Monday, December 2, 2013

Almost Human...And Now I've Changed My Mind

Just saw my second episode of Almost Human, and I was able to spot the episode's Big Bad as soon as he showed up. Of course it's always hard to do a "mystery villain" in a single episode on a series, because the odds are that any new character who shows up with a lot of power and respectability will be the bad guy.

That said, the twist-that-was-too-obvious-to-be-a-twist highlights a major failing of the show: The two episodes that I've seen both featured recycled cop/action story lines we've seen dozens of times before. It's as though the showrunners think that all they need to make these stories fresh is to sprinkle a little sci-fi on them.

This episode, for instance, features a new street drug, "the bends," that looks a bit like anti-freeze. Its properties? It's hard to make and super-addictive. Nothing else. (So why the concern? We already have drugs that are super-addictive and easy to make, no?) And the robots? They're just like people, except that they're stronger and you can order them around and treat them like crap. Hell, even the visuals are recycled - check out the umbrellas with the glowing central tubes, straight out of Bladerunner.

It's not too late for the show - if it shows us how society has changed thanks to new technologies. (What have "synthetics" done to prostitution and human trafficking? What about fraud? Identity theft? New forms of surveillance?) But as long as the future is treated as just the present, but with shinier toys, Almost Human will disappoint.

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