taste_is_sweet: (But some of us are looking at the stars)
[personal profile] taste_is_sweet
Might as well get this out of the way now: I love fictional androids. It's the whole not-human-but-striving-to-be-and/or-understand-humans thing, especially when they're used to point out all the very, very many ways that we humans don't make any sense. And I love the cynical but lonely humans who get paired with the androids and then, despite themselves, fall in love become their friend.

I may have written fanfiction on that very premise. I admit nothing.

As you can imagine, with my love of human-like robots, I was looking forward to Almost Human the way my son is looking forward to Christmas. The show's set in the near-future, where cops are issued robots like handguns. Karl Urban plays John Kennex (not to be confused with John Sheppard or any of the thousands of other fictional characters called 'John'), who is an embittered, physically and emotionally scarred, cynical and guilt-ridden detective.

Naturally, Kennex's go-to problem solving method is violence, including killing incapacitated bad guys (because due process is for pussies, amirite?) and getting rid of things that bug him by throwing them out. Of his car. On the freeway. (Because safety and private property are also for pussies.)


Start at .22 for the full impact. Heh.

He is reluctantly paired with Dorian, a sweet, thoughtful, kind and beautiful heroic android, who sees the special snowflake inside Kennex and immediately saves his life. Or maybe he's programmed that way; the show is a little unclear on that point. Anyway, they form a forced but then genuine partnership based on sarcastic jibes and mutual antagonism. And together they solve crime.

Michael Ealy is totally lovable. Look at that lovable smile.
 photo MichaelEaly.jpg

What's not to love, right? It promised to be a mash-up of Blade Runner, RoboCop and Due South, except where the Mountie's a robot and the Cop would be played by a New Zealander instead of a Canadian.

And then it finally aired, and four episodes later the show just makes me sad.

I've been trying to put my finger on exactly why a show that's ostensibly exactly what I could ever want has disappointed me so much. I think it's because, for something set up to be more about human/android relations than crime solving, it's turned out to be pretty much Law and Order: Everyone Has a Robot. I have no idea what rights Dorian may or may not have; I have no idea how he may feel about those rights; I don't even know what he does in his off-hours or where he does it. Does he go into standby mode? Does he borrow Kennex's desk and play spider solitaire? Does he have a designated wall-socket? Does he dream of electric sheep? All I know for sure after four episodes is that he doesn't want to die (not exactly a shock) and that he's way more useful than an iPhone.

What really gets my synthetic goat, though, is how the production of the show itself conforms so much to the status quo that you can paint the lack of inclusion by number. Of six regular cast members, only two are women, and the only female androids have been sex-bots.

Even worse, So far in the series the only people of color have been extras or have played bit parts. And yes, that includes Michael Ealy.

Why? Because he plays an android. His role in the show is as an other, not as a human. Dorian isn't a person of color because he isn't a person at all. I might feel differently if Dorian was more than an ingenious cipher, but until we find out how he feels about, well, anything, he isn't. And unfortunately, the show seems to be in no hurry to change that, either.

So instead of watching the beautiful men bantering, looking at each other longingly and saving each others' lives, I keep waiting for the show I wanted to actually begin. The body may be shiny and very nice to look at, but I'm still searching for a heart of gold.

(no subject)

3/12/13 21:54 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] draycevixen.livejournal.com

MG and I were talking about this show last night and your post touched on something we talked about.

MG is very disappointed in it and I'm entertained but not overly engaged and we worked out it's because MG loves sci-fi and I love buddy cops (although I don't like the Law & Order franchise as I don't particularly like lawyer shows *g*).

I don't think it's actually very satisfactory on the buddy cop front either (no explanation for emotional bonding) although it does come closer. You're right, it really fails to explore the sci-fi elements at all beyond "ooooh (somewhat) neat tech."

I'm told by friends who follow all the show news that the sex bot episode was supposed to be episode 5 and that Fox moved it forward in the schedule to try to snag a bigger audience.

