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Pilot Season First Opinion: FOX's 'Almost Human'

Karl Urban and Michael Ealy in Almost HumanOver the next few weeks, we here at TVRage will be filling you in on this fall's upcoming slate of new network shows. We'll be giving you our opinions on the pilot episodes of these new series so that you can go ahead and start planning your TV-watching calendars.Today, we're starting off with Almost Human, the new sci-fi series from Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman and executive producer J.J. Abrams.

What it's about: In a crime-ridden, not-quite-dystopic future, L.A.P.D. detectives are required to have android partners, called "Synthetics." After narrowly surviving a botched mission that left him with a cybernetic leg, Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) is paired with Dorian (Michael Ealy), an obselete android who has some "bugs" --namely, his emotions are programmed so well that he can become unpredictable. Despite his dislike of "Synthetics," Kennex begrudgingly agrees to work with Dorian to help track down the mysterious crime organization the Syndicate.

The verdict: The problem with most network sci-fi series -- or, hell, sci-fi shows in general -- is that they prioritize plot over characters. That's why most of these shows fail -- they can weave intricate stories, but they can't get the audiences to care about the characters.

Almost Human, thankfully, doesn't have this problem at all -- though there is an overarching mythology being set up, it's the characters that are the focus here. Karl Urban (Star Trek Into Darkness, Judge Dredd 3D) is his typical, surly self here as the damaged Kennex, an L.A.P.D. cop who blames androids for the death of his partner (and the loss of his leg). His grouchiness is offset by the perfectly-cast Michael Ealy, whose fresh-faced Dorian is undoubtedly the reason for viewers to keep tuning in. The character is the sweethearted foil to Kennex's darkness, and the dynamic between the two is undoubtedly the best part of the show.

(Also fantastic is Mackenzie Crook -- now playing Orell on Game of Thrones -- as the L.A.P.D.'s tech guy Rudy Lom. Though the rest of the supporting cast remains underdeveloped, as is per usual in pilot episodes, I left the episode wanting to see more of him.)

The mythology, on the other hand, isn't nearly as riveting yet. The Syndicate, the antagonistic crime organization, aren't nearly as threatening (or interesting) as they could be, and not even too-soon revelations about Kennex's connection with them can make them more compelling yet. (But then again, what shows do have a solid mythology at the outset?) 

The show itself contains more than an echo of Fringe: fans of that series will pick up on plenty of homages (or are they recycled story traits?) in the episode. Memory-jogging medical experiments, flash-melting bioterrorism, disembodied android heads. . . They're all here. At times, Almost Human feels like it's flirting with the idea of simply becoming Fringe 2: Electric Boogaloo.

But it's the Blade Runner-esque elements that truly set this show apart. There are plenty of similarities between Kennex and Blade Runner's Deckard, and the show is aesthetically quite inspired by that brilliant sci-fi film -- there are plenty of rainy nights and flashing neon signs to be found. If the series becomes too expensive to produce, they can always sell ad space and it won't feel out of place.

The only real question of whether Almost Human has staying power, though, is whether or not it'll be willing to really delve into the philosophical questions that make Blade Runner so prescient: what makes us human? Can humanity be simulated? It's a question that, hopefully, the series will explore in-depth.

If the show's promising pilot is any indication, that's the direction in which Almost Human is going. And with the pedigree that it has (J.H. Wyman is one of the best sci-fi writers on TV), I know that I'll be following it to see just how it answers those questions.

Should you watch? Yes.

Almost Human premieres in the fall on FOX.


Details
Show:
- Almost Human
Person:
- Karl Urban
- Michael Ealy
Network:
- FOX

Written by: mcpherson
May 20th, 2013, 5:58 am

Images courtesy of FOX

Reinbeast

Level 1
Since: 21/May/13
Message Posted On May 21st, 2013, 8:27 am

Thank you for making me even more excited about Almost Human, a show I won't get to see for months. November is too far away. I am giving this one a chance because Wyman is a great writer that knows how to really bring out emotions in a story. Anyone who hasn't seen Fringe but would like to try it, please completely ignore the sad Anna Torv-obsessed troll who has been pissing us all off for as long as we can remember and who has no clue what the show really was about: family and doing whatever it takes for them.

