REVIEW: Almost Human

19 Nov

What drives you to watch a new show? Is it seeing similar concepts done differently? Watching a completely different idea and hoping the ratings are good enough that it can survive past episode four? Or is it watching one of your favorite actors play a part that you love and obviously having fun?

Initially, I had little interest in Fox’s new show, Almost Human. It was too iRobot-y for me to feel comfortable with it. When I heard that Karl Urban of Lord of the Rings and Star Trek (2009) had a leading role, I had to check it out. Plus Michael Ealy is in it, and I do love when network TV tries to bring in more people of color.

Luckily, I was excited about the leads, because, as I feared, it is very iRobot-y. This doesn’t make it bad – it just means that it has a few episodes to go before it can stand on its own.

Karl Urban and Michael Ealy in Almost Human | Promotional photo courtesy of Fox.

Karl Urban and Michael Ealy in Almost Human | Promotional photo courtesy of Fox.

Almost Human is set thirty-five years in the future because we, as the human race, have gone from using iPhone 5cs in 2013 to humanoid robots less than 30 years later. Obviously. Karl Urban stars as John Kennex, a police detective who doesn’t quite trust robots because, at the beginning of the series, one of them left his human partner and him to die on a mission gone bad. While he didn’t die but his partner did, his leg was blown off, forcing him to get a robotic replacement that he’s never been comfortable with. He has since lost most of his memory of the event.

John’s main drive in life is now figuring out who was the mole on his last mission because there was no way that things could have gone as badly as they did without one. Unfortunately, he can’t remember anything at all.

He’s encouraged to go back into the force by his captain after two years of being in a coma and another two years of trying to remember. After his quick disdain of working alongside a robot partner, he’s paired up with Dorian (Michael Ealy). Dorian is the good cop to John’s bad cop, and a unique robot – instead of being like every other cold calculating machine, he’s an older model, designed to think and feel emotion. They work together to find out who destroyed John’s last mission and they work off of each other in unique ways.

Overall, the plot feels very simple and generic for a robot-filled universe, but it gets a pass for having two leads that bounce off each other well. Granted, in any cop show, if the leads don’t play off of each other well, the entire show is done. Luckily, Urban and Ealy’s characters work incredibly well together. John is so uncomfortable around people and robots alike, and he plays it off as a gruff hatred of everything around him. On the other hand, Dorian is funny enough to pull any humor out of John and the repertoire between the two of them is golden.

There are other memorable characters that need more screen time, such as a female cop named Valerie Stahl played by Minka Kelly who John apparently has a crush on. From what we’ve seen, she’s interesting and very present in the episode. I’m interested to see what she does when she’s not stuck just doing research for the main characters. Captain Sandra Maldonado, played by Lili Taylor, is a character whose combination of both tough love and trust in John is what gets him back on the force. Another character, a robot specialist named Rudy Lom, played by Mackenzie Crook, who rants about how he’s always stuck in the basement and how no one visits him unless they need something, is really well done. There are also two jerk detectives – one who you know was there to die in the pilot and one who is there to be John’s foil. I’m excited to watch the one who will stick around become a better person, but gosh I hope he doesn’t get worse, because he’s pretty bad already.

Overall, this show is like every other one that deal with robots in the future. The only big difference is the two main characters and their chemistry. So if you’re a fan of robot-based shows, cop shows, or even of Karl Urban and Michael Ealy, check it out. If you’re looking for something to pass the time, it’s still a lot of fun.

Episodes 1 and 2 recently aired on Fox on November 17th and 18th. Season continues on Mondays at 8pm.

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