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ALMOST HUMAN
Season 1

Almost Human


  1. Pilot
  2. The Bends
  3. Blood Brothers
  4. Arrythmia
  5. Simon Says
  6. You Are Here
  7. Unbound
  8. Perception
  9. Disrupt
  10. Beholder
  11. Straw Man




John Kennex - Karl Urban

Dorian - Michael Ealy

Captain Maldonado - Lily Taylor

Detective Stahl - Minka Kelly

Rudy Lom - Mackenzie Crook





OTHER ROBOTIC TALES
Automan
Beyond Westworld
Caprica
Robocop:The Series
Robocop:Prime Directives
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles







Pilot

John Kennex lost his leg and his faith in the android partners that all cops have when someone ambushed his team. Now he's back and with an android that has emotional problems all its own.

Cops and androids don't do that well. ROBOCOP, MANN & MACHINE, HOLMES AND YOYO, all of these shows lasted a single season. Add in the cop with the alien show ALIEN NATION (also one season) and the future doesn't look all that bright for the new JJ Abrams/JH Wyman show. That said, the shows they have been involved with have lasted much longer, so maybe they can break the curse.

So, down to business. This is the opener, so there is a lot of scene setting to be done, which doesn't leave all that much room for an exciting and coherent case for the new cop team to work, not least because it takes a third of the episode before Dorian even appears.The need to jam in a reference to a plot arc and a personal connection between the main character and the bad guys and the plot is looking very familiar and not all that special at all.

The world-building, however, is great. Borrowing on the look from BLADE RUNNER (hey, steal from the best) and ROBOCOP most obviously, the effects are impressive and used as scene setting rather than as an end in themselves. It's only 2048, so it's not too futuristic, but allows for enough SF touches to please.

On the human front, Karl Urban is cool and angry, so not all that far from his performances in Abrams' STAR TREK movies. That's fine, though, because that's what the role is looking for, someone who can do the tough and have comic timing. Michael Ealy plays the android and it's early to say whether the teaming will work, because he seems to be very, very human and a lot less like an android than might have been best. The more human he is, the more like a slightly futuristic cop buddy show this is. Only time will tell if the balance is right.

ALMOST HUMAN gets off to a solid, if unspectacular, start then. There is, however, potential to be mined.

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The Bends

An undercover cop close to capturing an elusive criminal kingpin has his cover blown. John and Dorian investigate, but it's going to take kooky lab genius Rudy going undercover as a chemist to get the job done.

What kind of a criminal mastermind uncovers police officers inside his organisation and immediately decides to trust a brand new chemist on his drug production team? The kind that is needed to make the story work, is which kind. The plots so far aren't that great on this show and this episode doesn't up the average.

The fun, though, comes from the characters and the two leads have a good chemistry and some good lines. Mackenzie Crook gets to do more than simply explain the plot and provide handy technological clues to crack the case. His determination to wear a hat undercover is funny.

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Blood Brothers

Kennex and Dorian are assigned to protect the final witness in a murder case, a witness who speaks to the dead and doesn't stay put.

This is a tired storyline that comes around at least once in every cop show there ever was, but it is enlivened by the quirky witness in question and her 'ability', but even more so by some sparkling interplay between Dorian and Kennex. Karl Urban and Michael Ealy are proving to the be saviours of this show, taking some very mediocre plots and spicing them up with their charisma and chemistry. It's them we are watching, not the stories that they are in.

The 'scientific advancement being misused of the week' storyline again fails to put any depth into its plot or the villain(s) behind the evildoings.

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Arrhytmia

A man dies of a heart attack that he seemed to know was coming. Dorian, meanwhile, comes into contact with another of his model.

The artificial organs extortion racket plotline of this episode is a bit half-hearted (no pun intended, but gratefully received) and the amount of actual detective work that goes into it is not what you term 'high'.

The writers clearly were more interested in the interplay between the two partners and also in how Dorian deals with finding one of his own kind working as a janitor in the hospital. His slow awakening of the other DRN to previous memories and case files, only to then erase them at the end has a bit of a 'Flowers For Algernon' feel to it.

The show still has lots of incidental delights going for it, but a bit more depth might not go amiss.

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Simon Says

People are being strapped with explosives and sent out to commit crimes within a timescale. If they fail, their demise is aired across the internet. John Kennex is the next target.

