Whether you're a fan of science fiction, police dramas or just plan good TV writing, you're going to love FOX's new drama Almost Human. This futuristic police show was the only pilot screened during Comic-Con's preview night that won't be airing on The CW this fall. It's the latest show from J.H. Wyman and J.J. Abrams, who most recently worked together on FOX's Fringe, and is set 35 years in the future.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
During that time, technology has advanced enough that cops are being paired up with androids as partners to help in an escalating crime war. The central character of the drama is John Kennex (played by Karl Urban, Star Trek), who is a hardened cop just returning to active duty on the LAPD after being in a coma due to an ambush from a shadowy criminal organization.
Urban does a great job of portraying a gritty, experienced detective who is determined to find out who caused the ambush that injured him and resulted in the death of his partner and squad. It's also clear from the start that he has no love for the android police officers. The android policemen all share a similar plastic appearance and are reminiscent of the emotionless Observers from Fringe. Even the crime-ridden, dark setting of the story is similar to the last season of the former FOX sci-fi drama in that it immediately draws you into the world and you want to know what happened to make it this way and how these characters are going to survive in it.
The show is only predictable in that Urban of course has to have an android partner despite his dislike of them (of course!), but manages to get a special model that feels more emotions than the standard robot cops. This android is called Dorian (played by Michael Ealy, The Good Wife) and is part of a decommissioned series of robots who were all shut down when it was decided their emotions were getting in the way of their work. Dorian and Kennex clash as they go on their first case, looking into a group targeting cops, but Dorian surprises his human partner with his deduction skills. It turns out emotions can actually help on the job, and while this could have turned into a cheesy moment, the two actors play the scenes where they reluctantly start to trust each other perfectly.
In the end, it's thanks to Dorian and his differences that the entire police headquarters is saved, and Kennex finally comes to accept him as his partner. This pilot did a great job of combining a compelling science fiction setting with an interesting investigation storyline, and it kept the entire Comic-Con crowd enraptured while it played. The small humorous moments got laughs at just the right times, and the dramatic surprises elicited a couple of gasps. It was the only show that had people talking once it ended, and I heard multiple attendees talk excitedly about wanting to see what happens next when the show starts in the fall.
Another plus for this show is its interesting side characters, especially the police chief Maldonado, played by Lili Taylor (Hemlock Grove). A smart, confidant leader, Maldonado clearly understands Kennex and what he's been through. In one scene she says that he's the only cop she trusts, making the audience feel bad that she's been stuck with all the other cops while Kennex was injured. It must have sucked not having anyone to trust while on the job! It also becomes clear during the episode that she's the one who assigned Dorian to Kennex in the first place, showing she understood his need to have more in an android partner than fast reflexes. She's a character that leaves you wanting to know more about her story and wishing she was in more scenes.
There's a lot to look forward to in Almost Human as a result. There is a lot of potential for this to be a fascinating sci-fi drama, and with J.H. Wyman and J.J. Abrams at the helm I have no doubt it will be. I'd recommend definitely adding it to your list of must-see shows in the fall.
Almost Human premieres Monday, Nov. 4, on FOX.