A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Almost Human is a science-fiction show about human and cyborg officers investigating a shadowy criminal syndicate. Almost Human features an intense level of violence: battles with guns and bombs, futuristic weaponry such as laser weapons, injuries, shootings, and dead bodies. Creepy imagery may prove too much for younger viewers, such as human-looking androids with dead eyes hanging in body bags or androids shown with their heads or faces removed. Characters are frequently in mortal jeopardy and may be suddenly killed. There is some mild cursing, and many of the characters are single and may flirt and date.
What's the story?
Created by sci-fi giant J.J. Abrams and Fringe showrunner Joel Wyman, ALMOST HUMAN looks into the near-future of 2048, when crime rates have reached the point where human police officers are assigned cyborg partners. John Kennex (Karl Urban), former LAPD hotshot, has recently returned to duty after an on-the-job ambush that left him in a coma, with an artificial leg and a host of psychological disorders. He also grieves his fiancee, who's been mysteriously missing for several years. Kennex comes from a crimefighting family, and the order to take on a nonhuman partner doesn't sit right with him. But Dorian (Michael Ealy) isn't just any cyborg. From a generation of "MX units" that were created to be as like humans as possible, Dorian feels emotion and learns from his mistakes. Kennex soon learns to respect his new partner. But with shadowy criminals the Syndicate out to get him, it's going to take a lot more than respect to keep Kennex alive.
Is it any good?
From its very first frames, Almost Human feels familiar. Say, don't we recognize that opening-scene voiceover from RoboCop? Is John Kennex living in the same dark-and-gloomy city seen in Blade Runner? Aren't those the taxis from Total Recall? Even effective scenes, like one in which headless androids are being worked on in an ominous police back room, seem cribbed from other dramas like Dollhouse. Adding to the stale feel: mismatched police buddy cliches and beats cribbed from police procedurals.
All this wouldn't matter if the characters were more finely drawn. But, though it's marvelous to see Lili Taylor onscreen again and Michael Ealy is always wonderful, these fine actors are given rather trope-ish roles without much depth to them. There's a Big Bad enemy, an intrepid-but-troubled cop, a partner who doesn't get enough respect...seen it. And better done elsewhere. This is no Fringe.
Talk to your kids about ...
Almost Human has gotten a lot of attention because it was created by J.J. Abrams, a writer/producer/director known for creating science-fiction shows and movies. Have you seen any of Abrams' other movies or TV shows? Did they make you want to see this one?
Why are so many shows and movies set in the future? What is attractive about this setting? Why do people want to watch these movies?
What elements of Almost Human are familiar to you from other science-fiction movies or television shows? The setting? The characters? The plot points? The costumes?