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

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

To review this movie without giving away any serious spoilers would be difficult at best. So let me say what I can first…

I laughed and I cried.

This movie is largely about Kirk’s development as a character.

Benedict Cumberbatch gave a stellar performance.

Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy is still my (and my husband’s) favorite character in the reboot universe, as he was in the 2009 movie.

You can enjoy this movie with limited Star Trek exposure (you should probably at least see the 2009 film), but the more Star Trek you have seen, the more you will appreciate the movie. And if you do enjoy J.J. Abrams’ Trek films, you should really go back and watch the original source. It’s not as polished and sometimes it’s hokey, but the heart is there, and you can more fully grasp the meaning of what happened in this film.

And let me warn you, I’m about to get super Star Trek nerdy.

Now for the spoilers! I have whited out the spoilers so you can scroll down to comment without fear if you’re not ready, so highlight the white parts to read if you are ready. (Also, any links you click on will contain spoilers for various series in the Star Trek universe and other movies, so do so at your own risk!)

shallweComparisons to the Original Source

So there was a lot of talk about John Harrison when he was announced as the villain. Even before, it was widely speculated that he was actually Khan, who long-time Trekkies know from The Original Series episode “Space Seed,” and the movie Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (Wait, this wasn’t Star Trek 2? No it wasn’t! In fact, it’s the 12th Star Trek movie.) Some believed it, some didn’t. Most of the time, I was in the camp who believed he wasn’t. I mean, Benedict Cumberbatch looks nothing like Khan! (Click here for a picture reference) I thought I would be disappointed if he was Khan. But I also wanted to keep an open mind.

When watching the movie, probably about ten minutes in there was a dead giveaway for me that Harrison was either Khan or involved with augments somehow (if you don’t know what augments are, your homework is the aforementioned “Space Seed,” as well as the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes “Borderland,” “Cold Station 12,” and “The Augments), and that was when he told that man that he could save his daughter’s life. Genetic engineering was clearly involved.

I also nearly cheered aloud when Section 31 was mentioned (Your homework to learn more about Section 31 is the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes “Inquisition,” “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges,” “When It Rains…,” “Tacking Into the Wind,” and “Extreme Measures,” as well as Enterprise episodes: “Affliction,” “Divergence,” “Demons,” “Terra Prime.” (Those these episodes will make more sense and mean more if you watch the entire series, so essentially I’m telling you to watch everything. 🙂 )), and am glad that brought it up. I think Section 31 is a great element of the Star Trek universe because it shows a darker underbelly of the Federation and that it’s not perfect (I know Gene Rodenberry is rolling in his grave as I type this, but it’s true). Though I found it odd they didn’t debrief Kirk and crew about how they shouldn’t mention to anyone ever. Hmmm…

Anyways…

I decided to embrace Cumberbatch’s character as Khan while watching the movie. And then when Kirk went into that radiation zone, I once again knew what was going to happen…

Seriously, you need to watch Wrath of Khan.

Kirk was going to die. Spock was going to see him die. It would be the reversal of The Wrath of Khan, where Spock died it Kirk had to watch. And I was stunned that J.J. was actually doing this! Was is a rip-off or an homage? I mean, this is a alternate timeline, so I suppose a lot of it can play out similarly yet different (but don’t get me started on how different the uniforms and interior ship designs are and yet most of the Enterprise crew is the same… I’ve always had a problem believing alternate reality stories. But anyway, tangent over…). But I was crying in the theater, tears rolling down my cheeks, as I watched the scene between Kirk and Spock as Kirk died play out. So I accepted it. (By the way, to see a comparison between the death scenes in this movie and in Wrath of Khan, click here.) I decided I really appreciated most of what J.J. portrayed in this movie with this timeline, borrowing from original elements that Trekkies already know and love.

