Almost Human: Almost There

A few seasons ago, fantasy series seemed to be the “in” thing for network TV; this year I’m noticing more of a sci-fi bent.  Almost Human is a prime example; the show is set 35 years in the future, and is essentially a buddy cop bromance between a human with baggage and issues expressing his emotions and a rogue, extra-emotional and intuitive android.  It may seem a bit cliche or cheesy, and it vaguely reminds me of Alien Nation from time to time, but it’s growing on me… almost.

Fox chose to push back the premiere date ’til the end of November, so it almost feels more like a mid-season replacement rather than a fall series.  Thus, I’m still feeling it out.  To be honest, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the pilot episode; despite the shiny, futuristic glitz of many of the sets, the characters still managed to feel bland and a bit forgettable.

One of the chief problems I initially had was with the choice of Karl Urban as the lead role.  I know he’s popular, but I wasn’t thrilled with him in the Star Trek movies either.  There’s something about his delivery that I find a little too hammy, and when he’s not hamming it up, he just seems like a generic handsome man.  Michael Ealy, playing the android partner Dorian, easily outshone him.

Even some actors in supporting roles threatened to be more interesting; Lili Taylor, for example, is one of those actresses who’s just been around in everything for the past 30 years, doing a great but quiet job.  Mackenzie Crook is probably better known as Gareth from the UK The Office, or as Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and he does understated hilarity perfectly.

It’s not always a good sign when I like everyone but the main character, or when I constantly question the writing and world-building of a TV show (I find myself asking, “Why wouldn’t they just use androids for that?” at least once an episode).  However, we’re now five episodes in and I must admit I’m revising my opinion.  The show is growing on me, slowly but surely.

Part of it is my growing attachment to those supporting characters, yes, but also Karl Urban is settling into his role and doesn’t grate quite so much.  Perhaps it’s due to the writing – the basis of the show is still the “odd couple” relationship between Urban’s John Kennex and Dorian, but more about how they function together instead of clash like the pilot.

Almost Human actually has many of the same issues as the show Grimm: an attractive, inoffensive but slightly bland lead character, supporting characters that are far more interesting or developed, world-building that doesn’t always feel like it’s been properly thought through, a sometimes wobbly balance between mystery of the week and a larger plot arc.  Still, despite these issues (that grate more as time goes on), Grimm has managed to earn its place in my affections and those of the viewers at large.  It’s entirely possible Almost Human will continue to do the same – though lets hope their showrunners choose to address any obvious issues before the third season.  It’s already improved considerably from the pilot, so in the meantime, I’ll continue to give it a chance.

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