TCA: BBC America Goes 'Soft-Sci' With 'Outcasts'

BBC America will take viewers from space to San Quentin prison and African big-game farms in a slate of documentaries, dramas and sci-fi beginning this fall.

The network is bringing what creators describe as sort of a sci-fi-Western hybrid to American cable screens in Outcasts, a series from the creators of the well-reviewed Life on Mars.

The concept: Earth is no longer habitable so a group of survivors are relocating to a planet called Carpathia (the name of the ship that arrived to rescue the Titanic passengers). The story revolves around whether the survivors bring with them the political, ecological and social dynamics that destroyed Earth, and whether the native inhabitants of Carpathia are friendly to the "invaders."

The series is in production in South Africa for debut on the channel late this year. It stars Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty).
Ben Richards, the creator and writer, said that despite the space setting, the story is more akin to a western than sci-fi.

He joked one observer had referred to the genre as "soft-fi." Critics meeting in Beverly Hills noted similarities between this upcoming show and Syfy's Battlestar Galactica (including the presence in this new show of BSG star Jamie Bamber). Richards noted there are no spaceship battles and his show is a "couple of notches down" the sci-fi ladder from BSG as it focuses more on human interaction than technology.

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