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.
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 Lights, Charlie'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)
1. Almost Human – J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman's robotic buddy cop drama
AIRED ON 3/3/2014
Season 1 : Episode 13