ORBzine - Almost Human TV Review

Almost Human

Season 1

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 1] Pilot
Shown 17/Nov/13

Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ) is a hard-bitten police detective in near-future (2048 CE) Los Angeles. His partner was killed, and he is now a living embodiment of all the tough cop cliches. Worse, his boss ( Lili Taylor ) orders him to take an android as his partner. He ends up with Dorian (Michael Ealy - FlashForward ) - a supposedly mentally unbalanced one. Can two mis-matched cops become buddies and solve crime?

The other cops include Intelligence analyst Valerie Stahl ( Minka Kelly ) and android repair technician Rudy Lom (Mackenzie Crook - City of Ember ).

A high-end ARV crew led by rent-a-villain Tim Kelleher ( Dark Skies ) is boosting very specific items of expensive technology. What will be their next target, and what is their endgame?

Unfortunately, this show was cancelled after half a Season.

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 2] Skin
Shown 18/Nov/13

A nerdy type picks up a hooker who looks like a red-headed Megan Fox . If this sounds too good to be true, it is. She is a sex-bot, and her Albanian pimps kill the punter because he is getting suspicious.

Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ) displays a lack of skill with children - his android partner suggests he should also avoid cats. But the next witness to a crime is a young boy, so Kennex must bond with him somehow.

The dead punter was a sex-bot designer. This is obviously not a coincidence. The cops investigate the sex-bot market - it is hi-tech and glamourous. However, it is illegal to have an android with human skin. This means that instead of cloning skin and growing it in vats (like in Terminator ), the Albanian gangsters just kidnap women and graft their skin onto a bot!

The bot frames they use are the same model as Kennex's partner, so the partner starts to bond with one of them. In contrast to the android sexual activity, Kennex has an unwanted online dating profile set up by his android partner. Will he go through with it by pretending to be a Doctor named Richard?

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 3] Are You Receiving?
Shown 25/Nov/13

A gang of gun-toting thugs take over an office building. As the first responding officers, Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ) and Dorian (Michael Ealy - FlashForward ) get inside the building before the villains establish a perimeter. They must foil the villains and save the day, without backup.

This is basically the standard Die Hard episode. Presumably the writers could not think up an original plot. However, despite the fact this is a filler episode, the characterisation is excellent.

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 4] The Bends
Shown 02/Dec/13

The episode starts with some phony jeopardy. Rudy the Scientist (Mackenzie Crook - City of Ember ) is gets chased by some gunmen.

Twenty-four hours earlier, a drug deal went fatally bad. One of the dead guys is a cop, and by predictable coincidence he is an ex-partner of Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ). Our cops decide that to solve the murder they must infiltrate the drug crew. Hence, Rudy gets sent undercover.

The drug kingpin calls himself The Bishop - presumably a chess reference, like in A Stainless Steel Rat is Born. The dealers have their own android in the crew - a big brawny one like something out of Terminator .

There is a strong subtext of police corruption in this episode. Kennex denies the possibility that his friend was a drug-dealer. However, the man has a trunk full of drugs and Kennex has not seen him in five years. Richard Paul (Michael Irby), the deliberately unlikeable one in the team, cannot prevent himself from pointing this out - even though he does his best to keep Rudy alive. However, the bottom line is not that Kennex himself is willing to commit torture and murder ... the rest of his team are willing to cover for him!

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 5] Blood Brothers
Shown 09/Dec/13

Last week Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ) got disturbed at breakfast, so this time he decides to return the favour. He goes down to the androids’ level, and sees more than he bargained for. The standard police droids are not anatomically correct, but it turns out that Dorian (Michael Ealy - FlashForward ) is!

This week the cops are assigned to witness protection duties. The witness saw an apparently motiveless murder by a man with no previous criminal record. Yes, a philanthropist is alleged to have used a Tek-9 to mozambique a doctor, leaving no physical proof (very professional) but doing it in front of a couple of witnesses. Nobody thinks to question the logic of this. And since the suspect is in custody during the trial, the assassin targeting the witnesses must be his clone!

The trial is a joke. The Government intends to present a dodgy witness (a woman who claims to be a Medium Psychic), and there is no cross-examination. Also, since cloning is outlawed then to show proof that a clone of him exists would provide reasonable doubt but at the cost of implicating him in a different felony. In other words, the poor man does not have a chance.

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 6] Arrhythmia
Shown 16/Dec/13

A man goes crazy in a hospital, using a gun to demand a heart transplant. Then he drops dead.

The cops investigate, and discover the dead man was involved in black market cybernetic organs. Presumably the large companies have a payment plan, like in the Jude Law movie Repo Men . It is illegal to deal in second-hand organs, so anyone too poor to afford a brand new one must go to criminals if they want to live! Unfortunately, the crooks do not employ Repo men ... they put microchips into the implanted organs so that they cease working if the victim misses a single payment.

One of the hospital worker drones is an android from Dorian's class. Dorian (Michael Ealy - FlashForward ) decides to take his double along for a ride-along. Since the double's police files are three years out of date, this is not necessarily a good thing.

Not only do we learn more about Dorian as a character, we also learn about a new superpower of his. Last week it was the bus-flip, while this week he has eyes that can see through walls (like Strontium Dog). Also, they are removeable and can be used remotely, like G'Kar's in Babylon 5 (Season 5) .

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 7] Simon Says
Shown 06/Jan/14

The cops have had budget cuts, so Dorian (Michael Ealy - FlashForward ) is not allowed to recharge fully. His personality chip is the first thing to suffer, giving him extreme mood swings. It is nice to see the character given the chance to express an array of emotions, but it does feel like he is a comedy sidekick with a gimmick-of-the-week.