Anonymous

Message Posted On May 21st, 2013, 7:23 am
Good job, Sam. Cannot wait to see this show. As far as Anon Anna Torv worshiper: Joel has one of the most talked about shows this Fall. He must be doing something right. Hopefully Anna will find work that please you, since she gives such a flip about you delusional ranting.
fringeobsessed1

Message Posted On May 21st, 2013, 6:54 am
Nice job, Sam McPhearson, nice to see a fellow Fringie write this. Love your comments regarding 'the Blade Runner-esque elements.' And I agree, let's sick back and let Joel Wyman drive and see where THIS sci-fi ride takes us! Get your LSD ready!!
Anonymous2

Message Posted On May 21st, 2013, 3:44 am
Wow, Anonymous, you are an ignorantidiot as usual... The pilot has been in the can for months. Duh. Screeners have already been released to TV critics this week. But, keep going on your sad little Torv-obsessed warpath all the same.
Anonymous

Message Posted On May 20th, 2013, 9:50 am
You should read the reviews for Wymans film Dead Man Down, filmcritics tell it like it is. Wyman cannot write, it is all cliche, pretence, and fake, and men , men and the big pain of men. Do not expect any depth at all. Wyman is the guy that ruined Fringe, season 5 was Blade Runner or whatever Robot show mixed with Father and Son crap, Walter and Peter soap, whining and crying. Thanks to Wyman I now dislike Fringe. Wyman only cared for his male characters, and Jackson and Noble, and it was up to Alison Schapker to try to get Olivia a bit of material,(blog TaraD Bennett) Olivias role as the chosen one, hero and her history, all erased to please Jackson and Noble. Nothing done with Olivias backstory, who cared that she was abused by Walter, or that she was the mother of Etta, no scenes needed. Olivia scenes were cut, and accoriding to Wyman all the Olivia stuff, we just had to fill in, no time. But plenty of time for Walter crying over St Claire and his brains , that all had to be on screen as often as possible, just as those soapy Walter and Peter scenes over and over. Fringe and Noble turned Walter into the victim, he was the poor selfpity Walter who did everything for his son. 999 times whining Walter about St Claire, son and wife, 0 of Olivia about her mother, father and childhood and abuse. In fact Walter was a egocentrical bastard that abused children like Olivia and damaged them for life. Putting needles and drugs into children as labrats is worse than beating them in rage but not on Fringe. On Fringe we have to feel sorry for the man that used children for his own ego. Olivia Dunham had so much possible storylines, but was sacrificed, a real shame that she never had the chance to confront Walter, to talk about her childhood, Olivia Dunham was the great character totally thanks to Anna Torv, her great acting and great psychological insight.
mcpherson

Level 3 (36%)
Since: 15/Feb/12
Message Posted On May 20th, 2013, 8:37 am

Actually watched the pilot.

matt4848

Level 1 (86%)
Since: 29/Feb/12
Message Posted On May 20th, 2013, 8:29 am

Actually waiting for this one. Karl Urban is a personal fav, and Micheal Early is great as well. Micheal has a good history of 'cop partner' history with USA's short lived (but great) Common Law. Intrested to see if this makes it.

 

Anonymous

Message Posted On May 20th, 2013, 6:28 am
So has the person writing this article actually watched the pilot or just read the script that's floating around? Last i read they were still filming this last month.
Anonymous

Message Posted On May 20th, 2013, 6:20 am
surly self here as the damaged Kennex, an L.A.P.D. cop who blames androids for the death of his partner - Oh no's shades of Alien Nation and Total Recall 2070
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