Let’s talk about The Outsiders. 90 minutes long, and a backdoor pilot if ever I saw one.
The whole thing was done with a gusto and brio that I haven’t seen in an ITV drama since – well, since the 1970s, truth be told. What we had here was a production that echoed the classic ATV action-adventure shows. Even the series logo had a distinctively blocky, 70s vibe. (The hole in the O is formed from two characters running.)
Acting from leads Nigel Harman and Anna Madeley is competent enough, but the real stars here are the character actors in the background. Brian Cox. Colin Salmon. Anton Lesser.
Finally, an ITV drama that isn’t fluff for old people. This is fluff for the young. And great fluff at that.
The plot’s straight out of Action-Adventure 101. The formula for eternal life has been stolen by a nutter and hidden on his evil island. Our Heroes must retrieve it.
So closely did they hew to the basics, that one of the leads needed to get silently from one end of the Lair to another without being spotted. She drops into a storeroom.
“Please,” I shouted at the television, “Let there be ventilation ducts!”
I was not disappointed.
To be sure, it didn’t have a great deal of depth – and I wasn’t convinced by the male lead being saved from being blown up by a hallucination of his lost daughter – but when any kind of pilot goes to series you’ll see changes to emphasize what worked and de-emphasize what didn’t.
The Outsiders was big, brash entertainment in all the right ways.
I hope it gets its series.