Tag Archives: Almost Human

Fall 2013 Review: Almost Human

25 Nov

Almost Human after all

So, it’s the future. The future in Almost Human looks exactly like a science-fiction future is supposed to look, a conception which hasn’t changed much since Bladerunner, which sort of redefined the genre in a way that still holds sway today. There’s huge funny-looking skyscrapers and people flying around in vehicles while our main characters are still driving on the ground. In great sci-fi tradition as well, a short burst of text sets up our premise at the very start of the episode. The future is crazily crime-ridden as gangs outpace police, technology-wise, and in a desperate effort to combat skyrocketing crime, police offers are paired off with androids to combine the best capabilities of both humans and a computers.

Within this future resides our hero, John Kennex, a cop who was injured when an evil crime syndicate (just called the syndicate) somehow learned of a planned police operation and infiltrated it, killing his partner in the process. Kennex was in a coma for nearly two years after the injury,and has had trouble readjusting to life after waking up. He struggles with the events that led to his coma, constantly consulting a black market memory doctor (I don’t know the technical term) who uses technology to help John replay the events of the night he got injured over and over, hoping to learn something about the syndicate and how they found out about the operation deep in his memory.

Eventually, his chief pulls him, partly against his will, back to the job, and he finds things are both different and the same. While everyone else plays ball with the current police protocol, John, as television cops are wont to do, plays by his own rules. He gets quickly tired of the new android model he’s paired with and purposefully destroys the one he’s given when the android threatens to report on his activities., Instead, ’John is paired with an older model that feels and has emotions like humans, when compared to the cold and calculating new androids. While the emotional and sensitive android drives John crazy initially, it turns out he may just be exactly what John needs in a partner, as this android’s ability to go off book lets it operate outside the box, like John, and not necessarily follow protocol.

There are other characters but they’re not really important in the first episode, as the core of the show is the relationship between John and Dorian, the android partner. John is a classic television old school cop, just this time he’s old school in the future.  John doesn’t follow protocol, he disobeys orders, and he’s simultaneously the most broken cop on the force and the best damn police officer the city has. I know why this character exists – it’s more exciting, and he gets things done. Still, it’s a relatively tired type – why can’t television celebrate a detective who plays by the rules?

There’s some appeal to the show. The future may be dangerous but it’s also fun and the action is well-paced. I always find it a treat to examine different renditions of the future, and I enjoy seeing what types of technology people dream up. At its heart, though, Almost Human has relatively conventional premise stuffed within a science fiction universe that doesn’t really alter the essential story behind the show. The primary characters don’t offer enough in one episode to make me want to watch again, and the plot isn’t exciting enough to watch on that alone. The characters, writing, or filmcraft have to be strong to pull me in when the premise no longer does, and none of them are. I’d guess that every episode will have a stand alone crime, while progress is slowly made towards solving the greater mystery about the evil “syndicate” as the season moves along, but Almost Human could potentially be more serial. Still, while the chase to figure out what happened to the syndicate could be interesting in the details, the simple mystery itself doesn’t grab a viewer from the get go.

Will I watch it again? No, I don’t think so. It wasn’t bad, but I’d like something a little bit deeper and more original to go with my science fiction. Forget even more interesting overarching themes,  all the commercials tout the show as being about the relationship between the two characters, and John in the first episode is a relatively uninteresting cop character that has been seen dozens of times before on television. I don’t get a spark between the two major characters that makes me want to keep going.

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Fall 2013 Previews and Predictions: Fox

9 Sep

Fox

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

Fox is the first of the networks to debut fall shows, and thus they’ll be the first up for previews and predictions.  Fox has my most anticipated fall comedy, the fall comedy the looks the worst, and two dramas that are somewhere in between.

Sleepy Hollow – 9/16

Sleepy Hollow

You know the legend.  You’ve maybe seen the ‘90s Tim Burton movie of the same name.  This time, the story is updated to take place in modern times. Protagonist Ichabod Crane and antagonist the Headless Horseman both mysteriously travel forward in time from the late 18th century to current day Westchester, New York.  The Headless Horseman becomes a modern day serial killer and Ichabod and local police officer Abbie Mills must team up to stop him.  Of course, matters grow orders of magnitude more epic when it turns out the Horseman may be part of a much deeper thousands of year old occult group which could lead to evil taking over the earth, or something.  It looks neither particularly good nor particularly bad.

Prediction:  13+ – I don’t know.  It doesn’t feel like a hit but it doesn’t feel like a crazy obvious flop either.  Split the difference.

Almost Human – 11/4

Almost Human

In the future, like the future, future, humans cops are partnered with robots to get the best out of both of them; precision from machines, and gut reactions from humans.  One old-school detective, played by Karl Urban of Star Trek fame (and unrelated to Keith) does not play well with robot others.  His superiors have an idea.  They pair him, instead of with the normal robot detective model, with a discontinued model that feels feelings.  They think, that while that old model had disadvantages, old school detective Kennex can bring something out of it. It doesn’t look particularly interesting but we were more than overdue for a police procedural set in the future.

Prediction: 13+ – I feel the same way I feel about Sleepy Hollow, it hardly screams hit, but it doesn’t scream obvious instant failure either.

Dads – 9/17

Dads

Two thirty-something successful video game something or others have their life turned upside down when their fathers move in with them.  Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi are the sons, Martin Mull and Peter Riegert are the respective fathers.  Brenda Song is their assistant, Vanessa Lachey (ne Minillo) is Ribisi’s wife).  Seth MacFarlane produces; the creators are two Family Guy writers.  It’s so bad and racist and offensive and downright unfunny that I briefly considered whether it was a genius bit of anit-humor.  It’s not though.

Predi tion: 12-  This preview looked truly awful.  Like, awful, awful, awful.   If this succeeds, well, I’m not going to say I’ll stop writing, because I won’t, but I’ll want to.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 9/17

Brooklyn Nine Nine

Andy Samberg tries to get the Amy Poehler treatment as the creators of Parks & Recreation bring us this show about an immature but talented detective who must deal with a new straight-laced captain, played by new-to-comedy TV-legend Andre Braugher. Andy Samberg, .like Amy Poehler has been the wacky side character struggling to have the gravitas to play the lead, and if the magic applied to Amy Poheler can work on Samberg this could be a very funny show.

Prediction: Renewal – I could be wrong but this looks like the most promising new comedy of the season.  If it can be half of what Parks & Recreation is, I think Fox will give it at least one more season.