Starring Karl Urban and Michael Ealy, [Almost Human] is an action-packed police procedural set 35 years in the future, when police officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids.
The year is 2048. Meet Detective John Kennex (Urban), a cop who survived one of the most catastrophic attacks ever made against the police department. After waking up from a 17-month coma, he can't remember much—except that his partner was killed, he lost one of his legs and he is now outfitted with a highly sophisticated synthetic appendage.
Suffering from depression, mental atrophy, trauma-onset OCD, PTSD and the “psychological rejection of his synthetic body part,” John returns to work at the behest of longtime ally Captain Sandra Maldonado (Lili Taylor). By mandate, every cop must partner with a robot. And despite his passionate aversion to androids, John is paired up with a battle-ready MX-43. But he abruptly terminates his partnership after the robot discovers incriminating information about him. So technician Rudy Lom (Mackenzie Crook), introduces John to Dorian (Ealy), a discontinued android with unexpected emotional responses. Although such responses were deemed flaws, it is in these “flaws” that John relates to Dorian most. After all, John is part-machine now, and Dorian is part-human. John and Dorian's understanding of each other not only complements them, it connects them.
Let’s be honest right off the bat: When I initially heard about this series, all I needed to hear was Abrams, Urban and Ealy…and I was IN. With Abrams involved, you’re pretty much guaranteed a complex, layered show with lots of action and snarky humor. Karl Urban and Michael Ealy can both run the gamut from dark and intense to light and silly and who wouldn’t want to see them onscreen together? I mean, So. Much. PRETTY. So, going in, I was pre-disposed to like the show. That said, after the two night, two episode premiere, I already LOVE the show. And if you like sci-fi, action, humor, conspiracies, snarkiness and/or heart in your television shows, you probably will, too.
Almost Human is, at its heart, a buddy cop show. Just two episodes in, you can already see the bromance developing between John and Dorian. John is angry, bitter and resentful, especially of androids. After his first assigned android partner meets an untimely end (at his hand), he is assigned an older model android. The DRN model, known as Dorian, was made to have a soul and actually have feelings and empathy as opposed to the clinical, completely logic based newer models. Even though John is the human, Dorian is the one with the humanity. Or so it seems, initially. The first episode really played to that theme but by the second episode, the layers are being removed from John to expose more of his softer side.
The buddy-cop trope is a tried and true formula and one I happen to love. These two episodes have given me so many nostalgic feelings for several sci-fi and buddy cop shows and movies of the past. The two mismatched partners are reminiscent of the partnership in the Alien Nation movie and subsequent television series. The ‘guy with issues’ paired with a disapproving partner is reminiscent of Riggs and Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon movie series. A lot of small touches in the show so far remind me of the Will Smith movie, I, Robot, including John’s distrust of synthetics (androids) while partially owing his own survival to the technology. A more recent example of man and machine working together, often with comic results, was Sheriff Carter and Deputy Andy on SyFy’s Eureka. I’m a big fan of all of the aforementioned movies and shows so Almost Human’s similarity to them only makes it better, in my eyes.
The sci-fi aspect of the show already has me intrigued. I love seeing the not so distant future depicted on television and in movies. We’ve already been treated to glimpses of the advanced tech available in crime scene investigations, weaponry, medical science, automotive technology and just everyday life in just these first two episodes. The show has shown us both the slick and clinical parts of the future world and the dark, grimy parts as well because John apparently inhabits them both. Dorian, just by virtue of being an android, will be the source of much of the tech we see, but John’s journey has already involved him using black market technology to try to recover his lost memories. I’m sure we are going to see many more touches of future tech in the coming episodes.
Almost Human does have its humorous moments but it is definitely a drama and an adult one, at that. The second episode, about Sexbots (yup, just what you think they are!) included a “sexual situations” warning. The first hour was a tense and gritty setup episode, without much levity. It introduced the world, all of the main players and the conspiracy seemingly responsible for John’s injuries. We were given clues and hints about John’s past, his secretive activities in the present and his allies and enemies. The second hour included much more humor and the hint of a romance on the horizon for John. The previews for the season also seem to indicate there’s a secret in Dorian’s past to be explored. I’m definitely on board; two episodes in and this is already must see TV for me. If you missed the premiere, Fox has both episodes currently available on their website.
Did you watch? Did you like? Did it remind you of past buddy cop shows and movies?