Fourth-episode verdict: Almost Human (Fox)

The BarrometerA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Mondays, 8/7c, Fox
In the UK: Not yet acquired
Find it in the schedules where you live

With so many shows now starting with double-episodes, it seems to make more sense – if I can bear it – to wait for four episodes before passing verdict on them. Almost Human is a case in point. A big brave bold JJ Abrams TV show from Fox, it’s a futuristic buddy-buddy cop story between a growly white cop (Karl Urban) and a sensitive black android cop (Michael Ealy). They solve crimes together. They rib each other.

Every episode is more or less the same: there’s a shiny, quite interesting science-fiction idea about law enforcement or crime in the future. Our two heroes go around and solve the crime in precisely the same way two modern day cops would, just a bit quicker thanks to technology and special effects. The android gets shot or beaten up a bit, but he can take it because he’s an android. And then there’s much laughter at the end.

Along the way, despite 100 years having passed since women’s liberation, the entire existence of women except as sexbots, strippers, wives and mothers is pretty much forgotten – you might spot one in ten characters as being female. There’s a lot of male bonding and jokes. Mackenzie Crook from The Office gets to be nerdy. All the promise of story arcs and characterisation that was in the first episode gets more or less forgotten.

It’s incredibly, incredibly adequate.

I do appreciate that the show is trying to be a procedural, a CSI with robots, and that expecting individual episodes to be anything more than exactly the same as each other is a bad idea. There’s a decent enough chemistry between the two leads and they do their jobs as required. And it does come up with some intriguing ideas (this week, we got a liquid you can swallow that will make you a GPS beacon and a drug made from bacteria found on the ocean floor).

But unless you’re a teenage boy or will watch pretty much anything science-fiction related, this probably ain’t the show for you. It’s just too bland, too boys club and too empty in the human relationships department to really make you want to watch.

Barrometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Will probably last a season, maybe get a second. But that’s it, unless there’s a big reboot

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  • David Barber

    I totally enjoyed this series when watching it a few years ago. Each to their own, but it gave me the idea of what a RoboCop TV series SHOULD have been like instead of that watered down travesty made in Canada and that dreadful Prime Directives. Karl Urban and Michael Ealy were a terrific team and this would have been a more successful show had it been made in the ’80s or ’90s.

    • Thanks for dropping by – always good to have an employee of Saracen Systems around.

      I did end up watching the entire series, and if you search around on the site, you should find all the mini-reviews I did of later episodes in the weekly “What have you been watching?” From what I recall, it got better once the showrunner changed again, but it was still a bit generic and the only episode I really remember was the one with Gina Carano in it. Because it had Gina Carano in it.

      It’s an interesting thought experiment to see how a modern day show would fare in earlier times. When it comes series drama, I think US TV has largely improved in terms of writing and acting significantly so naturally any show made now would likely to do well, assuming it could get past the network censors. But, yes, tonally it fits in with buddy-buddy shows of the 80s and 90s, which is also perhaps why it felt a bit dated in some regards.

      PS Almost Human was filmed in Vancouver…

      • David Barber

        I liked the Gina Carano episode and also liked Lili Taylor as the tough, but sympathetic boss. The other supporting cast members were ok too and the special effects were charming. I have a lot of respect for JJ Abrams as he brought some spark back into the M:I film series and created the wonderful Alias (sadly, he didn’t have much to do with the final season) as well as remaking Star Trek of course.

        I wanted to see a 2nd season of Almost Human but alas, you can’t have everything. The next best thing Karl Urban did after Dredd which is getting a sequel TV series.

        • Dredd’s great. Urban’s in talks to be in it, but nothing firm yet. I liked him in Bourne Supremacy, too. And Xena. His McCoy impression is great, too