Review: Almost Human, Season One

In a not-so-distant future, human cops and androids partner up to protect and serve. – from IMDB

almost-human1Almost Human is a sci-fi show that just finished up its first season on Fox with a 13 episode run, and I am hoping and crossing all my fingers and toes that it won’t be the last season, but with it being on the bubble, I am aware of the unfortunate possibility. I just want MORE! More of these great characters, more of this interesting world with its developing technology, and more of the hinted at story arcs. Why did Valerie, a genetically engineered “Chrome” decide to become a cop? What makes Dorian so much more special than all the other DRN models that Captain Maldonado reactivated him for duty to work with Kennex? What happened with Anna and why is she listening in on Kennex? And what in the world is on the other side of The Wall?! Why is it there in the first place? I need to know!

If I had to describe Almost Human in my own words, I would say it’s a detective bromance set in a future where crimes evolve with the technology and the lines between man and android are sometimes blurred. Karl Urban, starring as the main character John Kennex, is perfect in his role. If you love Dr. McCoy from the new Star Trek movies (and seriously, who doesn’t?!)…

vulcan-mindThen you’ll love Kennex…

cat-issuesAnd Michael Ealy is perfectly paired with Urban as his android partner who has been programmed with “synthetic soul,” which makes him more human than the more generic models of androids. He is always delivering perfectly-timed quips and enjoys giving Kennex a hard time, and he also has more serious moments when he reflects on humanity in ways that Kennex cannot.

I enjoyed the rest of the main cast as well, and in 13 episodes, we definitely did not get enough of them. I want to learn more about each of their characters, and all the actors/actresses, in addition to the great writing, are responsible for that.

AH-secondarycast

Minka Kelly/ Mackenzie Crook/ Lili Taylor

I can see the reasons why Almost Human may not have gained popularity, despite how much I truly enjoyed it. For starters, it can’t seem to decide if it wants to episodic or serial, which can be frustrating for people who prefer one sort of show over the other. Each week there is a new case, but there are also several mentions sprinkled in that hint at an overall storyline or, even more frustratingly, seem super important and make you think it will be addressed in the next episode, but then it’s not. Because of this, audiences who learned not to rely on these supposed important plot points may not make an effort to tune in every week, and then those who prefer the episodic nature might still do the same, because they’re not looking for a week-to-week story arc.

What was also super frustrating was that Fox decided to air the episodes out of order, so one week Kennex and Dorian would be buddy-buddy, and the next week Kennex would be ready to throw Dorian out of the window from frustration. The development of the characters and the story did not make much sense in the order the episodes were shown.

There’s also the fact that it was just not given enough time for word to properly get around about the show. Those who love Fringe (which by the way, I think spent its first season with some of the same struggles as Almost Human, but then found its feet and improved) and similar shows would really enjoy Almost Human, and they just may not have discovered it yet. Perhaps it is a niche target audience, but I think there are people who would like it who might not think to seek it out. Words like “sci-fi” and “androids” may make the show seem heady or out there, but the show really is about being human. And can’t we all relate to that?

One of my favorite episodes, “Perception,” was ultimately about a teen girl trying to live up to her mother’s potential, and how far someone is willing to go for the vindication of someone they love. There might be talk of genetically engineered humans and printed drugs in the process, but ultimately, the story is about people.

The season finale was not dramatic, it did not raise many more questions, and there was not a cliffhanger. They left the Kennex-Dorian relationship in a satisfying place, I think in case that if this was it, at least their relationship would have closure. But there is still so much left to be explored.

I really believe in the potential of this show. I hope Fox will too. I want more Almost Human!

Did you watch the first season of Almost Human? What were your thoughts on it? 

Advertisements

This Week in TV: The Super Bowl, Almost Human, and Agents of SHIELD

With all three of my TV shows coming back this week with their first episode of 2014, plus with The Super Bowl this past Sunday, I thought it would be worth talking about what caught my attention on TV this week. Even if you don’t watch these shows, feel free to read on because who knows, maybe it’ll spark your interest!

I’m not talking about Castle, because it’s an established show and there was nothing particularly special about this week’s episode, but Almost Human and Agents of SHIELD are both in their first season and are revealing new things every week that are piquing my interest. But first…

The Super Bowl

Russell WilsonI saw/heard a lot of people say they thought this year’s Super Bowl was boring. I don’t understand how one could feel this way unless (1) they were rooting for the Broncos (obviously) or (2) they don’t actually care about football anyway. Sure it was a blowout, but it was fun to watch.

Just to be clear, I’m only moderately interested in football. I have teams I like and I enjoy watching them when they play well, and especially if they run the ball because it’s way more exciting than passing it. Also, I was rooting for the Seahawks because of my disliking for Peyton Manning. It’s a lousy reason to root for a team, but it’s the truth.

So maybe I took too much pleasure in watching Peyton throwing interceptions.

And in his disgruntled facial expressions.

And of guys on the Seahawks running with no danger of being tackled as they made their way to the end zone.

And I also could have been on a sugar high because my husband and I had the bright idea of eating a Skittle for every point Seattle scored. (Why Skittles? Because of this guy.) Personally, I thought they might score 21 points. I wasn’t even dreaming of 43. Holy cow, guys. It was a LOT of Skittles.

But what I wanted to talk about mostly was the commercials. Overall, not  a bad batch, but not many really stood out either. Most were just better than mediocre.

In case you’re unaware, USA Today does this thing where people rank the Super Bowl commercials and  they announce on Monday how everything ranked. Their top 5 were as follows:

1. Budweiser, “Puppy Love”

2. Doritos, “Cowboy Kid”

3. Budweiser, “Hero’s Welcome”

4. Doritos, “Time Machine”

5. Radio Shack, “Phone Call”

(Sorry this don’t mean much if you didn’t see them; I’ll include videos of some of them later.)

