An Almost Human Community
FOX (ended 2014)

Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." Also, these PREviews are based on early cuts of pilots that might change drastically by the time they officially hit the air, so we can't properly review them. But we CAN give you an idea of what to expect. In this series of early looks at the new shows of fall 2013, there's no contemplating, no deep analysis; just super-duper quick thoughts on what we just watched that we're passing on to you. We'll revisit each previewed show in the fall with the hyper-intellectual breakdowns and fart jokes you're used to from us goons here at TV.com. 



Almost Human – Mondays starting November 4 at 8pm on Fox

STARRING AND CREATED BY: Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek), Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell, Common Law), Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under, Hemlock Grove), Mackenzie Crook (The Office U.K.Game of Thrones), Michael Irby (The Unit), and Minka Kelly (Friday Night LightsCharlie's Angels but let's pretend that never happened). J.H. Wyman (Fringe) created the series and wrote the pilot, and somebody named J.J. Abrams is on board as executive producer under his Bad Robot flag.


THE GIST: In 2048, crime in Los Angeles is TERRIBLE. Like, even worse than it is today, if you can believe that. Fortunately, technology has evolved fast enough to create androids that can partner up with human cops. A fleet of RoboCops? Sort of. John Kennex (Urban) is a tough copper and 100 percent human, with a thing against robots and their binary thinking. He's totally robophobic. Dorian (Ealy) is his new synthetic partner, a decommissioned model that's more emotional than the tin cans currently used on the force. Together, they fight bad guys and heavy-handedly examine the idea of artificial intelligence, the soul, and all that noise.


SNAP JUDGMENT: The trailer was one of this year's Upfronts WOWZA moments, instantly setting it apart from the rest of the competition, but the pilot doesn't quite live up to the lofty expectations. It's a mish-mash of things we've seen before and questions we've asked before, borrowing ideas from Alien Nation, RoboCop, and Blade Runner. It's also impossible not to compare Almost Human to Fringe given Wyman's involvement, and one key missing element is some sort of Walter Bishop character, someone who can act his ass off and provide hilarious moments of levity. However, it looks great and creates one of the best sci-fi universes television has seen. The positive takeaway is, despite a bumpy pilot, there's obviously a very entertaining series in here. Also, lighten up, Urban!



PILOTITIS DIAGNOSIS: Oh boy, this is very pilot-y! Exposition all over the place, and it's as predictable as the inevitable robot uprising because with all the setup, there isn't much time left over to get too tricky. But you know what? The Fringe pilot wasn't that great, either, and that show got a lot better. It will take time for Almost Human to find its footing, but when it does, it could be one mean robot-cop procedural.


FACES TO LOOK OUT FOR: Feel free to just stare at Minka Kelly's face, because hey, she's Minka Kelly and that's what she's here for. Mackenzie Crook (the wildling warg from Game of Thrones) also has a chance to become a known commodity in the U.S. after killing it in the U.K., but no one really jumps out as a breakout character or star from the pilot. 


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Holy crap there's a floating-wheel car thingy! It's just a giant tire! And it's on the freeway! Future phones are really, really wide screens. Fringe fans will appreciate some of the familiar-looking biotech weaponry.


EXCITEMENT LEVEL: Out of 10, we're looking at a 7 after watching the pilot, which is a few steps down from the 12 or 13 I was hoping for going in. But character-driven science-fiction shows take time to evolve, and we'd be dumb to not let this thing breathe before making a final judgment.



2013 PILOT PREVIEW POWER RANKINGS:
(Where we rank the fall season's pilots based on very early impressions)


DRAMA
1. Almost Human – J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy cop drama