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:04 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
The very Fox-like episode moving was also mentioned on an 'After Buzz' podcast my husband listens to about the show. I hope that was the only one they moved, but it might explain why the show seems so uneven in terms of even whether or not the characters even like each other.

I really hope that the premise will actually be dealt with beyond the very little bit it has. I know it's too much to hope for other POC or female characters. :/

(no subject)

5/12/13 12:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] draycevixen.livejournal.com

I think sci-fi often goes for an approach of sex and race makes no difference in the future, which is lovely, but I do prefer when that's evidenced by at least *showing* that diversity at work and I suspect this show believes it's doing that... just, not really.

(no subject)

5/12/13 19:10 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
It would definitely be nice to think they cared that much!

(no subject)

3/12/13 22:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ariadnes-string.livejournal.com
Yeah,I've been watching and enjoying it but not feeling particularly fannish about it. Like [Unknown site tag],I'm more into buddy cop shows than androids, usually (it does seem a very post-Battlestar Galactica android show, though--Michael Ealy seems to carry the sadness of the Cylons in his eyes--I wouldn't be surprised if he led a bloody rebellion someday).

I'm particularly sad they don't give Lili Taylor more to do, though--I love her.

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:06 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I love the idea of Dorian leading a bloody rebellion someday. He'd be so regretful about it.

I'm more into the sci-fi than buddy-cop shows (though I'm not surprised by your preference. ;->), but at the very least I'd like more of the 'buddy' part. Maybe next episode...

(no subject)

3/12/13 22:22 (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sholio
Yeah, I was really looking forward to this show, and I'm already to the point of dropping it. I had to miss this week's episode in realtime because of scheduling stuff, and I'm just not interested enough to catch up. Kennex is a violent jerk, Dorian is a total blank that the show shows little interest in exploring, and the entire show is built on hideously skeevy principles that, once again, it doesn't seem to want to interrogate or explore.

It's incredibly frustrating because the basic premise is total fannish catnip for me -- emotionally scarred cop with a disability and angsty robot who is struggling with his own humanity fight crime and bond! Except that's not what this is! It's not just that the show isn't what I wanted it to be (although that's a big part of it) but it's simply a badly written show. It fails as sci-fi because it's not actually doing anything with its sci-fi premise, but it also fails as a buddy cop show because it's never given us a valid basis for a friendship between Dorian and Kennex, plus the cases are derivative and boring.

Someone at my LJ suggested that Dorian's interaction with Kennex makes a whole lot more sense if Dorian is playing "buddy" because Kennex has the power of life and death over him -- Kennex can have Dorian deactivated if it doesn't work out, plus he's proven that he's willing to kill his robot partners -- so Dorian is basically making himself friendly because he has to; he's playing "good slave". Sadly, this makes more sense in terms of the way their interaction comes across onscreen given their history, or lack thereof, than assuming there's a genuine friendship there. And that's just sad.

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:09 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I like your points! I think I'm still ready to give the show more of a chance, however, if only because the premise is such incredible fannish catnip I don't want to give up on it yet. The 'good slave' idea is horrifying. I really hope we get enough of a sense of Dorian's internal life to know if that's his motivation.

(no subject)

3/12/13 22:30 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sgamadison.livejournal.com
I see your points very clearly (and I have noticed how the Young HOT Cop now wears her hair down all the time--really? Seriously? I have long hair, and I can tell you, you pull it back out of your face if you have an active job). I hear what you're saying on the POC taking bit parts. I myself was disappointed in last night's ep because Dorian showed a level of ruthlessness he has not shown before--though I can justify it in my head because a 'friend' was at risk.

The tech guy (sorry, I'm bad at names until I've watched a show for like half a season) *never* should have been sent in undercover, but I can let that pass. I thought the overall ep was weak, true.

But given what else is out there at the moment, I'm clutching Almost Human to my chest and petting it. SHIELD has been a disappointment to me in that it appears to be about young pretty people who do things without consequences. I can't watch all the creepy scary shows like Walking Dead or Sleepy Hollow. I'd kill for a Star Trek or Stargate (which I've always consider Star Trek-lite, even though I loved it dearly) right now.

