Hercules Says Bad Robot’s ALMOST HUMAN Is A Pretty Bad Robot Pilot!!
Somehow J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production concern (“Alcatraz,” “Person of Interest,” “Revolution”) has come up with one of the least entertaining TV robots in the history of TV robots.
Adding to our disappointment is the fact that “Almost Human” was created by J.H. Wyman, longtime showrunner of Fox’s much-superior Bad Robot sci-fi epic “Fringe.”
Forget Peter Weller as Robocop. Michael Ealy’s near-future law enforcement android Dorian isn’t even as much fun as the robot (or robotic) hovercycle cop who chased down the preteen James Tiberius Kirk in Abrams’ “Star Trek.” If you were hoping for something like Brent Spiner’s Data with a badge you can forget that too. Dorian will make longtime TV viewers pine even for the mechanical man who warned Will Robinson and Zachary Smith of Danger!! on a weekly basis.
But Dorian may still be a bit more compelling than “Star Trek’s” Karl Urban, whose John Kennex detective character is a bland pastiche of maverick-cop clichés. (Presented as the human half of a human-robot cop team, Kennex is actually a Steve Austin-y cyborg courtesy of the talking robot leg he gets around on.) The great Lili Taylor is similarly and sadly familiar as Kennex’s squad-room superior, playing straight and boring the same sort of character Andre Braugher is milking for big laughs over on Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine Nine.”
The pilot’s procedural elements are a snooze, following the familiar path of a detective out to avenge his slain partner.
Fox did not make available to critics the series’ second episode airing Monday, suggesting the second episode may not even be as good as the first. Not that there’s much in the pilot that would compel me to check out that second episode.
The “Almost Human” pilot’s best attribute is its eye-catching production design, which credibly depicts a 2048 A.D. Los Angeles. Scenery alone, though, does not a compelling series make, and “Almost Human” needs to make its situations and characters more interesting in a hurry if it doesn’t want to be melted down for scrap.
... a formula cop show that just happens to feature a robot … Urban is usually a likable presence, and in time Kennex might calm down and start feeling like a person rather than a cliché, at which point "Almost Human" could settle into being an acceptable spin on buddy cop tropes. …
... Kennex is not all that interesting; all of this stuff is out of the how-to-write-a-cop-show handbook. The compelling character here is the one played by Mr. Ealy, but he doesn’t get to do much in the pilot. … maybe Dorian can find work in the remake of “RoboCop” due next year. He deserves better than being stuck with a cranky, generic partner.
... "Almost Human" isn't terrible, it's just not terribly interesting, at least in the first hour. Though created by "Fringe's" J.H. Wyman, it's produced with J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot imprint, which seems, for once, regrettably fitting. … the heart of the show, one fears, will be the increasingly affectionate banter between man and bot. By the end of the pilot, Kennex admits that Dorian is "different" from the other robots. As everyone knows, that is the first mewling step toward overcoming both pride and prejudice. Unfortunately for "Almost Human," we know this because we have seen it so many times before.
Another dull example of the manufacturing of sci-fi factory goods with the (increasingly devalued) J.J. Abrams label slapped on. Less a homage and more like a bad knockoff … it needs more than just a CGI juicing to get over the fact that it’s dull as a box of broken toys. Grade: F
... almost OK but nothing more than that …
... captures the teeming bleakness of the future world and establishes winning chemistry between Kennex and Dorian. …
... Among the most promising of the new season’s offerings …
In TV, like in horseshoes, "almost" counts – a least at the start. If you can look past a few disquieting flaws and get past that odd feeling that you've seen it all before, you'll find the bones of a potentially entertaining series ... If, as the Fox promotional materials state, "fun" is what Almost Human is after, it would be wise to quickly expand Kennex's emotional range. One need only watch Dylan McDermott in CBS' Hostages to see how dull grim determination can become when applied non-stop. But there's already on-screen chemistry between the two stars, and it's not hard to imagine their byplay becoming more amusing with time. Unless, of course, it becomes less amusing instead. …
... Some of the life forms in Almost Human are artificial. The intelligence is genuine. …
... a welcome diversion from singing shows and tired sitcoms. …
... just barely watchable … these characters and situations feel very much like something that just came off an assembly line, the kind of bad robot that probably should have been recalled for a tune-up.
8 p.m. Sunday. Fox.
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