Gaeta from Battlestar Galactica (2003) gets an explosive collar put around his neck. He is ordered by text messages to rob a bank. But if he cooperates, will the bomber allow him to live?

Another victim is a lonely young woman who tried internet dating. She has unrealistically high standards, and does not care whose feelings she hurts. Does she deserve to live more than Gaeta

Yes, typical cliché from this kind of show – one of the investigating team spends the climactic fourth act with an explosive collar put around his neck.

The bomber is doing it to get ratings on his webcam show. His audience are castigated for watching the action-adventure ... Just like the people watching this on TV or DVD are.

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 8] You Are Here
Shown 13/Jan/14

A man is killed with a bullet that can fly around corners. Just like the ones in the Tom Selleck film Runaway . And like in that film, our heroes must protect the victim's girlfriend and use her as bait to lure the arms dealers out.

It turns out that the weapons merchants are linked to InSyndicate, the same mob who tried to raid the evidence lockup in the first episode. Yes, there is a story arc with recurring villains and an on-going plot.

The Police Captain interrogates Tim Kelleher ( Dark Skies ), who offers her a deal. He will give them all the info they want on the items he was ordered to steal. He will even give Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ) the details of the femme fatale who sold him out. The info is time-sensitive, so the cops desperately need it. All he wants in return is a full walk. This is too much - the cops regard him as a murderer. But Kennex is a murderer too - it is not just robot cops that he shoots in the head!

The show's focus this week is back on Kennex himself. He attends Anger Management group discussion sessions, but still loses his head when an MX android gives him attitude.

Dorian's comedy relief aspect is played down. However, it turns out that if he is shot in the belly he resets to factory settings and starts to speak Korean. He even sings Korean pop songs!

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 9] Unbound
Shown 03/Feb/14

A perp mugs a woman, and a SWAT response team have him almost instantly surrounded. However, this is just another follow-up to the InSyndicate raid on the evidence lock-up. Their target is a robot's head ( Gina Carano ), all that remains of an android named the XRN. It was built as a one-woman army, but went crazy and killed twenty-eight cops. Since a standard DRN like Dorian (Michael Ealy - FlashForward ) can flip a mini-bus upside down, the modifications made to create the XRN must be something special. She seeks out her creator, Dr Vaughn (John Larroquette).

The cops do not have much of a plan, or any firepower capable of taking out a killer sexbot. Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ) gets in a fist-fight with the female Terminator .

There are several references to The Wall. This has never been mentioned before, but apparently it is important. From the context it is a well-guarded no-go zone, where no intelligent person would willingly go. It all sounds a bit like the Cursed Earth ...

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 10] Perception
Shown 10/Feb/14

Two girls from a top boarding school drop dead mysteriously. They OD'd on a designer drug. The cops investigate.

The girls were genetically engineered chromes, like in Gattacca . It turns out that Detective Stahl ( Minka Kelly ) is also a Chrome.

Internal Affairs is hassling Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ) over his relationship with a woman who was presumably the InSyndicate mole who set up the ambush six years ago. Yes, apparently their backlog is six years deep, so that is how long it will be before they get round to asking Kennex about the cold-blooded murder he committed a few episodes ago. Also, in an Alias moment, Kennex discovers that he is still being bugged.

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 11] Disrupt
Shown 17/Feb/14

A security company is selling smart-homes complete with limited AIs, but unfortunately the smart-homes seem to be trigger-happy. One of them killed a teenage boy for trespassing, and now everyone associated with the death is dying in suspicious circumstances. Just like in the previous episode, the most obvious suspect is the teenager's grieving mother. However, a group named Disrupt are in the business of hacking high-profile targets.

After a big hacking success, Disrupt meet up in RL to have a big party. Yes, they get away from their home PCs and go to a meatspace venue ... where they all plug into their laptops for a VR party! Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban - Dredd ) goes undercover, gothed-up with an English accent. Detective Stahl ( Minka Kelly ) goes with him, in an Alias -style wig. They are using a fake ID borrowed from Android repair technician Rudy Lom (Mackenzie Crook - City of Ember ). Why not ask him to do the undercover work again? Well, Stahl obviously needs more screen time because she is high-maintenance and very telegenic.

Kennex and Stahl capture a super-hacker and threaten him with time in the Cubes - a Dredd reference if ever there was one. They also get him to counter-hack the villain's plans ... of course, they could have gotten Rudy to do it too.

Rudy goes through Dorian's memory files while the android is in sleep mode. The bad news is that this is socially inappropriate, but the good news is that Rudy uncovers a strange memory that should not be in Dorian's head. Well, it is good news because it justifies Rudy's actions but it is not good news for Dorian (Michael Ealy - FlashForward ) himself.

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 12] Beholder
Shown 24/Feb/14

Detective Stahl ( Minka Kelly ) uncovers a mysterious death that has gone unnoticed. A genetically engineered person dropped dead, apparently of natural causes. But the natural causes would have been genetically eliminated, so the only reasonable deduction is one of murder! Stahl investigates the victim’s past, and we see her mix with fellow Chromes for the first time.

The killer has an extreme case of Body Dysmorphic disorder. Unlike the killers in other shows (even Haven: Season 3 ) he does not need to physically remove the victim’s body part to graft it on. Instead he can inject the victim with nanites, and use their scanning data to make a perfect copy.

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1, Episode 13] Straw Man
Shown 03/Mar/14

Dorian (Michael Ealy - FlashForward ) is up for reassessment. Will he be retained as a detective, or boxed up again?

This is the final ep of the show, so the plot arc was not explored. Instead, this is just another freak-of-the-week episode.





Almost Human

Almost Human Almost Human [Season 1 , Episode 1 ]
Shown th October 2010 [Wednesday]

Reviewed in our special supplement Almost Human

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