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 3/3/2014

Season 1 : Episode 13

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For me, the most discouraging thing about "Almost Human" is that it sounds too procedural. However, Fringe masqueraded as a sci-fi procedural for the majority of it's run and I have to agree, the pilot in fact the whole first season (except for the last 20 seconds) wasn't extraordinary television. I live in Australia and our TV scheduling sucks and Fringe bounced around time-slots and eventually even jumped networks, only to be completely pulled. I didn't start watching Fringe in real time (when I say real time, I mean I had to resort to downloading it) up until S4 and the only reason I gave it a shot was because one of my friends wouldn't shut up about it. "If you like Lost, you will LOVE Fringe." she kept insisting. She wouldn't tell me anything about it, just that I "had to" watch it. So after Lost ended, with her words still echoing, I thought ok I might as well give this Fringe-thing a go. All I knew about Fringe at the time, thanks to some very bad advertising, is that it was from J.J. and that every blurb made it sound an x-files rip off with an unknown female lead and the other guy from "Dawsons Creek". I must admit, I had my doubts and it took me a looong time to start watching it.
So, during the s3 hiatus, I got the first 3 seasons on DVD and marathoned my way through it. I enjoyed it right away because I'm a sucker for sci-fi but I didn't fall completely head over heels bananas for it until S2's "Jacksonville". After that episode the show just went from "entertaining" to a life-changing awe-inspiring experience that felt like a roller-coaster ride all the way until the Season 3 finale. I wasn't just hooked, I was officially in love with Fringe. Deep, deep love! If I could've I would've and still would totally get married to Fringe! Yes, after a shaky start to Season 4 with a plot twist that I had many issues with, Fringe remains to be my favourite TV series and I've watched every episode countless times.
I don't know if Fringe would've had such an impact, if I had watched it in real time. With all of the breaks and schedule changes, it probably wouldn't because those darn breaks really take away that momentum. I probably would've given up on Fringe after the first 5-6 episodes. But man, I am so glad I got the chance to experience it the way that I did: 3 seasons of uninterrupted Fringe-bingeing filled with mind-blowing revelations and unprecedented wow moments that completely changed my life! And by "changed my life" I mean, I became a straight-up Fringe addict and those characters are forever tattooed on my heart. Fringe: I love you!

I know that Almost Human won't reach the epic heights that Fringe did and I am almost worried (that's the name of my new show, so stayed tuned) that I'll totally hate it. It sounds like its missing a lot of heart and character and even though I'm a sucker for sci-fi, shows win me over with their characters and the overall mythology and story. Based on the trailers and early reviews I just don't have a lot of hope in Almost Human. Of course that's exactly how I felt about Fringe before I watched it, so who knows? Maybe I'll wait and if Almost Human is still on in 2016, I'll marathon my way through the first 3 seasons and see what I think! ;)
The truth is, I'll watch the pilot as soon as it airs (actually about 10 minutes after it airs counting download time) and I will give this show a chance because I like Wyman and J.J's daddy issues but I'm going into it with a unhealthy amount of fear and scepticism. That's just how I roll! ;-)

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This seems like an odd time and night for a show...in fact, hasn't this been a death knell time for FOX? I'm thinking Terra Nova and Alcatraz...based on one sentence alone will make me watch it (I hated the pilot of Fringe and just wrote off the show, one co worker kept telling me I would love it, I would love it then she frantically texted me on night and told me season three was starting to rerun on Saturdays and if I would agree to record season four which was starting, she promised I would love it...she was right, I have rewatched the pilot since and I actually would have felt like I plodded through the whole first season, but, well, damnit, I actually don't know if I can do it...I have to look at one of those calenders....
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Gotta give it a try! :)
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It's a science-fiction show, so I'll check it out. I'm looking for something more serialized though, and this looks like it'll be a more procedural fare.
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Did you never watch Mann & Machine? Yancy Butler ring a bell? Hell she used to take her eye out and leave it places as a spy camera. She was also falling in love with her human cop partner.
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So Dr. McCoy has to play nice with a Spock want-to-be??? Cool, I can handle that.
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This is our #1 most anticipated show for the fall. Even the trailer makes it look like it's doing a ton of exposition heavy lifting (naturally for pilots), so hopefully it will settle down and begin delivering the goods. On the plus side, the world looks well created/fleshed out so once the introductory deets are covered we can get into the goods.

But yeah, Urban looks like he needs to lighten up for sure!
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This is just a PRE-VIEW. That's why networks pre-release pilots, so they get tons of dumb comments and reviews so they re-write the pilots to make them dumber so dumb audiences watch them.
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Like the idea - Robocop, Blade Runner etc. are great precedents and themes to explore humanity and plenty of other great philosophical issues while keeping the thing entertaining.