This is an old, old chestnut of a story that has been done far too many times for the show to be able to come up with a new angle to exploit. It's tired and it needs all of the star quality of the leads, with some smart dialogue along the way, to pull it through.

Dorian's falling power reserves are aimed at building in a ticking clock tension factor, but that fails.

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You Are Here

Someone has a bullet that can tap into all the surveillance technology in the modern world and track down its target from miles away. A woman and her child might hold the key.

The idea of our all-pervasive surveillance culture being used to kill us ought to be a lot more involving and exciting than this. The villains are barely introduced and have no significant part to play in the story other than to provide the threat that must be dealt with. They are characterless thugs and therefore of no interest.

Their target has rather too much character, doing things that are quite obviously stupid and almost suicidal just becaus the plot needs her to in order to gain the threat-filled final act.

Fortunately, the two leads have charisma enough to pull the show through and the writers are having a good time playing to that. There are some very funny moments indeed amongst the mundane cop stuff.

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Unbound

An unstable robot goes on a rampage, forcing the cops to search out the disgraced inventor of the DRN series and Dorian to meet him maker.

There are some twists and turns here in the plot that gives it a bit more of an edge. This is a main plot-arc in the making and that lends the episode some spice that others might have been missing.

Having a killer robot on the loose is certainly a good reason to up the action quotient, but the human side is provided by Dorian, and Rudy, meeting maker and idol alike.

As part of an incipient plot arc, the episode as a whole is a little unsatisfying, but on the wanton destruction front, it's the best yet.

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Perception

Genetically engineered super-kids, called 'chromes', are dying suddenly. A designer drug seems to be responsible, but who at the elite school they attended is making it?

Kennex is trying to remember things that happened in the attack that cost him his leg. He is using illegal techniques and pushing himself too hard. The results, however, are nonexistant.

Meanwhile, there is a rather dull drugs story to follow that sets up a new upper class of genetically-improved people. This idea, though, isn't pushed or probed as much as it could, especially since Detective Stahl is a chrome herself. They're pretty, they're rich - move on. That's a shame because it is becoming clear that looking good is all this show cares about. The cast look good, the world, looks good, the special effects look good... but where's the depth and the heart?

The opening sequence showing the effects of the drug are the highlight.

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Disrupt

The computer controller of 'smart' home kills its owners. Can this have something to do with the kid who was killed by the house's protection systems a year earlier?

There is a new subplot introduced here that might have some mileage. Dorian is experiencing memories that cannot be his, because they are a child's memories. Whose are they? What do they mean? How did they get there? What effect will this have on Dorian and his relationship with Kennex?

Aside from that, there is an investigation into the smart house killing (nicely staged), but it is a pretty straightforward storyline and it is fluffed by the way that Kennex and Stahl carry out the most useless piece of undercover work ever.

The hacker battle with real lives at risk in the middle is pretty well handled,though.

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Beholder

Someone is killing genetically-engineered 'chromes' and stealing their DNA. Detective Stahl has to face up to some of the aspects of her background that she doesn't like.

Using stolen DNA to reshape a specific feature is a fairly ridiculous idea and the reason why the killer is doing it seems to be the most incredible overreaction of all time. Why the process of stealing DNA has to result in the victim's death is also hard to comprehend.

That said, Minka Kelly gets some well-deserved screen time as the impossibly-pretty detective, further driving wedges into John's crush on her. Sadly, though, that is as far as the delving into the character goes. This is a show about surfaces rather than the depths beneath.

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Straw Man

When a serial killer moves into town, John is faced with the spectre of the case that beat his father, and saw him disgraced. Can he solve it this time?

There hasn't been a lot of angst in the show to date regarding John's father. In fact, it's hard to remember it even being mentioned before. As a result, the fact that this killer might be the one that made everyone believe his father was dirty doesn't really have a lot of impact. Or any at all, in fact.

The plot is relatively straightforward and a good deal of time is spent on the set up of the crime, perhaps showing that the writers are having a hard time making detection seem interesting.

Dorian's evaluation scenes at the beginning are the most fun, but even the humour in this episode is muted, possibly because everyone knew by this point that the show wasn't going to be renewed.

That's a shame because, though there was very little about ALMOST HUMAN that was original, the characters were fun to be around.

The curse of the robot cop show strikes again

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