The episodes have engaged me more than anything else on television at the moment. The writing is uneven. Kennex's problem with android's waxes and wanes. But they are touching on some good sci-fi themes--such as life after death. I'm willing to give it more time.

Fannish about it? I'm not fannish about much these days. Part of me doesn't really *want* to be sucked into a fandom again the way I was with SGA. The other bits of me miss it like heck, but I can't make myself fall for a fandom. And given the penchant of shows of killing off most of the characters eventually, these days, I'm playing chicken and waiting until shows are fairly well established before I decide to watch or not. It's got to grab me in order to make me watch it live. AH does that at the moment. ;-) I think it has a lot of potential, and I think it is just getting started.

(no subject)

4/12/13 02:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taliahale.livejournal.com
Yes to almost everything you've said, particularly about the young cop's hair, disappointment in SHIELD, giving the show a bit of time to mature, and 'I'd kill for a Star Trek or Stargate (which I've always consider Star Trek-lite, even though I loved it dearly) right now.' SO MUCH THIS. Can someone get on a reboot of Trek or another incarnation of Stargate (that is as un-Universe-like as possible)?

(no subject)

4/12/13 02:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] sgamadison.livejournal.com
Can someone get on a reboot of Trek or another incarnation of Stargate (that is as un-Universe-like as possible)?

If this is the right link, Joe Flanigan talks at about the end of SGA and everything he did behind the scenes to try and lease the franchise from MGM and bring it back. Unfortunately, it seems the bankruptcy restructuring of MGM put paid to that. Apparently JFlan never said anything before now because he didn't want to get anyone's hopes up if it fell through. I can't help but think if people *had* known and the excitement was there, the new guys at MGM might have gone with it.




Babylon 5, baby. It's time for a reboot. ;-)

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:20 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I would give SO MUCH for a new Stargate that was like SG-1 or (even better) SGA but had nothing to do with SGU whatsoever. SyFy sold all the props years ago though, including the gates themselves, so I doubt it'll happen anytime soon. ::sigh::

(no subject)

5/12/13 08:11 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taliahale.livejournal.com
Yeah, not seeing a lot of hope for bringing back Stargate anytime soon. Although on the props front, if fans were enthusiastic enough to buy them (and I recall those gate pieces going for insanely large amounts of cash) they'd probably be willing to sell/give them back if the show were to go into production.

Le sigh. Here's hoping AH and MAoS kick it up and fulfill there potential. (And that in the bowels of a studio with enough cash a writer's fingers are twitching with the sudden urge to write ALL THE GOOD SCIFI.)

(no subject)

5/12/13 19:11 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
ALL THE GOOD SCIFI. Oh, yes. That'd be awesome. :D

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:19 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I hear you about AH's potential, as well as about wanting so badly for another show like SGA to come along (and yet not wanting to get sucked in again). I've actually been enjoying MAoS, though I readily agree that it's not as engaging or even as fun as I was hoping. That show also has an appalling lack of POC, but they have an equal number of men and women and at the moment I'm willing to cut them even more slack for that.

It's crazy how good SGA was, wasn't it? Especially for a show that seemed to excel in having the cast members being exactly as competent and foresighted as any given plot necessitated ("I will never forgive them for "The Long Goodbye" or "Michael"! Or for forgetting in "The Shrine" that McKay hated his parents!" she wails disconsolately.) But it was fun, and the cast worked beautifully with each other, and the continuity was (mostly) great and the sci-fi was way more than just a background element. I've never loved any show that much as an adult, and I doubt I ever will again. Alas.

Anyway, AH could have come close, at least. I dearly hope it still might. :)

(no subject)

3/12/13 22:35 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] blythechild.livejournal.com
I am quite fond of AH, but I see why you're disappointed. Although I haven't caught up with this week's episode yet, my biggest problem with the show thus far is the crime-of-the-week feel that they've established.

The sexbot episode brought up some interesting ownership issues that I was hoping would become a bit of an ongoing theme for the show. Dorian was clearly upset by the human-skinned-sexbots 'demise' as well as just about everyone's dismissal of 'bot autonomy.