If it is awful, it will be obvious very soon but otherwise it may still need a bit of time to find its footing... I found the beginning of Fringe underwhelming and then it got so much better so soon... I like both Ealy and Urban so no problems there.... Mackenzie Crook was hilarious in Pirates of the Caribbean
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Story seems alright. I just dont like Michael Ealy.
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Really excited about this show. The trailer looks amazing for me. Now I will get my dose of science fiction. After the finale of Fringe I'm in withdrawal. It's from the creators of Fringe and some of the cast will appear.
*****Fringe we miss you, the scify is not the same without you.
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All I can say is that I am looking forward to it in short GREAT a sci-fi show
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Karl Urban - also in Chronicles of Riddick!
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and Doom, and The Bourne Supremacy, and Red, and Hercules: The legendary Journeys.
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And all I want to a new version of NBC's Mann & Machine.
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Oh My God! Someone else remembers Mann & Machine.
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I wonder if we will get a new version of Holmes and Yo-Yo?
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Okay, where did you get your profile pic?
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It's from a still of Superman 3 I found online. The 'evil' Superman goes to a bar for a drink.
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This show has tons of potential, so FOX needs to be patient and have reasonable expectations.

I would like to think that after how poorly FRINGE did in the ratings, FOX is aware that AH isn't going to get NCIS #s.

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LOVE Urban, will watch!
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Like many others, Urban is the reason why I will watch the pilot.
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Charlies Angels 2011 - never forget. ABC is on the run as a war criminal for that one, I believe.

This show was one of the wow moments in the upfronts because this year's upfronts were FUCKING AWFUL.

So um... does something happen in this show? This preview gives very little indication. Also, have you seen Mann & Machine and Total Recall 2070, and if so, how similar to those is this?
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ABC's criminality began long before that with the stultifyingly bad remake of V. That remains high on my list of worst shows ever to air. It may even place ahead of Revo-lol-tion, although that may be too close to call.
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It sounds good on paper but something tells me it's going to be a flop.
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Was it the part where it's on Fox? That's usually a good indicator.
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Looking forward to that. Sci-Fi Genre and Urabn on Board, that's a No Brainer for me.
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The fringe pilot wasn't that good????? WTF?!
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I thought all the acting was laughably terrible in the pilot, especially Anna Torv's. Good thing I gave it more than half a chance.
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The whole first season was a bit so-so. But that didn't stop the show from becoming one of the best (and my all time favorite) sci-fi shows out there, did it?
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Good. It's healthy to lower expectations a little bit. The setting + Wyman are 2 things that give reassurance. Let's wait, watch 4 episodes or more and we'll see.
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Karl Urban???? Hell, YEAH I'm there!!! I really miss Fringe :( Maybe they'll have Walter on their show :)
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I love sci-fi, i loved iRobot, i like Karl Urban, i think it's safe to say i'm going to like this show!

Not enough decent sci-fi these days, only Continiuum, looking forward to having more sci-fi in my life!
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Preview seems a bit harsh, but glad to see it here. Personally, I am please to hear there is no Walter Bishop-like character. The Fringe comparisons would have been too obvious.

Anyway, it's J.H. Wyman with support from J.J. Abrams. After the brilliance they created with Fringe, I will watch this and stick with it because I know what they are capable of.
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Karl Urban!! You don't need to convince me! I'm def tuning in :)))
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I'm not going to get too excited about this show. It looks good. And while its going to air against HIMYM, I could always record it. But FOX has a history of ordering quality sci fi shows and interesting projects, but when they don't make an interstellar splash in terms of ratings, the network bails quickly. Fringe survived , but barely. Terra Nova, Alcatraz, Space above and beyond, Firefly all good shows, or at least better than what Fox replaced them with. But none of them were given a chance. I don't know who approves these pilots, but whoever it is, they have an eye for creative scifi shows. I just wish they had the power to keep them on the air for more than 8 weeks.

If Star Trek was to premiere on Fox now, it wouldn't last half a season. TV execs know there can be real money in having a successful scifi show, but the Fox execs aren't willing to give the auduence a chance to build up.
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If you want to watch something where the issues of android/human interaction is handled brilliantly get a hold of a Swedish show "Akta Mannisikor", sc-fi for grown ups complete with nods to Blade Runner. Very, very clever.Respect to graindesable who I see has already flaggd this one up earlier in commnts
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As ever, the biggest prob''s are Fox and 8pm.
I'm not expecting Blade Runner levels of writing, directing or acting. But it'd be nice to be surprised a little once in a while and that's what cop shows consistently fail to do of late, whatever the setting.
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I'm not surprised that is sounds like a mediocre pilot. The show looks like it has great potential, but I'm totally in for the long haul, as I'm trusting of Wyman and guessing it won't get good till the second season--if it makes it that far. I've seen the Fringe pilot five times, and while it has its moments, it's more like Cringe instead of Fringe. But look where that show went. It's brilliant. So I'm very positive about Almost Human over all.

