Hinge on the Outcome of the Election, Zoe Lister-Jones Shook Up Hollywood with Her All-Female Crew, Now She’s Doing It with ‘The Craft: Legacy’. Also distinctive, in a smaller role, is the 14-year-old Farrah Mackenzie, who plays an unexpectedly tough cookie named Alice. By and large, “timely” is a terrible word to use in the context of a review. You see everything through that fog, and thus everything you see is foggy.

Maybe you don’t want to watch a TV show that hits a little too close to home right now, but plenty of people do. It’s a pale shadow of the genre’s exemplars — “Mr. All rights reserved.

And visceral thrills are, after all, visceral thrills, especially when they come dripping with this much actual viscera. Trump’s election really crystallized that concept, as so many stories post-November 2016 felt related to the president, his supporters, or the many problems connected to both. A cynical, cosseted young couple, having inherited the manuscript along with a dead relative’s sprawling house, are in attendance with a half-baked plan to rinse the fandom for easy money by selling the book to the highest bidder. The biggest problems lie in its characters, mainly the possible comic book character Jessica Hyde, who is simply too cold-blooded and underwritten to make for a compelling central figure. In the hope that audiences would then clamor to invest in a series that'd stoke such fond memories of their all-too-real and all-to-recent fear and dread and horror? If someone has created a scale for the justification of violence in relation to theme and emotional effect, “Utopia” would rate very low. The too-obvious adjective for this new Utopia is “timely”, since the doom that the comic’s pages foretell involves a flu-like outbreak that might corrode the pillars of western society. But it would surely be a tough watch, no matter how worthwhile. And the cast is uniformly good, supplying more feeling, dimension and humor than the scripts indicate; Denham, Ashleigh LaThrop, Dan Byrd and Desmin Borges (the post-traumatically-stressed roommate in “You’re the Worst”) stand out. It may be spoilerish, but it’s also justified, I think, to mention that “Utopia” dispenses an unusually high quantity of casual homicide, along with some torture.

Found, inexplicably, in a dead man’s house, it’s the manuscript of the anxiously awaited sequel to Dystopia—a cult comic about a girl named Jessica Hyde who is kidnapped, along with her scientist dad, by the evil Mr. Rabbit. Moreover, there is an argument to be made that TV has become too responsive to current events. And there’s a subplot about a deadly pandemic that escalates as the story progresses.

"Utopia" starts with a young couple discovering the comic -- left in their new house, as collectibles sometimes are -- yielding a feeding frenzy to buy it. The original Channel 4 series, which aired between 2013 and 2014, was a classic piece of cult British telly: fresh, unsettling and instantly recognisable as the sort of show America inevitably would, and almost certainly shouldn’t, remake. Except that the series, which premiered Friday on Amazon Prime Video, isn’t exactly about any of those things.

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