I am also intrigued by 'The Syndicate' subplot introduced in the pilot, but it hasn't produced much since then even though it appeared to be a major motivating factor in Kennex's life.

I'm not particularly jazzed by any of the secondary characters (especially the boney-assed female love interest cop) so I'm not gonna get my knickers in a twist over lack of representation there because, well... meh. Okay, Rudy's not so bad, but I've already heard folks complain that he's too much of a 'nerd cliche' *eyeroll*. There's no such thing - nerds are just nerds, folks - take it from someone who knows.

Perhaps all of this will work out nicely in the end. I get the feeling that despite tv networks clamoring for sci-fi properties, that very few people know how to write for them. Disappointment in one form or another kinda comes with the territory here. It's still heads and shoulders above much of what was dumped on tv viewers this fall under the heading of "NEW TV!".

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I can't remember if I actually started watching any new shows in Fall of 2012, as a matter of fact. But since the very sad and extremely untimely demise of SGA, I've been really hoping for another fun, thoughtful and exciting sci-fi drama that at least occasionally ponders the kind of Big Questions I like sci-fi for in the first place. AH really could be that show, but so far it's not. Like you said, it keep touching on the Big Questions, but at least in the first four eps it hasn't really done anything with them. I'm willing to at least give it until the end of this season to surprise me, however. :)

(no subject)

4/12/13 02:02 (UTC)
ext_3743: (Utena - Juri's rose (lituhanienn))
Posted by [identity profile] umadoshi.livejournal.com
This makes me sad. :/ AH has been on my radar as a show to try, but I've yet to watch any. I think it just got bumped further down my list.

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:27 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
The pilot was great! And so was the third ep. Hopefully there will be many more than that. And at least it's never boring, which is definitely something a lot of shows fail to manage. :)

(no subject)

4/12/13 03:18 (UTC)
amalthia: Stephanie Brown Batgirl (Stephanie Brown Batgirl)
Posted by [personal profile] amalthia
I was also looking forward to the show but so far it's falling flat for me. I thought maybe it's because I'm generally not a fan of cop shows to begin with.

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:31 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I'm not a huge cop-show fan either, so I do think that a show with that as part of its genre needs to be more than the sum of its parts to keep me interested. Castle has done that (mostly) by virtue of the characters' interactions and some of the quirky stories (though I would have stopped watching by now if my husband didn't keep DVRing it), and AH had all the ingredients to be something that not just interested me but kept me enthralled the way SGA did. But so far it's falling flat for me too. It's just too much of a cop show.

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:37 (UTC)
amalthia: (Children of Dune)
Posted by [personal profile] amalthia
I was able to watch Continuum because while the main character was a cop it didn't feel like a cop show.

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:39 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Exactly! Cops are great as long as their stories are about more than just cop stuff. :D

(no subject)

4/12/13 04:16 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] brumeier.livejournal.com
I haven't seen this series, though hubby enjoyed the first two eps. But I can totally understand your disappointment in a show that could be so much more than it is. I had that same problem with The Sentinel; they never followed through on the most interesting plot point and story arcs.

I hope Almost Human picks up for you. It's still early on, so maybe they're finding their footing? Keep the hope alive, sistah!

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:33 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I will, baby!

I don't think I ever watched an entire episode of The Sentinel, but it's too bad that they dropped the threads on their fans like that. Sometimes I think the best parts of a show get lost in the plotting.

I'm giving AH until the end of the first season. I can be that patient, especially for adorable androids. ;)

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:38 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] brumeier.livejournal.com
It's good you're giving it a decent shot. Can't ask for more than that.

The Sentinel had such potential. If they'd been a little braver, a little less willing to skip over the good stuff to get the pat or funny ending. Ah, well. Water under the bridge now.

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:40 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Years under for us both, eh? Thank goodness for fanfiction, keeping the best parts alive. :)

(no subject)

5/12/13 04:42 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] brumeier.livejournal.com
You got that right, baby!

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