Almost Human Recap: The Pilot with Karl Urban and Michael Ealy

little boy watching tv
little boy watching tv

Is it too late to start recapping "Sleepy Hollow" instead?

Kidding! I didn't hate Almost Human!

I also didn't love it, so there's that. At the very least, my goal for Almost Human is to develop -- over time -- a respect for the show, if not an actual love for it (you know, like the way Kennex develops a respect for Dorian by the end of the pilot -- I mean, who wants tension between main characters, right?). It only took Kennex 38 minutes to get on first-name base with Dorian. How long will it take the show to earn my respect? Will they have to save my life to do it? Probably!

Before I critique the pilot, allow me to critique myself. Two weeks ago, I wrote a precap to the show and got something wrong. I said that the Dorian line of robots was replaced by an all-white MX line of robots, and it was weirdly racial in a gentrifying way. Turns out, they made the MX line with a bunch of different colors just like the iPhone 5c. I stand corrected.

On to the show!

It's the year 2048. Crime has gone up 400 percent and the police are overwhelmed (thanks, Bill de Blasio!) Luckily, the police budget for interior design also increased 400 percent because their precinct is OFF THE HOOK. It's sleek, modern, and clean. It has a futuristic-but-pleasing silver and gray color palette. And it's outfitted to the max with the latest gadgets! You'd think that a government-run police department overrun by a 400 percent increase in crime would look less like the bridge of the starship Enterprise, and more like the set of Barney Miller (google it, millenials). Color correcting the video on this series must not be any harder than setting "Final Cut Pro" to grayscale and taking a 4-hour lunch.

The hero of the story is John Kennex, pronounced "ki-nects" because he's a detective who "connects" the dots. (Ooh -- subliminal!) Kennex is a cop with a deep-seated hatred for technology. The show suggests in the pilot that his anger stems from that time a robot cop abandoned him and his partner, leaving both of them to die. (I think it's because he got stuck in a 2-year contract with his Motorola Razr.)

Despite being abandoned by a robot, he doesn't actually die -- he just gets his leg blown off and it gets replaced with a bionic leg, which his natural body rejects. But I don't reject his leg because I love metaphors. After all, the show is called Almost Human. He's half man, half robot, and his partner Dorian is all robot, but has human-like feelings. What a crazy, mixed-up pair!

After trashing his original MX partner, Kennex is assigned a DRN android. The DRN android is pronounced "Dorian" though I wish Kennex called him "Darren," which would be funny in a Derwood-from-Bewitched kind of way. Dorian is from a line of robots that was programmed to have feelings and then quickly discontinued because the cops thought that they were too temperamental. The Dorian line was made to be as close to human as possible, so they were programmed to have opinions and freak out when a situation calls for it. They call that programming a "synthetic soul," and then made the robot black. Why not go for broke and model them after James Brown?

(If I were more capable, I would try to make an observation about using the black race as a shortcut to convey our animal nature. I would reference a long list of examples about how black people are used by Hollywood to underline our animalistic, natural and spiritual selves. While I wouldn't go so far as calling Dorian a "magic negro" trope, there may be something more to that casting decision than meets the eye, and I'm curious what smarter people think about this).

Anywho, once John and Dorian get up to speed, the police department is attacked by the bad guys. In this case, the bad guys are represented by a chubby ginger, and that's how you know that they are unlikable, evil, and without soul (even the synthetic kind). The evil-doers' plan is thwarted pretty quickly and the ring leader is caught. Thankfully, the ringleader is bald and ugly, so you won't get confused about who's good and who's evil (the future sounds bleak, but easier).

In the midst of all this crime-fighting, we also meet sexy female Detective Stahl who spends every second of screen time mooning over Kennex so hard that the tides come in. It's so expected, obvious and overdone; it's cartoonish. At one point, she sidles up to Kennex and tries to impress him by intelligently analyzing a situation. Before the camera even has a chance to show Kennex being surprised that something so smart could come from someone so sexy -- she says: "I find behavioral tendencies in data and identify criminal behavior." Her whole: "How do you like me now?" flirtation isn't sexy, it's smug and one-dimensional. Someone should call Joss Whedon to do some freelance character development on this lady. Eesh.

So that's it. That was the pilot. In my precap, I expected that the first episode would be a cliffhanger, but I was wrong about that, too. The pilot just ended with Kennex showing Dorian respect by calling him "man," and Dorian basking in the glow of his white partner's acceptance.

Am I making too much out of the race angle? Perhaps. But in the absence of an amazing plot or fleshed out characters, a re-cappers gotta do what a re-cappers gotta do.

Can't wait for the second episode!