The crew is also 95% the same as Fringe. NINETY-FIVE PERCENT. That means the key grips and production assistants are probably the same. Not to mention Wyman has said he is more into characters and story than sci fi. He uses it solely as a backdrop, which is what it's meant to be used as. That statement alone skyrockets him to the top of a "sci fi creator" list. So again, I'm staying hopeful that the substance and solidity of the show will build up over time.
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I came into this article hoping you'd give the show at least a semi decent chance of proving itself and you didn't disappoint, Tim! A seven is something people can work with, especially given what else will be debuting this fall... Shows can't always come out guns a blazin' -and when they do, they end up with crappy finales *cough*LOST, HEROES*cough- and it makes me angry sometimes that networks kill shows before they ever get their legs underneath them, or rely solely on the 18-34 demo to influence decisions, instead of the entire viewership. So hopefully, it'll be some damn good television, or at least some good brainless fun.

Of course, I said some good things about Cult based on the pilot and now look at it... >.>
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Funny. Based on the picture I'd swear Karl Urban is the robot. Maybe it's on purpose, a partnership between a robotic human and a humanized robot?
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Have to say that I'm not entirely surprised by your preview review. Trailers for action shows/films include 2-3 minutes of the flashiest moments and sharpest one-liners. But when you get to see the finished product, you realize that what's in between those 2-3 minutes isn't that impressive after all. When I saw the trailer for Almost Human, I instantly sensed that there was more smoke about this show than actual fire. Will I watch it? Sure! But I'm not expecting it to be much more than a traditional action show with some pretty faces and flashy CGI.

I'm not entirely in love with the casting either. Karl Urban is a big, muscular, modern day G.I. Joe, fit for an action show, but I feel he lacks charisma. I'm not that convinced about Michael Ealy either. The dude sure has pretty eyes, but he usually only plays these calm and collected types. Based on that, someone might say he makes a perfect robot, but I don't know if he is capable of actually playing one believably. Then we have Minka Kelly who is, well, Minka Kelly. At least she's pretty. She belongs to that tiny group of actresses who get work solely because of their looks, and that's pretty much all there is to say about how I expect her to perform on the show. The person I'm most excited to see is Mekia Cox, even though I don't know how big of a role she has. It might be really small, which would be a shame.
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I think this will be a successful series, even though I'm not into it. I think it will get around 8 seasons.
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One wonders where Fringe might have gone had Mark Valley not gone off to do Human Target--so gad that he did, though--because both turned out incredible...
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Amen to that!
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"glad" Domn keybord...
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I mean, Damn Keyboard. And no, this is not about an EDIT BUTTON, we've resolved that. It's just a damn keyboard. And no, that's not a shout out to Lost. Anyone remember that old thing?
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Shoo boo...you be infected by da illuminati now...
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It seems weird that you didn't mention I-Robot, from 'The gist' it seems to be exactly I-Robot as a TV show.

I get that the whole idea has been done before but it seems pretty dead on with that movie.
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I know right! For me, it's like: "cop doesn't like robots" check, "cop had incident in past in which robot logic was too black and white and not emotional enough" check, "cop is partially synthetic" check, "cop accepts one robot who is strangely human" check, "everybody thinks cop is too old school and a bit crazy" check, etc. I got to the end of the promo and wondered if Dorian dreamed.
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Yay, Alien Nation was awesome.
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"Feel free to just stare at Minka Kelly's face, because hey, she's Minka Kelly and that's what she's here for."

