What Happened to Almost Human?

From IMDB.com

From IMDB.com

Holly’s talked about it before, but we were really bummed that Almost Human got cancelled. We really liked this show, and had done a number of posts on it, getting invested and then getting let down.

The underlying principles of the show were a mixed bag: some were solid, some were unexplained, and some had been done before. So, to make a better show, you have to do something better, have to be good.

This show had potential, but in their 13 short episodes, maybe they did fail to set up their world enough to legitimate continuing. I’ve been thinking about it, so I thought I would share some of those thoughts here.

First Principle – Technology and the Law

I’ve had this debate before with someone. The underlying first principle of the show is that technological growth is outpacing our ability to keep up with all of the new stuff. This is similar to and an extension of Moore’s Law.

And it makes sense to me. At some point, technology may very well outpace our ability to regulate and control it. And if something that is being done is new enough, and not illegal yet, what can be done about it? This is the tension the show hoped to build.

It was like a good writing prompt: come up with a new technology, one unlike current technology, that could be used for crime but wouldn’t be developed for that purpose. It made for some fun inventions, and this was overall the strongest science fiction elements of the show.

Second Principle – Too Much Crime, Let’s Throw Robots At It

In the debate I referenced above, this was the other thought that seemed like the basis of the show. But it’s not: it’s the response to it. Crime blossoms and explodes, and becomes increasingly complicated and technological.

And apparently, the response is to build Androids. Because, you know, they’re cool. They can probably fight crime. It’s what we saw in I, Robot, so it must be good.

But does this actually make sense? There’s really only one useful Android we see in the show: Dorian, the partner of the main character, Kennex. He functions as a mobile crime lab, testing results in moments. He has access to the police databases, can run facial recognition, can act as a loudspeaker, a telephone… the things they decide he can do are a fun part of the first principle. He is the exciting new police technology.

However, he is part of the Androids that ended up with human feelings and reactions. They were unstable, therefore – much like humans can be. All the rest of the Androids like this are decommissioned or at least off the police force.

Instead, they use uninspired, uninteresting, identical Androids. Ones that don’t seem to do any of the things we see Dorian do. Ones that can be blown away with a single bullet by an angry Kennex. They seem to serve no useful purpose – no science fictional purpose, no crime-fighting purpose, not even unbreakable tank purposes in a gunfight.

So the show doesn’t really explain why they still needed or use the Androids. Maybe they were planning to. Maybe not. We’ll never know.

Third Principle – Robots With Souls

The third part of the show, which I’ve touched on, is that we have this one robot wondering whether he has a soul, whether he is alive. And fairly certain he is.

Oh, and Kennex lost his leg, too. He has a new mechanical limb.

Yep. Pretty much I, Robot.

Honestly, it’s a concept that could work for an ongoing show. You could develop the character of this Android, explore his discovery of his humanity, explore his partner coming to accept him.

After all, Mr. Data remained interesting for 7 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and 4 movies.

This was the backbone of the show, the development and plot and characterization. And this part was really good, although, as Holly said before, they aired the episodes in the wrong order – destroying the flow of the character growth.

Mincing that, can we really say they did something new that we haven’t seen before? Maybe not.

The Mystery of Cliffhanger

To really get us wanting and needing a next season, the show needed something more, I guess. A mystery, or a cliffhanger, right?

If only there was, say, a mysterious Wall around the city.

Holding everyone in? Keeping the terrors out? Is it Dredd, with all of civilization left within the Wall? Is it Game of Thrones, with a Wall built to keep out the wild ones?

They introduced the idea of the wall halfway through the season, they had an episode where someone went over the Wall, and then… it ended. If they were going to introduce the Wall that late, they needed more than 13 episodes to set it up. Otherwise, they needed to start with it in episodes one or two. And the season should have ended with a man jumping over the Wall, left us with the questions. What’s over the Wall? Why was it built? What’s going on here?

I am actually pretty curious about this, despite it being introduced poorly. Sadly, I’m never going to know. Well… Karl Urban was Kennex, so maybe he becomes Judge Dredd and that’s my answer…

What do you think? Did you watch this show – where do you think it went wrong? Did you not watch this show – what would have gotten you to watch? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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10 responses to “What Happened to Almost Human?

  1. Even though I loved the show, and it’s about halfway through it’s run in the UK. One thing I personally loved was seeing the actor Mackenzie Crook as Rudy, he’s normally known for his more comical roles and it was nice to see him playing the loveable character. it was a show with so much potential and it was a shame it only had 13 episodes

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    • Well, hopefully I didn’t spoil you too badly with my post!

      I know 13 is long for a British TV show, but I feel like American shows are really only just starting to experiment with them. That means they both aren’t sure how to pace them, and aren’t sure how to judge them.

      I think this show had a ton of potential, and could definitely use more episodes – whether that means season 1 needed to be longer, or season 2 needs to happen!

      And I did like Mackenzie Crook in this, he did a great job. Somewhat socially awkward, but incredibly good at what he did. And, the interplay of the three of them – Rudy, Kennex, and Dorian, was fantastic.

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  2. The fight to save the show rages on. We have over 30k signatures on a petition and a massive following building up. Join us at http://www.savealmosthuman.com to join the effort.

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  3. Pingback: Links: Feminism, Science Fiction, Redefining Disability, Tolkien, Writing | Natacha Guyot

  4. I have a personal rule never to get invested in a show until it’s run two full seasons anymore. Every time I break it, the show gets cancelled. In this case, I didn’t watch Almost Human because it sounded like a rehash of the same thing that’s been done with crime-fighting androids since the dawn of…well…crime fighting androids.

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  5. Or maybe I should say “rehash of what’s always done with robots.”

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  6. They cancelled it because the show mentioned Bitcoins a couple too many times.

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