To me, Karl Urban is Americas answer to Jason Statham. He plays the same action hero in every film he’s been in. With almost Human I feel like he hasn’t diversified his role that much. Yet I feel as if I’m drawn in by his good acting style and he ability to be such a likeable character. I really wasn’t expecting that!
Almost Human is set in a semi-dystopian society where crime has escalated in recent years. Human androids are paired with every cop to improve their odds of keeping the streets free from criminals and to improve their life expectancy in the field. John, the main protagonist, is a human cop who was badly injured during a firefight with a terrorist group and subsequently now has an android leg. now two Years later he is back on the force and ready to begin where he left off.
First off I want to talk about the character John. He has a deep hatred for androids and he prefers old-school humans. Even to the point where he throws his android out of the car. He mimics the old style of guys these days who prefer a good old book instead of a kindle, and I like that in a world where everyone can see the benefits of androids. To him I guess it’s diluting the spirit of man in the police force. Their cold, calculated formulas crushes his risky and emotionally driven attitude. In episode one, we delve into this hatred a lot and the reasoning behind it, and we begin to get the impression he will grumpy all the way through the season. One of the defining attributes of John is his compassion. The scene whereby he has to communicate with a child about the whereabouts of his mother is really well communicated and provides a glimpse into his many different sides.
However, episode two really brings in his acceptance towards Dorian, a “defective” android with an emotive personality similar to that of a human. Dorian is the line between Android and Human. He has a human response to other androids and finds the racism displayed by some people incredibly offence. It provides John with a partner he likes that has all the tech he needs. I think Dorian wants to embrace humanity more than embrace his android side since it is much more complex and rewarding. But I feel this needs to be expanded more, and the racism of robots to become more of a problem.
It’s interesting that the best dialogue of every episodes happen in Johns car. What really sold me was the talk of death and the afterlife in episode two. John has some great lines about how humans are told that they go to a better place when they die for “comfort”. It is a deep conversation that leads back to the day that John lost his partner and how he never visited his son to tell him all about his hero father. I hope for some more conversations like this!
Since I feel like this kind of show has been done many times, the themes of a dystopian society and accelerated crime rate with the rise of technology has become cliche, (Judge Dredd, Bladerunner) so it’s important to create a new and innovative way to present this. The friendship between Dorian and John is the most appealing part of this show and the ethical debates on using androids is fantastic. Each self-contained episode is fantastically written with good storylines, which are gripping and new. The third episode with the hostages is one of my favourites and felt as if it could of been spread along a few episodes. It feels like a real, american action film converted into a TV Show.
The special effects are well integrated and one of the highlights of the show. the establishing shots in the city look beautiful, props are used generously when needed and the budget seems sparing. I find that I forget they are even special effects most of the time and don’t even question the quality as I do with most shows.
The ethical and emotional debate with androids is good, but done better by the swedish show “Real Humans” (Äkta människor). It has immersive themes, beautiful visual metaphors and a realistic universe on the brink of dystopia. I believe it is more innovative than Almost Human but doesn’t have the universal market that Almost Human has. The money invested is much higher and bigger on a big, american TV channel and means it can get a universal market.
My friend is always talking about how female characters are awfully written in TV and Film and I have tried to test this hypothesis. Captain Maldonado is a female captain of the police force but I feel as if the character is not fully explored. I think a storyline outside of the office needs to happen and perhaps this makes her a stronger and more likeable character. This isn’t about just placing a female into a predominantly male role, it’s about making the woman emotionally strong and just as capable as the male. BUT there is a distinction so just putting a strong female in “for the feminists” is shitty idea. I need some more knowledge before I get really down to the nitty gritty. If you need clarification on a good female lead, watch continuum. You’ll understand.
In conclusion, Almost Human is beautifully written, elegantly presented and visually fantastic. Its drawbacks are the familiar themes, awful comedy two-and-fro (I just find it cringey) and the lack of strong, female leads. The main storyline needs much more development and a big split between androids and humans could be on the way which I would enjoy (depending on how it is executed). If you stick around the show will get much more deeper in its story and ethical dilemmas and I know it’s going to be around for quite a few seasons.
7.5/10 for me. Cheers!