GGR Reviews Almost Human – “Pilot”

From Geek Goes Rogue TV Editor Zach W. Lorton, as told to by the electronic-sprinkled alternative music coming from his Spotify stream…

When I first saw the trailer for the new Fox action/drama/comedy… SHOW… Almost Human, I was immediately intrigued.  My first thought was, “Looks like RoboCop meets Alien Nation.”  Still, the premise may not be the most original, but I’m very excited about the two leads that are going to carry the series, Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Michael Ealy (Think Like a Man, FlashForward).

And now, I bring to you my review of the pilot episode of this new show from Fox.  Which is premiering less than 2 weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday.  For whatever reason.


“2048.  Science and technology evolve at an uncontrollable pace.  Unknown drugs and weapons flood our streets and schools.  The contraband is controlled and distributed by violent, faceless, criminal organizations.  And the crime rate rises an astounding 400%.”

Point of information:  400% from what?  Over what kind of time period?  Is this 400% per day?  400% per year? 400% per person?  Writers, if you’re going to be vague, be less specific.  Continue…

“Outnumbered and overwhelmed, law enforcement implements a new strategy:  every police officer is partnered with an advanced, combat-model android.”

I’d like to point out that if the folks proofing the exposition cards knew how to work with commas, my hopes would be higher.  Thankfully, I won’t be reading the show.  Regardless, there’s your premise.  Upwards and onwards, boys.

Cut to a POV shot of a grenade launcher doing what it does best — launching a grenade.  Officer John Kennex (Urban) is with a group of police officers in a run-down warehouse area (natch) where bad dudes are in a firefight with the police dudes.  One thug gets shot, and Kennex notices a large barcode-looking tattoo on the back of his head.  It makes him think.

Right away, we get a sense of the series.  Kennex has an argument with one of the police androids, who seems to be very Sheldon Cooperesque in his assessments of their current situation.  Kennex finds one of his human colleagues has been shot, and after arguing with another android about the statistics of his partner’s chances of survival, he tries to get the wounded cop out himself.  As he does, he gets shot in the leg.  Dazed, wounded, and helpless, he sees one of the bad dudes toss a grenade in his direction.  Kennex tries to get away, but it explodes.

In the next scene, Kennex is plugged into a machine designed to help him remember the events that put him there.  By this time, he has come out of a coma that he had been in for 17 months, and he’s trying to get himself to remember the events that put him in the coma in the first place.  After the treatment, his nose is bleeding.

The future is sleek, no doubt.  And John’s about to get back on the horse.  It’s probably a very tall, very shiny horse.  Shiny like his new prosthetic leg.

Ooohhh, I get it.  Almost human.

From the get-go, this show boasts its sleek, technology-heavy premise, but still can’t get the androids to walk smoothly.  And one of the characters actually uses the phrase, “We’re rounding up the usual suspects.”  Okay, a little hokey, but I’m willing to give this a full shot.  Who knows, it might hit a nerve.
After giving this show a chance to go through its paces, I can forgive some sloppy writing.  Sure, it’s not going to be the next great groundbreaking series, but it will be entertaining.  I think Fox usually does a great job of putting together series that grip people’s curiosity — The X Files, Fringe, 24, and the like.  This one will turn the heads of people who want to see a technologically advanced picture of our future, as opposed to the bleak landscapes of The Walking Dead and Revolution.  And while it may not be the sharpest product on the screen, the pilot episode sets up a decent premise for the series.

There are other flaws, though.  The geek audience probably would have been better served by taking the events of the pilot and expanding it into a 2-hour premiere.  This would have given them a chance to dive further into Kennex’s psychology, the development of the nearly-scrapped DRN model of androids (whom Michael Ealy plays with great ability), or perhaps Kennex’s relationship with the rest of the cops in his precinct.  You know, all the things that story buffs love, but seemed to have barely been touched on in this episode.  Either way, there should be ample time to explore the further themes of whether machines can have a soul, if the writers and producers are so inclined.

While it’s not the greatest show to hit the airwaves, Almost Human is worth a look to anyone that’s looking for an escapist action cop show that looks bright, shiny, and more advanced than those other future-tense shows.  I’ll be watching more.

Almost Human airs in its regular slot on Fox Mondays at 8pm/7pm Central.

Zach W. Lorton is a media producer and professional DJ/MC by trade, and a comedian, actor, and musician by default.  His debut music project is set to begin recording in 2014, and will likely take the world by storm, possibly in the form of a Sharknado.

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