The Characters

spock&kirkI thought the film did a good job in continuing Kirk and Spock’s relationship as we saw how it was set up in the 2009 film. Though Spock is half human, he generally chooses his Vulcan side, which drives Kirk, who is very much human, crazy, but he also has a lot of respect for Spock. And though Spock doesn’t always show it or even always know if himself, he has a lot of respect for Kirk. I think the death scene was so poignant for me because of how well-developed this relationship was in J.J.’s version of Trek, because when I cried, I cried for these characters, not the original ones. BUT I also think the background I have with the original ones certainly added to the emotional element. And though I still find Spock’s relationship a little unlikely (which was how I felt with the 2009 film), it was nice to get some human moments from Spock that helped lead up to later in the movie (“I choose not to feel…).

harrison-brigHave I mentioned that Benedit Cumberbacth was awesome as John Harrison/Khan? Because WOW, he was. Even if you are a Trekkie and know better than to trust Khan, it was easy to find yourself halfway wonder if there was any way this Khan might be different. But he isn’t! It’s true, he does love his crew like family, but he does not care about anyone at Star Fleet one iota. I find it kind of interesting that Star Fleet and Section 31 actually woke him up to work as an intelligence agent… and when I say interesting I am not sure if I mean that in a good way. It just seems unlikely, since they have banned genetic engineering after all. But who knows. Maybe they were truly desperate. But despite this, I thought he was a good villain, much stronger than Nero from the 2009 movie.

star-trek-into-darkness-karl-urbanAs mentioned before, Karl Urban as McCoy is my favorite of J.J.’s Enterprise crew. He just hits him dead-on without being just like DeForrest Kelley. It’s the perfect blend of new character with old character. I can’t say enough good things.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Worried-ScottySimon Pegg as Scotty would probably be my second favorite. I really enjoyed him in the last movie and this one.

star-trek-into-darkness-alice-eveThe rest of the supporting cast was great as well, though Sulu and Chekov’s air time was pretty limited (as my husband said when we talked about Sulu’s time in the movie: “at least he got to be Captain for a little while.”). Zoe Saldana as Uhura again portrayed her as a strong yet feminine character, and I felt Alice Eve did the same for new character Dr. Carol Marcus (well, new to this film because, you guessed it, Carol Marcus is also in Wrath of Khan). I wish we could have seen more of Marcus in this film, but hopefully we will in the future.

Overall Story

I enjoyed the story overall, and once I accepted the borrowed elements from Star Trek past, I embraced those elements and thought the new twists that were added all worked together nicely for this film. I love how the story opens feeling very much like classic Star Trek with bright colors and an alien planet, and then descends into a darker feel much more reminiscent of series Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. I felt the pacing was mostly on point, though the last maybe ten-ish minutes were a little off in some ways. I’m not unhappy with the ending, but it felt a little strange to have the big climax of Kirk dying, then this chase scene with Khan and Spock, and then have a wrap-up after Kirk is saved and the movie tries to quickly tie things up so much so that we leap forward to a year in the future so we can see a new Enterprise and be all set up for a third movie (or a new TV SHOW!!!! Which I want so badly, but due  to rights issues is not very likely to happen). I did love seeing Khan frozen again, with a hint of a smile on his face, and though before this movie I was not gung-ho for anymore Khan (despite how much I’ve told you to watch The Wrath of Khan I don’t entirely love it the way most Trekkies do), I DO like the concept a lot and I felt this movie did a lot for it, to the point where I would be completely happen to see a return in another movie. Though preferably a TV show. Sigh.

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the TRIBBLE! Watch “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “Trials and Tribble-ations” ASAP. You will thank me.

274227064779931434_w6ZLLtWx_cI think I’ve said enough now. So if you saw the movie, what were your thoughts? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?!

I would give Into Darkness 4/5 stars, or on a 10 star scale, 8 stars.

Want to see what others thought? Check out these reviews too:

http://marveloustales.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/star-trek-into-darkness/

http://booksinthemoonlight.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/star-trek-into-darkness/

http://viewerscommentary.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/theatrical-review-star-trek-into-darkness/

http://houseofgeekery.com/2013/05/10/movie-review-star-trek-into-darkness/

http://42lifeinbetween.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/star-trek-into-darkness-review/