Monday, November 18, 2013

Pilot Talk 2013: Almost Human

Fringe, the previous show from creator J.H. Wyman, was all about how the body was the ultimate subject of scientific experimentation, so it makes sense that his next show would take that idea a step further.  Fox's Almost Human, which had a special premiere last night and will air another episode tonight at 8, is set in the near future, where technology has advanced to the point where there are androids who are paired with human cops in the Los Angeles Police Department.  The show makes great effort to explain why this is beneficial, and it doesn't really make much sense, given that the system causes nothing but problems in the premiere.  It's a faulty premise that would be easy to look past were this pilot anything more than serviceable.

At its core, Almost Human is basically a police procedural (filled with expository cop dialogue and simple A-to-B plotting) with a futuristic veneer.  If its ever going to get better, the show is going to need to get much weirder, because despite the interesting sci-fi details that exist around the corners, the pilot is so concerned with the very standard subsection that exists in the middle of this world.  To be fair, Fringe got significantly better once it started being less of a warmed over version of The X-Files, but that show had some distinct characters right from the start.  Despite Karl Urban's nice leading man gruffness and Michael Ealy being as charming as always, the characters themselves are pretty stock types, and the mismatched buddy cop nature of their dynamic is terrain that's been mapped and explored endlessly.

That's not to say that there aren't any positives at all.  The pilot sports the Fox house style, so it's very slick and expensive-looking.  Most of the action scenes are well-shot and full of great special effects work.  Even though the emotional material is also pretty derivative and bland, it's nice that the writers are at least trying to flesh out Urban's character, as opposed to making him the get-things-done, blank slate protagonist.  Things are rough right now, but I've got enough goodwill towards the people involved to continue watching.

Grade: C+

1 comment:

  1. Haven't watched it yet, but yeah J.H. Wyman's shows start out pretty rough, but I do agree that Fringe had distinct characters at the beginning (specifically Walter), so we'll have to see.

    The biggest praise I was hearing was for what they were doing with the robotic character, so I'm surprised to not hear you comment on that at all.

    I'll watch it sometime this week, though regardless I'm sticking with it for the whole season because that's how long it took Fringe to realize it's potential (though it started getting good halfway through the first season when all the David Robert Jones stuff started coming together).