Sci-fi can be a tricky thing to do. You don’t want to go to far out there for fear that you will lose the audience, but you also don’t want to play it safe and not be creative. This is the line that all straddles and for a pilot episode of sci-fi TV you are walking that fine line even more cautiously. Almost Human manages to take the good parts of the sci-fi and mash them together with a procedural cop drama. Is it going to change the way that we think of sci-fi, I don’t know yet, but it sure was an interesting show to watch for what felt like a very fast forty-two minutes. What the show does have going for it is strong casting, Karl Urban and Michael Ealy seem to excel with these types of characters and their relationship already feels way stronger than most cop drama’s after the first full season. So lets dive in, because if anything this show will at least be interesting.
I definitely want to start off by giving credit where credit is due, the scope of Almost Human so far is absolutely astounding. The views and environments we get to travel around it with John and Dorian absolutely bring this world and it’s inhabitants to life. It usually takes a while for sci-fi universes to truly feel like they are being lived it, but the pilot really manages to fill up the space and educate us on the world. We hit several major plot points and including the weird “remember me” goggles and the cybernetics of Dorian as opposed to the other androids. Sure this could have come off as maguffiny minutia, but instead it really felt vital to the plot at hand and allow us to further understand the “science” of this universe. Even the murder mystery amazed me as the idea of overwhelming the human body with inoculations and diseases is terrifying but the imagery they used made it all the more interesting. A lot of sci-fi forgets to take advantage of all of the aspects of the genre and instead choose to focus on only one or two ideas. If the pilot is any indication, Almost Human is not going to rely solely on the robotics plot line and truly venture out into this strange uncharted world.
Speaking of strong elements, the chemistry between Urban and Ealy was especially strong and built up a unique relationship that is not often portrayed on screen. Ealy’s Dorian was especially creative in terms of his portrayal, building up the idea that he is more human than Urban’s Kennex in some ways. Ealy’s ability to capture his character’s annoyance really helped to elevate what could have been a lackluster character to something interesting, and if he continues to evolve at this pace, a truly distinct persona. Dorian has a lot of shades of Sonny from I, Robot in terms of him wanting to connect with humans on a much deeper level, while at the same time wanting to define his own unique personality. It was a very unexpected element of the pilot and I really am looking forward to seeing the path that this character decides to take. On the same side Urban’s Kennex manages to be just what he needs to be to serve the conceit of the show, a tough no-nonsense cop who does not agree with how the system is currently working. Yes, this is an outline we have seen many times before, but somehow Urban manages to sell you on the whole thing, he was definitely tapping into his previous experience as Dredd at a couple of points.
If there is one complaint I have about the pilot it is that the syndicate seems like a lackluster villain at this point. We did get a brief glimpse at what I will assume is the “bad robot” that our duo will most likely be facing off against in the future, but that still seems predictable in terms of what a sci-fi villain can be. There are plenty of unique avenues that our mains can take but they will mean nothing without a strong counter point for them to face of against. Every hero needs a Moriarty and I believe Kennex will get his soon enough or else this series may fall into the dreadful case of the week scenario to get by. Hopefully, both villains will be allowed as much nuance and depth as Dorian is so that we can at least have an interesting challenge moving forward.
Almost Human definitely has the foundation for being an interesting and creative television series, and I am definitely willing to give it a chance moving forward.
Overall an interesting start.
Final Grade B
+A really fun world just waiting to be explored
+Taking a chance on multiple aspects of sci-fi
+Ealy gives a phenomenal performance and Urban plays his role well
-Waiting on a villain as interesting as Dorian
– The way in which the Amex’s skin tones are displayed are just creepy. Can’t tell if I like it or it annoys me yet.
– You may also know Rudy as Mackenzie Crook, the guy from Pirates of the Carribean, and Gareth from the U.K The Office. Comic relief ahoy.
-All I saw on the preview was robot sex workers. This is gonna get weird fast I bet.