Puppy Love being number one was not a surprise to me. Who can resist an adorable story about furry best friends?

The second one, The Dortios Cowboy Kid, really fell flat for me and I didn’t find it funny, so I was surprised to see it so highly ranked. The other Doritos commercial, however, made me chuckle.

I thought the Radio Shack commercial was also funny and clever. I’m glad they’re choosing this way to brand and market themselves now instead of calling themselves “The Shack” like they were for a while…

One of my favorites was, without a doubt, the Tim Tebow T-Mobile commercial (there were actually two, but we’ll go with the first one here), as he explains what you can do without a contract (plus I’m a Tebow fan):

Another commercial I found quite funny and clever was done by Turbo Tax…

And lastly, I feel I have to mention Jaguar’s commercial of British villains…

How fun is that?

Almost Human

I’ve been enjoying Almost Human, but it’s been painfully obvious that they’re showing the episodes out of order, and the mythology I was kind of hoping for from a show developed by the same people who did Fringe hasn’t really been present. However, I enjoy the characters, it’s been an interesting look into a possible future, and they have made some references that can certainly lead to more in the story later. One of these references that has particularly piqued my interest is to “the wall.”

almost-human-the-wallIn this episode they finally addressed it further, but we still don’t know much about it. I don’t think the wall is around the entire city, but runs through it. And it sounds like it is definitely separating them from an unsavory place. But what goes on there? How did it come to be this way? So many questions! But we did see someone going over the wall at the end of this week’s episode, so it will certainly come back up. I also think we’re at the point where the episodes might finally be shown in order. And though I’m dying for an episode that explains more about the wall, I’m also intrigued by the next episode because it’s about Valerie, one of the detectives, and about others who are genetically engineered. I’m definitely interested in seeing how genetic engineering is portrayed in this universe. 

almost-human-valerieIf you’re interested in science fiction, check this show out. I think it’s going to get even better.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

After the first three episodes of SHIELD aired, I shared my thoughts about the show. I was slightly disappointed, as I expected more from a Whedon show, but I saw a lot of potential in it. I know a lot of people gave up on the show, and if you’re one of those people, you should really come back to it. You have until March 4 (ugh, such a long break after an earlier long break and only one new episode!) to catch up. The characters are finally starting to feel like real people you care about, with relationships and personality traits and past lives. Every week more clues about a larger storyline are being given, more elements are coming to light, and just when one thing is answered, something else arouses our curiosity. Skye’s past is of interest now, as well as more on Coulson’s death, and who the heck is the clairvoyant, and what does she/he want?! And I adore the interactions between Fitz and Simmons, as I have mentioned before. The plot is thickening week by week, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

agents-of-shield-ep-11Also, Emma Approved is back from its month hiatus! Hooray!

Which Superbowl commercial was your favorite? Are you a fan of Almost Human or Agents of SHIELD?

The Growing Sci-Fi Trend in YA

In case you haven’t noticed, and for the majority of you who read this blog and keep with YA books you probably have, the growing trend in YA now seems to be science fiction. And just coming off Sci-Fi Month in November, some books I heard about during the month are fresh on my mind!

YA-scifi-released

A very small sampling of YA sci-fi released in the last two years

Time Between Us/ All Our Yesterdays/ Relativity

While there have been YA titles dealing with space or aliens (Across the Universe trilogy, The 5th Wave), most of these sci-fi books seem to be dealing with time travel (like Time Between Us and All Our Yesterdays) and alternate realities (Reativity and Dissonance) or technology (Elusion and Free to Fall).

YA-scifi-upcoming

A very small sampling of 2014 YA sci-fi releases.

Dissonance/ Elusion/ Free to Fall

I’m not sure what started this trend, other than perhaps it seems like a natural progression to come from the dystopia genre (which is also still going fairly strong, and of course sci-fi and dystopia often go hand in hand), which might explain why more of these stories seemed focused on what I consider “earth-bound” science fiction, rather than focusing on what’s in space. And personally, there are several reasons I am excited to see this trend grow…

Sci-fi arouses our curiosity. I think one of the best things about science fiction is all the “what if” questions it poses. I recently started watching the new Fox show Almost Human, which raises the question: What if android (“synthetic”) cops were paired with human cops?

almost-human

If you like thinking about the possibilities of the future, you should watch this show. And Karl Urban and Michael Ealy are fantastic in it.

Or with a YA book I read this year, Pivot Point, what if one could see the different futures that await her when she has a decision to make? Really, the what-if questions we could ask in science fiction are endless!

It awakens creativity and scientific interest at the same time. I have to admit, I have never been interested in science. Ever. It’s always been my weakest subject and I have never cared to understand it. But in college I suddenly developed an interest in learning about genetic engineering. So while I will probably never have an interest in all sciences, there are now at least a couple of areas that I do find interesting, I think largely thanks to science fiction. It also really awakens my creative juices as I think through all those “what-if” scenarios. And I think both creativity and science are important!

It can be a gateway into more science fiction! Let’s face it, I’m sure the actual sci-fi content in most of these YA books is pretty light. I personally don’t have a problem with that, in fact it can be helpful when you’re as science-deficit as I am, but others might see this new trend as just watered-down science fiction. And there’s probably some truth to that, as the dystopia genre has been watered down, but lighter science fiction can be a gateway that leads to Ender’s Game, Star Trek, or more hardcore stuff that I myself have not checked out yet! Presenting a story with some science fiction, even if it also has a contemporary feel or a romantic subplot, can be just what some people need to get their feet wet and realize just how much they might enjoy other science fiction!

What do you think about the rising trend of science fiction in YA literature? Do you have a favorite sci-fi YA book?