Can ‘Almost Human’ Keep Its Audience Base?

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FOX recently premiered its new sci-fi show Almost Human over two nights. This event was teased on the network for what felt like six months, but was probably more like a month and a half. It did pretty well the first night (3.1 adult rating), since it had a football lead-in, but it didn’t fare as well on Monday (2.3). Can Karl Urban and Michael Ealy stay the course with this show or will it suffer a Firefly-type fate? Then again, the creators would probably accept the cult following that Joss Whedon’s show as a worst-case scenario in a flash.

The show seems to blend a variety of influences. There’s a slight Blade Runner feel to it, and the writers most likely read Isaac Asimov’s classic detective novels like The Caves of Steel. Kennex has an Elijah Baley-type aura to him and Michael Ealy’s Dorian seems to register some of R. Daneel Olivaw’s characteristics.

What helps is that Urban is a pretty well-known face, especially given his appearance in the Bourne movies, Judge Dredd (Not the Sylvester Stallone one) and the Star Trek reboots. Science-fiction fans know him. Ealy has shown enough charisma in the two episodes to warrant his casting. They may be benefiting from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too, while not having to directly compete against it (the shows air on different nights). 

There’s work to be done to sustain its audience. Personally, I found it a good start, with Urban and Ealy developing a good chemistry immediately. Their bringing in sexbots in the second episode might have been just a bit too early. Overall, it’s a good premise: in a nutshell, it’s in the future with human detectives being paired up with scary looking robots to solve and fight crimes. One guy gets a throwback robot that looks human as well. It’s not entirely new, of course. We’ve had plenty of human/robot interaction shows and movies over the years. (Side note: In the premiere, when Urban’s character John Kennex was introduced to the ‘synthetic’ robot known as Dorian, the robot caretaker, for a lack of a better word, introduced them to each other as “John, Dorian. Dorian, John.” and I thought of the character John Dorian from Scrubs. Was I the only one? OK. I was. Carry on.)

The main problem that it has is that sometimes it does things in a contrived way.There was a scene towards the end of the second episode where they had to find out where a sexbot (think Austin Powers’ fembots without the breast guns) had been first activated…or ‘born.’ Rather then access that information right away, they spent a lot of precious time interrogating her in a holding room. There was just a less clunky way to go about it. They should still keep the banter between Kennex and Dorian, though we could use less talk about the state of Kennex’s testicles.

Right now, the show still deserves a spot in either live-watching or at least on a DVR list. It’s up to the people running it to see if it stays that way. Otherwise, it will be another promising science-fiction show that met an early demise.