New on the Tube: ‘Almost Human’

New on the Tube is a series devoted to reviewing relatively new television shows and determining how they may (or may not) appeal to their intended audiences, where the shows are going, and what can be done to make them better.

Show Premise: 

30+ years in the future, advances in technology have risen to an all-time high, allowing for even the most sordid of persons to have access to amazing and disturbing possibilities.  To combat this, the police have begun using combat androids as partners for officers in the field, allowing for more firepower and logic-processing capabilities.  One detective, John Kennex, is very reluctant to work with an android and does all he can to make his feelings about the situation known.  The show airs on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on FOX.


Previously on Almost Human: Covering episodes #1 - #4

Following a botched police raid, several officers are killed with the exception of Detective Kennex, who ends up in a 17-month-long coma.  After he comes out of the coma and begins his rehabilitation, Kennex feels as though he has a duty to track down the people responsible for his fellow officers’ deaths, as well as believing that the police-issued androids were partially responsible for what happened, and refuses to work with them.  After an “accident” with his mandated MX-43 unit, Kennex is given an older model that he forms an unusual bond with.  Throughout their time together, the android and Kennex help to solve some major crimes, including clearing the name of one of the detective’s friends and rooting out a conspiracy.

Main Characters

John Kennex (Detective): Successful detective who has his secrets, John is mistrustful of androids and reluctantly partners with Dorian.  A follower of the old-school way of police work, he is not entirely trustful of androids, blaming them for his former partner’s death.

Dorian (DRN): An older model police android that was retired due to being too human, Dorian complements John’s rough exterior.  Seen as unpredictable and different than the newer androids, he is the perfect partner for John’s unorthodox behavior.

Sandra Maldonado (Captain): A precinct commander in charge of John and the other detectives, Sandra is the officer responsible for bringing him back to the force.  Not much is known about her, except that she believes in John’s results despite the irregularity of the process.

Rudy Lom (Technician): A bit of a loner and egotistical British Ex-Pat, Rudy is responsible for the upkeep of most of the squad’s technology.  Aside from Dorian himself, he sees the androids as people more than accessories.

Valerie Stahl (Detective): A fellow detective who has a soft spot for John, Valerie is the heart of the squad.  A very obvious attraction between the two exists, allowing her to get her ideas through to him without much blowback.

Richard Paul (Detective): A fellow detective who thinks John is past his prime, Richard takes every chance he has to make his feelings known.  Nominally a good police officer, he is unimaginative and goes by the book often.

What Works

The acting abilities of Karl Urban and Michael Ealy are what really make the show passable, and their “buddy cop” pairing works fabulous together.  Ealy’s previous work on Common Law shows that he can work the partners-with-problems scenario well, and Urban’s big-picture roles as Bones and Vaako bring a bit of respectability to the series.  Almost Human really does pander to these two roles, making it almost an upgraded version of the old Alien Nation '80s/'90s cult show/telefilms; let’s just hope that this pairing lasts longer than the Graham/Pierpoint power pack did.

The exploration of technology and the look into what makes an android tick create paraphrases to multiculturalism and diversity, something that even today a lot of shows lack.  It is interesting to see just how the analogue of new tech can impact society given how much our own advances have shaped the world around us, and I am eager to see how they move forward with it.  Likewise, the differences in android capabilities—be they civilian or police issue—show that the diversity level even among high-priced technology is astounding, but we better be careful that it doesn’t turn into a SkyNet type of situation.

What Doesn’t

One of the things I see that doesn’t really work for the show is that there doesn’t seem to be any type over overarching plot to bring everything together.  Kennex has a desire to find out just what happened to his partner and fellow police officers, but that is more of a personal mission statement than something that impacts the entire series.  Each episode is a standalone one-shot, with only a few aspects of personal interaction rolling over from the previous one that has no real bearing on the outcome of the new story. There’s no all-purpose “big bad” to be haunted by or to be wary of, making it very hard to consider what will happen next.  While it does explore the relationship between John and Dorian a good bit, even throwing in humor to break down the barriers between the two of them, there isn’t enough to really make up for this very huge plot hole.

Going off of their relationship in that regard, the show is just an upgraded aspect of the “buddy cop” shows and movies that have become very prevalent in the industry as far back as I can remember.  It tries a bit too hard to get that type of following, focusing on the partnership of the two top billers than on any real aspect of the technology or futuristic endeavors.  The dynamic between the two characters and actors is what makes the show, yes, but too much of that is the core of the show; there needs to be more to really bring in a more well-rounded entertainment value.

The one thing I do not understand with this show is that this takes place more than 30 years in the future, where technology has run rampant, so why are many things still the same as they are today?  Automobiles, elevators, even firearms all look as though they were produced within the last five years of 2013, not 2048.  A futuristic endeavor is great, but it falls flat if the most basic details still show it being in present day; budgets are something to take into consideration, to be sure, but given this is a show on a major television network (FOX), the details should have been worked out relatively easily.

The Future

I honestly can’t really predict what will take place in the show’s future, aside from Kennex learning more about his past and what really caused his colleagues to die from the police raid.  I suspect that Dorian will learn more about his nature and that there will be some sort of push for android rights, which will result in a legal battle, but that all hinges on if they decide to explore that aspect of the show.  What I can say, though, is that there is bound to be more buddy cop action going on between the two, resulting in some very unusual and unorthodox interactions.

Last modified on Thursday, 27 December 2018 16:18

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