You should probably cover your ears if she opens her mouth, though. Her voice can often sound like two cats screeching at each other. I seem to have a bigger problem with it than others, though, so... *shrugs*
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oh her voice is def annoying.
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The comment, "The Fringe pilot wasn't that great, either, and that show got a lot better", actually makes me a little nervous. Cuz if I remember correctly, Fringe ended up with a very small (but we're devoted!) fan base, and as lucky as Fringe was to continue on even as long as it did, I don't know how likely yet another show like it will fair the same.
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Yeah, that made me a little jittery too. Excusing a "not that great" preview by saying that another pilot was bad too does not make me confident. Fringe was an exception. In the end it only gathered a small (but loyal) following, but the quality was top notch. In other words, it succeed despite a mediocre pilot, not because of it. Fringe really managed to up its game. That, however, is rare. Usually the quality of a pilot tells us a lot about the future of a show. So much is packed into the pilot, that if it doesn't manage to be convincing, the rest of the show rarely manages to rise above that level. Sure, many shows find their stride story-wise after the pilot, which usually is a crazy ride of several new plots and relationships. But the overall quality is still determined very much by the style of the pilot. If Almost Human cannot present a strong pilot, then how much can a show of that type improve over time? A good pilot is also crucial for attracting viewers, which a show this expensive really needs to avoid a quick termination.
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I hear ya! There will never be another Fringe, bad pilot or otherwise. :)
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"Fringe" was ridiculously awesome. And this behind a ridiculously procedural 1st half of a 1st season, and I get pretty sick of procedural pretty quick. So for pedigree alone, I give this a full season of a shot. Overly enthusiastic, possibly, but they have earned my respect to this point; I'm on board for a solid 26 episodes. If I am turned away through til then, then I'm out, but I doubt that very much. I'm in this for the long haul unless they turn me away.
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Come on, did Urban go "I am the law" at least once or "I am a police-officer not a computerprogrammer"?
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A great great show with robots but with a slightly different plot : Real Humans or Akta Manniskor, a scandinavian TV show. It is available on itunes and amazon with english subtitles.
As for Almost Human ? Meh ... I'll watch but I'll probably be disappointed....
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Wish you hadn't tried to compare it to Fringe so early in the game.
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Considering this is J.H. Wyman's first show since Fringe, and it's also in the sci-fi genre, I'm fairly certain Tim won't be the only critic to make that comparison.
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ya, I know. I'm just going to have to rise above that talk and try to enjoy it for what it is and go on from there. Like when they wanted to compare Fringe to Lost. I have high enough hopes for this show as it is, don't need to add the Fringe comparison in with it.
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J.H. Wyman on Almost Human - IGN interview:

"I can guarantee you that we’re going to see Fringe actors. I miss all of them so much, and we’ve been keeping in touch. Anything I can do -- it’s just got to be worthy of them, because they’re all in my heart. I want to write them great stuff and make sure they come out with a big bang."

OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD! Breathe, FF! Just breathe! BREATHE GODAMMIT! ...

*Inhale*

Yeah, I'll probably give it a chance if I'm not busy or anything.
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I hope they give Anna Torv a job. It pains me to see that she hasn't had any work since Fringe, except some voice acting. In fact, during the five seasons of Fringe, she only had once guest role in another show (The Pacific). It might be that she is doing stage work at the moment, or maybe she is just taking a longer break, but I wish she would entertain us with her presence on screen soon again.

In my fantasies (the TV related ones), she would get a recurring role as the ruthless leader of a criminal organization which is fighting against the LAPD. Plot twist: she is secretly a former android herself whose emotion chip has been damaged, making her essentially a psychopathic android with robotic strength. Wyman, are you taking notes?
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This is the greatest idea EVER!

(P.S. Care to share those non-TV related fantasies? I have this really weird one when she controls my body like she did with Peter that one time, and then she opens up her ... You know what, I should probably stop there.)
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She opens up her mouth? And has an intelligent and thoughtful conversation about what is to meet an alternate version of yourself, and how it affects your self-image? Yeah, that is an erotic fantasy.

I won't go into details about my fantasies. It's just to protect the young, sensitive minds of some users on this site.
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Wow! I was going to say she opened up her mouth! Although, for a VERY different reason...

Aaaaaaaand I just got gross. Sorry young and sensitive minds!
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While I agree that would be totally awesome, I get the impression she's one of those actresses that wants to avoid being typecast. Some actors are cool with it, but others consider it the worst thing that can happen in their career. While the role you described is different, she'd be getting "genre typecast".
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You just made my day
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YES. Even if this show bombs out, I'm hoping for some Fringe easter eggs or Fringe cast appearances.
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Me too--IF I'm not busy, that is...
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I can see September playing a Robocop, or whatever they will call them, for an episode.
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Eh, Bad Robot sucks. It will be a sprawling mess of pseudo-intellectual philosophical half-thoughts and multiple everything in about 5 episodes.
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Go troll somewhere else, please. Thank you.
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Be gone with you. Having an opinion isn't trolling. Half of Tim's review centered around a belief that the show would improve from the premise (a notably tired one). Noting that the school of Bad Robot rarely is capable of that is a perfectly reasonable addition to the conversation.
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Isn't it Ealy and not Irby as Dorian, the "synthetic partner"?
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Staff
Doh! Yes and thanks. Fixed!
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3 new shows I am looking forward to this season and this is one. Karl Urban is great!
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looking forward to seeing this
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Me too, I love thinking man's Science fiction and this looks a neck of a lot like it.
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