Ok, I’m going to Tarantino this review and start at the end – I love this show and if you’ve passed it by, (like I did initially), do yourself a favour and give it a shot this weekend.
Let me back up and explain.
I don’t know if it’s my age or what, but I generally find I’m more consistently disappointed by things I should like by all rights. Not Star-Wars rage or anything, but maybe something worse: whatever the emotion is called when you combine disappointment + indifference + self-awareness of what a shame it is to feel this way.
I’ll keep things vague because there are franchises I want to succeed, but if you’ve been feeling this way I’m sure you have your own examples.
So I gave Almost Human a pass – TV science fiction from the guy that created and ultimately destroyed something I loved (LOST)? – NOPE. I’ve been on too many bad dates by now to know where this ends up.
But then, as happens from time to time, I got bored. And like anyone with Doritos in the house knows, boredom can be a dangerous thing. But you already know where I end up with Almost Human and here’s why:
Delicious self-destructive boredom…
Karl Urban and Michael Ealy
Look, at its essence Almost Human is not a remotely new or overly complicated formula, yet where it shines is in its execution. Karl Urban as Detective John Kennex brings a more fully-developed and nuanced character to his grizzled-cop-reluctant-to-change than what could have easily become a one-dimensional cliché. Similarly, Michael Ealy as Dorian offers a convincing android, not to mention pulls off a seriously bad-ass move with a needle.
Solid Sci-Fi… and face-blob guns.
Take a second and think about what makes Sci-Fi great – it’s like a science experiment: you create a specific environment and set of conditions for your test-subjects to run around in, then the real fun comes from examining their behaviour. Great shows like BSG are compelling because they’re rich detailed worlds that are believable and consistent within the rules they establish (*ahem* S.H.I.E.L.D. fireproof platelets? C’mon you’re not even trying here).
Almost human is set in a near-future world where the police are losing the war against increasingly sophisticated and organized crime – the world itself has an aesthetic that is futuristic enough to bring some cool tech, but it also remains recognizable – think gleaming futuristic buildings but grimy alleyways; think tech that is neat but also practical and plausible. I hate to say it, but think modern Robocop.
The stakes are high right off the bat and the pilot already sets things up to be more than your typical ‘case-of-the-week’ formula. Again we’re talking pilot here, but (spoiler-free) showpiece events that happened in this first episode could have easily been climax story of other shows – it’s refreshing to see, and a solid promise for an unpredictable series.
Karl Urban’s Batman voice
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine so far, but the gruffness does walk a very fine line between serious and cheesy – if this series ever spills over into a camera-wink “I’m too old for this shit” then I think it’ll lose a lot of its charm.
Music “it’s the future dammit!”
I noticed the music during the show and thought it sounded too much like late 90’s techno – so it wasn’t exactly shocking when I saw Crystal Method come up in the credits.
It’s not bad by any means; it’s just… not very subtle and a little too aggressive 90’s techno-future-trope… I’d love to hear something a little more subtle like m83’s soundtrack to Oblivion.